As a new director of a nonprofit I was asked to bring about change.  I had no idea at the time the depth of change that the board wanted, and that was needed.  A founding board member wanted to get some classes going.  She was hoping we could finally get a program off the ground.  She said let’s try again?  Sure why not.

So we set the date, time and location.  We sent out some fliers and then naively waited for participants to come to class.  We had a beautiful table full of helpful resources waiting, coffee brewing, and refreshments.  We were ready to serve others and help meet their needs.

No one showed up.

No one.

We tried, it didn’t work.

About three years later when I began to have a better understanding of community programs and services I could start to see what we did wrong, or the many things we did wrong.

  1. We gave up. You can’t judge something on the first try.  We shouldn’t have given up so easily.  Had we kept trying we could have a strong class today.
  2. We didn’t analyze what we were doing. God wants to help these people. So we are going to help them.  We actually never took the time to research how similar groups started, how they were maintained, how much they cost, and how to start them.  We just had it in our heart to do something.  Good research and even a casual analysis of what we were doing would have done wonders to ensure success.
  3. We didn’t even add it to the budget. Please don’t laugh.  Please.  I didn’t know what I was doing that first year.  I didn’t realize the obvious.  Doing things for God costs money.  If it’s important it needs to be added to the budget.  The process of making a budget will help us take some good steps towards creating a great program.

It’s the Communities Fault?

Someone said this.  I found myself saying this a few years later when I became frustrated.  This just doesn’t work in our community.  I am not convinced  that is true.

Perhaps our community wants this service, but offered in a different way.  We do need to consider our culture, but it’s not the community, or a competing social service organization’s fault that no one is coming to our class.

There are always more steps we can take towards success.  People we can network with to learn from.  Time we need to take for development.  Resources we need to build.  Rarely can we say we did everything we could.

Jesus own ministry is a wreck.  His followers are weak and fail Him.  They don’t show up for His meetings, and rarely provide the financial resources needed for the ministry.  He doesn’t give up.  Neither should we.  Keep trying, and in the meantime take some practical steps to help develop a strong program that will meet the needs of people for many years.

Marcy Pedersen


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