david Gruder

The Secret Sauce of Engagement Intentions, Values, Skills & Procedures

P eople generally select a non- profit to support because they’re so aligned with its cause, and its ways of positively con-

afraid to tell fellow professionals about these outside-the- box methods. These methods weren’t going to gain the credibility they

tributing to it, that they decide this is the tribe for them. But what’s the secret sauce guiding whether someone decides to engage with your nonprofit as a member, volunteer, paid staff, or donor? My experience working with causes and nonprofits since the 1970s shows the foundation of engagement is a blend of intentions, values, skills and procedures. Intentions include a nonprofit’s vision, mission and goals. Values describe the principles the culture will embody while accomplishing the nonprofit’s intentions. Skills and implementation procedures enable people to turn a nonprofit’s intentions and values into effective actions that help it accomplish its reasons for existing, and in ways that those involved find deeply fulfilling. In a future article, I’ll describe three key skills (agreements, breakdown repair and performance reviews) for successfully turning leaders,staff and volunteers into effective collaborators. Here is the engagement foundation from which people become motivated to master those key skills, using, as an example, a nonprofit I co-founded. In the 1980s, pioneers in psychology were blending western psychology and eastern healing principles, and producing surprisingly promising results.By the 1990s,mental health professionals, educators and coaches turned this into a small movement. But these folks were isolated islands who were making their innovations and working with clients pretty much on their own, often

deserved unless an organization united the field. In1998,these innovators,educators,practitioners, and researchers were brought together, and the field was given a name: Energy Psychology (EP). The time finally came to establish a professional association for this field. So, partly because of my background in leadership and organizational development, and partly because I had become a leading trainer in the field, a fellow leader persuaded me to co-found with her the first nonprofit professional association uniting the field, and to serve as its first president. We named that organization the Association for Comprehensive Energy Psychology (ACEP). I had two main roles as ACEP’s founding president: 1) Embody and articulate the organization’s vision, mission and values to make joining irresistible to like-minded innovators, practitioners, researchers and donors. 2) Build a sustainable organization that would evolve to succeed with each of its rather ambitious initiatives. My personal goal was to become obsolete as rapidly as possible (that took four years). Months before opening for membership, we incorporated as a nonprofit, started 501(c) (3) filing, and fine-tuned the organization’s intentions, values, skills, and procedures. We knew the emerging field so well that we were very clear about what its adherents saw as its challenges, and what they were seeking in overcoming them. We opened ACEP to

22 I Nonprofit Professional Performance Magazine

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