How to Speak the Language of Business Leaders

 The Fort Wayne Rescue Mission, founded in 1903, is a faith-based, nonprofit, 501(c)(3) organization, providing restorative care to men, women and children experiencing a homeless crisis. Our organization serves Fort Wayne, Allen County and its nine surrounding counties. The Mission is comprised of four ministries, or houses, that function as communities of compassion.

This is an article I wrote as apart of a state sponsored grant portfolio, Bright Ideas Indiana, researching and highlighting best nonprofit practices in the state of Indiana.

Fort Wayne Rescue Mission (FWRM), located in Fort Wayne, IN,  has been addressing the needs of its county for over 100 years. Originally founded to be a Christian halfway house for alcoholics whose families sent them to FWRM to, in the words of Donovan Coley (CEO/Senior Pastor of FWRM), “get sober and get ‘religion’”, FWRM has continued to adapt to meet its community’s evolving needs. The key to its longevity has to do with its emphasis on running themselves like a business, a value that has been recognized and lauded by the BBB who gave FWRM a torch award in 2014.

This recognition is due to the abundant fruit born of strategic processes put in place both by FWRM’s board members and its CEO Donovan Coley. Early in Mr. Coley’s tenure he understood the fundamental challenge to fundraising was communicating FWRM’s value statement to corporate America and the public sector in terms that were both quantifiable and familiar. While FWRM is a non-profit looking to bring people to holistic health, it is also an organization that is strategically driven by statistics and best practices. By implementing logic models, tracking each client-service outcome, mapping out ROI’s for contributors, and clearly communicating how investing in FWRM saves the taxpayer significantly (by curbing prisoner recidivism and reliance on government support programs), it demonstrates that it is not only invested in the flourishing of it clients (Mr. Coley’s preferred term of reference for those FWRM helps) but also deeply respects the contributions of its partners.

This emphasis on professionalism has impacted FWRM on a variety of levels including its hiring practices. Many of its staff have an MA in the fields of social work, marriage and family therapy, organizational leadership, and business administration, while others are licensed addiction counselors, and still more carry years of experience in the social services that enhance the level of service FWRM provides to its residents. While FWRM retains its identity as a Christian centered facility, it embraces the capacity of the social sciences to bolster its impact.

This article was originally published on the Bright Ideas Indiana blog and can be read in full here.