Canadian Christian Relief & Development Association

Good Intentions are Not Enough

By Jennifer Hill, Jennifer Hill Consulting (Providing Meaningful HR Support to Meaningful Organizations)

It is not unusual to hear staff at a Christian non-profit organization speak of their culture as that of a family.  Shared values and strong commitment to the mission contribute to that close-knit feel. A thriving culture is best maintained when built upon a strong foundation of HR initiatives that support your team. 

Having clear policies, processes, and employment agreements are a great start. However, it isn’t enough just to have these things in place, they must also be well communicated to your team. It is essential that employees understand how things work and what is expected of them. An employment lawyer recently remarked to me that the most frequent employee defence he hears in court is, “I didn’t know”. Often it is a defence that stands up. Clear communication and transparency are your friends.

Sometimes, due to budgetary constraints, HR is relegated to the corner of someone’s desk in small and medium-sized organizations. It is important to remember, the field is not static: case law is always evolving (what does your termination clause look like?), societal norms are changing (would you have found a social media policy anywhere 20 years ago?), “best practices” are getting better and better each day (equity, diversity and inclusion initiatives are supporting transformation) and health and safety is changing (it trumps privacy in the workplace today).

As leaders, ask yourself this of your organization: 

  • Are your HR policies and procedures comprehensive? Do they meet legislated requirements within your jurisdiction? Do they support your workplace culture? 
  • Are your employment agreements up-to-date, unambiguous and valid? 
  • Is your performance evaluation system robust? 

These are some of the questions an HR professional can help you answer. Indeed, effective HR support can prevent problems before they arise and can ensure your employees, your greatest asset, are taken care of. 

I take great satisfaction in helping Christian non-profit organizations mitigate their risks and support their culture by dotting all those i’s and crossing all those t’s. Being proactive will save you time, money, and anguish. What steps can you take to support your staff and nourish your culture?

Jennifer Hill

I am committed to supporting the work of those who work to make our world a better place; I am pleased to offer CCRDA members a 15% discount off my services. If you have any questions, please reach out to me at and we can schedule a free consultation. 

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Conflict Resolution & Enhancing Communication

By Denis St-Amour, Strategic Advisory Consulting, Coaching & Governance Services

What is Conflict, where does it generally arise from and how does one deal with to resolve it?

Multiple questions with multiple complexities & varying answers.

Let’s start with what is Conflict: Conflict tends to be a situation wherein two or more people have strong disagreements about something or someone specific, or strong differing views about a Situation, Company policy, actions, or a position someone has taken, atmospheric &/or Cultural positions that, may be an affront. On a larger scale, Regional, territorial global conflict. A much more subjective, complex and always potentially volatile situation. The issues are very different, but fundamentals are often (but not always ) similar: “I want to win”.

Sometimes it may be that Conflict lines have been drawn between Union & management and often hostilities & labor strife can ensue. More specifically, what we often see in the workplace are between people with both opposing views &/or positions, kind of battling for their respective POV, seeking to win their argument and preferred position. Of course, winning is not always for oneself, often for the better of others, others in a multitude of potential scenarios.              

Then of course there are just some people who do not like, respect, or appreciate “the Other”. The danger here is a potential lack of objectivity & openness (Respect) of the others Point of View &/or suspicious of motivations. Not a good recipe for open fruitful dialogue. There are of course many, many other examples that words & space do not permit in this short article. What I am proposing to do here is just provide a snapshot of possible multiple issues and an equal number of potential solutions / processes to the beginning of a more fruitful dialogue. 

So, what are some of the basics to dealing with situations of conflict?

Being categorical is not possible or advisable as each issue is very much its own and must be treated as such, organic in that who knows what shape & dimension conflict will take given the varying dynamics at play. Therefore, there are rarely simple solutions, and each must be treated as a totally new book to be read & studied in depth.

1. A great start is taking the time to really listen. The more I let people talk the more I listen, the more I learn. Love the expression “The Lord gave us two ears & one mouth, so maybe we should listen twice as much as we talk”?  Listen well--not only for what is said but what has been left un-said (reading between the lines).  A good tactic is to ask questions based on what has been shared, i.e., “could you unpack a little more in what you mean by that, or could you help me by sharing more of an example of what that means or where does that come from” In the consulting world, it is called “Peeling the onion”. Try getting to the root cause for better understanding.  Many other approaches can also be taken.   

2. Trust & discretion need to be evident if open candid dialogue is to take place. Agreement on what can be shared and what cannot be shared must be clear & confirmed.

3. A series of questions need to be prepared and safe ground created to talk if you want to be successful in getting to the hopeful root causes, i.e. Is it substantive, or is it superficial, is it a subjective or objective issue, or is there a deep-rooted reason? Is this a more personal issue or is it an organizational &/or people issue? These areas need to be identified if success is to be found. Understanding where a person is coming from & what their Agenda is, may make a difference in your ability to better discern and understand. Facts are always important as opinions without substantiation are much harder to deal with and validate.   

4. Make sure how success is defined because it can often mean different things to different people. Always best to seek a Win/Win situation, but remember, neither can the solution be all things to all people i.e., sometimes you just cannot please everybody, nor should you necessarily try, but, make sure you are fair & objective if you are to be credible. 

There is so much more to this subject that cannot be covered in this short paper. However, hopefully these are the beginnings of some helpful hints and ideas that might be useful.  Please contact me to discuss further if you have any questions!

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The Power of Simple Lifestyle Changes

By Stan Wiens, The Health Project

My 20 year health journey has taught me that habit formation is the bridge between knowing about being healthy and doing something about it. This tip will help you take immediate action to implement one simple step toward greater health.

If you’ve been eating a lot of junk food, fast food, packaged food and refined “food like” product for years, your body is basically built out of junk food.  A body like this has a difficult time fighting even the common cold.

Many researchers are now estimating that 70-80% of all illness, is directly linked to your lifestyle choices, not genetics. Your genetics may load the gun, but often, it is your lifestyle choices that pulls the trigger. Choosing healthy habits can significantly improve your health!  

Let me introduce you to the simple and powerful concept I call the 63 Day Method. For new habits to be formed, you need time. 63 days, which is 9 weeks, gives you time to engrain one new habit into your life.

When I coach people, I help them zero in on where would be a good place to start. The purpose is not to see how many habits you can implement today, but rather, how many habits you can adopt for a lifetime. By adopting one new habit every 63 days, you can easily incorporate several transformational habits into your life in the short span of one year.  

Here is how you can start making simple changes today.
On my website, there are 10 transformational habits that are foundational. Read through each of them and select one action you would like to take. Once you make it a lifestyle pattern then you can begin to build on what you have started.

Habits are the key to permanent lifestyle changes. Here are 4 steps you could start doing today:

Step 1 - Choose your habit and pick a start date. 
For example: I will walk for 10 minutes every day for 63 days starting on Monday.

Step 2 - Connect your new habit to something you already do.
When I start the coffee pot in the morning, I will head out for my walk and then enjoy my coffee when I get back.

Step 3 - Plan ahead for habit killing activities.
I will put my jacket and shoes, appropriate for any Canadian weather occurrence, beside the door and a note on the coffee pot the night before to remind me in the morning.

Step 4 – Find a friend to walk this journey with you.
When I am enjoying my cup of coffee, I will text my friend, who is also joining me in this journey, that I have completed my walk.

The goal is not perfection. The goal is to eat reasonably well and to be active.

Check out my video about Resilient Strength here

If you would like to learn about the six keys to a healthy lifestyle, develop your personalized plan and begin this new journey, let me guide you as your coach. If you are a CCRDA member, you will receive one free 15 minute introductory phone call and $50 off my regular coaching fee. You can reach me at

Stan Wiens
Helping you take control of your health

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3 Principles for a Great Grant Strategy

By Philip Tanner, EPIC Consultancy

Preparing a Grants Strategy has a zillion moving parts and procedures that you need to put in place to oil that revenue-making engine. When asked to boil that down to 2-3 priority actions that will make your company a slick grant-making machine, it’s no easy task.  But I’ll give you my 3 go-to principles that will move you towards a Great Grant Strategy!

1.    Be prepared end to end!  Pay attention to the Pre-Award, Award and Post-Award phases of the grants process.  Some organizations think designing an award-winning proposal is the top priority. This pressure is exacerbated by the steady stream of RFPs being announced.  We think:  If we hire that great grant-writer, then we have a good chance of being selected by the donor.  A sustainable grants strategy requires a Grants Policy with clear operational procedures for making decisions and shepherding grant opportunities through your organization.  We also need an internal communications strategy, a project pipeline, clear priorities for new projects, a go/no-go process and clarity on who makes the decisions.  And there are numerous tools required in our grants toolbox, to run our procedures smoothly.

2.    Know Thyself! The Philosopher Socrates said this and it’s a profound Biblical introspection.  I’m referring to your Value-Add Proposition.  First, what are you looking for in a grant?  For example, restricted grants generally have limited co-creation; parameters of the project generally conform to pre-existing designs.  Is your internal ethos built on engagement with your stakeholders (partners and communities)?  Do you apply a transformational process to create projects?  There is also a sense of urgency in grants.  A submission can create high levels of stress across your organization. If you win, there is exuberance; if you lose, there can be disillusionment.  This is often because teams aren’t prepared for the roller-coaster grants ride.  You also want to ensure that your strengths and ‘point of difference’ is clearly articulated to a donor, and that you find the right grant fit! Considering these elements can advance your grants strategy significantly and avoid lighting a grants time-bomb in your organization.

3.     Influence for Success!  A grants strategy is enhanced by a robust influence strategy.  The two walk hand-in-hand.  Influencing around an issue or theme harnesses our strengths to bring out a change in how people perceive our organization.  As you become recognized as a ‘partner of choice’ in the sector, your grant-funded projects help build your credibility and experience and draw potential partners to you.  Influencing allows you to target your resources in specific areas and if you align these with your grant targets, they can be mutually reinforcing activities – as well as reducing your overall investment against a bigger return.

A couple of final words:  Remember that “a grant” is a set of activities, implemented in a finite timeline, with an established cost parameter (time, cost and scope).  In other words – it’s a project! – with a set of compliance requirements and prerequisites.  Are you prepared to win?  Have you prepared for your grant award by establishing the project management requirements at the outset?  If not, you could place your organization in a high risk position.  

My final advice is “Make the proposal submission your final step in preparing your Grants Strategy.”  Be prepared and you will have a rewarding and successful grants experience that prevails across the organizational culture.

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Leading M&E through Changing Times

By Tracey DeGraaf, Transformis Development Consultants

The forced lock-down combined with the need to continue programs that are critical for millions of people has tested our investments.  Those investments proved to be what enabled many of us to continue in service, and what is enabling us to offer the greatest service of our lifetime.  The time we took to invest in local leadership, team building, equitable capacity building, and developing programs filled with best practice has enabled us to determine our resolve; or, conversely, a lack of investment has become our Achilles heel.  

Either way, under forced pressure lies immense opportunity.  The acceleration of doing life online presents training opportunities and new knowledge of platforms that can optimize your investments or address that Achilles heel.  

In the CCRDA webinar on November 17 on Leading M&E teams remotely, we presented an M&E platform that enables real time collaboration, offers a tool for building team capacities in M.E.A.L, as well as features an invitation to organizations interested in exploring community-based monitoring.  Times like these force innovation—which is a good outcome—but forced innovation requires us to grow and learn new skill-sets in order to optimize opportunities that are emerging in front of us.  A forced pause in movement presents the opportunity to focus on the E, A, and L of M.E.A.L.  More time given to Evaluation and Learning can force us to examine and apply standards of practice that will enhance our impact.  The need to focus on Accountability in this virtual workplace can accelerate building organizations with accountability systems that empower people and enable their capacities to flourish in any environment (see Teal Organization Paradigm).  

A few tips:

  • Gaps in capacities may be emerging as this pandemic extends the time and distance that separates global teams from one another.  Building feedback loops into processes, meetings, and reports can be a valuable tool for gauging factors that contribute to performance challenges.
  • Take this time to check your investments.  Then, be aware that investment strategies need to change with changing markets.  As changing times are moving fast, we need to move equally fast in our response to it.
  • Explore new ways to gather M&E data by piloting new strategies with small scale samples.  You can get a good confidence level with a relatively small sample. Don’t scale your strategy without scaling the system required to manage it.
  • Innovation requires learning new skills sets.  Allocate time for team members to develop the new skills necessary for optimizing the tools that are emerging, and learn together when possible.

When the storm waters surround you, it is critical to focus your eyes on Jesus and not the waves.  Now is the time to focus on what’s critical and fruitful.  People deliver programs, not the other way around.  Focus on the people to enhance the delivery of programs, and your investments will be fruitful.


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Set a Good Stage for the Strategic Planning Process: Some Conditions for Success

By Chris Bosch, Chisel Consulting

When thinking about initiating a strategic planning process, you should consider your plan for delivering the plan. How are you going to navigate the journey from beginning to end?  Thinking about the stages from the beginning does at least two things:  it sets the organization at ease (“you’ve got this”), and it helps break up the large project into discrete and manageable tasks.  Here is a checklist of items to consider as you get started.

  1. Know the answer to the question why (and a few whats).  Why change?  Why now?  What is the ‘burning platform’ in the organization?  What will motivate the staff, board and supporters to join the planning process?  What will provide the sense of urgency?
  2. The senior leaders and the board must agree on the need for a fresh look at the organization’s situation and the necessity for re-establishing its comparative advantage.
  3. Start with the end in mind.  What will the strategy look like?  What will it include?  Knowing what the finished product looks like will help everyone imagine the end at any point along the journey.
  4. Build a team of volunteer advisors.  The senior leaders of the organization may not always be available for insights during the strategy development process.  Therefore, it is important to have a team of no more than 8 people who are naturally curious, see the big picture, and represent the whole organization and not just their department or division.  Representation from each division is not essential but a balance of gender, race, perspectives, and roles is important.
  5. Starting with the end in mind means also considering the change management that will be required when the new strategy is delivered.  Review John Kotter’s eight steps of change management and consider how you can prepare the organization as you develop the plans.
  6. Rev the mental engines by doing some reading and inviting others to join you.
  7. Consider whether you are delivering a rolling plan or a fixed-year plan.  A rolling plan does not have a fixed end date.  It constantly considers the big aspirations of the organization and recalibrates its plans as required to achieve the aspirations.
  8. Ensure the organization uses the same definitions for strategy terms.  What do you mean by themes, pillars, goals, objectives, activities, and key performance indicators?
  9. Send a message to the staff, board and other constituents that you are doing something fresh, unique, and world-changing by avoiding the simplicity of the term strategy.  Some examples of new terms are: blueprint, manifesto, new horizons, off the map, journey, discovery, voyageur, next, or rebuild.
  10. Pull together a prayer team and begin bringing the affairs of the organization to Jesus.  What encouragement and exhortations does he have for you and your team?  He’s waiting to join you.
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Conflict & Christian Organizations

Conflict and Christian Organizations
Dave Blundell, Fullwell Leadership

One of the largest challenges I've seen, in Christian organizations particularly, is how we handle conflict. It's as if we believe the presence of conflict means the absence of Christ-like leadership. As a result, conflict often takes a passive-aggressive tone and does more damage over the long-term. As Christian leaders we have an opportunity and responsibility to engage in healthy conflict that drives better decisions and performance. Handled effectively, conflict builds stronger teams and develops stronger leaders.

Leading through healthy conflict requires the development of specific skills, not simply an commitment to be nice or kind to one another. Conflict is rarely a matter of navigating right vs. wrong decisions. Those are easy. Healthy conflict is often navigating teams through right vs. right decisions or competing values. One of the first things a leader can do when they experience conflict or difficult conversations among team members is to ask the question, "What are the values behind your positions?" Most often, conflict shows up in competing positions on an issue. Team members pick a side on a behavior or position and argue the merits of their positions. It's super easy for conflict to get stuck here, and when we can't win someone over to our position, we start to attack the person.

When leaders can get people to talk about what is important to them, the values and interests behind their positions, they find their team members agreeing on much more than they disagree on. When conversations get below the surface around values, new and creative options emerge, and the team feels a sense of unity because they solved problems together.

So whenever a conversation or meeting starts to feel difficult, let that emotion trigger asking people the question, "What is important to you about this?"

On September 23rd, the CCRDA and Fullwell Leadership hosted a webinar that will help leaders improve team relationships and culture, which will include how to approach conflict. Fullwell Leadership is a non-profit coaching and consulting charity. Our passion is to help the charity sector be known for making a broken world whole.  For more information send an email to

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