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Mayer’s CEO Cited in “Top Management Skills in Philanthropy”

Mayer’s CEO Cited in “Top Management Skills in Philanthropy”

(Excerpted from BusinessAlabama.Com December 2014)

Nancy Collat Goedecke

Volunteer Leader 

Thousands assist in the United Way of Central Alabama. Birmingham’s charity-chapter alone is a force of thousands, spanning five Alabama counties, doing charitable works, commanded by a leader. Nancy Collat Goedecke is one such leader.

With a family history rich in philanthropy, her United Way kickoff as the 2015 campaign chairman begins in January. But her philanthropic roots were planted years earlier. She has led more than a dozen charity efforts from United Way-size projects to  her local PTA. 

“Making a difference in someone’s life, even if small, makes me feel good,” she says. “Knowing I may be a little part in helping someone makes it all worthwhile.”

In January, she will once again make a difference, commanding thousands of volunteers as an Alabama chairperson of the United Way. The charitable army’s boots on the ground deploy in the New Year, but the leader began much earlier. Because early is key.

“I’m not a last-minute person,” she says. “I do a lot of planning, sometimes taking a year or two for research. I want to understand the organization before committing to leading the project.” 

But once on board, she is fully engaged. You have to be, Goedecke says emphatically. A nonprofit is like a business. Neither runs on automatic. As she says, “Put yourself out there.” 

Drawing from experience as CEO and chairman of Mayer Electric Supply, she notes that as head of industry or head of charity, a leader is a leader. “Surround yourself with good people; be there for support, but let them do their work,” she says. “Do not agree to take on a leadership role unless you can fully commit.” 

Goedecke believes a nonprofit charity leader must employ the same practices used by business executives. “Set the tone,” she notes. “Motivate the troops. Believe in what you do and show it. Don’t just fill a slot. It’s not enough to take the right bus. Take the right seat on the right bus.”

Admittedly, nonprofit work is an enormous time drain, according to the CEO who constantly juggles charitable endeavors with home, family and church. But it pays dividends, even if some are intangible. “When you see a homeless woman find a home or collect food for those who don’t have any, we know we made a difference.”

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