Your Guide: Conquering the Development Mountain as a Nonprofit

In the May Inspire, I shared the importance of positioning yourselves as champions in your communities. This month, I want to take a look at what’s in your heart.

To be a champion, you must have the heart of a champion!

  • A true champion knows what they believe.
  • They’re personally involved in the work.
  • They love what they do AND want others to love it, too.

When I first started volunteering at a Rescue Mission at age 14, the administrative offices were located in the same building as the men’s program where the community meals were served. Every day, I worked alongside the homeless men who were taking out the trash, answering phones and mopping floors in our offices.

It was amazing to me that, as a volunteer, I had the opportunity to get to know these men on a deeper level. There are a few men that stood out from my time volunteering…

Felton, Jim, and Ralph


One of the first men I met was Felton, a self-described “hobo” who had a job and a family but lost it all because of alcohol. He left everything behind and hopped a train leaving California. By the time the train pulled into Kansas City, Felton was hungry, dirty and looking for a place to lay his head. It didn’t take long for someone to point him in the direction of the local rescue mission.


I also remember Jim, a construction worker who was around the same age as my dad. He was at church with his wife and daughter one Sunday when someone from the Mission was sharing about their programs and services. Jim realized he was no different than the men on the streets and that he needed help. He packed a small bag, said goodbye to his family and joined the Mission’s recovery program.


And then there was Ralph, a pastry chef by trade, who cooked meals at the Mission. Ralph was in his late 60s and had been on the streets since he was just 11 years old. His life had included a stint in the army, dozens of restaurant jobs and more years than he cared to remember sleeping under bridges and on park benches.

It didn’t take me long to realize that these men all had a love for the bottle, but they were searching for the love of the Lord… and that was exactly what the Mission provided.

Felton went on to work as a program supervisor at the Mission, remarry and raise a second family. Jim completed the program, reunited with his family and found a new job in construction. And Ralph… well, Ralph came and went for years, continuing to struggle with alcohol until the day he died.

You must be personally involved to tell the real story of your ministry!

  • Are you spending time getting to know the men and women in your programs?
  • Do you have lunch with those who come in off the streets?
  • Have you recently attended a class or chapel service or “volunteered” in an area of your ministry?
  • Have you introduced yourself to your volunteers?
  • Have you thanked your volunteers personally?

When you have a heart for others, it will shine through in everything you do!

Sharing your heart, sharing testimonies and sharing the work of your ministry is all a part of having the heart of a champion.

In today’s busy world, it can seem daunting to try to create genuine, meaningful connections with the men and women all around you.

All it really takes is a little time and a heart of love.

Obviously you have that heart for others, which is why you’ve chosen a life of ministry! But if you’re looking for specific tips, contact me for some inspiration or guidance.

And stay with me for the next few issues of Inspire as we continue to explore how to “conquer development.” You won’t want to miss next month’s article when I tackle the topic of confronting your fears.

We’re making progress… before long we’ll be at the top of the mountain together!

Brewer Academy – led by Shellie Speer – offers personalized guidance, training and mentorship on issues like development and key messaging. And that help is just an email away! Email Shellie now.

  • Shellie Speer

    Shellie Speer-Burnett, Senior Vice President, BDI Academy

    With over 30 years of partnership in Rescue Missions and nonprofit organizations, Shellie Speer-Burnett brings her expertise, counsel and philanthropic-centered passion to assist in furthering the work of BDI’s Rescue Mission clients. For 22 years of her career, she served as the Founder and President/CEO of her own agency, ENEX Group, which helped her clients capture hearts and donor loyalty in their communities.

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