Client Spotlight: First Baptist Church of Raleigh

In early 2015, Dr. Dumas Harshaw, Jr. began to to realize that his church’s congregation was changing. The pastor of First Baptist Church in Raleigh, North Carolina knew that his church needed a new plan for the future.

“I could see the generation that had been so strong in sustaining the church begin to die out,” remembers Harshaw. “As that was happening, I saw we were also not bringing in people at the same level as earlier years.”

But the church had no process in place for navigating such an uncertain future. After receiving a recommendation from a friend, Harshaw contacted The INS Group to create a plan that would allow the pastor and congregation to work together in finding a solution.

Over the next year and a half, The INS Group led First Baptist through significant strategic and leadership planning designed to facilitate communication and buy-in among members of the congregation.

“It was really well organized,” says Harshaw. “Ruth outlined the path ahead and put together timelines and desired results. There was constant communication, understanding, and debriefing.”

The INS Group also took steps to ensure that members of First Baptist’s congregation were actively involved and informed throughout the process. Today, members of the congregation remain highly engaged. “So many people have participated in surveys and expressed their opinions in group meetings and signed up to be part of the implementation process,” observes Harshaw. “New energy is beginning to emerge, and that’s exciting. We have meetings every week.”

Harshaw recommends that other churches struggling with change consider strategic and leadership planning. “All churches go through historical and spiritual processes. There will come a time when there will be changing of guard,” he says. “Now we live in the atmosphere of a secular society, and it’s reflected in church as well. Your church may need to go back to the table and ask, Why are we here? What are we doing? What message do we want to give to others? To stay vibrant and engaged and aware, you have to have someone from outside come in and raise some questions.”

How does Dr. Harshaw feel about First Baptist’s future today? “It’s like a miracle to me. Where we are, it’s simply an answer to a prayer,” he shares. “We have longtime and newer members as well as members who have been here a while but were never involved. It’s intergenerational and diverse.” Today, Harshaw regularly recommends The INS Group’s services to other churches. “Ruth brings a lot of professionalism and a high level of skills and resources. It was a blessing to find and work with her.”

Is your faith-based organization considering a new plan in the face of change? Contact The INS Group to learn how we can help.

Posted in Capacity Building, Communications, Donors, Marketing/Public Relations, Nonprofit Management, Strategic Planning

Add to the Discussion

How Can Your Resource Development Committee Be Most Effective?

What your nonprofit resource development committee should be doing to developing donor relationships that lead to long-term organizational sustainability:

  • Develop policies and procedures
  • Ensure a strong case for support
  • Develop plans/procedures for board fundraising
  • Help develop strategies for the involvement and cultivation of major gifts
  • Track environmental factors affecting fundraising
  • Evaluate prospects’ increased levels of giving
  • Include non-board members and board members
  • Create a Fund Development Plan
  • Break down annual funding goals into quarterly goals with a specific methodology for securing funds
  • Indicate what board members and staff are expected to do
  • Help make monthly or quarterly reports

To learn more about The INS Group’s consulting services, please visit our website.

Posted in Capacity Building, Communications, Fund Development, Fundraising, Nonprofit Management, Strategic Planning

Add to the Discussion

Managing Organizational Growth: A Success Story

The Inter-Faith Food Shuttle launched in 1989 with a simple observation: edible food was being thrown out by food vendors instead of making it to the hands of the hungry. Twenty-eight years later, the Food Shuttle has evolved into into a thriving nonprofit that recovers over six million pounds of food a year across seven counties in North Carolina, with various programs designed to break the cycle of hunger.

How did the Food Shuttle grow from a grassroots effort to an inventive powerhouse tackling hunger across the state? The INS Group sat down with Executive Director Dave Koch to learn more.

“When Jill Staton Bullard and Maxine Solomon founded the Food Shuttle in 1989, the focus was around the recovery of food being thrown out from local restaurants and grocery stores,” says Koch, who joined the organization in January 2016. Today, the organization feeds 60,000 people a month and offers a number of educational and community food programs designed to “feed, teach, and grow.”

Key partnerships and strategic planning helped fuel the Food Shuttle’s growth over time, says Koch. After joining Feeding America, a national network of more than 200 food banks, the Food Shuttle was able to benefit from relationships with Walmart and other grocery store chains to recover large amounts of perishable food. “That enabled a lot of growth in terms of volume collection,” notes Koch.

However, former CEO and co-founder Jill Staton Bullard made sure to create other pathways for growth during her 26 years at the Food Shuttle—primarily through the creation of inventive programs designed to meet community needs. Today, the Food Shuttle’s Culinary Job Training Program offers 11 weeks of classroom learning and hands-on kitchen experience for participants, 70% of whom find a related job within 18 months. Meanwhile, Catering for a Cause provides affordable catering services to nonprofits, and the Food Shuttle regularly prepares meals for soup shelters, summer camps, and other programs. “We are a nontraditional food bank,” observes Koch.

Koch hopes that the Food Shuttle will increase its impact in the coming years by expanding programs within all seven counties it serves. (Currently, 80% of its services are in Wake and Durham Counties.) He would also like to expand programs targeting two vulnerable populations: children and seniors. “Our most impactful service is child hunger programming—Backpack Buddies and school pantries,” says Koch. “We deliver 2,300 backpacks each week during the school year, but there’s such a tremendous need. We could easily double, triple the number of backpacks we deliver.”

After 34 years in the corporate and nonprofit sectors, Koch is well accustomed to watching organizations change over time—and he has plenty of advice for nonprofit leaders. “Financial stability is always the key to an organization’s stability,” he observes. “Too many nonprofits get dependent on grants that are time limited and potentially take them places they shouldn’t be.” Koch also argues that it is critical for nonprofits to develop long-term strategic and funding plans. “Nonprofits, to be really viable, need to have a source of revenue generation that supports their mission,” he says.

Is your organization ready to plan for the future? Contact The INS Group to learn more about our strategic planning services.

Posted in Capacity Building, Communications, Nonprofit Management, Strategic Planning

Add to the Discussion

Your Fundraising Toolkit: What You Need When “Making the Ask”

You’ve built the relationships and scheduled the appointments. Now, with the following resources on hand, making the ask – and securing gifts – will be more effective than without them:

  • Elevator or grocery line speech
  • Case statement document
  • Strategic fund development plan
  • FAQ (frequently asked questions) one-sheet
  • Annual report
  • Rack card or tri-fold brochure
  • Newsletter
  • Fact sheets
  • Corporate or church packets
  • Business cards

Your nonprofit, faith-based organization, or government agency can achieve greater capacity when you participate in The INS Group webinars. Visit our website for the latest lineup.

Posted in Capacity Building, Communications, Donors, Fund Development, Fundraising

Add to the Discussion

Why Staff Buy-In Matters

The process of organizational change can be daunting: How will staff be onboarded? Has leadership made the right decision? Will the organization thrive?

Like many corporations, nonprofits often make decisions from the top down. However, incorporating staff into the decision making process can have tremendous benefits for organizations—and make change easier in the long run. Here are three advantages to seeking out staff buy-in:

1. It gives everyone a chance to understand the change.When staff members are not involved in decision making, the motivation for change can be difficult to understand or support. Introducing your staff at an early point can help them understand the strategy behind the change and observe the organization from a 30,000-foot view.

2. It gives leadership the opportunity to see change from another perspective. Change driven from the top can be difficult for people on the ground to implement if leadership doesn’t understand the nuances of the day-to-day work involved. Staff can offer valuable insight into small details that could cause larger problems down the road if implemented incorrectly. A broadly informed decision-making process can help organizations anticipate challenges and course-correct quickly as change unfolds.

3. It helps leadership direct how change is implemented. The earlier staff are involved in decision making, the more opportunities leadership has to shape how they are engaged. Create teams who are tasked with solving different problems. If research is required, find data hounds who enjoy searching out information. If you aren’t sure how to implement a certain change, seek out your practical, on-the-ground employees who are adept at logistics. Make use of energetic new blood and wise veterans alike by matching employees’ unique skill sets to the problems you need solved.

Does your organization need guidance with change management or leadership development? Contact The INS Group to learn how our team’s expertise can help.

Posted in Capacity Building, Communications, Donors

Add to the Discussion

Nonprofit Board Checklist: Roles & Responsibilities

Maintaining an effective board of directors, communicating their roles and responsibilities, and holding the board accountable is critical to the growth of every nonprofit. Here’s a useful checklist for your board to follow:

  • Understand plans/programs for fundraising
  • Endorse the case why someone should contribute to the nonprofit
  • Contribute the fullest measure of means
  • Offer names to be added to mailing list
  • Assist with identifying and evaluating prospects
  • Cultivate key prospects
  • Participate in board training on fundraising
  • Make introductions
  • Accompany others in solicitation visits to build relationships
  • Write follow-up and acknowledgement letters
  • Craft personal notes or appeals
  • Make personal phone calls
  • Make face-to-face solicitations
  • Commit to what you say you’ll do


From board recruitment and onboarding to responsibilities and structure development, The INS Group offers numerous services to help grow organizations. Contact us to learn more.

Posted in Board Development, Capacity Building, Communications, Fund Development, Fundraising, Nonprofit Management

Add to the Discussion

3 Must-Know Fundraising Trends (and 3 Strategies)

Nonprofits that stay in step with fundraising trends and anticipate what funders will be asking for will be best able to build their capacity in 2018.

Here are some top trends:

     Trend: There will be heightened demand for nonprofits to articulate the anticipated results of their work and to track whether those results are actually occurring.

     Strategy: Through the use of technology tools, nonprofits can more easily demonstrate the number of people served, the number of services provided, etc.

     Trend: Funders are increasingly interested in organizations that are able to leverage resources, collaborate with other groups, and build their organizational capacities.

     Strategy: Share successful model programs, including telling others how it was done and communicating to funders how information will be disseminated to others.

     Trend: Nonprofits will become more adept at using digital communications technologies and creative design to inform donors about the impact that they’ve achieved.

     Strategy: Shift from distributing annual reports only to include real-time reporting of your nonprofit’s impact.

Gain more capacity-building insights when you participate in The INS Group webinars. Check our website for the latest schedule.

Posted in Capacity Building, Communications, Donors, Fundraising, Marketing/Public Relations, Nonprofit Management, Strategic Planning

Add to the Discussion

5 Tips for Hiring Your Next Executive Director

For nearly two decades, Band Together has carried out a unique mission: using live music to raise funds and awareness for local nonprofits. Since 2001, the organization has helped its Triangle-area nonprofit partners fundraise nearly $8 million, in the process transforming itself into what it calls a “philanthropic machine.”

Earlier this year, Band Together’s longtime Executive Director resigned, leaving the organization without a leader. Below, Robert Ramseur, Jr., President of Band Together’s Board of Directions, describes five steps that helped the organization find the right fit.

1. Create a formal succession plan or take foundational steps for long-term planning. Band Together’s Board of Directors didn’t have a succession plan in place when their ED gave notice—but they had already taken early steps in planning for the future. “Several years ago, we created a strategic planning committee within the Board that looked at who we were as an organization and compiled information from partners and stakeholders,” remembers Ramseur. “That information helped steer the hiring process.”

2. Examine your organization’s mission and priorities. “Define the mission of the organization first, perhaps even conduct a long-range planning session with the Board,” suggests Ramseur. “We made sure we had a really good handle on our mission and where we wanted to go as an organization before we started looking for our new leader.”

3. Have the Board take ownership of the hiring process. Band Together’s Board of Directors split into three subcommittees: one to create the job description, another to review résumés, and and a third to conduct interviews. “We had the job description for our first ED, but after reading through it, we realized it needed to change,” says Ramseur. “We took a lot of time to examine the role of the ED and think about what we wanted in somebody. It was a pretty interesting process because we found out we were looking for something different than what we originally thought.”

4. Take advantage of outside resources and expertise. Before starting interviews, the Board consulted with an HR professional who gave a seminar on the interview process. “That was really valuable because what we ended up doing was defining the questions we were going to ask,” says Ramseur. “We honed in on who we are as a organization, what we were looking to do, and who fit our mission.” Ramseur also attended a nonprofit board governance course at Harvard Business School. “I came back ready to charge ahead because the Board had had all these discussions about succession planning but we just didn’t have anything formal,” remembers Ramseur. “By the time I got back, we got the announcement that the ED was leaving.”

5. Take your time. “It was very lucky we did not fall into the trap of moving too quickly to hire someone and ending up with wrong person,” reflects Ramseur. “Prior to doing that soul searching exercise, we had identified a number of candidates we thought would be a perfect fit for us. But after we put the hiring process into motion, we realized we were looking for someone different.” Ramseur recommends that, when possible, organizations not set deadlines around making a hire. “The only deadline we had was a résumé cutoff so we could get people off the fence,” he says. “We wanted to find the right person and it didn’t matter to us how long it would take. We ended up hiring our new Executive Director in less time than I expected.”

Is your organization looking for resources related to succession planning? Contact The INS Group to learn how we can help.

Posted in Capacity Building, Communications, Donors, Fundraising, Nonprofit Management, Strategic Planning

Add to the Discussion

4 Tips for Developing Strong In-Kind Relationships—from an Expert

Michael McLawhorn, an In-Kind Senior Manager for TROSA in Durham, NC, is responsible for sourcing nearly $4 million of in-kind donations each year for his organization’s residential substance abuse program. Here, he shares four strategies for increasing in-kind giving and making the most effective ask.

1. Before making an ask, consider everything your organization needs—from supplies to professional training. McLawhorn works with a team of 8-10 individuals to source a wide variety of donations for his organization. “We reach out to companies and corporations to solicit products for our residents—toilet paper, water, food, clothing, business and vocational training, lawn care, servicing for vehicles, tools,” he says. “Sometimes people come in and do things like leadership courses for residents. We also have great relationships with dentists and hygiene providers.”

2. Give donors space between requests unless they indicate otherwise. “With a lot of companies, it works out where we’re asking once a year. Some companies say, ‘OK, you can call me every 3-4 months,’ while some donors say, ‘Call me when you need something,” observes McLawhorn. “Every relationship is an individual relationship.”

3. Be sincere.“Tenacity is important, but the way you feel about your organization is everything,” says McLawhorn, who graduated from the TROSA program years ago. Today, many of his direct reports are graduates or current residents. “A lot of my guys have no experience, but they are very eager and they have skills that we can develop,” he explains. “So they’ll stumble and fumble on phone, but if they’re sincere and driven, it works out.”

4. Do your research. “Start talking with folks in May. The more you know about business and fiscal cycles, the better,” advises McLawhorn. “You should know the product as much as possible, know the person as much as possible… you want to know as much as you can.”

In-kind donations are an important part of a comprehensive, multi-tiered fundraising strategy. Looking to improve in-kind giving or other fundraising efforts at your organization? Send The INS Group a note today.

Posted in Capacity Building, Communications, Donors, Fundraising, Nonprofit Management, Strategic Planning

Add to the Discussion

Client Spotlight: YWCA Lower Cape Fear

In 2015, the YWCA Lower Cape Fear realized it needed to develop a new strategic plan.

“There had not been one for at least six years,” says Jenni Harris, President of YWCA’s Board of Directors. “We were in a position where we needed guidance on how to grow into a strong, functioning organization.”

YWCA contracted The INS Group to coordinate a strategic planning process that began with a comprehensive organizational assessment, including a Board and staff self-assessment, as well as interviews and focus groups with Board members, staff, clients, and community stakeholders. Board members and staff leadership then examined the recurring themes stemming from the organizational assessment, which led to a series of strategic planning meetings facilitated by The INS Group.

“It was amazing to realize the bonds and newly found passion that resulted from the efforts of the Board and staff coming together to talk through challenges and successes,” Harris reflects. “Ruth has a very calm presence that allows her to engage an entire group of people without conflict. That is a gift!”

Soon after this process, the YWCA decided to continue its partnership with The INS Group by targeting organizational fundraising. “Ruth helped us create a fund development plan that included a 120-day plan and multiple levels of fundraising that had not been done in the past,” says Harris. “Now we have a lot of ideas for short- and long-term fundraising efforts that will accomplish a number of strategic goals toward greater awareness of our services in the community.”

Today, the YWCA has a renewed perspective and strategic direction. “We have been able to move forward in hiring a new Executive Director with experience in external relations, and we hired a communications manager to assist us with public relations, member relations, and fundraising support,” says Harris. “It has been so much easier to share thoughts and ideas among Board and staff when everyone knows the end game.”

Would the YWCA consider working with The INS Group again? “Ruth was able to help us focus on our successes and assets and guide us in a direction that brought awareness to our programs without allowing mission creep,” shares Harris. “Today, the Board has a more focused emphasis on program accountability with measurable outcomes. We are huge fans of The INS Group!” Does your organization need additional support around fundraising, strategic planning, or Board management?

Contact The INS Group today to see how we can help!

Posted in Capacity Building, Communications, Fund Development, Fundraising, Nonprofit Management, Strategic Planning

Add to the Discussion