Many years ago I was asked by a friend to "audit" a nonprofit that he was very committed to in SE Washington DC. My friend was in a leadership role and their lead donors were expressing concerns. I had performed many audits for a variety of reasons and yet this was very different. I was given no data on the mission, no board packets, and no marketing collaterals informing me of its vision. I spend the day with a couple of former drug dealers and some kids from their neighborhood. I discovered my audience was interested in one thing: Was the core group living out the principles?
My initial report was simple - "I saw love."
Without even looking at the financials and other tangible data I knew that their shared values made this organization very effective and poised for more growth - it was fertile soil! They were growing from the inside out and could not keep up with the walk in business. Leadership informed the donors that their investments were paying off. Everyone was so excited that they doubled down and focused on new growth strategies. The financials improved and yet something was different.
Trust became distrust. Decisions slowed as did productivity which increased expenses. Innovation to overcome obstacles stalled. Return on assets continued to decline resulting in restructuring, outsourcing and layoffs. When this organization practiced an inside out growth strategy the tangibles of revenue, margins and market share almost took care of themselves. However by reversing the growth model and taking an outside in approach and focusing on the tangibles first it was difficult to find time and energy to get to accountability, shared values, culture, teamwork, leadership and service.
It was apparent that the greater the unity of shared values among key stakeholders, the bigger the upside potential. The idea for the VALUES Proposition, Inc. was born. Throughout my work as a businessman and serial entrepreneur in for profits, nonprofits and academia, I have continued to leverage the principles of the VALUES Proposition. I have used the lessons of this story to help other organizations to raise millions in capital, grow revenues by 300%, reduce employee churn by 30%, increase capacity by 40% and increase margins to 30%.
My strength and passion is in incubating people, organizations and communities to be their best selves in unity with others. Unfortunately I continue to observe many non profits are having difficulty raising recurring revenues while balancing returns in their communities. It is my hope that the VALUES Proposition will engage more donors to become investors balancing the needs of the communities and the capabilities of the nonprofits.
Join the adventure!