3 interlocking circles with tasks, motivation and skillsFred has a major project to accomplish. Before he invests time in it, he wonders if his organization is ready to proceed? This issue of Added Value shares the Ballentine, the time analysis tool, Fred used to determine that the project was not missing any factors necessary for its success. It was “shovel ready.” One key way to improve time management is to analyze where you will invest time. The Ballentine is a tool that helps you do that.  Read on for a quick overview of the tool, and how to use it to determine if your important initiatives are ready or not.

It’s Ballentine Time

Credit good marketing in my childhood, but three interlocking circles like the symbol at the right, represents Ballentine Ale, thus this tool’s name. The Ballentine describes three factors (task, skills, and motivation) and four possible states. When all three elements are present in your major initiatives you are ready to go (4.) and to move forward represents a substantial time investment. When one or more factors is missing (1,2,3) your time is best invested in finding a way to create the missing element before starting or continuing a project.

State 1. Missing Skills: Hard Work, Little Results. You are in State 1 when your initiative includes tasks that call upon new skills, and no one has them. When they lack the necessary skills, organizations and people often work very hard but achieve little.


  • The organization that lacks experience in capital campaigns, but needs to renovate its kitchen and add a new building
  • The employee who works 80 hours a week to accomplish what others achieve in 40
  • Your organization’s vision has grown stale, but you are unsure how to create a viable new one

Missing Link-Skills: This is the easiest link to add, although it often takes time, energy, and resources to gain skills.  Consider if you will hire an expert, become an expert or at least learn enough skills to perform tasks. Or, gain skills by attending workshops, reading and studying books, or hiring a mentor to help you through a process. The 80-hour workaholic sits down with a time management text and begins to learn how to prioritize his work and streamline tasks.

State 2. Missing Motivation: Outcomes? Benefits? Really?

You are in State 2 when you intellectually understand that taking on an individual project is appropriate and desirable, but you can’t muster enough enthusiasm to move forward.


  • An executive director who sees a donor across a restaurant, but cannot garner the energy to go over and greet them
  • The Board passes on hiring the perfect executive director because she requires $5,000 more in salary than budgeted. The Board lacks the passion for raising the extra dollars, even from their own pockets.
  • Organizations who do not know what they do not know, like those with inadequate income streams who believe that insufficient income is a fact of nonprofit life, rather than a matter of strategy, skills, and discipline. These organizations might also lack skills, but motivation is the greater roadblock.

Missing Link: Motivation. When you lack motivation, instead of forcing yourself to do projects invest time to clarify the benefits of achieving your initiative. For instance, Fred’s group like almost every 501(c) 3 can benefit from planned giving. Fred experiences little motivation to pursue gifts he expects eight years hence. When he learns how planned giving can help him in the next 18 months, he’s motivated and ready to maximize his efforts.

State 3.  Missed Opportunity: The Missed Bus. If a bus goes by you and you don’t have the fare or the desire to ride it, you hardly notice. If you have the fare and want the ride, you flail your arms, run alongside the bus and bang on the rear door to gain entrance. This ring is missed opportunity. Besides missed bus rides, it includes the world’s Rembrandts, Picassos, and Mozarts we never meet because they missed the bus or if it never came.


  • A receptionist who does not inquire about the best way to get back to a new contact misses the chance to cultivate a new friend for the organization.
  • A staff person, who has great ideas about how to involve donors, but because no culture of philanthropy exists, fails to share them.
  • You, when a donor says no to your project. And me, when an organization says no to a project –which would help them tremendously.

Missing Link: Tasks. For most people, this is the most frustrating of the three rings to lack. Regarding a culture of philanthropy, the cure is to invite everyone and give them specific tasks to expand your funding base. In other cases, like a donor’s no, you must move on while still continuing to cultivate the relationships. You continue to seek opportunities to use your skills and motivate yourself with the firm conviction that worthy projects have potential supporters, but that you need to continue to refine your case so that potential supporters can “get it.”

The Goal: State 4. Achievement Bound. With the combination of tasks, skills, and motivation your projects face the optimum conditions to succeed. They are great places to invest time. You are in the “go” position.


Other Resources:

For more answers, check out this Nonprofit  CEO Library.

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