Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Why is it hard to get male volunteers? What can we do?

Office Away From the Office from Guys For Life International on Vimeo.

Yesterday I had the wonderful opportunity to speak with Linda Trask, Executive Director for the Care-Net Pregnancy Center - Lakes Region in Laconia, New Hampshire. While we were on the phone she shared how hard it is for her to attract and then keep male volunteers at her pregnancy care center. Many male clients shirk their appointments and leave male volunteers high and dry with wasted time. This is an all too common part of the conversation I hear from many pregnancy care centers around the country.

There are a host of reasons this phenomenon occurs such as not having a male friendly environment, the fact that over forty-five percent of pregnancy care centers predominantly use the words "Woman", "Women" in their agency titles and others. Men as clients, and ultimately volunteers, don't feel welcome in this environment. However, I have seen these issues being addressed for the last seven years and it brings me great joy to see so many pregnancy care centers understand the unplanned pregnancy issue is a "them" dilemma and not a "her" issue alone. The tide is changing.

It's going to take more than a name change, paint scheme and having male brochures on hand to turn this problem around. If I may, I would enjoy challenging you to go one step deeper in your understanding of why you may find it difficult in attracting and keeping male volunteers. It comes, from all sources, God's word:

“Do not muzzle an ox while it is treading out the grain.” Deuteronomy 25:4

A key reason many men do not come forward to volunteer is the simple fact that many men weigh the investment you're asking them to make as a volunteer as 'too high' or 'too rich' against the backdrop of the jobs/career and income they need to generate as the leaders of their home. In their spirit, they feel they would be muzzled in their capacity to logically provide support to you faithfully - then meet their key responsibilities as provider for their families. Therefore many a good man goes walking by - yet your legitimate need for male volunteers still exists.

A challenging predicament for sure, but one that is quite easily overcome. Things are not as bad as they seem. Follow me:

Some of the best mentors you could ever attract to work with male clients are those men in the workforce whose jobs or careers lead them to being ‘mobile’ or 'on the go' (salesmen, small business entrepreneurs, etc.). Most of the time these men need an “Office Away From the Office”. If you were to provide them a secure place where while they wait for males client to present themselves your male volunteers could complete the work their employers have hired them for.

Returning calls - writing quotes - developing presentations - forming contracts - follow up...

The concept is simple - provide men an office away from the office - many pregnancy care centers we have trained are doing it.

  1. Designated area for work (Office, Desk, networked computer)
  2. WI-FI internet availability, wireless internet access points (for his laptop, IPad, etc.)
  3. Wi-FI Color Laser Printer
  4. Ample Office Supplies
  5. Small Refrigerator with water and refreshments
  6. Peace and Quiet
This is a win-win-win. The idea being that while he is waiting the male volunteer is productive and hitting his primary goals to his employer and family with your goals secondary.

By allowing men to use your office environment as a quiet secure place where they can meet their primary goals your organization will logically become more attractive to the potential male mentor wanting to help you, but realistically knowing he has other priorities that must come first.

Download the Office Away From the Office one-pager to discuss with your team, male volunteers and donors/partners that can make it happen.

Till next time,

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

'Going Fishing' and Reaching Men in Need

He said, "Follow me and I will make you fishers of men". Using the backdrop of a fishing community as a way of life, Jesus positioned rather nicely, the fishing community to illustrate His ministry. The parallel of men fishing for a livelihood and how easily transferable the thought of men fishing for men's hearts minds was brilliant.

It's not far off when marketing services to male clients who find themselves in the throws of new found fatherhood. A key element to 'fishing for male clients' is your ability to attract male clients by selecting the right tackle and your means to cast the right bait before them. You want to solidly 'hook' them on the love and support you can provide them.

There are four measures [types of tackle and techniques] to attracting male clients to your services. They are Service, Cost, Place and Proclaim. We'll get to these terms in just a moment.

In the past we would have called these four measures your "marketing mix". This is a term Neil H. Borden presented in an article, The Concept of the Marketing Mix. Borden referenced this idea when he taught through his discovery of James Culliton's notion of a marketing manager as a "mixer of ingredients" just before the 50's. Borden's 'marketing mix' included product planning, pricing, branding, distribution channels, personal selling, advertising, promotions, packaging, display, servicing, physical handling, and finally fact finding and analysis. It was E. Jerome McCarthy who later linked these ingredients into four categories many of us know today as the 4 P's of marketing Product - Place - Price and Promotion.

Yet for a non-profit, seeking to work with men a concept known as 'marketing mix', while so very close in terminology, requires a subtly different tone and approach to reaching men in need. Using the fishing analogy to catch men, think of the terms Service, Cost, Place and Proclaim as the lures you have in your tackle box that you're going to go fishing with.

Tackle #1 - SERVICE - (2 Cor. 9:12-14) The term "Service" refers to the tangible, physical services you provide men. Here are some examples of the service decisions you will need to make in order to be most attractive to men's hearts:
  • Brand name - Give your service a name that reaches men's hearts - resonates with them
  • Functionality - Make it a “No brainer”
  • Styling - Is your style from the 70's, 80's, 90's or is it today?
  • Quality - Best, Best, Best - half measures are scorned
  • Safety - Make a guy feel secure, does he feel welcome and secure?
  • Presentation - Make it sincere, real and transparent
  • Support - Go beyond business hours
  • Promise - (Matt 5:37) Oath & Vows - yes, stick to your word
  • Services - No Snags, make it seamless
Tackle #2 - COST - (Luke 14:28-30) - Similar to Price in the 4P's of marketing is COST. What is the literal cost to a man wanting to receive services from you? Not so must cost in a literal dollars and pennies proposition, but a cost of time and energy. Here are five thoughts you'll have to consider:
  • Suggested Investment - Layout the cost for being involved with you
  • Cost Strategy - Compare your cost to other cost choices (Planned Parenthood)
  • Investment Incentives - Show the payoff, in his terms
  • Bundle multiple payoffs - Show more than one positive payoff
  • Cost Flexibility - Show variance of payoff from low to high
  • Cost Discrimination - Be able to show the real value of a decision with you vs. the competition
Tackle #3 - PLACE - (Matthew 13:3-9) - Simply put, where will men encounter the services you want to provide them? Have you thought of:
  • Administering Services - on-site & off-site. Some of the best ways to service guys are 'outside' your four walls.
  • Market coverage - how far and how deep will you go to serve men?
  • Specific service members - who gets to serve men where they're at? Can you scan your team and decide in advance how to match a particular mentor to a particular client?
  • Inventory Management - What do you need on hand to serve men and make them feel welcome?
  • Client Processing - How few steps can you take to keep info fresh and up to date, the more steps he's gotta take - the faster he leaves.
  • Transportation - How far will you go to get men? Can you transport them as an added benefit?
Tackle #4 - PROCLAIM - (Luke 14:17-19) In the context of a ministry's marketing mix, “Proclaiming” represents the various methods of marketing communication. The communication of information about your services with the goal of generating a positive client response. “Proclaiming” decisions include:
  • Promotional strategy - Will it be a “push” strategy like Abstinence or a “pull” strategy like Unplanned Pregnancy counseling? What is your strategy otherwise which makes them take a listening to what you have to say?
  • Advertising - How will you get word to men where they are most accessible?
  • Personal Proclaiming - How can you use your very own story to reach men? [by far, the most effective]
  • Public relations & publicity -Who can you partner with who is sympathetic to your work - which will give you access to guys? [The courts, hospitals, etc.]
  • Marketing Communications Budget - create a short-term to long-term budget.
Working the elements of Service, Cost, Place and Proclaim appropriately could lead to incredible nets full of men turning their lives around in protection of the women and children in their lives.

Till next time,

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Why the board needs to be on board

After four years of leading more than 300 pregnancy care centers to begin intentional men's programs there's one simple truth we've learned at Guys For Life. That is: "If the board of directors ain't on board with starting a men's program - T'aint nothing gonna get done about it - period."

At first glance that statement might sound harsh, even considered a hard edged thing to say by some. In reality it isn't a hard thing to say; it's one of the best things we could have discovered as an organization over time.

We've learned a highly qualified, strategic and purposeful board of directors who keep the main thing, the main thing, are responsible for a great number of uniquely selected initiatives . As a team they have got to be on board with a men's program as One-Team One Dream if a men's program is going to work well within their ministry model and have any chance of being successful.

Hence, should anyone want to start a men's program at a pregnancy care center, or like minded organization, we've developed a list of the top ten responsibilities of a board of directors [thanks to BoardSource] with specific suggestions from Guys For Life for Christian non-profits. This list should help anyone bridge the gap between them and a board of directors to join your vision of men's ministry:

Top Ten Responsibilities of a Non-Profit Board of Directors

1. Determine the organization's mission and purpose.
  • Ultimately, that by adding a Men’s Ministry [if you are Christ centered] the Gospel of Jesus Christ will be advanced (often considered a “DUH”, spell it out for them).
  • The Men’s Ministry enhances the mission and purpose and does not slow it down or distract from it.
  • Will the addition of a Men’s Ministry actually cause the mission and vision statement to change? (I.E. “Women”) Could it even impact a name change?
2. Select the chief executive.
  • You won’t be selecting the chief executive, however, how will a men’s ministry impact the workload of the chief executive (positively/negatively)?
  • How can a chief executive ‘parlay’ the men’s ministry with key donors and other community organizations for deeper levels of involvement? (Actually prepare this for them)
  • How/where will the Men’s Ministry come under the leadership of the chief executive?
3. Provide proper financial oversight.
  • A budget. Plain and simple. Start off small and build up. (Humble beginnings can be used by the Lord.
  • A fundraising plan - plans that do not counter the overall ministry and strengthen it.
  • Help with Partners (donors) to bring the lost ones back and forge new territory with prospective partners.
4. Ensure adequate resources.
  • An annual list of what you physically need in the form of supportive resources (well thought out and justified).
  • Additionally a list of conferences and training you see lifting up the male mentors and leaders to execute the mission.
  • People - Can the board be helpful to pointing you out to people groups they are associated with (CBMC, men’s groups, other organizations) that a volunteer presentation could be made?
5. Ensure legal and ethical integrity and maintain accountability.
  • Assurance that men’s program will be compliant with current policies of organization (search it out, are you?).
  • Men’s program is covered by center’s insurance (off-site, transport, etc.)
  • Men’s program is providing a “look in” into what they are planning and doing - No surprises!
6. Ensure effective organizational planning.
  • Making sure Men’s plan is in the Strategic Plan seamlessly and not disruptively (Dove Tail).
  • Any Men’s plans are well thought out from “Concept” to “Final Impact”.
  • Back up Plans - Prepare “What If” scenarios.
7. Recruit and orient new board members and assess board performance.
  • The Men’s Ministry will broaden the reach and impact of the overall ministry. As such the men’s program will be a great tool for reaching new board members.
8. Enhance the organization's public standing.
  • Testimonies - Gather victories in print and video (put ample resources in their hands to give out and use socially).
  • Program Highlights - Gather victories in print and video (put ample resources in their hands to give out and use socially).
  • Encouragement - Times will get tough and board members will struggle and wrestle. Make sure you have ample examples of how God is winning!
9. Determine, monitor, and strengthen the organization's programs and services.
  • Honest input - What’s working, what’s not working. Tell it like it is, let God be your defender.
  • Challenging input - The stuff they might not want to hear, but need to hear - respectfully and God honoring.
  • Suggested Changes - Don’t just bring them a problem, pack 1-3 solutions to each problem you can identify.
10. Support the chief executive and assess his or her performance.
  • Assurance that the Men’s Ministry are behind this person 100% and will give them their all (submit to Jesus).
  • Proof that the men’s program is not “needy” but rather a blessing to the leader and propels them further in excellence in Christ Jesus.
Should you 'come under' the leadership of the board lifting them up in this manner your men's program, and practically any other component of ministry not being addressed, will have a greater chance of 'buy in'. From there the overall general interest of the board for these initiatives should rise as each sides begins to respect the other. Up and to all the way through completion of the program should be protected once these considerations are put in place.

Till next time,

Monday, March 14, 2011

Who wants to be a Mentor and Why

Recently my bride Heidi and I watched a great documentary called Waiting For Superman. Written and directed by Davis Guggenheim the film underscores why America's public school system is failing. With a quick pivot Davis spotlight's what is working - charter schools - and Heidi and I quickly noticed why they are working. "Charter Schools foster students with highly qualified and highly motivated teachers as mentors."

In an instant, the answer to failing schools jumped off the screen. A highly interested, motivated and qualified mentor working with students for extended periods of quality time makes a difference. Giving students a total school life with great mentors gives him/her the advantage they need to succeed.

The same is true for men as mentors in the lives of men discovering new-found fatherhood.

Rewritten we could say - "A highly interested, motivated and qualified mentor working with new fathers for extended periods of quality time makes the difference in a father and family getting a 'fighting chance to make it'".

Yet, for us Christian guys looking to make difference in the world and the chance to impact a father, mother and unborn child what's some of the important stuff that's gotta be in the head and heart first, before we make a move to love these guys?

Take a good look at this: 1 Thessalonians 2:1-12

Notice something? A guy who wants to be a mentor of young men in new-found fatherhood needs to possess a few traits such as:

1) His message is God’s good news (v.2).
2) His motive is not impurity (v.3).
3) He does not do his work to please people (v.4).
4) He works/serves/ministers to please God (v.4) .
5) His manner is not one of trickery (v.3), flattery (v.5) or a cover up (v.5).
6) Rather his manner is one of courage (v.2), gentleness (v.7), love (vv. 8,11), toil (v.9) and holiness (v.10).

But you say - "Kurt, that's impossible. I have been in sales, I have been in management, I have been in leadership and not many people really spread God's good news, right? Everybody tries to please people, not many people live to please God. I know you gotta use trickery, flattery and cover up watcha can!" C'mon, don't be so strict - we're all good guys just trying to help out".

As founder of Guys For Life, you know what I say to that, "Nope I am not kidding. This is EXACTLY who wants to be a mentor and why." Being a good guy, ignoring these core principles and helping guys like you want to may work for a while. Yet in the end, you'll run outta fuel trying to help, get discouraged and move onto something else.

So where do you find these kind of men?

Try here:
  • Retired pastors (Your Pastor - they communicate with other pastors)
  • Retired men (Your church, men in your life, fathers, uncles, etc.)
  • Elders & Deacons not serving (Your church)
  • Men who have experienced and unplanned pregnancy for the + or - (an agency you are connected with)
  • Bi-Vocational Pastors (Your Church, seminaries placing pastors in your area)
  • Seminary Students (especially those pursuing an M.A.C.S) (Seminaries in your area)
  • College Students who have a practicum to fulfill in counseling (Communicate with all colleges in area)
  • Christian Psychology majors (Communicate with all colleges in area)
  • Members of churches that have strong and established Pro-Life groups (Your organization should know this)
  • Men enrolled in Promise Keepers, Men’s Fraternity, Men at the Cross, The Timothy Project
  • Young and budding churches who have a strong focus on outreach (inner-city) (Relevant magazine.com)
  • C.B.M.C groups (Christian Business Men’s Committee) and similar groups
These are the men who want to be mentors and why and where you can find them. Now go get 'em!

Till next time,