Friday, June 10, 2016

Crunch Time in All-America City Competition

Crunch Time in the All-America City Competition
It was twenty years ago that Hartsville, South Carolina was named an All-America City in the National Civic League competition.  It was 20 years ago after some devastating things that happened around the community causing man who cared to do what Hartsvillians do – get involved.  Flossie Hopkins was mayor and Bill Bruton was city manager.  Lots of people who cared about the city had been doing lots of innovative things to solve problems and get jumpstarts on pressing issues.

The 2016 competition
Fast-forward to 2016. We enter this competition at the urging of Natalie Zeigler our city manager and Mel Pennington our mayor with strong support from City Council and other organizations in our city.  Hartsville is moving forward at a fast pace.  We have people who are involved in helping to create solutions to obvious problems. We have people who are involved in the daily grind of what some of us know as community building – working to make Hartsville an even better community today than yesterday and way – wayyyyyyyy better tomorrow and the next day.

Setting a high bar in community development
And that is one place the All-America City competition comes into play.  How is this dynamic, cosmopolitan small city in the Pee Dee of South Carolina doing in comparison with other growth, quality minded communities around the country.  In Hartsville we like to compete and we like to see the bar continually raised.  All-America City competition raises the bar.

Hard charging team of youth and adults
This year we have a team of nearly 25 individuals heading out to Denver, Colorado to help tell the stories of how we have been working to make our community a much better place for youth at all levels. Hartsville has recently begun a social media campaign themed #IAMHARTSVILLE to begin building visibility for this initiative that has been going on for nearly seven months with intense collaboration over the past six weeks.  The team, which includes six youth, has been practicing and rehearsing to consolidate the Hartsville story into a ten minute presentation and a ten-minute Q&A with judges.  Mary Catherine Farrell, who has been in charge of pulling this project together, says the team has been working very hard and she thinks they are ready.

Empowering youth is the 2016 theme
The overall theme of the competition is empowering youth. The Hartsville story is one of pulling together from a variety of devastating incidents to developing a wide array of successful programs helping empower youth and aid their school performance.
The Byerly Foundation aided many of the programs with seed funds and other funding. The people of Hartsville have done the work and while we already believe we live in an All-America we hope the team is successful in the competition so we have that outside validation!  Go Hartsville!

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Fundraiser Provokes New Thinking for Non-Profit Industry

I have recently finished a thought-provoking book on philanthropy. Jimmy LaRose wrote this book to encapsulate the advice he has been giving his clients for a number of years. It is advice that does not go down easy and it is advice that does not always make him popular in the non-profit industry. LaRose, who is based in Lexington, S.C., titled the book RE-IMAGINING PHILANTHROPY.  His is a challenging message that I have to believe has received a good bit of blow back in much of the non-profit world.

Why the blow back? Well, LaRose is telling non-profits they need to do a better job of serving their primary clients while at the same time telling them the primary client is not the person receiving the non-profit’s services but the person and the people supplying the funds to sustain the non-profit’s work.

Throughout his book and the videos and other materials in which he shares his ideas, which are bed rocked in the statement, “Money is more important than mission (or Ministry).” (p 30)
With his unblinking focus on money, which he terms the oxygen of the non-profit system, he then concludes that “donors are more important than causes or people.” (p 33)
                                                Who is the actual "client"/ "customer?"
And as he continues to build his argument in that first chapter of his book, his next major position is that the customers, clients or non-profits are not those who are served but those whose money pays for the services. His in-your-face statement in positive terms is: “Successful nonprofits understand that donors are the object of their mission and must be served before people in need.” (p34)

Reading this as the executive director of a grant makingorganization (a donor organization) it immediately struck me that LaRose was choosing a very provocative frame around which to discuss how philanthropy might work. As a donor organization we work with non-profits to help them achieve amazing goals and succeed in making a positive difference in the life of people and the structure of community. I am not sure we have ever thought of ourselves as the customers of the non-profit.

As I process the information from this book, I am still not sure on which side I come down but I can say it provokes thought and new ideas for strategy and tactics in both fund raising and organization management.
                                                          Example of Mission Statements Changing
In this blog I am not going to try to provide all the arguments or assess the arguments. In this communication my goal is to make you aware the argument is out there.  And to show you a little about the direction the argument takes here is an example LaRose gives of a typical mission statement: “Harvest Town Food Bank exists to provide our community’s hurting, hungry, and homeless the clothing, food, and nutritional care they so desperately need.”  (p 35)  Now, here is that mission rewritten with a new audience as focus:  “Harvest Town Food Bank provides donors, volunteers, and advocated the organization they require to serve our community’s hurting, hungry and homeless.”
                                                              Opening New Discussion
Once you begin to see what reimagining philanthropy means in terms of mission it begins to make more sense and lead onto multiple paths of discussion – if not understanding – that may need to be part of building stronger, more sustainable non-profit organizations.
I have an extra book and am willing to share with anyone who would like to read it. And, you can find much of the Jimmy LaRose message in video on his website

Friday, March 11, 2016

Impact and Outcomes becoming even more important in grant process

The Byerly Foundation Board has recently spent time having strategic conversations within the Board to determine if our grant processes are as good as they can be.  We know that our grantees have been able to make big differences in Hartsville and at the same time we wonder if there are other ways The Byerly Board might help focus even greater results.

One tool that the Board is thinking of implementing for our coming grant cycles is a set of five questions that have been constructed by the independent sector organization that we were introduced to by Charles Weathers of The Weathers Group. 

These questions seem to make sense for any organization looking at its programs and we think they make sense for a grant making board as it looks to which of the many solid requests it will be able to fund in a grant cycle will likely be:
1 – What is your organization aiming to accomplish with this funding?
2 – What are your strategies for making this happen?
3 – What are your organization’s capabilities for doing this?
4 – How will your organization know if you are making progress?
5 – What have and haven’t you accomplished so far?

If this were a discussion instead of a blog many people around the table might be thinking this is what we always include in our grant proposals. And, for many organizations this may be the case. At the very least, it is going to get both our Foundation Board and our grantee organizations focused on the impact/outcome discussion. As The ByerlyFoundation begins to plan for the coming grant cycle the idea of impact and outcomes is probably going to be taking more central focus in the thinking.  The Board has often done this with major grants and the thinking is moving toward this process becoming more critical for all the grants. We are in fact looking at this discussion as if we might be a grant seeker. Strategically, we are working to answer one of the major questions put out by the independent sector tool, "If someone unfamiliar with out work were to read about our grants, would have they have a clear definition of what long-term success means to our efforts?"

This blog is an opening in the discussion and we are looking for ways to extend this discussion. One of those ways will be some grant preparation workshops that will be held in April to get input and provide a little more direction to the grant seeking process.

Friday, March 04, 2016

Community Building and Psychic Income

On an almost daily basis I am amazed at the intelligence, creativity, energy, zeal, and time people from nearly every walk of life are putting in to make Hartsville an even better place to live, work and raise a family. Some are doing these things because they are part of their jobs -- and in most cases the real compensation for the extra they are putting into the community-building aspect of these jobs is only covered under psychic income.

Public officials in Hartsville get paid but their pay is not substantial in most cases and in nearly all cases they would be compensated much more richly were they putting their efforts into earning money.

Community volunteers are getting no financial compensation at all for what they do.  I work for a board of trustees at The Byerly Foundation who all have joined the Board to contribute to making this community one of the best in the world. They get no financial compensation. In the world of Foundations, many private foundation boards do earn money for their service.

City staff do get paid for their efforts. In some cases the pay is adequate and in some cases the pay is way low for city-value received yet we have some of the best "public servants" in Hartsville that you will find in government work around this country.  Many of the people I am thinking of almost never turn off their availability to helping meet our city's challenges.  Just had a conversation with one of those city people earlier this week and she was already planning her weekend around making significant headway on one of her city projects. No overtime involved in that decision; just a dedicated community builder.

I am glad we have people who will work for the psychic income their roles provide because we would not be able to afford them at market rates that people of their caliber bring in the corporate or business world.

My guess is that all of us know people who are dedicating a great deal of their time to making things better in our city, in our schools, with our children, in our public spaces, in our public places -- you would be amazed at how much a quick thank you would add to their life satisfaction. And, even without the thank you they are going to "keep on, keeping on."

Psychic income is often very valuable personal compensation.

Thursday, February 11, 2016

Celebrations and Awards Help Build Community

The front page of THE HARTSVILLE MESSENGER this past Wednesday included a prominent photo of Jamie Morphis accepting the Hartsville Citizen of the Year Award. This Award is presented by the Hartsville Rotary Club, and has been decades. Celebrating community heroes is one of the tools for building stronger communities.  In Hartsville, we are fortunate to have the opportunity for a lot of these hero celebrations and they continue to play a vital role in the community-building culture so important to the vitality of this community.

Jamie Morphis, whose community building accomplishments are long, was not the only person honored at the Hartsville Chamber of Commerce Annual Dinner this past Monday night. The Chamber's program included several other hero-recognitions by other community organizations. And as I write about this topic you should notice that having an umbrella organization like a Chamber, which Rich Harwood might call a boundary-spanning organization as the host for such a recognition event is another crucial tool in the community-building kit.

Celebrations of people and celebrations of accomplishments are important in our process because it shows what we, as a community, believe are important to our culture and key areas to spend some of our precious resources.

The link above to the Chamber website will show photos of the Volunteer of the Year, the Caregiver of the Year, the Businessperson of the Year, the Innovator of the Year and the Young Professional of the Year. Celebrations show momentum and if you are involved in community building -- let those celebrations continue!

Thursday, January 28, 2016

Community Building takes leadership and Leadership is not always easy

Building community is an undertaking that constant scrutiny by people who are willing to move from their comfort zone to spheres of leadership.  Community building is not easy. Being a leader is not easy.  One of the leadership principles that I have seen work over and over again is exhibited by gutsy leaders who are willing to own the problem. "It's not my fault" is the refrain we hear so often when a situation needs repair and rebuilding.

Leaders in community building generally are not all that interested in finding fault; they are interested in creating solutions.

The solution comes far more quickly when we decide it matters a lot less now about who caused it and why and a lot more about how do we fix it. There is only so much building energy to be tapped. A leader who comes in with a willingness to own the problem is likely going to have a team working on the solutions long before the manager who has a need to fix blame and punish shortcomings.

Michael Hyatt, whose platform is as a virtual mentor, had an interesting blog post this morning on key leadership characteristics written about by former Navy SEAL Team leaders.  The post is a quick read and well worth the read if you are into leading community building efforts.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Byerly Foundation Acts As Catalyst with Hartsville Grantmaking

The Byerly Foundation has been making grants in Hartsville since the late 1990s. The Foundation was formed from the proceeds of the sale of The Byerly Hospital to a for-profit hospital company. The Board of the Hospital opted to form a private foundation and use the proceeds from that sale over time to help various projects across the Hartsville area. Today, the Foundation has just over $22 million invested and it distributes grants equal to five percent of the assets on an annual basis.


This week the Foundation announced that it has opened the grant cycle for the 2014/2015 grant making year. Grants will be accepted through July 21 and the Board of The Foundation will be discussing the grants at meetings during the summer and early fall. Here is the announcement of the grantmaking process:

May 28, 2014
                Hartsville, SC – The Byerly Foundation will be accepting grant-concept letters from now through July 21, 2014 for the 2014/2015 grant year.
The Byerly Foundation’s fundamental mission is to help the Hartsville, South Carolina area become one of the best places in the world in which to live. All of the grants approved by the Board must have a direct impact on the immediate Hartsville, SC, community. The Foundation has focused its grant making on education, economic development and quality of life projects.

Concept Letter
The Foundation’s grant making process generally begins with a concept letter of one to three pages. The Foundation funds grants to non-profit 501(C)-3 organizations, schools, colleges, and government-sponsored community projects. Grant making for private foundations is regulated by the U. S. Tax Code. Persons with questions about eligibility should call the Foundation (383-2400).
Concept letters are requested because the Foundation Board desires to minimize the investment of time and resources for organizations to request grant funding. The Board does not require a fully developed grant request but does need certain specific information. The concept letter must include:
      Name of organization and stated proof of eligibility
·         A description of the project envisioned by the organization
·        The outcome(s) that will result from the implementation of the grant project
·         The amount of funding being requested from the Foundation
·        The total cost of the planned project and the sources of other funding
·         The list of officers and board members of the organization
·         An explanation of how the project will make Hartsville a stronger community
The executive director of The Byerly Foundation, Richard Puffer, is available to help answer questions and provide any other guidance that organizations may need as they think about applying for grants. The Foundation’s email is And the phone number is 843-383-2400.
The concept letters may be sent to The Foundation at P.O. Box 1925, Hartsville, SC 29551 or dropped off at the office at 101 North Second Street. They may also be submitted as attachments to an email message.
Grant making timeline
1.       The announcement of the grant-making cycle will be in late May.
2.       Concept letters will be accepted through July 21.
3.       The Board will begin reading and reviewing grant requests after they are received
4.       When the Board has questions, organizations will be contacted for more information.
5.       The Board will plan on taking action on grants at the August and September meetings.

The Byerly Foundation – A short history
The Byerly Foundation was established in 1995 with the sale of The Byerly Hospital to Hospital Management Associates. The proceeds of that sale were put into a private foundation managed by a volunteer Board of Directors. The Foundation has been making grants for the Hartsville area since 1998. The Foundation has approximately $22 million invested and according to tax law givers away five percent of those assets in grants on an annual basis.
The Foundation is governed by a volunteer board of directors. Johnna Shirley is the the Chair of the Board; Rob Tiede is the treasurer; Brianna Douglas is the secretary.  Other members of the Board include: Jerome Reyes,  Steve Avant, Monty Bell, Harris DeLoach, Nancy McGee, Barry Saunders, Alvin Heatley and Todd Shifflet. Richard Puffer is the executive director of The Foundation.

For More Information:
Richard A. Puffer