November 7, 2012
This last month, I had a chance to attend my first of three Praxis retreats. Check out my previouspost to learn more.
My Praxis experience exceeded all expectations. It was refocusing, energizing, encouraging, as well as challenging. Most of all, it was affirming. I believe now, more than ever, that CARE for AIDS possesses a unique vision and model that, God-willing, should be scaled and replicated all over Africa.
It would be impossible for me to communicate all my takeaways in this one post, so I plan to write a few across the next couple months to share some of what I learned from my peers and mentors at Praxis. Also, at the bottom of each post, I will write a short profile of another Praxis Fellow. All 11 other leaders attending Praxis are strong Christ followers, and I desire to promote unity among the body of Christ, not competition. If you see an organization you like, I can put you in touch with that leader.
Caption: Cornel, Duncan, and I trying to use vision, passion, results, and gratitude to inspire generosity at our annual gala.
David Wills, the President of the National Christian Foundation, led one of our roundtable discussions, and he gave us a simple and straightforward mantra of four key components to inspire generosity.
Vision – Passion – Results – Gratitude
Vision: There are so many worthwhile visions out there. How do you communicate your vision in a way that is distinctive, memorable, and creates empathy? The answer is storytelling! Jason Locy of FiveStone in Atlanta is our core mentor in this area, and I was really challenged to look at how we tell our story. We have a lot of room to grow in this area. I’ll unpack more of the principles he shared with me soon.
Passion: My passion for CARE for AIDS is at an all time high, and I hope that people see that in my leadership. I hope that my passion is contagious to my team and to our donors. When my passion begins to wane, it is usually because I am not well rested, I lack balance in my life, but most of all, my focus becomes more about what I am doing rather than whoI am doing it for. As leaders, we must continue to abide in Christ for our sustenance.
Results: Measuring and communicating impact was a central theme throughout the week. CARE for AIDS has an extensive evaluation and follow-up system to measure impact, but we are going to take another look at our metrics to see how we can do this better. One mentor said that a relentless focus on operational excellence is necessary to win over the minds of major donors and institutions. That is the language they speak!
Gratitude: This is the easiest of the steps in creating generosity but may be the most overlooked. People want to know that they are valued and that the sacrifices they are making are recognized and acknowledged. We can show thanks by writing notes, calling people, etc., but we can also show gratitude in more spontaneous ways. We can send people resources that will add value to their life and leadership. We can connect them with people with similar interests or passions. We can create unique experiences for them and their family. Our visions couldn’t happen without funding. Let’s be intentional in how we thank those who stand with us.
Which of these four areas do you need to work on to inspire more generosity?
Check out These Numbers Have Faces: The Founder and Executive Director, Justin Zoradi, was my roommate at the retreat. In addition to sharing my name, he also shares my wedding anniversary and my passion to empower the African people. These Numbers has a unique model of providing scholarships for students to attend university in South Africa and Rwanda. This is not free financial aid; these students have some skin in the game. They agree to go through leadership training, do community service, and repay one year of tuition into the program. These students will change these countries from the inside out. Love what these guys are doing!