Become An Owner

From the time we are born, we know the power of ownership. Even now when I’m with our grandkids (ages 2-7), “Mine!” is a word that is spoken pretty regularly. There is something in the human heart that knows ownership brings power… independence… freedom.

When you and I own something, it empowers us in a way nothing else can. Think of property ownership. The feudal lords maintained control over the masses because they owned the property. And that’s why one of the fundamental tenets of America’s democracy is the right to personal ownership of property. In fact, for decades the only people in America who could vote were those who owned property.

Personal ownership does empower. That’s why it’s important you own your failings, your shortcomings, and your imperfections, especially as a leader. When you do, it unleashes a power and freedom that can come in no other way.

When you own those parts of you that need fixin’ (as we would say in Texas), you live in the bright light of reality, not a reality of your own creation. You build respect. You are seen as authentic, transparent, and genuine. You’re a leader people want to follow because theyfeel empowered and secure.And they know they can trust you.

So welcome the hard conversation. Encourage the honest feedback. Don’t duck when you’re criticized. And don’t blame your mistakes on others. Become an owner.


Rick is a 36-year veteran in fundraising and organizational development for nonprofit organizations. After serving for eleven years in nonprofit management and fundraising leadership roles, Rick began his consulting career in 1989. In 2002 he founded Dunham+Company, which has become a global leader in providing fully integrated fundraising strategy for nonprofit organizations.

Today, D+C serves over 50 organizations in the United States, Canada, United Kingdom, South Africa, and Australia, providing integrated fundraising and marketing strategies.

Rick holds a BA from Biola University and a ThM from Dallas Theological Seminary.

He is an active member of the Direct Marketing Association. Rick also serves on the board of The Giving Institute and the Giving USA Foundation. In addition, Rick is a member of The Giving Coalition, the national voice for charitable organizations in the U.S.


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