Cultivating and Focusing Resources to Sustain Your Mission’s Impact
Across the country one sees the need for affordable housing, quality schools, edifying worship spaces and the spiritual and mental grounding that comes from an active faith life. Yet, one also witnesses the declining Catholicity in society as evidenced by young adults declaring no religious preference and internal tensions in the Catholic Church. This is the same Church that created centers of learning (e.g., universities), promoted universal education for all (including disadvantaged immigrants) by building a vast parochial school system, and provides millions of dollars to the needy every year.
How does the Catholic Church begin to address these contrasts and existential issues? Though we are assured by the Lord’s words that the Church will always exist, how many souls will be lost if things continue on the current trajectory? And can your specific parish, diocese, school or religious order maintain its impact under the same configuration?
A first, needed step is to adjust to a missionary or apostolic mindset. Second, one must think through (i.e., plan) how to best deploy or repurpose temporal assets to achieve mission impact. We know most clerical and religious leaders (including paid and volunteer laity) have not been trained in strategic planning or project management, or are not experienced in real estate development or major financings. Yet cumulatively they are in charge of billions of dollars of real estate holdings. This skills gap is daunting and can be paralyzing. But we know that, with God, all things are possible, and these challenges can be methodically and faithfully confronted.
Major Projects for Timeless Missions
This guide – Making MegaMoves: Cultivating and Focusing to Sustain Your Mission’s Impact– offers ideas for securing the future of your Catholic institution by more effectively undertaking strategic initiatives and large projects, to bring corporal and spiritual works of mercy to life. Our friends at VeraCruz provided great insights into how Catholic institutions can best undertake complex initiatives or finance their largest projects while sizing and managing risks.
Such mega moves might include repositioning or repurposing existing properties, constructing new facilities, reconfiguring organizations, adjusting governance or pursuing other strategic initiatives. Such initiatives – even if well-planned and necessary – are at risk of becoming a liability and public flashpoint if they are poorly executed or unsustainably financed.
So then, what are the keys to successfully completing major initiatives? It starts with understanding their common feature: they are big, complex and require expertise, collaboration among various disciplines and the use of data and feedback to guide decision-making. These strategic initiatives – such as reconfiguring a Province (or Diocese), creating a new cathedral, or building a college dormitory – may only take place once in a generation. In other words, they constitute high-impact, low-frequency events.
Mega moves are important to your organization’s future, entail significant risk, and require collaboration with a broad range of stakeholders. Typically, these projects require planning, knowledge and execution skills that few organizations have in-house. In addition, most Catholic institutions and leaders are not accustomed to overseeing these types of infrequent and large projects. Initiative leaders are required to assess and select from a range of viable scenarios, that is, making key decisions. A solution is to complement resident knowledge and skills with external expertise, resources and methods to accomplish these major undertakings.
Maintaining Momentum and Enthusiasm
By preparing thoroughly and engaging the right expertise at the right times, initial enthusiasm for a new project can be sustained, donors and other supporters will feel valued, and any delays, execution errors, cost escalation or financing missteps can be avoided.
In the following pages, we’ll touch on these and other topics:
- Exploring opportunities to drive major positive change for the institution
- Looking at existing assets in new ways, and envisioning exciting large-scale projects
- Building momentum through dialogue and rigorous planning
- Getting the right team together, drawing on internal and external expertise
- Understanding the dynamics of financing and future obligations
- Appointing a “conductor” to orchestrate efforts and keep the tempo of progress
CIS created this resource to help you pursue mega moves with knowledge and confidence, in keeping with the mission of the CIS Institute, with its range of eBook, articles, videos, webcasts and podcasts. In creating this eBook we’re delighted to have collaborated with VeraCruz Advisory, a firm that has helped Catholic and other nonprofit institutions to fulfill their missions by providing strategic, financial and enterprise consulting.
Please enjoy this resource and feel free to share your comments and questions with us at firstname.lastname@example.org.