Looking Back and Charging Forward – We’re Still Standing!

These three things are now vital for the success of your organization

It’s been more than a year since the US went into lockdown from the COVID-19 pandemic. I clearly remember standing shoulder-to-shoulder with the BDI staff as we crowded into our conference room, watching live as the government declared a national emergency.

I expected we’d have a couple weeks to plan and strategize. A mere 48-hours later our headquarters office was shuttered and the BDI staff were serving our partners fully remote. Talk about a test of being pivot-adept and change-capable!

Unemployment began to rise, businesses were shutting down and illness was spreading. To be candid, what seemed at first to be an unfortunate and concerning issue quickly turned into a brutal and widespread crisis. The world was tossed into dark new waters, unprepared to navigate the waves and obstacles ahead.

But the nation has persevered.

Fueled by faith, ministries charged on… stepping forward with an innovative spirit and can-do attitude that quickly became imperative for organizational success. Over the past year, leaders have continued to make bold moves – transcending the challenges and transforming into vision-driven organizations, supercharged by change.

  1. Who We Are: What is the purpose behind why you do what you do?
  2. How We Grow: Is your team equipped for change and ready to try new things?
  3. How We Operate: How well do you know your team and processes?

In these categories, we see a story paralleled by so many courageous, service-driven nonprofits. Instead of waiting for the storm to pass, they seized an opportunity to embrace change and befriend the unknown.

Alongside other nonprofits, BDI’s clients have made some bold steps in these areas. I’d like to share three stories with you in hopes that your organization can move forward with courage, knowledge and a revitalized hope.

Who You Are: Know Your Purpose

Hope of the Valley Rescue Mission, Los Angeles CA

As a big city with a large homeless population, Los Angeles has been a high-risk focal point for the spread of COVID-19 in California. Hope of the Valley Rescue Mission was contacted by the LA Conservation Corps to embark on a new project that would keep LA’s vulnerable individuals safe.


During the pandemic, Hope of the Valley Rescue Mission let go of their 2020 plans and expectations to pursue a greater call to help their homeless neighbors.

Does your leadership continuously keep an ear to the ground for the greater needs in your community? Do not hold plans, logistics or specific campaigns so tight that you lose sight of the ‘why’ behind your organization. Instead, be change-ready, confident and open to new opportunities so your team is ready to answer the call when a new challenge presents itself.

How You Grow: Build a network of support outside your staff

City Mission, Washington PA

This is the 27th year that City Mission hosted its annual Sweet Sunday Dessert Festival. Over the years, this fundraiser raised hundreds of thousands of dollars and focused the community’s attention towards the Mission’s needs.

Due to health restrictions, the Mission shifted this single-day in-person fundraiser to a fully-virtual month-long campaign. They expanded their digital capabilities to guide supporters online to order custom sweet boxes that would safely be delivered to their homes. Their flexibility and innovation paid off, delivering 25,000 sweets and meeting their fundraising goals! But they wouldn’t have been able to do it without the vendors, community volunteers and dedicated staff that stepped up to help.


After being unable to host their event as usual, City Mission leaned on their team and community partners to successfully execute this virtual campaign.

Is your organization fully utilizing its connections and community to further your mission? It’s not too late to expand your digital capabilities and build a network of supporters online. Connecting virtually with colleagues, partners and donors can help your team tap into new wellsprings of interested individuals who can elevate your cause and move your programs into greater waters.

How You Operate: Lean on facts and expert advice

City Union Mission, Kansas City MO

Crisis amplified the cause of City Union Mission, encouraging the team to push for support and foster additional funds for the mission. After seeking advice of trusted advisors, the Mission leadership decided to increase their acquisition budget by 25%.

The results were outstanding! Their acquisition resulted in a 53% increased response rate, and an unusually positive ROI that generated a net of +$0.52 per donor acquired. If retained over the course of the next five years, these new donors will give $1,566,600 to the Mission.


Even though City Union Mission found success in increasing their acquisition budget, that’s not the main takeaway. Their decision was rooted in thorough data analysis and consultation with advisers. They leaned on facts and experts to help guide their steps.

Making bold moves during rapidly changing times can bring great value. But first, are you taking into account the capabilities of your team, the capacity of your organization and the counsel of trusted advisers?

Be proud of the courageous decisions you have made and the bold steps you have taken to move your organization forward over the past year. We are proud of you!

This is what being in the restoration and transformation business is all about.

When the chips are down, who will step forward to serve… sacrificially give… and lead? We will, together. None of this was a surprise to our Heavenly Father. He’s chosen each of you for a purpose in this ongoing story of overcoming tragedy, and is blessing us with the opportunity to grow personally.

As new challenges come, my prayer is that you find energy in the truth that the Lord has called you to do His Kingdom work. Seasons of great change allow us to empower our team, further our purpose and unite with others in a shared vision to improve lives.

  • Michael Tomlinson, BDI CEO and President

    Michael J. Tomlinson, CEO and President

    Michael J. Tomlinson, better known as “MT,” is the CEO and President of BDI. With more than 25 years of executive leadership in business development and media, MT’s expertise involves leading organizations like Dr. James Dobson’s Family Talk and Dunham+Company in the ideation and execution of successful integrated marketing, broadcast and digital media, and fundraising strategies that fuel growth.

More fuel for more impact.

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