Editor's Note: Diana Shoemaker, executive director of Manatee County Habitat for Humanity, shares how learning from the expertise of Margin & Mission Consultants, Larry Clark and Michael Oxman, has helped strengthen the organization.

In 2019, Manatee Habitat for Humanity will celebrate its 25th anniversary. It’s been a productive 25 years building 132 Habitat homes in Manatee County and providing more than 250 children with long-term stability and secure housing. Just like our families, to continue success as an organization, we need long-term financial stability and security.

Our Habitat Thrift Stores, known as ReStores have been a key income generating source for the past ten years. What has been missing during those ten years is the necessary strategic planning for growth to expand our mission. In early 2018, the Habitat Board of Directors took the first step in setting the stage for increasing the growth of our ReStore operations. A decision was made to consolidate two smaller stores and open a 33,000 square foot, newly renovated store in an easily accessible central location in the community. This decision was made with a mandate that a strategic business plan must be developed.

The timing was perfect for us to engage in the Margin & Mission Ignition (MMI) initiative. Our selection by The Patterson Foundation to participate as one of the “Phenomenal Five” nonprofits has turned out to be so much more than just building a business plan. Working with the dedicated Managing Partners of No Margin, No Mission, Larry Clark and Michael Oxman, we’ve been thoughtfully guided in a process of reflection, revelations, and rewards that are already taking our organization to the next level.

One of the most important things we’ve gained in this process is confidence in the capacity for our ReStore to directly link to and expand our mission. Through the business planning process, we’ve examined what works and where we need to improve. We’ve strategically analyzed our operation and set attainable goals. We’ve identified our gaps and are building strategies for closing those gaps.

Our confidence continues to grow in our work to raise the funds to support our business plan. MMI has given us the means to create a clear, concise, and targeted ask. The work with our fundraising consultant, Sara Leonard, has provided us with a step by step process for making the ask. As an organization, we’ve been empowered with the tools, knowledge, and experience in both linking our donors to our mission and engaging them in the sustainable growth of our mission.

As we move into the implementation stage of MMI, the growth of our organization will no doubt continue. Each step we take in improving operations and sustaining our ReStore ultimately means we can serve more families.

We are grateful to The Patterson Foundation and the MMI team for their confidence in us and for setting us well on our way to our goals.

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