December 2018

Dear Reader,

I’d intended on writing this month’s update from my hometown of Calgary, having connected with Chris Primeau, the interim General Manager of Capstone, but instead, I’m on my couch typing this letter with the flu.

Whenever I’m feeling ill and have to power through, I remember Michael Jordan’s 1997 NBA finals performance, dubbed “the flu game” and like every kid of my generation, I want to be like Mike, so here we are.  

A few weeks ago we had our Frontier Feast, celebrating 8 years of business, and it was amazing. A special thanks to Stephanie Meine, aka “Outside Steph,” who poured her heart and soul into the event. 30 people gathered for the first-ever celebration of Frontier. This process of celebration is fairly new for us, but boy did we get off to a great start.

On top of that fun, we raised $540 for one of our oldest clients, the Dandelion Society (matched by Benifactor to $1080) as guests had to RSVP with a donation. Well done everyone!

We’ve now entered the winter months at Benifactor, and based on what we’ve learned about the cycle of growth, I’m using the phrase “Don’t Invade Russia in the Winter” to remind our team (mostly me) not to start anything new until the summer. Until spring has sprung everything new is an idea that deserves refinement and not action.

By starting something new in the summer, we allow for it to patiently grow while our other organizations are in full bloom. Then, in the final half of the year, when the other organizations are at their weakest, the new venture should be starting to bloom and be contributing to the whole.

That’s the hope we have in Capstone Fundraising, our newest venture. One year ago today, I sat down with Chris and we mapped out the basics of what him joining the team would look like - with Chris on board, Benifactor would operate out of Calgary as well as Victoria. Although it wouldn’t be the first time we’ve had a remote team member, Chris joining our company entailed something bigger than that. And now here we are!

Capstone has a brand, a purpose, and initial processes. Chris and the other GMs have worked hard to establish Protectionism — our term for making sure that there’s interdependence but not co-dependence — and I can already see the efforts beginning to bear fruit. Which leads to me to a very Benifactor worldview.

Profitability without Process is just a paycheque.

[I wanted to say prostitution, but that seemed too crass]

Frontier is, by and large, a well-oiled machine. Its processes are continually refined and growth has been constant over the last eight years with little to no biz dev. It’s a fairly predictable organization because of the constant focus on processes instead of immediate return.

Unfortunately, in recent years that wasn’t our focus with Charity Electric. Our efforts to establish process were weak, and the services performed ended up inconsistent. Colleagues who’d trusted the Frontier brand and were willing to place their faith in Charity Electric were often unsatisfied with their experience.

In the end, Charity Electric’s third year of operations saw a lot of growth and impressive profitability, but it wasn’t sustainable. Processes weren’t documented, making the next project as difficult as the last, and errors highly likely to occur (and they did).

I’m proud to say that Francis’ team is now making great strides to focus first and foremost on process rather than profit. It’s not sexy, but it serves the whole instead of the individual. In fact, it can take years before great process takes full effect and the fruit of its labour can be completely seen.

Similarly, we’re asking Capstone and Good Marketers Group (in year two but still establishing itself), to continue to prioritize building processes, as well as hitting budget goals.

Before long, we’ll be celebrating 8 years of growth for Charity Electric, Glass Register, Good Marketers Group, and Capstone, and it will be their focus on effective processes that helped them reach such a coveted milestone.

This month, I decided to focus on talking a little bit about one of our five P’s, “Process”. Next month is “People”. Namely, I look forward to gushing about a few people who have passed their four years of employment, and changes we’re making to benefits and parental leave. In the meantime, I wanted to leave you all with an excerpt from a speech Theodore Roosevelt wrote.

It turns out the ‘other’ basketball G.O.A.T, Lebron James, recites this speech before each game. I looked into it and believe it’s a helpful mantra for anyone embarking on an entrepreneurial journey. It’s a reminder to anyone who needs to tune out the naysayers or look beyond their imperfections while engaging on a brave new journey. And I hope the gendered language doesn’t take away from its great message:

The Man in the Arena

It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.


Benjamin Johnson, CEO