Strengthening Our Nonprofit Community

The Room Where It Happens by Mary Moss

November 7th, 2019

If you’ve seen Hamilton, you know that the “Room Where it Happens” means more than just clever lyrics and melody. History is made by having the right people in the room, people whose actions and commitment will change everything. Alexander Hamilton was in the room, and as they say, the rest is history.

Who is in your room? As staff, do you have the right people in your room? As board or committee members, do you have the right volunteers in your room?

This past month has been an extraordinary one for some moss+ross clients. To name only a few:  * SECU Family House and Oak City Cares celebrated successful campaign conclusions * Healing Transitions and Durham Tech met huge milestones in their campaigns * Voices Together hired a Director of Development and Eno River Association hired an Executive Director * Alliance Medical Ministry created a new major gifts effort and Compass Center launched a campaign for domestic violence crisis housing in Orange County * UNC Rams Club launched ForevHer Tar Heels in support of women’s athletics * Beth El Synagogue dedicated its beautifully renovated space * Saint Andrews Presbyterian Church and The Pauli Murray Center launched feasibility studies.

What made all of this happen?  Committed volunteer leaders were in the room.  Recruiting the right volunteer leadership means starting at the top and focusing on who and what you need. As examples, Oak City Cares campaign co-chairs Trish Healy and Charles Meeker selected a team that could bring new vision to services for homelessness. Co-chairs of the ongoing Healing Transitions “Recovery Can’t Wait” campaign Carol and Bob Bilbro lead volunteers who are committed to expanding services for those caught in the spiral of addiction. Charles Helton and Laura Helton Kalorin are leading the charge to serve more patients at Alliance Medical Ministry. At SECU Family House, campaign co-chairs Becky and Bob Woodruff, Maureen O’Connor, and Matt Ewend reached out across the state. Nathan Bearman and Gary Zarkin challenged Beth El’s community with strong support from Rabbi Daniel Greyber. And community leaders Willis Whichard and Lois Deloatch are leading Durham Tech’s effort.

The take-away for those of you reading this: success depends on leadership, the right people in the right room.

  1. Start with the top leadership. Do not settle for less, because the dominoes fall from here.
  2. Define roles, and recruit for that purpose. For a campaign: passion, commitment, and willingness to make time are the answers. For a job search, ask people who know the organization’s needs. For strategic planning, seek knowledge and thinkers. Including people for the wrong reasons, such as financial capacity and political connections, may well backfire if they are not going to feel successful in doing the job.
  3. Orient, train, and evaluate all volunteers. Give them the tools to succeed, and then evaluate them.
  4. Fix what is broken. It may take a while, but fix your committee if it is not working. Do not accept the status quo if it does not have the right people on it.
  5. Manage the team well, appreciate each volunteer. Clear communication with volunteers is crucial for their success and yours. Hundreds of people were touched this month by the celebrations and gatherings of the organizations mentioned here. People may forget exactly what was said or what gifts were listed, but they will never forget how they felt when they were appreciated.  November is the month of thanksgiving, so show those in your “room where it happens” some love.

I am proud to say that at moss+ross we have the right people in our room, and each professional was hand-picked to help you mobilize your team. Let us know how we can help you be successful.