The Worthy Organization
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The Worthy Organization

About the Book

This book is about successfully organizing any association, club, society, or project that you and your friends want to found or revitalize.

The techniques described here will work for any organization that requires a corps of volunteers or members. We are assuming that you want to pull together like-minded people for some worthy purpose. Therefore in this text, while we may talk about clubs and societies, as well as members and volunteers, the distinctions are not important: they are all organizations of volunteers that may or may not have staff support.

Over the years Robert Ballantyne has been drawn to participate in leadership roles in support of tourism and civic boosterism organizations, professional societies, astronomy clubs, educational institutions, and environmental organizations. Along the way he was able to observe and work with some amazing organizers. This book began as a collection of practical processes that he  learned from them, or discovered from making his own mistakes. Sherry S. Jennings joined this collaboration and brought her own wealth of experiences.

As this was being written governments everywhere were withdrawing support for many of the programs and institutions that we value to provide the quality of life that we wish to enjoy. The conclusion is that more and more we are counting on our nonprofit facilities and organizations to fill that gap. We need you to learn how to be successful with your project. This book is a collection of sharp tools that produce real results.

Related website and blog:


Read This First — 1

Your Role, Your Passion — 7, Mission & Vision — 10, The Leadership — 17, The Champion — 22

Member & Volunteer Recruitment — 25

Prospecting – Step 1 — 31, Making the Case – Step 2 — 31, Ask The Person to Join – Step 3 — 32, Objections – Step 4 — 32, Complete the Recruitment – Step 5 — 33

Public Events and Members’ Meetings — 34

Regular members' meetings — 35, Major events — 38, Greeting, and Follow-up — 39

Volunteers — 45

Who is Responsible for the Volunteer Program? — 46, Why people Volunteer — 48, Finding and asking for Volunteers — 50, Volunteer training and record keeping — 52, Rewarding Volunteers — 54

The Newsletter — 56

The official communication for your association — 56, Quantifiable evidence of a successful newsletter — 59, Use lots of photos & Mention Names — 60, Editorial Style — 62, Reporting — 63, Features — 64, Amusing — 65, Pictures — 65, No wall of type — 66, Bylines — 67, Incisive Journalism — 67, Additional Newsletter Content: — 68, A source of useful reference — 68, List names of: — 68, How-to Articles — 69, Events — 69, Issues — 69, Make the Newsletter Timely — 70, Do Not Beg for Volunteers in the Newsletter — 71, Newsletter Format — 72, 

Programs, Courses, and Meetings —  75

Suggested format for regular meetings of members — 75, Public events — 80, Courses — 80, Projects — 83

The Organization — Getting things done — 84

Evolving from Startup to Good Governance — 87, Meetings — 98, The Power of the Chair /Agendas /Minutes — 98, Consensus vs. Parliamentary Decisions — 107, Role of Committees —  116, A Suggested Format for Committee Terms of Reference — 118, Financial solvency — 122

Fundraising — 130

Logic Model — 130, Sponsorship — 131, Grants — 136, Donorship — 140, Major Gifts —140, The Ongoing Relationship — 144, Other Elements of a Fundraising Program — 145, Planned Giving — 147, Membership fees — 147, The War Chest, Nest Egg, Rainy-Day Fund, or Reserve — 148

Public Visibility — 149

Public Relations and Promotion — 149, Media Relations — 150, The News Release — 156, The Media Conference — 160, The Media Interview — 168, A Final Word About Damage Control — 180

Some last thoughts — 181

A Word Of Advice To Members Who Have a Long Service Record — 181, A Word To The Acknowledged Leaders in Your Community — 182, A Word to Board Leaders about Succession Planning — 184

Acknowledgments — 186

About the Authors

Robert Ballantyne
Robert J Ballantyne

While in his early twenties, Robert was able to combine his desire to tell stories with film (he still has his 16mm Bolex camera) and his love of astronomy when he was hired by the Planetarium Dow in Montreal. Over the next 20 years he produced planetarium shows in Montreal, Toronto and Winnipeg. During his 8 years in Toronto he learned how to be a spokesperson for the McLaughlin Planetarium. Then he was off to direct the Manitoba Planetarium in Winnipeg for a decade. While in that city he was elected president of Winnipeg AM, and then president of the Convention and Visitors Bureau. He was appointed the honorary chair of the Cross Canada Science fair, and later elected president of the Canadian Nature Federation. For a year he was the Interim CEO of the Marmot Recovery Foundation. Along the way he has performed several radio series and written a newspaper column. Since 1989 he has been a consultant working out of Bowen Island near Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. In 1998 John and Miriam Carver trained him in the process to implement Policy Governance®. Robert is a founding partner of The Xylem-Group. Currently (2014) he is the president of BC Spaces for Nature. Ballantyne & Associates

Sherry S. Jennings, PhD
Sherry S. Jennings, PhD

Sherry S. Jennings PhD is the founder and principal consultant of Sound Governance. Sherry holds a BS in Human Services Management, two Master's degrees in Psychology and Industrial-Organizational Psychology, and a PhD in Industrial-Organizational Psychology. Her academic understanding is supplemented by first-hand experience with the challenges of running both all-volunteer organizations and membership organizations. In addition to her work serving the community as a hands-on volunteer, Sherry serves on public and private foundations boards. 

Prior to starting her private practice, Sherry served as an executive of a national nonprofit trade association serving nearly 200,000 members. Since 2000, Sherry is consulting with organization leaders on developing sound organizational policies and practices. Her clients benefit from positive, strength-based strategies to determine the factors and forces that bring about success. Sherry has assisted a wide variety of clients and industries—agriculture, arts, banking, education, healthcare, human services, international marketing and trade, public lands, utilities, technology, and more. 

Her company, Sound Governance, is part of The Xylem Group -- an international think tank on governance, leadership, and accountability. As a published author of a number of peer-reviewed articles on governance, strategic planning, and board service, Sherry has researched best practices of all sectors in the nonprofit world. 

Sherry continues to research governance effectiveness. Why? Because policies, procedures, and structures do not make great organizations—great people do. Sherry is passionate about helping people find ways to use their strengths and develop their natural skills and talents in organizational settings. People are at their best when they love what they do. Getting the work done with creativity and energy comes down to a simple idea: It’s gotta be fun!

About the Contributors

Morgan Collier
Morgan Collier


Morgan Collier designed the cover of The Worthy Organization. Morgan is currently a designer working for a book publisher in Edmonton, AB, Canada. She is also a photographer specializing in Editorial Boudoir and Weddings. Her websites are:

Table of Contents

  • Read This First
  • Your Role, Your Passion
  • Mission & Vision
  • The Leadership
  • The Champion
  • Member and Volunteer Recruitment
        • Prospecting – Step 1
        • Making the Case – Step 2
        • Ask The Person to Join – Step 3
        • Objections – Step 4
        • Complete the Recruitment – Step 5
    • Public Events and Members’ Meetings
        • Regular members’ meetings
        • Major events
        • Greeting and follow-up
  • Volunteers
        • Who is responsible for the volunteer program?
        • Why people volunteer
        • Finding and asking for volunteers
        • Volunteer training and record keeping
        • Rewarding volunteers
  • The Newsletter
    • The official communication for your association
        • Quantifiable evidence of a successful newsletter
        • Use lots of photos and mention names
        • Editorial style
        • Reporting
        • Features
        • Amusing
        • Pictures
        • No wall of type
        • Bylines
        • Incisive Journalism
      • Additional Newsletter Content
        • A source of useful reference
          • List names of:
          • How-to articles
          • Events
          • Issues
      • Make the newsletter timely
      • Do not beg for volunteers in the newsletter
      • Newsletter format
  • Programs, Courses, and Meetings
        • Suggested format for regular meetings of members
        • Public events
        • Courses
        • Projects
  • The Organization — Getting Things Done
    • Evolving from Startup to Good Governance
    • Meetings
      • The Power of the Chair / Agendas / Minutes
    • Consensus vs. Parliamentary Decisions
    • Role of Committees
      • A Suggested Format for Committee Terms of Reference
    • Financial solvency
  • Fundraising
      • Logic Model
    • Sponsorship, Grants and Donorship
      • Sponsorship
      • Grants
      • Donorship
        • Major Gifts
        • The Ongoing Relationship
      • Other Elements of a Fundraising Program.
      • Planned Giving
    • Membership fees
      • The War Chest, Nest Egg, Rainy-Day Fund, or Reserve
  • Public Visibility
    • Public Relations and Promotion
      • Media Relations
      • The News Release
      • The Media Conference
      • The Media Interview
      • A Final Word About Damage Control
  • Some last thoughts
      • A Word Of Advice To Members Who Have a Long Service Record
      • A Word To The Acknowledged Leaders in Your Community
      • A Word to Board Leaders About Succession Planning
  • Acknowledgments
    • From Robert J Ballantyne
    • From Sherry S. Jennings
  • About the Authors
    • About Robert J Ballantyne
    • About Sherry S. Jennings

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