All-Star Case Studies

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2019 Case Study - Big Brothers Big Sisters Lone Star

Location: Irving, TX

2018 Revenues: $12.1 million

Employees: 165

The Critical Number™: Net Income

Program Goal: Active Matches 

Organization Background

Big Brothers Big Sisters partners with parents/guardians, volunteers, and donors to provide children with strong and enduring, professionally supported one-to-one relationships that changes lives for the better, forever. Their shared vision is that all children can achieve success in life. BBBS Lonestar is comprised of 12 offices spread across four major markets—Dallas County, Greater Houston, Tarrant County, and West Central Texas.


When Pierce Bush took over the CEO role of the agency four years ago, it was losing money. But the most common question he was asked was when the staff would be getting raises. “They just didn’t know the financial health of the organization,” says Bush. He and his leadership team wanted to find a way to increase employees’ line of sight to elements critical to the agency’s success toward achieving the goals laid out in the strategic plan Vision 2x22. Strategic goals of Vision 2x22 include doubling the program’s reach by 2022, growing their budget to support this important work, and reducing the cost per match.


Implement The Great Game of Business® (GGOB), including monthly all-staff huddles, weekly market all-staff huddles, and other mini-huddles, with the help of their coach, Katie Davis, starting January 2018.


The GGOB has supported all of the critical elements in their strategic plan and furthers their mission across the Lone Star footprint—including helping the agency sustain 5,990 mentor-mentee “matches” in 2018 while increasing cash reserves by 76% year-over-year. The GGOB also improved the agency’s culture and employee morale and engagement through weekly all-staff huddles, increased understanding of agency financials, and greater accountability fostered through the structure of GGOB. “Nothing is more powerful than an engaged team who understands how every decision they make affects the bottom lines—programs and financials,” says Bush. “The GGOB has energized our staff as genuine owners in our success and improved financial literacy, cross-functional collaboration, and generated significant cost savings for the agency, while growing our programs for the first time in a number of years.”


“It is such a special and unique opportunity to be able to participate in GGOB as a non-profit worker. The ability to understand, on a VERY granular level, what the state of the agency is on a weekly basis is so empowering. Additionally, having a chance to come together as a team to meet our goals and be rewarded financially is amazing. I have seen more collaboration across teams in the past year and a half than I have seen in 15 years with the agency. This level of accountability and honesty is truly refreshing and inspiring.” ~ Jen Butler, Director of Enrollment


MiniGame™ Spotlight:

BBBS launched several MiniGames in 2018—and they’ve started 2019 strong as well. One example of a MiniGame focused on recruiting “40 men in 40 days” to address the list of boys and young men waiting to be matched with a mentor and positive adult role model. This MiniGame illustrated where potential male mentors were in the queue and gave staff a visual representation of where male volunteers bottleneck and how the team can move men through the inquiry and application queue. “We also used MiniGames to drive raffle ticket sales for an Audi in our Tarrant County and Houston markets that engaged the entire staff,” says Diana Beste, Director of Philanthropy. “I love that Great Game™ makes us reevaluate the way we do things and has pretty much eliminated the phrase ‘because that’s what we did last year’ and makes us rethink and try new things.”


“I love the Great Game because it has really helped me understand our program model, especially understanding cash flow and what it looks like for us as a non-profit. The transparency is incredible. Also, since I have no real background with finance and come from a more service-oriented job, it has helped my comprehension and made my transition to a more development-oriented role easier.” ~ Julia Kelley, Engagement Manager


What’s Next?

Bush says that the agency’s goals for the coming year are to get the team members in different offices playing The Game at a consistently high level. Getting all the associates to buy into financial literacy training and transparency as a way to build an open and accountable culture will play a key role in that evolution. Another component, says Bush, is making sure each of the four different regions has a strong leader in place who is willing to build a culture of accountability. “Another thing I want to lean into this year is finding ways to make our cultural values a living and breathing embodiment of the organization,” says Bush. “Too many nonprofits are built around a dynamic fundraiser or CEO. We want the Great Game to be our operating system to move into the future without skipping a beat. We want to continue to use The Game to bring the mission alive and show everyone how they can make an impact.”


“I think the Great Game has given Big Brothers Big Sisters an opportunity to come together as more than just an organization. It is a chance for all employees to work towards a common goal, have a singular mindset, and prioritize the real reason we do our jobs, which is to serve people.” ~ Summer Taylor, Enrollment Specialist


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