Project Management: Proper Resource Assessment

Justin Clark, MBA

What are the barriers to assessing your resources?

First, we must define what our resources are. They most often fall into three categories: time, material, and labor. Once we know this, we must determine which of these we have direct control over. Many times, we will have control over some, but not all of these resources. There are two major barriers to performing a proper resource assessment. We either misunderstand what we have control over or we are too concerned with getting the project moving that we skip this step completely.

What is the case for performing a proper resource assessment?

Now that we have a scope of work and we have identified a project champion, we must begin the process of laying out our roadmap for success. The first stop on that path is to determine if you have fixed or flexible resources. We can quickly determine whether or not we have fixed or flexible resources by asking a few questions.

  1. Does my project have a definitive start and/or finish date?
  2. Does my project have a defined budget?
  3. Can the schedule of my project be accelerated by adding more people?

These three questions will help us determine how to properly evaluate our resources by helping us establish project constraints. Things like schedule, cost, and manpower are variables that we can use to quantify resources. Once we have broken our project down into quantifiable resources, we have the baseline for something that we can measure. Our success can then be measured by these metrics.

How can you properly assess resources?

Our assessment is performed by evaluating the scope of work through the lens of these three metrics.

  1. Schedule. How much time is necessary to complete the project?
  2. Cost. What is the monetary cost of performing this work? Does the cost have a proportional relationship to the schedule? (i.e. Will it cost more to get done faster? Less if it takes longer?
  3. Manpower. How many people will it take to complete the project given the established schedule and cost constraints.

It is important to understand that each of these three have a relationship that can vary between projects. Because of this, there is not a specific order for the assessment. The assessment should start with the variables that are fixed since they are bound by constraints that have been established by someone outside the project.

How can you use this strategy successfully?

Project Management: Who is Your Project Champion?

Justin Clark, MBA

What are the barriers to identifying a project champion?

Every project needs a champion! A champion is a person who is willing to take the lead on building excitement and energy for the project. They often make the largest investment of time in seeing that the project is completed. While the champion isn’t always the project manager, it can be. There are two clear barriers to doing this.

  1. There isn’t someone willing to champion the cause. In this case, we have to ask if the project is worth moving forward. After all, it this project is so important, there would certainly be at least one person willing to take ownership of it. For example, from time to time there is technological innovation that appears to make our job easier. Sometimes, many people will opine that we should pursue this new technology. However, when pressed, no one believes in its merits strongly enough to be the leader. In this case, your project is ultimately dead before it ever starts. While that may seem disappointing, it is better than pressing forward and coming to this conclusion later once more time and resources have been expended.
  2. Everyone wants to be the champion. Your champion doesn’t have necessarily have to be a singular individual, but be mindful that a group can be too big! When identifying who your champion is, you should be careful to choose someone who will be viewed as competent and capable by their peers and anyone else they may have to convince.

What is the case for identifying a project champion?

Whether big or small, all projects will have to endure critique and review. As we like to say it around here, you will have “make the case” for your project. This can also be called building a consensus. Regardless of what iterations you must go through, having a champion will give you someone who has evaluated the merits of the project and can give you the best chance to compel key decision makers to support it.

How can you find and equip your project champion?

  1. Observe. Pay attention to your colleagues. Often times, there interest and enthusiasm for a specific project will be obvious.
  2. Identify. Once you recognize who might be interested, assess them for their strengths and weaknesses. Having an understanding of the scope of work and the key decision makers, you are best positioned to pick the best person for the job.
  3. Approach. Ask them to help you lead this project. Make sure they understand the circumstance and are willing to make the commitment.
  4. Empower. Support your champion with information and resources. Manage them up to colleagues and leaders.

How can you use this strategy successfully?


Project Management: Developing a Roadmap to Success

Justin Clark, MBA

Over the next three months, we will look at techniques to help successfully deliver excellent results in project management. While no two projects are exactly alike, we will review are series of tools and concepts that will help guide us to the results we are looking for in just about any project.

The first step in any project is to develop an accurate and detailed scope of work.

What are the barriers to developing and accurate and detailed scope of work?

There can be a number of barriers to developing an accurate and detailed scope of work, but there is one that presents itself most often. That barrier is time. Many projects come strapped with schedule expectations that exert pressure on you as the project manager to get the project started. Many stakeholders have a desire to see what they perceive to be progress on a project from the very beginning. As the project manager, you have to defend the process of developing a scope of work. While it wont directly result in physical changes or progress, it will serve as your road map to success.

What is the case for developing and accurate and detailed scope of work?

If you set out for a destination without a map or directions, you might be hard pressed to arrive at your intended location. The same is true for a project without a properly developed scope of work. The scope of work lays out in detail what will need to be done. This allows you to build an accurate schedule and budget. While you might be able to perform a project without these things, each of them form a tripod that helps you stabilize expectations and deliver desirable outcomes.  The scope of work also functions as a sort of contract with your customer. It communicates to the customer what you will provide to them. Listen to what they want. Review it with them. Make sure that you are in agreement by having them sign a copy of the scope of work so that there aren’t any questions when the project is completed.

How can you apply this to your job?

  1. Be committed. The process of developing a scope of work is not glamorous or exciting. Frankly, it takes time and a willingness to comb through the details of a project. Don’t mistakenly assume that it isn’t important.
  2. Be thorough. Every project has its share of surprises. While we can’t fully eliminate them, we can limit them by digging into the details of a project before it ever starts.
  3. Be consistent. Develop a process that works for you. While every project is different, following a consistent process will ensure that details are less likely to be missed.

How would you work benefit from applying this concept? 

Development: Building a Culture of Philanthropy

Kara Redoutey, MBA

What are the barriers to a culture of philanthropy?

Building a culture of philanthropy takes a long time and a dedicated commitment from leadership and all stakeholders. It requires long term relationship building, strategic planning and vision, and regular consistent education. And after you take all of the time to build the culture, you must find ways to sustain it.

What is the case for building a culture of philanthropy anyway?

A culture of philanthropy means you have an engaged board participating in fundraising activities and actively sharing your mission and accomplishments. They all have the elevator speech down. The staff has all bought in and support the development foundation. There is staff dedicated specifically to development and fundraising goals are clear to all stakeholders. All processes focus on the donor and leadership gives time to donor relationship building, especially the CEO.  All of this means more donors, more positive word of mouth, and the more likely your organization is to further its mission in your community.

How can you help?

  1. Ask questions. Make sure you understand your organization’s fundraising goals and know how development impacts your organization’s ability to further the mission.
  2. Share with your coworkers, friends, and family the positive difference and huge impact fundraising has on your organization’s ability to fulfill the mission.
  3. Be the reason donors choose to give to your organization. Live out the mission through your work each day.

How would you work to build and sustain a culture of philanthropy at your organization? 

Development: Volunteer Program

Kara Redoutey, MBA

What are the barriers to a successful volunteer program?

Volunteers need as much or more leadership and time as the development staff do.  They need guidelines, oversight, job descriptions, task lists, tools, and more.  With the development team’s limited resources and time already, this can seem overwhelming.   The development staff must communicate more and give more time in order to keep everyone rowing in the same direction.

What is the case for building a volunteer program anyway?

Allowing time to develop and sustain a strong volunteer program will give you one of the highest returns on investment you will ever experience.  When volunteers are passionate about supporting your organization and raising money, they often bring more donors and more volunteers to your organization.  Most volunteers already have a personal connection to your organization so they are usually some of the best word of mouth marketers you’ve ever seen!  They strengthen your organization’s message to the community, they build more donor loyalty and build close relationships, and they raise much more money for your nonprofit than you could possibly raise without their support.  With the support to recruitment of volunteers, retention and relationship building with donors, and by spreading your organization’s message even further, volunteers breathe life into your organization’s development program.

How can you help?

  1. Become a volunteer!  Giving more of yourself and your time is one of the most amazing and rewarding experiences.
  2. Share volunteer opportunities at your organization with anyone who may be interested.
  3. Thank volunteers for their time and energy as often as you possibly can.  They are real heroes for your nonprofit organization.

Have you ever volunteered for a nonprofit organization?  Share your experience and what motivated you to give your time.

Development: Grant Writing

Kara Redoutey, MBA

What are the barriers to successful grant writing?

Grants can be extremely difficult to find, difficult to write, and difficult to administer.  You must read the fine print and ensure that your nonprofit meets all of the requirements of the grant.  To even start a grant application, you must have a compelling case that meets the objectives the grant maker is trying to address.  You must have a program or service that makes sense for your community.  You don’t want to apply for funds to address a project from which your community may not benefit.  Grants require a lot of administrative oversight with the submission of status reports, financial reports, and auditing to ensure grant objectives are being met.  And after all of that, keep in mind that there are hundreds of other nonprofit organizations out there competing for the same funding!

What is the case for focusing on grant writing anyway?

Grant writing is integral to a comprehensive development program.  There are thousands and thousands of grant opportunities available to nonprofits.  If you thoroughly perform grant research, you can find grant makers who have the same or similar objectives as your nonprofit organization.  When you do that, you are much more likely to be funded and you cut down on some of the competition. Grants provide another source of funding for projects and services that your community desperately needs that might not otherwise be available to your nonprofit organization. This funding may be exactly what your organization needs to complete or launch a project that makes vast improvements and changes lives within your community.  Grants are vital to the organization’s overall fundraising plan because you are able to obtain funding from outside of your community and not just rely solely on your community’s support.  There are people all over the nation who want to help others and make it their mission to provide communities with the support they need to make a difference.  You just have to be committed to finding it and making the compelling case for the funding.

How can you help?

  1. Make sure the person writing grants for your organization knows all of the needs.  A grant opportunity may become available that could make all the difference for your program or service line.
  2. When an opportunity does become available, provide support and feedback to the grant writer so the grant proposal is the best it can be upon submission.  The grant writer may not know the program or service as well as you, so your input is vital to the grant’s success.
  3. Upon receiving grant funding, attend scheduled meetings to ensure your program is meeting all grant objectives and provide any data or outcomes to the grant writer for status/financial reports.

Have you ever applied for a grant?  Share an approach that has worked well for you.

Development: Planned Giving Programs

Kara Redoutey, MBA

What are the barriers to launching Planned Giving Programs?

The biggest barrier to launching a planned giving program is making the choice to invest in a program that will not show an immediate return on investment.  Planned giving takes a significant amount of time and relationship building up front.  Planned gifts are often a result of years of donor cultivation.  As with any development program, planned giving requires a clear and compelling case and plan for the future of the organization.  It takes committed development staff trained in the complexities of the field, significant board and leader support and clear understanding of the program, plans to continuously cultivate planned giving donors, marketing, and strict management oversight, policies, and procedures.  As you can see, launching a comprehensive planned giving program can be a lofty goal!

What is the case for building a Planned Giving Program anyway?

Planned giving should be a win-win for the organization and donor.  Development staff should really be focused on making sure that the donor’s motivation for giving matches the organization’s mission and that the gift they are giving meets their personal long term financial goals.  Of course, their legal and financial advisors should always be involved.  There is an “80/20 rule” we learn in philanthropy studies that basically states that 80% of nonprofit contributions received comes from about 20% of your donors and often by way of planned giving.  Planned giving tends to produce large gifts and allows donors to make gifts to the nonprofit other than cash, such as real estate, stocks, and bonds.  Donors can often increase their income and take advantage of tax savings.

How can you help?

  1. Build strong relationships with the organization’s patients, partners, and vendors.
  2. Make a point to publicly share the organization’s mission.
  3. Make the choice to learn more about your organization’s planned giving opportunities.

How do you develop relationships with donors?  Share your experiences.

Development: Major Gifts

What are the barriers to receiving Major Gifts?

Organizations have to decide and outline what constitutes a major gift to them. This requires research, thoughtful planning, and leader and board input and approval. Major gifts take a long time to develop. As mentioned multiple times in this series, it’s all about building relationships.  It takes identifying, cultivating, and ensuring that the donor and the organization’s goals line up with one another.  What this means is that development staff really need to know their donors and understand their reasons for giving, the causes for which they are most passionate, and the personal goals the donors have for giving back.  This allows staff to really match up community needs and projects with the right donors.

What is the case for building a major gifts program anyway?

Matching up the right community cause with the right donor, whose specific needs are to address such causes, creates an environment where both the organization and the donor win.  A donor should be able to fulfill a personal philanthropic objective and the organization should be able to make a lasting community change. Major gifts provide an organization and a donor with an outlet to accomplish something meaningful and important to them.  Major gifts show a real collaboration between the organization, donor, and community.  Major gifts often lead to planned giving (next week’s topic), which is an important resource to development foundations.

How can you help?

  1. Listen to your donors.  You really get to know someone when you stop talking and start listening.
  2. Create custom strategies and plans for your donors.  Every donor is different.  Donors have different goals and objectives, different motivation for giving, and have different expectations of their relationship with your organization.
  3. Always continue to cultivate and thank your donors.  This really needs no explanation; however, please remember that your donor has given to your organization because of the two way relationship they have established.  Continue to thank them and show them the difference they are making in your community.

Have you ever asked for a major gift?  Share your experience.

Development: The Capital Campaign

Kara Redoutey, MBA

What are the barriers to a successful capital campaign?

Simply put, a capital campaign consists of activities to raise funds for specific cause.  The capital campaign typically has a large scale financial goal with a timeline for reaching that goal.  In a small community, lofty fundraising goals can seem impossible to reach.  Capital campaigns require a compelling case to improve the community, a carefully thought out plan, strong board support and participation, and organizational support from the top down, all of which are significant investments.

What is the case for doing it anyway?

Capital campaigns can really bring people together to work toward a common goal that provides the community with something more – something needed.  It really is amazing to see what communities can come together and achieve.  SOMC was able to build an inpatient Hospice Center through a capital campaign. The center provides extraordinary care in a comforting setting that the entire community can take pride in for having played a role.  Capital campaigns also create a lot of momentum for a development foundation and have shown to increase fundraising dollars over time, allowing the nonprofit to provide even more support to the community.  When there is a truly compelling case that impacts the community, strong board and leader support, and a solid plan has been developed, there is no reason not to start!

How can you help?

  1. Ask questions.  The more you ask about the capital campaign, the more you know and are able to communicate to others.
  2. Spread the word.  By sharing what the organization is trying to accomplish and bring to the community through the capital campaign, you may spark interest in a donor to give back or support the cause.
  3. Make connections.  In all that you do, strive to make lasting connections. Organizations are built by their employees, so the connections you make will show your community a glimpse of how much your organization truly cares.  And this will go a long way during a capital campaign.

Have you ever taken part in a capital campaign? Share your experience and ideas.


Development: The Annual Fund Program

Kara Redoutey, MBA


Development requires constant learning and ongoing education, and one of the first things you will learn about at Indiana University Lilly School of Philanthropy’s Principles and Techniques of Fundraising course is the Four Legged Stool (seen pictured below). It basically conveys the importance of building the 4 pillars of a successful development program: Annual Fund, Capital Campaign, Major Gifts, and Planned Giving Programs.  A strong development foundation is built by having all four programs, but the base of all giving starts with an Annual Fund Program, which is why we will discuss its importance first.

Four Legged Stool

What are the barriers to an Annual Fund Program?

An annual fund program requires a lot of management and oversight.  This can be challenging in small shops with limited staffing.  If the purpose of the annual fund and the case for fundraising isn’t communicated well on a regular basis, donors won’t support the fund.  Ongoing evaluation is required to ensure that modifications are made every year to improve the annual fund program.  This requires planning, a focus on results and goal setting, and board members and employees alike to be committed to the success of this leg of fundraising.  It all starts here, and if the annual fund program isn’t successful, the organization may see similar results in the other legs of the stool.

What is the case for doing it anyway?

The annual fund program helps the development team to begin building relationships with donors who are new to the institution or donors who have recently made a connection with your institution. The development staff often works to build upon those connections and these donors continue to support the organization for years to come.  They become brand advocates, and for our marketing folks out there, we know how important it is to have folks outside of the organization who consistently support your organization and share information and stories.  The annual fund program also helps to build financial support for the areas of greatest need in the organization. Undesignated funds are the backbone of an annual fund program, allowing the organization to allocate the funds when and where they will have the greatest impact, responding to challenges and new opportunities as they arise.  Another important reason for the annual fund program is the ability to deliver a consistent message to our donors, sharing information about the organization’s needs, growth, and accomplishments.

How can you help?

  1. Seek to learn more about your development foundation’s annual fund program goals.
  2. Share with coworkers and community members what you learn.
  3. Give back to the areas or programs for which you are passionate.  When you talk about fundraising and development, your credibility is strengthened when you are a donor as well.  And remember, donors should always give the amount that makes sense for them. There is no minimum amount to give and there are no expectations.

Do you have any ideas or advice for building a strong Annual Fund Program?