The small center was doing okay. The board thought all was fine, but the executive director was beginning to feel fatigued. She kept saying that more staff was needed, but the funds were not available. Their town of 12,000 was in an economic downturn, the large factory had closed, so the board did not see that growth was possible. Their center relied on monthly gifts, a Walk For Life that earned $2,000 and a banquet that usually netted $8,000.
The director urged the board to hire a banquet-consulting group. "We have limited funds, now we are to pay a group to consult?" the board replied. "Why, their fee is almost one third of what we make!" Nevertheless, the intrepid executive director persisted, and after two years, they hired the group. The next banquet netted $24,000! The ministry began to flourish. They hired another staff member. Their second banquet netted almost $30,000! Monthly gifts increased, they were invited to more churches. This ministry is still growing in every area six years later.
Another center in a different state was ineffective. There were only two volunteers serving. The center was located in the basement of a run-down building. They were seeing 2 to 5 new clients per month. Two churches were supporting the ministry, and even though the location rent was next to nothing, the treasury was falling short of the needs. Two new board members expressed their concern. "This is not what we expected, there is something wrong," they said in dismay at a board meeting.
"Our area is so liberal," was the response from the director and other board members. "This is all we can expect."
The two would not take that as final. One of them began searching and found someone who agreed to travel to their city and consult with their group. The consultant's fee seemed impossible to those who were content with the status quo, but the two prevailed. The consultant spent three days on site. The recommendations were drastic: a complete makeover would be required. The board did follow the recommendations. One year later, the center is viable, there is a great new location, and there are 16 volunteers. Just last week, four new clients were seen in one day!
Both ministries invested money for consultations when it seemed impossible. Both centers had board members who objected to spending money for consultants. I am often asked if it is wise to pay for consultation services. To be honest, the question is usually phrased "Why do consultants charge so much?"
Here are some thoughts for the executive director and board members to ponder:
- Paying for consultation is scriptural. Jesus said, "Where your treasure is, there your heart will be also" (Matthew 6:21). I have noticed that when seminars cost participants money, the attendance is higher and the last-minute absences are fewer. That is because when we pay for something, it is of greater value, and there is heart involvement.
- Consultation is practical. Consultants and trainers invest time, resources for specialized study, and experience to meet a center's needs. The consultant sees many problems on a regular basis that the executive director is experiencing for the first time.
- Consultation provides an objective view of the organization and ministry. A consultant has an advantage of seeing positive aspects of the ministry as well as areas that need adjustment.
- Consultants have the benefit of years of study and experience in specific areas of operation. I personally subscribe to sources of information that the average center director or board member has no access to or time to read.
I have served in the pregnancy center ministry for 26 years. In addition, I have served on leadership teams in local churches. In all that time, I have never seen a ministry hire a consultant's services and lose resources. The consultant's ministry always produces positive, long-lasting results.
Take a few moments today to email me and ask about your consultation needs. I can direct you to the best possibilities for your situation. I would love to serve you and your center with mentoring and training, but if I know someone better equipped to handle your specific need, I will give you their contact information.
Bob Foust, Independent Consultant and Executive Director of Choose Life Alabama, served as executive director of the Sav-A-Life flagship office in Birmingham. He helped to establish 48 centers throughout the Southeastern United States. He and his wife have two grown (adopted) children. For more information visit his website, www.bobfoustandfriends.com, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.