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Leadership Training Series (video): Episode 11 of 21 - Authentic Passion (part 7 of 7)

Updated: Apr 24

You'll get a quick summary of the Authentic Passion and Get it Done Culture videos from this series. It's 5 minutes and touches on a few of the key points your board and staff need to keep in mind so they are focused on "fulfilling" the mission, not just talking about it, and that creating a unified "get it done!" culture is one that will put you head and shoulders of above other nonprofits with lackluster "get by" cultures.

Intended Audience:

Executives, Board Members, Staff.

About the Series:

Welcome to my Nonprofit Leadership series "How to Build a Gold Standard Nonprofit."

Whether you're a seasoned executive director, or new to the nonprofit world, this video series of 21 videos will give you a set of tools and principles (and good reminders) that will help take your staff, board, organization, to the next level of performance and impact.

The videos are short. There is no mumbo-jumbo theory, just wise advice and practical tactics you can use and apply immediately. It all comes from though lessons I've learned while building eight nonprofits over the last 20 years.

I'll be sending out one video a week. For those who want to binge on the series, or if you missed an episode, you can find them all (and more) on my YouTube Channel -- The Nonprofit Mentor.

Save These Videos

Save these emails in a folder and send them to staff once a week. Or, show one or a two at every board meeting. You can even use them when on-boarding staff, board members, or volunteers. Enjoy and Learn!


PS: You can read more high-quality leadership content in the bestselling books below. (50% off)

by Tom Iselin

“America’s Best Board Retreat Facilitator”

Hi, Tom Iselin, here . . . and welcome to First Things First

This is Day 11 of Boot Camp—A Leadership Guide to Building a Gold Standard Nonprofit.

Over the past several shows, I talked about how you can transform a culture of lip service passion into one of authentic passion. And today, I’m going to wrap up the series with a quick summary of some of the salient points I covered.

Okay, as you may recall, I ran an nonprofit in the resort town of Sun Valley, ID, called Sun Valley Adaptive Sports. Some of its board members had tremendous excitement for the mission. The problem was, they made lots of noise about the mission they claimed to care so much about, but did little to fulfill it.

Like a faucet, it seemed they would turn on their passion only when it was time to talk with donors, secure a partnership, or bring on new board members. But it was all talk. It was lip service passion.

It took two years and a tremendous amount of resources to replace the Adaptive Sports board, and transform a culture deeply rooted in lip service passion into one of authen­tic passion.

Can you imagine how much time, energy, and money Adaptive Sports would have had available for programming, fundraising, and operations had it not had to redirect all these resources to transform its passion?

Luckily for Adaptive Sports, things changed and we survived. Most nonprofits with lip service passion do not change . . . they flail and flounder to the point where funding dries up, people leave, and the mission wilts like a flower that’s been starved of water.

If you want to be a high-performance, “do something” nonprofit, authentic passion must be front and center in hearts and minds of everyone connect with your nonprofit. It must be one of your structural and philosophical cornerstones, and it must be one of the first stones, and the most stable stones, you put in place. As I said, the suc­cess and sustaina­bility of everything your nonprofit does ulti­mately de­pends on it.

If you’re a startup nonprofit, it’s easier to establish a culture of authentic passion early on. You can include it in your bylaws, outline it in your statement of purpose, and hire staff and nominate board members with track records of authentic passion.

If you’re an established nonprofit, you have your work cut out for you. You’ll need to change your core documents, inspire staff and board members to change their ways (a huge challenge), and change the style in which you manage people and run operations. It will be like remod­eling a home while you’re living in it—expect the process to be messy and incon­venient, cost more than you budgeted, and take twice as long as planned.

The good news? Once you’ve remodeled your nonprofit and authentic passion becomes its driving purpose, profound things happen: Money flows in from unexpected sources. Volunteers offer limitless gifts and talents. Businesses shower you with donated services, and reporters call to write feature stories.

Most importantly, there becomes a steadfast commitment and a Ferris wheel of excitement by everyone connected with your nonprofit to “do something” and work with a pressing sense of pride and excellence to fulfill your mission and to share their experiences with infectious enthusi­asm to all they know. Lip service passion becomes full-service, authentic passion and everyone walks the walk with honor, humility, and gratitude . . . It’s nonprofit bliss!

Well, that’s it for the Authentic Passion series. Tune in next week, when I kick off a new Boot Camp series on how to create a unifying culture – a “Do Something” culture. And don’t forget to write me. Ask me a question or tell me what you’d like see on the show.

Until next week, create a great day! . . . Whooya!

Tom Iselin

“America’s Best Board Retreat and Strategic Planning Facilitator”

Additional Resources:


Tom's Books, Podcasts, and YouTube Channel

Tom Iselin has built four sector-leading nonprofits and four foundations. He’s written six books, sits on six boards, and hosts a video blog and podcast. Each year, Tom speaks to more than 5,000 nonprofit leaders at conferences across the country. He is considered America's best board retreat and strategic planning facilitator and is a leading authority on high-performance nonprofits, and his impact on the industry has been featured on CNN, Nightline, and in Newsweek.

Tom is the president of First Things First, a business specializing in board development retreats, strategic planning, fundraising, executive coaching, and speaking. To relax, he loves mountain biking, hiking, skiing, tennis, and baking.

If you’re in the hunt for the best board retreat/board development facilitation, or the best strategic planning facilitation, it would be a privilege to learn more about your organization and the aspirations you hope to achieve as you work to propel your noble mission. Jot me an email to set up a meet-and-greet call.

To learn more, visit:


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