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Prophetic Leadership:. A New Paradigm for Mission Advancement. Presented by Gregory J. Griffin and Daniel McCormack. Presenters. Gregory J. Griffin Congregational Director, Mission Advancement Sisters of St. Francis of the Neumann Communities Syracuse, NY Daniel J. McCormack President

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Prophetic leadership

Prophetic Leadership:

A New Paradigm for Mission Advancement

Presented by Gregory J. Griffin and Daniel McCormack



Gregory J. Griffin

Congregational Director, Mission Advancement

Sisters of St. Francis of the Neumann Communities

Syracuse, NY

Daniel J. McCormack


Hospital Sisters of St. Francis Foundation

Springfield, IL

What are we doing here

What are we Doing Here?

  • Being Brutally Honest About the State of Catholic Religious Life in 2014.

  • Introducing a New Paradigm for all of us to consider called “Prophetic Leadership”

  • Answering the Age-Old question, “Why me?”

  • Equipping you with the right questions to be asking and answering.

  • Challenging/Inspiring every person in this room to carry the torch back to your organization!

Leading the way

Leading the Way


Our calling


  • To Help our organizations to “See”

  • To Lead our organizations to ask the right questions

  • To Inspire our organizations to become “prophetic”

  • To Support our organizations in every step of the way

The big questions

The Big Questions

What does religious life in America look like today? Do we see our institutions as we really are?

What should religious life aspire to in the future to maximize experience for its members and for society?

How do we, as advancement professionals, inspire future philanthropic support?

Climate change

“Climate Change”

  • Diminishing numbers

  • Diminishing presence

  • Increasing focus on care of members

  • Changing donor base

  • Tough decision:

    Fight or Flight?

A case we all understand

A Case We All Understand

Diminishing Numbers

+ Diminishing Revenue

+ Increasing Healthcare Needs

Increased focus on CARE

- Changing donor demographics

- Changing donor needs

Increased demand for ADVANCEMENT

Diminishing numbers

Diminishing Numbers

  • Today there are 54,018 religious sisters in the U.S. compared to 179,954 in 1965. The average age of the Catholic Sister/Nun today is 74.

  • While the number of Catholic priests in the United States more than doubled to 58,000 between 1930 and 1965, since then that number has fallen to fewer than 13,000 active ordained priests. The average age of active ordained priests is 64.

  • Religious brothers have declined from close to 13,000 in 1965 to fewer than 5,000 in 2012

Diminishing numbers1

Diminishing Numbers

  • In 1965, 1,575 new priests were ordained in the U.S. In 2012, the number was 487. In 1965, 1% of U.S. parishes were without a priest. Today, there over 3,000 priestless parishes, 15% of all U.S. parishes.

  • From 1965 to 2012, the number of seminarians dropped from 49,000 to 3,723, a decline of over 92 percent. Two-thirds of the 600 seminaries that were operating in 1965 have now closed.

  • Over half of all Catholic high schools in the US have closed since 1965. The student population has fallen from 700,000 to 386,000.

Diminishing presence

Diminishing Presence

  • Vatican II Effect

  • Societal/Governmental changes and their effects on ministries

  • Aging populations of Religious

  • Catholic “fatigue”

Number of members actuarial table

Number of Members – Actuarial Table

Increasing focus on care

Increasing Focus on Care

Revenue over next 20 years

Revenue over next 20 years

Changing donors


  • $41T wealth transfer from Baby Boomers to NextGen (X, Y, Millennials)

  • Study of NextGen Philanthropy:

    “[We] are not just writing checks to established non-profits… There are a million ways to be philanthropic [now] that there weren’t in 1985.”


- Personal

- Family

19 pt. differential is the largest in the study

Changing expectations

Changing expectations

  • Kiva, Watsi

    • Donor investors

    • Crowdfunding health care

  • Charity Navigator

    • Financial Health

    • Accountability & Transparency

    • CN 3.0 (2016) = RESULTS REPORTING

Fight or flight

Fight or Flight?

  • Not just a strategic decision, but an existential one

  • What should leadership teams look like?

    • Composition affects outcome

  • How should leadership teams respond?

The rub

The Rub

It’s now or never…

  • Financial stability

  • Properties and property management

  • Mission and ministries

  • Legacy

    But most important…

    The remaining members of our communities

The question for us

The Question for Us…

How can we help our leadership

teams to become prophetic?

A prophet is a person who is imbued by the divine, serving as a spokesperson for God, whose life then becomes the message.

What is prophetic leadership

What is Prophetic Leadership?

  • A commitment or re-commitment to living the Gospel.

  • Contemplative and discerning

  • Leading by God’s example

  • Visionary

  • Emblazoning new pathways

  • Mission-driven

  • Sharing your way to inspire others to do the same.

What is prophetic leadership1

What is Prophetic Leadership?

What it’s not

  • Predicting the Future

  • Self-aggrandizing

  • Following the status quo

  • Something you do for a while…

Prophetic leadership

“A serious prophet upon predicting a flood should be the first to climb a tree.”

- Stephen Crane

Becoming prophetic

Becoming Prophetic

We have many trees

to climb:

Why us

Why Us?

  • We bring experience

  • We’ve worked in other organizations that have either been successful or failed miserably

  • We are resourceful

  • We are skilled in the art of persuasion

  • We know how to communicate

  • We know how to motivate and mobilize others

  • We are good listeners

  • We are dedicated to service

  • We make lemonade from lemons

  • The glass is always half-full

Advancement s role

Advancement’s role

  • Stewards/Champions

    • The primary—sometimes the only—interface with lay public

  • Influencers

  • Instigators

Advancement s role1

Advancement’s role

Oh yeah…and

  • Partners in planning

  • Truth-seekers and providers

  • Expectation managers

  • Cheerleaders

  • Teachers

  • Matchmakers

  • Facilitators

  • Visionaries

  • Change agents

Who else

Who else?

  • Other lay staff

  • Lay associates

  • Volunteer boards

  • Consultants

  • Associations

Your seat at the table

Your seat at the table

  • Lead by example

  • Pick your spots to shine

  • Find your champion at the table

  • Follow through

  • Help your team to think outside the box

Prophetic leadership

“The hardest thing is not to get people to accept new ideas. It is to get them to forget old ones.”

- John Maynard Keynes

Confront the brutal facts

Confront the BRUTAL facts

  • Are we maintaining or advancing?

  • Is it too late to consider transformation of our community?

  • If so, can we envision a sustainable future through strategic actions that don’t transform us but help us to evolve?

  • What happens if we choose not to change?

  • How do we energize our community to want to change?

Confront the brutal facts1

Confront the brutal facts

  • How do we maintain our charism through change?

  • What do we look like in 10 years? 25 years? Beyond?

  • How will people remember us?

  • Who can help us?

  • Who will support us, and in what manner?

  • How is/can our institution contribute to a re-envisioned model for religious in the future?

A new collaborative paradigm

A new collaborative paradigm

What does it look like?

  • A leadership team of religious who are elected or appointed by their peers to lead!

  • A congregational team of lay persons (or religious) who were hired for their expertise in some or all of the following areas:

    • Mission Advancement

    • Business and Finance

    • Communications

    • Aging Services

    • Ministry and Transition Services

    • Properties

    • Human Resources

    • Strategic Planning

A new collaborative paradigm1

A new collaborative paradigm

  • A competent Board of Directors or Advisory Board members consisting of donors, friends, and experienced business persons

  • Associations ready and willing to collaborate as a resource and a network to share new initiatives that work.

Is this paradigm really new

Is this Paradigm REALLY New?

Ask yourself:

  • Is your current Leadership team actively leading? Are they Leaders?

  • Do they have a vision for the future?

  • Do they have a mandate to lead from their community?

  • Do you or other staff members have a seat at the table?

Is this paradigm really new1

Is this Paradigm REALLY New?

Ask yourself:

  • Does your Board actively advise on priority needs and issues?

  • Is your congregation being creative in the way it is addressing the fight or flight issue?

  • If so, is your leadership team actively engaging with NCDC, USCCB, SOAR!, NRRO, CARA, LCWR or others to share success stories?

New paradigm or new perspectives

New Paradigm or New Perspectives?

Depends on how you’re structured…

What’s new?

  • Facilitating change in attitudes and perspectives.

  • Moving from traditional religious governance to enlightened collaborative business governance.

  • Mission Advancement not just fundraising!

Change starts today

Change Starts Today!

“Change will not come if we wait for some other person or some other time. We are the ones we’ve been waiting for. We are the change that we seek.”

- Barack Obama

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