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A Spotlight on SynerVision Leadership Foundation’s Online Community for Community Builders
About Today’s Episode:
Today’s episode is a little different. Rather than interview a nonprofit expert, founder and president of SynerVision Leadership Foundation, and host of The Nonprofit Exchange, Hugh Ballou shares some details about the online community for community builders. He discusses the details about all the resources and added value that nonprofit leaders get by joining this community.
Read the Transcript
Hugh Ballou: Welcome to The Nonprofit Exchange. This is Hugh Ballou, founder and president of SynerVision Leadership Foundation. People don’t really know the word “SynerVision” because I made it up. I’m a musician. I’m a conductor. Conductors create community. We call this “ensemble,” whether it’s instrumental or vocal, it’s a choir or orchestra. It becomes an ensemble because we function together at a higher level. In our boards and our staff and our committees in the nonprofit world, which includes churches and synagogues, we create this higher functioning. It’s the synergy we create with a common vision. The synergy we create with a common vision is defined by SynerVision. As leaders, we are catalysts, we’re visionaries, we lead, we influence people, and we make things happen.
For 32 years, I’ve been working with nonprofit leaders all over the place, on at least four continents and multiple countries. A lot of work in America. A lot of work with cause-based charities. People wanting to impact other people’s lives. I spent 40 years serving an organized church from 120-12,000-member churches. I’ve seen it from different perspectives and different sized organizations. I have worked exterior to multiple types of nonprofit organizations. Membership organizations, cause-based charities, and many others. We have a million and a half 501(c)3s in this country. What I do know, statistics show that half of the new nonprofits that are formed every year will close, some with money in the bank. They will close because they are not able to fulfill their mission.
There are many reasons for this. More often than not, it’s one person with a cause, with a passion, with a fire; however, that person is unable to let that fire spread and build a sustainable legacy under that vision. We want to make sure that we’ve fully thought out the process, built a strategy, and built a team; therefore, we can be fundable and sustainable. You can create your legacy that can continue. SynerVision is the legacy I am creating that will continue the work after I’m gone.
I want to share about the work of SynerVision. It’s for nonprofit leaders and clergy. Those of you making a difference leading an organization, one you founded, one you didn’t found, it doesn’t matter. You’re the person in charge of implementing the vision. You’re the person influencing others to make things happen. You’re the person that builds and maintains relationships so that you can lead, you can fund, and you have a communication system based on, yes, relationships.
SynerVision is designed to provide high-quality resources for you working in the trenches, things that are going to help you get unblocked. Maybe you’re not blocked, but you’re not really hitting your stride. Maybe you have some money and have a staff, but if you got more funding, more staff, more focus, you can impact more people’s lives. It’s not about the money. The money is necessary to provide for people who do the work.
It’s sort of like building a car. Once we build the car, we have to get the gas to make the car go. Therefore, money is an important commodity that we must have a replenishable supply because we do run out of gas. We have to refuel. In order to make that happen, there are lots of moving parts.
My job is to equip, empower, and train nonprofit leaders to build boards, to build strategies, to build systems, to create funding, and to impact people’s lives more fully. To fully achieve the mission of the organization. Let me do a few terms, define a few terms at this point.
In my world, as a strategist, I am a transformational leadership strategist. Transformational leadership is the culture of high performance. The leader leads the culture, sort of like a conductor leads the orchestra or a choir. We don’t play the notes. We enable other people to perform. We lead. We guide. We influence. The leader is the leader.
In terms of strategy, we must know who we are, what we’re doing, what we stand for, who we serve. Our vision is that short statement that creates this mental picture of what we’re doing. SynerVision Leadership Foundation transforms organizations to impact people’s lives, building legacies. You doing okay, you say? Okay. Could you do better? Could you impact more people? Leaders at the top of their game impact more people. Leaders saying, “I’ve got it all. Don’t need any” are pretty dangerous. We need to stay out of people’s ways because we never learn it all. At 73, I am continuing to grow my skillset, my abilities every day. I encourage you to think about building the skillset.
Define the terms of engagement. The vision is the concept. What are we? What defines what we do? Rise Against hunger, feeding people. Their vision is ending hunger in our lifetime. They didn’t limit it. Powerful vision. The mission statement is application. SynerVision does transform organizations and leaders, empowers them and engages them, equips leaders for service through leadership training, strategy, board development, funds resourcing. There are a lot of tools of the trade. Fundamentally, we guide you in creating your vision, your mission, your objectives, your funding strategy, your budget, and all the people parts of working an organization. We can have this piece of paper, a strategy, but without the people, it’s a piece of paper.
Think of a conductor stepping on a podium, and they have this piece of paper in front of them with all these dots. We call that music. It’s a conductor’s score. Everything that happens is written in that piece of music. When you sit in front of your board, your staff, your committees, you have your road map. That is your strategic plan. SynerVision, we have created what we call a solution map. Where do you want to be? How are you going to get there? It’s not a business plan. People can extract a business plan from this. That’s a simpler document. It’s a financial document that you give a major funder or your banker. The strategic plan, the solution map is a plan of operation. It’s an implementation document. Do this first. Do this next. Do this concurrently. Who does what and when, and how it all leads you toward manageable, quantifiable objectives.
I’m talking about SynerVision Leadership Foundation. It’s a resource bank, specifically for those of us leading social benefit organizations, charities, religious institutions under the umbrella of nonprofit. IRS calls us a tax-exempt organization. It’s a for-purpose organization, not necessarily a for-profit organization. The flow of money is important. There are many regulations guiding how we utilize those funds, but we do have a pathway for good. We want to impact people’s lives. That’s why we exist.
I’ve created this online resource. We’ve called it the community for community builders. If you are doing work of a charity, it’s governed, and financial guidelines are set by the board of directors. You may have founded it, but you don’t run it. The board of directors is in charge of the organization, not the day-to-day operations, but the governance. How you set policies, what do you approve, do you approve contracts, do you approve the budget. The board sets that strategy. The implementation is done by staff. That’s a clear delineation.
Now having said that, I’ve worked within organizations that are in transition. If the board didn’t work, nothing would happen. The board must be engaged, must be active, must be donors, must be on committees, must be doing the work of the charity, guided by staff. The staff reports to the board. It’s a very good system. The executive director and the development/funding strategist are employed by the board. They serve at the pleasure of the board. They fulfill the strategy using the marketing plan, funding plan, strategic plan. They do the work of the organization and report through the president, the board chair to the board of directors. There is a clear definition of how this all works.
We don’t have all this knowledge in our heads. We know what we know. We’re an expert at what we do. We have a passion. We have a vision for excellence. We are impacting nonprofits, empowering, engaging, raising their capacity for performance. We are connecting the dots from strategy to performance. Sounds like a conductor. We conduct the performer. We can do all the planning we need to create results because people are depending on us. We are called to a higher cause. This is the labor of our passion along with all those people who serve us as volunteers, staff, board members, committee chairs, committee members. The leader rallies that.
This is all under the umbrella of how we build communities. We are building communities: your board, staff, volunteers, the people you serve. You are building communities of action. We turn apathy into excitement. We turn passive into active. We as leaders transform ideas into reality. We transform people’s lives by the work we do. We need support. It’s lonely work. We’re overworked. We’re underpaid. We have a lot of stress. There is a pathway forward for that. It depends on the leader constantly building their capacity to lead. Actually, the leader does less. Other people do more.
I hear from folks who are burned out. “I have been willing to do what I ask other people to do.” Yes, that’s right. The key word is “willing.” You know how. You’re willing. However, there is somebody sitting around that board table who is very capable. If you do it, you’re robbing them of an opportunity to use their passion for good. That’s why they’re there. We must get out of the way. We create the system. We manage the system. We lead people. We don’t manage. We lead people. We inspire. We influence. That’s hard work. I don’t care what anybody says. It’s very difficult work. Actually, it’s more difficult in the nonprofit community than in the business community. It’s important work, and that’s our calling.
I’ve created a private space to get people out of the toxic environment of today’s social media. It’s really bad. We get distracted. We find all kinds of harsh things happening there. We see things that we’re not proud of on social media. I’ve created our own community. It’s just for people like you. Just for people like you. it’s an online community for those of us building communities.
In the South, we say none of us is as smart as all of us. That’s an important statement. We are the sum total of the people we hang around the most. Now, what happens if we hang around broke people? What if we hang around people who have failed at everything they do and have no initiative to learn from those experiences? How does that shape us? Sometimes, I’ve met people who want to hang around others that they perceive to be less qualified than themselves because it elevates them in other people’s eyes. Oh, you’re more important. You’re more successful. Turn that around. You want to be with people much more successful than yourself. In the community, you have the chance to do that. It’s a private community for those of us leading for-purpose work. It’s the SynerVision Leadership Community, a community for community builders.
You can find it at nonprofitcommunity.org. NonprofitCommunity.org. Remember that? It’s pretty easy. NonprofitCommunity.org. It takes you to SynerVision. Blue button, “Join.” $40 a month will buy you a lot of stuff. Peace of mind. Stress reduction. It’s a network of people doing the work that can help you. You get a whole lot of goods. You can try it out for a dollar for the first month. If you like it, you can keep on.
When you join the community for community builders, I give you a program that I sell for $97. You’re selling $100 almost. It’s the five pillars to success. It’s the five pillars in building a successful recurring income organization. We need to have all the pieces in place. You need all five of these. You can’t skip one. It cuts your ability by half if you just eliminate one. It’s the five pillars. Video, action guides. It’s a short course. It won’t take you a long time. You can do it all in one morning if you want. Download the program. Once you join, it’s free. That’s my gift to you as a joining bonus. There is also a report on building a profitable, sustainable nonprofit. It’s a read-only report. It’s not a video. Those two things will give you value. Plus you get a 50% discount—remember, you paid a dollar to get in here. You will get a 50% discount. One buckaroo to try this out for a month. Then it will go to the $40. You could go save $200-$500 on programs. Self-study programs that will make a difference.
How about if somebody can help you find your blind spots? Those things that keep you hitting the wall. Those things that throw you off a cliff. Those things that get you stuck in the mud. You didn’t see them. They are making you stuck. Maybe you think you’re making progress. Your board and staff might think differently. You have no clue as to what’s missing. Those are blind spots. What do we know? What do we not know? What is it that we don’t know we don’t know? I don’t know it all. I hang around smart people. That’s the guide. Hang around people smarter than you. We have turned the consulting model around. It’s WayFinders. We guide the way. You know more about your work than we do. We have systems. We help you learn the systems that you can apply your knowledge to learning to running your organization that is so important to you, the world, and the people around you.
Take off the stuff on your forehead that says, “I know all this.” No. No. We don’t know everything. We know some things. The more I learn, the less I realize that I actually know. There is so much. The best leaders I work with are constantly working on building their skills. That’s what I’ve learned. If you want to learn, make some mistakes. Those are learning opportunities. If you want to grow, hang around successful people. If you want to be the best, continue learning.
We’re providing this community from SynerVision for you. You join. There are 400 articles about leadership. There is five years’ worth of magazines you can read: The Nonprofit Performance 360 Magazine. Articles by wonderful people on many topics. When you join, you can get that magazine in your mailbox four times a year.
You have curriculum. There is a forum on topics. As you’re in there, you’ll get to weigh in on what topics are important to you. 24/7, you have access to all of this.
One day a week, it’s office hours. I show up. Hugh and people who are influencer members for Q&As. What about this? What about that? It’s guided through the curriculum of the online program, Unbound Leader, which you get at a 50% discount. Topic-based conversations guiding your learning, helping you figure out how to apply the knowledge. Getting contacts all over the country from others who are in this learning covenant along with you. Once a week, once a month, whenever you like, you can chime in. It’s video. We see you, and you see us. Or you can just listen to others. Many times, we learn more just by listening to others ask questions that we may not have ever thought about asking. So the online community for community builders has lots of great value.
I am encouraging you to try it out. You’re risking a dollar. There is no refund option. It’s a dollar. You will get a whole lot more value the first 30 seconds you’re there, and you continue receiving value. The more we build critical mass, the more good people who are there, the more content we share, the more we learn, the more we grow, the more we network, learning how to collaborate with others who could benefit us.
This is The Nonprofit Exchange. It’s one of the programs we have offered for four and a half years now in the community for community builders. You will have access to interviews with wonderful leaders, with wonderful knowledge, with great ideas. Every interview has a transcript. You get to read the transcript. You get to listen. You get to watch the video. Choose the topics, find the ones you like the most. Grab it. It’s yours. There are those kinds of assets in there. And the forums and live Q&As. When you talk to others in the trenches.
The Meyer Foundation discovered that 45% of nonprofit leaders were leaving because of burnout. The #1 problem. The #2 problem: low revenue. #3: low functioning board. Those are the high ones. But the Meyer Foundation did that discovery that 45% of nonprofit leaders were leaving, done, were burned out because we don’t know how to delegate, we don’t know how to say no, we don’t know how to sequence our work so that it’s actually doable. It’s not as easy as falling off a log. There is some work to getting it there. There is hope. There is a pathway. There is a process. We have assets. You don’t need to copy everything, but there is a template. Here are ideas. Here is how it’s normally done. Take the ideas, and make it your own system.
Remember, I’m not a consultant who tells you what to do. I’m a WayFinder who guides you on the pathway of learning your own processes, building your skills, and creating your own outcomes. There is a huge difference in self-sufficiency. That is the title of that report that you get is Self-Sufficiency. You can get the free program, mini course, five pillars of success. You have to build those pillars. A self-sustainability report on thinking through how you are going to be self-sustainable so that you’re not waking up every day trying to think of where money is coming from today. You should have two years of salary in the bank. You should have operational money in the bank. You should have money in a foundation, endowment fund that pays interest that is part of your revenue generation. Earned interest on money you have in your bank that has been donated. Those resources are in the community for community builders.
NonprofitCommunity.org will take you there. Click on the blue button, “Join.” It’s time to quit wasting time. It’s time to make a decision. Good leaders make a decision.
Some people listening to this will not make a decision. 97/100 people will not make a decision. They’ll say, “That’s interesting. I will figure it out myself.” You probably will. We can help you shorten that timeline, go way more directly toward the targets, the success, and the results that you want to see. It’s investing in the future. You can certainly figure it out. We are here to help you do it in a shorter time frame and with more sustainable large results. I’m inviting you to go to NonprofitCommunity.org. Hit the Join button for a dollar. Boom, you’re in. Look around. There is a place to register for the Thursdays at 3 Eastern. We will expand that to when can you meet. Is there a better time than that? Let’s get started. Time’s a-wastin’. Opportunity is whizzing by our faces because we need to learn more to be able to seize those opportunities.
I will tell you. Standing here, speaking to you today, I have made all of the mistakes conceivable. I have learned from those mistakes, and I have created programs because of those mistakes and because of the problems I see others encountering. I have gone backwards from the negative result to what to do about it.
I am streaming live on Facebook to catch more people. It’s TheNonprofitExchange.org. Every week, 2:00, we broadcast with some expert telling us something we wish we’d known all along, or we would have been more successful had we known it. TheNonprofitExchange.org takes you to the page where the current and the future episodes are, and four years’ worth of archives. Very valuable resources indeed.
Today’s version of The Nonprofit Exchange is to talk about the SynerVision online community for community builders, and to let you know there is a chance to check it out for a dollar. Go in, try it. NonprofitCommunity.org. That’s where you go. We’ll see you on one of those weekly Q&A sessions because even if you don’t know what to ask, there is a question in your mind. How do we formulate those questions and find the answer that is right for you? it will be different for each one of you. We need to know how to arrive at that answer, what that answer will mean for the health of the organization, and what is the pathway forward to implementing that strategy from the answer.
This is Hugh Ballou, the founder and president of SynerVision Leadership Foundation saying thank you for being here.
*Sponsor message from EZCard*
Thank you for being here. Thank you for clicking on the online community for community builders. We have resources we have created just for you. They are not way expensive. Some are free. A lot is free. Many are very low-cost. Many will impact your future because they are things that you will learn that you didn’t know before. I am going to sign off on this episode. Thank you for being here. We will see you next week on The Nonprofit Exchange.