Strategic Organizational and Conservation Consulting



Blue Lotus Farm and Retreat Center Logo

Organizational Structure & Board Development

Like many other great ideas and causes, Blue Lotus Farm and Retreat Center started with a small group of very dedicated volunteers. Today, Blue Lotus – situated on 64 acres about 30 miles northwest of Milwaukee – serves hundreds of special needs children, adults and seniors in a day camp-like setting. Here, visitors can enjoy a variety of nature activities designed to promote self-expression, build confidence, and rejuvenate the body, mind, and soul.

As Blue Lotus grew, the organization needed help navigating the transition from being completely volunteer-driven to hiring a staff, establishing non-profit status, and creating a sustainable organizational structure.

“We had a board of trustees and volunteers, but no one knew how to get where we needed to go in a way that was efficient, feasible, and economical,” said Susan Bliffert, Executive Director. “We connected with MAYES | WILSON & ASSOCIATES through the Non-Profit Management Center and knew we had found the right partner to move forward.”

Sara Wilson and the MWA team helped Blue Lotus secure its first grant, and then conducted a complete capacity analysis of staff functions and programs to determine where time and resources were being spent, and by whom. This analysis revealed that Blue Lotus, at its present size and programming level, warranted adding at least two to three full-time staff members. MWA went on to create job descriptions; facilitate the process of developing personnel policies before any employees were hired; and guide Blue Lotus in creating an operations manual.

After the initial groundwork was laid, Blue Lotus brought MWA back again to provide board development guidance.  MWA helped the organization develop a board evaluation, board orientation manuals, and updated the organization’s bylaws. Board recruitment was also a critical piece of phase two. “Once we had hired our initial staff, our next step needed to be learning how to attract board members with skills we need and representing our community,” said Bliffert.

As one of the original volunteers, Bliffert shouldered a heavy workload at Blue Lotus early on, and was risking burnout.  She knew a change was needed. “MWA came at a very critical juncture for us, where it was either grow or stop here,” she said. “The whole process was really positive and uplifting and successful. We needed to be in a place where someone else could step in or be hired and we’ve achieved that foundation of sustainability for Blue Lotus Farm and Retreat Center.”

“We connected with

through the
Non-Profit Management
Center and knew
we had found the
right partner to
move forward.”


— Blue Lotus Farm
and Retreat Center