Reimagining MeckMIN

by Jason Williams / 15 September 2016 / No Comments

As we begin a new year at MeckMIN, we want to do so with words of gratitude. Thank you! Thank you for your support of MeckMIN, the Charlotte-Mecklenburg region’s premier interfaith network! Thank you for believing in our mission and that interfaith work is important for fostering a better community! Thank you for ensuring that our collective work will continue! We embark upon the next leg of the journey confident that with your support, there is much that we can do to build bridges across difference and to celebrate all that is sacred within and around us. There is much that we can do if we continue to work together!

A Statement from Board and Staff Updating the Status of MeckMIN While Looking To the Future

Mecklenburg Ministries (now MeckMIN) is an interfaith, interracial, multi-ethnic organization that builds bridges across our differences. We do so by engaging clergy, encouraging congregations and inspiring the community to find common ground through our shared faith traditions. Since its founding in 1987, MeckMIN has worked with more than 100 faith communities from more than a dozen faith traditions.

Clearly, the religious, cultural, social, economic and political landscape has shifted significantly since our inception. MeckMIN has had varying degrees of success the past 20 years in meeting the challenges that come with change. More recently, MeckMIN has had to adapt to the changing climate for nonprofits and faith-based groups. As part of that realization, MeckMIN conducted a four-month assessment with Levridge Resources (February to May 2016). Even before and during that review, MeckMIN put into place revitalized fund-raising efforts; streamlined expenses and reduced salaries, and reinvigorated its annual fund-raising event.

The organization’s Board of Directors and staff believe that MeckMIN’s mission of interfaith cooperation is critical to the community in these divisive times. We further believe that MeckMIN’s best path forward is to build a sustainable business model, one that relies on a strong volunteer base.

MeckMIN’s mission is to promote interfaith understanding, respect, dignity and cooperation. This requires engaging people across their differences in race, ethnicity and culture. But MeckMIN at critical times has needed to refine its criteria for programming and its vision. The result is that MeckMIN has drifted from its interfaith core. MeckMIN must have a clear mission statement and clear criteria that tie its programs to its mission. To this end, the MeckMIN Board and staff will restructure in the following ways:

  1. MeckMIN will revise its mission and vision statements to ensure alignment with its interfaith core.
  2. MeckMIN will engage its member faith communities, donors and stakeholders in a series of listening sessions to hear feedback, concerns and ideas.
  3. Based largely on that feedback, MeckMIN will narrow its focus to two or three areas integral to interfaith work.

MeckMIN is governed by a board of directors. Recently, the board has not operated from best practices in recruiting, composition, expectations, performance or evaluation. MeckMIN requires an effective board skilled in key areas and diverse in composition.To this end:

  1. MeckMIN will maintain a small, skilled board while it revises current board policies to align with best practices of nonprofits.
  2. Upon completing these revisions, MeckMIN will implement these revised practices and policies as it transforms the board in terms of size, diversity and skill set.

MeckMIN has historically operated with one executive director, one or more part-time staff persons, and volunteers in key programs. More recently, MeckMIN has not fund-raised at a level to sustain this model, while at the same time deemphasizing its reliance on volunteers.

Furthermore, MeckMIN is a network of faith communities representing many faith traditions. But its identity has been closely tied to one or two visible leaders. MeckMin must develop a staffing model that is financially sustainable, represents its multifaith composition, and uses a strong volunteer base. To this end:

  1. MeckMIN is determining a financially sustainable staffing model. This model will define key roles for paid staff.
  2. MeckMIN will develop a volunteer system that engages a committed base of volunteers, and criteria for roles that volunteers can effectively perform.
  3. MeckMIN will develop a leadership model and operations that engage regularly with its multifaith network.

MeckMIN’s financial model has historically relied on member communities of faith and individual donors, grants and foundation and corporate support. But support in each area has been inconsistent, particularly the past four years. Additionally, MeckMIN intentionally ran a deficit budget during a period of transition that eliminated reserve savings. In the past eight months, MeckMIN has:

  1. Balanced its budget by reducing staff and administrative expenses, reversing deficit spending and improving fund-raising.
  2. Worked with Levridge Resources and expert fund-raising volunteers to create a measurable, repeatable fund-raising model. We have reorganized information from past contributors; implemented a Spring fund-raising campaign, and replenished our reserve savings account to more than $30,000 (four months of expenses).

Moving forward, MeckMIN must maintain a balanced budget and improve fund-raising processes in a way that is data-driven, measurable, repeatable and successful. To this end:

  1. MeckMIN will continue to streamline its donor database and fund-raising model.
  2. Raise more than $100,000 annually to sustain minimum staffing needs and core programs.
  3. Engage key foundations, grantors and corporate contributors in the mission of MeckMIN.
  4. Improve our outreach to member faith communities in a way that cultivates more consistent contributions.
  5. Continue developing an individual donor base, build relationships with major donors, and cultivate greater financial involvement from board members.

The mission of MeckMIN has never been more vital. The work continues, more effectively than ever, to build an organization that can take on that mission now and for years to come. If you’d like to know more about MeckMIN and this reimagining of who we are and what we do, contact Board or Directors President, Rev. Dr. Rodney Sadler (rodney.sadler@meckmin.org).

About the author:

Jason Williams