Let’s face it. Many meetings are yawners: proposal presented followed by a bit of discussion followed by unanimous approval. Rinse & repeat.
Several years ago I found myself in a meeting that was much more fun: tensions were high, voices were raised, passions flared, people paced. In the end, good decisions were made.
What made it fun is that we were working together for a common goal. Each person in the room knew and trusted that there were no hidden agendas. We all wanted the same outcome. We just needed to hammer out the best way to get there.
I did myself a favor recently and re-read Patrick Lencioni’s The Advantage. In this book, he offers practical, sound analysis and guidance in developing a cohesive team. His entire approach puts vulnerability-based trust as the foundational layer. With a basis of trust, a team can grow through constructive conflict and clear commitment. Team members that trust one another hold each other accountable to deliver the results for which they – as a team – bear full responsibility.
A trusting team is a rare commodity yet critical for long-term success. I’m pleased that Pinky McPherson will be offering Building a Cohesive Team (Aug 27) as part of our ongoing Leadership Series. I hope you’ll be able to attend.
- You want your board to be more engaged…how do we get them to focus?
- You’ve been on a board for years…is this really what we should be doing?
- You’re elected to a nonprofit’s board…now what?
- You’re considering serving on a nonprofit board…what am I getting myself into?
This past year, ONEplace increased its assistance and training with nonprofit boards. One of the insights from working with almost 20 boards is that there often is confusion as to what is and is not the board’s role. We find this is true for experienced board members as well as newer members.
This is not surprising. As the world around us changes, the governance challenges shift as well. Concerns with funding, long-term planning, and public perception lead us into a labyrinth of ideas as well as stories of past successes and failures. As one person put it, “It’s easy to get lost in the weeds.”
To address this fundamental concern, ONEplace will offer a Board Membership 101 workshop three times over the next year. During this 90-minute workshop, participants will:
- Learn the ten basic responsibilities of a board
- Examine proven practices in meeting these responsibilities
- Explore how these interface with your board
- Discover the benefits of serving on a board
The next Board Membership 101 is scheduled for Tuesday, June 24 at 4 pm. Others are slated for October and April. Consider having two or more of your board members attend the upcoming workshop to see how this event may integrate with your onboarding and continuous improvement processes.
With warmer weather I've been outside more - doing yard work, walking around our neighborhood. I've had several "good to see you again" conversations with neighbors as we emerge from our winter confines.
It feels good to reconnect with neighbors, and it's also very informative. I learn what's going on with them, and we share information impacting all of us - in our neighborhood, city, and region. It reminds me that no one of us has the complete picture. We all benefit from sharing what we know.
That's one of the main reasons we host Kalamazoo Nonprofit Connection - Live. By connecting, sharing information, and nurturing networks, we get outside of our bubbles. Taking an hour every quarter to catch up and learn what's going on around the area can have great benefits.
This will be our fifth gathering. At each of the previous events connections have been made leading to collaborative events and projects as well as resource sharing in communications and fundraising.
Sometimes the best resource to help you resolve your problem is the nonprofit that's already dealt with that problem.
We gather this Wednesday, May 14, 4:30-6 pm at Central Library. Don't miss it!
P.S. A recent Nonprofit Quarterly featured several articles on the power of networks. Check out their lead article, A Network Way of Working.
A couple of weeks ago I sent (i.e., postal mail) a card thanking Marcy for her program leadership. In subsequent email conversations with her, she thanked me for the thank you card – twice! – saying how much it meant to her. This, and other similar exchanges, makes me wonder:
With all the communications we churn out, are we really connecting with people?
Connecting is our goal. We can blah-blah-blah all we want, but if we’re not reaching people then our efforts are wasted…or, worse yet, alienating. With limited time and capacity, we must ensure that our communications are focused and effective.
May is Marketing & Communications Month at ONEplace. We have a handful of workshops and events to help you make valuable connections.
Spend some time this month evaluating your communications. Use the upcoming weeks to plan and experiment, so that, come fall, you’re ready to roll-out compelling and engaging communications.
We’ve seen the interview dozens of times. The person-in-charge stands, gazes into the void, and with a shake of the head says, “I never thought this would happen.”
It could happen.
Regardless of the venue or situation, we must face the facts as they present themselves, and one clear, undeniable fact is that circumstances beyond your control could derail your operation. It’s not about being a doomsayer or copping a negative attitude or even painting a worst-case scenario. It’s about recognizing risks and taking steps to protect your organization and the people who rely upon it.
ONEplace welcomes back Audrey Randall (Paradigm Risk Management) to lead us in two sessions aimed at avoiding being caught by what could happen. First, Business Continuity Planning (April 24) examines how to keep your operation running when risks become reality.
Next, Your Emergency Action Plan (May 8) looks at how we can prepare now to respond quickly when time if of the essence. Developing plans of action and getting your staff and volunteers prepared may save your organization thousands of dollars. It could even save lives.
Business continuity and emergency action planning are easy things to put off. They are also our biggest regrets when we are caught without them. Don’t put it off any longer. Register today.
“Try this – it worked last time.”
“Larry had a problem like that. How did he fix it?”
“Just smack it!”
How often do we take a trial and error approach to fixing problems? It’s good to draw on our expertise and past experience, but every attempted fix costs time and money. So, we can’t afford to just wing it.
In these situations, a rational, step-by-step process provides great assistance. Throughout my career I’ve used a problem solving process individually or with groups to address assess problems and identify root causes. I’ve also taught this process several times to various management teams.
On Thursday, April 3, I’m offering a Solve Problems for Good workshop at ONEplace. This 90-minute session explores how to fully describe a problem, identify possible causes, evaluate those causes and confirm the true cause. The process helps us gather solid data, avoid common pitfalls, and document the process for effective communication.
Processes like these are helpful management tools and set a thoughtful, logical tone to addressing challenges of all sorts.
When looking for an answer to a sticky question, it’s likely that another nonprofit has just what you need.
Call it relationship building, networking, cultivation, or connecting, the act of building enduring, mutually beneficial, professional relationships accelerates and sustains success for individuals and organizations. It’s time-tested, well-documented, and prescribed by every thought leader.
Does it take time and effort? Yes.
Will the return on this investment be huge? Yes.
Can you afford not to do it? No.
Need more? Among the benefits of strong professional relationships are:
- Keeping you and your organization front of mind amidst all the noise and clutter
- Creating a resource pool supporting mutual success
- Building within-sector and cross-sector trust – the foundation of collective impact
- Promoting sustainability and overall success
At ONEplace, our goal is to operate as a catalyst of your success, to help you meet people to include in your network and expand your sphere of influence. We invite you to connect with new people, cultivate emerging relationships and leverage your network. To accomplish this, we offer:
- Interactive discussion at every ONEplace workshop
- Kalamazoo Nonprofit Connection (LinkedIn group)
- Kalamazoo Nonprofit Connection – LIVE (quarterly networking event)
Our next quarterly gathering is Wednesday, February 12, 4:30 – 6pm (more info). I hope to see you there.
We consistently hear from you that the discussion and interactive aspects of our workshops are highly valued. This makes sense. As we work together on new information, we challenge our assumptions, develop specific insights, and learn from one another.
A recent study supports your feedback. Last year, the Johnson Center for Philanthropy did a study for Wilberforce University on effective capacity building strategies. This exhaustive study surveyed literature from 2008-2013, surveyed 236 foundations, and included 20 interviews. One key result of this study was that peer-to-peer learning (or collaborative learning) surfaced as the best capacity building approach.
Since last summer, ONEplace has been piloting peer-to-peer learning groups. In addition, we’ve learned from persons who have benefitted from other collaborative learning groups. Now it’s time to move this effort to its next phase.
On March 6 we will hold a Peer-to-Peer Learning Forum that will include a short presentation plus opportunities to discuss and contribute to the next significant steps in this process. Your voice is a vital component, because our goal, as always, is to be a catalyst for your success.
Every month, we learn much from the participants and presenters we meet at ONEplace. In Just ONEthing… we highlight an insight gained during the past month from our nonprofit community and its partners.
This month's insight comes from our Monthly Giving workshop. During the workshop, Daren Wendell (Executive Director of Active Water) described his three-year journey developing a monthly giving program. The ONEthing I pulled from his presentation is the need to do many little things – meticulously, consistently, and relentlessly. No one thing is difficult, but the discipline to persevere and stay on top of things poses perhaps the greatest challenge.
What does Daren do? Here’s a sampling:
- Takes a long-term view (3-4 years) and expects to go slow at the beginning
- Receipt automatically emailed to every online donor
- Daren calls every donor who gives a one-time gift (i.e., not monthly program)
- Daren calls every monthly donor once per quarter
- Special monthly email newsletter to monthly givers (includes personal note from Daren)
- High-level monthly givers receive an annual gift reflective of their mission
- Monthly givers living locally are invited to visit the office to meet others and see pictures of programs
- Board members gather to call & thank every donor at Thanksgiving time
- Daren invests in and power-uses a quality donor management system – like having another staff member
Among the many benefits of a monthly giving program are consistent, predictable monthly income and the ability to set more accurate goals on other campaigns.
Prepare all you want, but most situations include several unscripted moments. We need the ability to think on our feet.
In reviewing articles on this topic, I found that some suggest stall tactics such as having the person repeat the question, you repeating the question, or asking a clarifying question. These may buy time, but sooner or later you must respond. So, what do you do?
Many take their cue from those who regularly improvise. Citing jazz musicians, for example, one coach encourages clients to be fully in the moment – focused and engaged. Advisors among all articles advocate staying positive, actively listening, and taking risks.
Our upcoming workshop, (Manage by Improv – Jan 23), explores how we think on our feet. Using improvisation games, our leaders (Improv Effects) demonstrate how we can enrich our communication skills and increase our confidence. It’s a unique angle on engaged interaction, plus, it’s a lot of fun.
Whether you can make the workshop or not, prepare for unscripted moments. Here’s an article to help with that.
P.S. Improv Effects is featured in the current issue of Encore.
As the folks gathered for a recent ONEplace event, one participant told me of a collaboration he and another participant would be doing this spring. The collaboration came about, he said, because they met at ONEplace.
My response: “BOO-YAH!”
Connecting you with your nonprofit colleagues sits at the core of our operation. At every event, you’re invited to meet the other participants, talk with them, and discover how you can resource one another. Be it in small groups, workshop discussions, Kalamazoo Nonprofit Connection LIVE gatherings, or on LinkedIn, the connections you make will serve your career, strengthen your organization, and increase your community impact.
How do you connect with your colleagues – within your organization, within similar organizations, within the wider nonprofit community? How could you benefit from increasing the number or frequency of your connections?
Mark your calendars for our next Kalamazoo Nonprofit Connection LIVE gathering, Wednesday, February 12 at 4:30 pm. Arrange to meet someone there, plan to introduce yourself to someone. In other words, make it work for you.
In the spirit of year-end reflections, Adam and I decided to share our Top Ten list. We recognize that people vote with their attendance and with their post-session evaluations, so we did two lists. Therefore, based upon your evaluations and attendance, here are your top rated workshops from 2013. (drumroll please)
- Support from Millennials (3.19.13) 100%
- Project Management (12.3.13) 99%
- Real & Relevant Messaging (6.25.13) 98%
- Learn for Life & Career (9.5.13) 98%
- LinkedIn Best Practices (4.17.13) 97%
- Management Series 2: Leading & Empowering (11.4.13) 97%
- Video will Work for You (6.11.13) 96%
- Manage by Improvisation (10.8.13) 96%
- Free/cheap Web Tools (12.4.13) 96%
- Promote the CAUSE or DIE (12.10.13) 96%
- MCACA Grant Workshop (7/29/2013) 47
- Your Community Alignment (11/6/2013) 37
- Michael Gallery Workshop (7/11/2013) 30
- Supervision Series 2: Message, Method & Tools (9/16/2013) 27
- Penelope Burk: Get your message heard (2/14/2013) 26
- KADI Training (1/16/2013) 24
- Supervision Series 3: Performance Management (9/23/2013) 24
- Take the Lead: Influence (2/13/2013) 23
- How to Win Grants (4/11/2013) 23
- Effective Meetings (3/13/2013) 22
Thank you for all you do to support, encourage and enrich our community. You’re amazing people doing amazing work.
Happy New Year!
“Two heads are better than one” (as long as they’re not banging against one another).
Better answers don’t come simply by having more people in the room. To ensure the synergy of many minds or multiple efforts, you need a process or guide, something that facilitates the act of “working together.”
Synergy is a theme that runs through much of our December programming.
Small adjustments to activity or perspective often make big differences in how well we work together. Consider taking a closer look at how you can synergize your efforts.
In a video I recently viewed, Diana Chapman Walsh, president emerita of Wellesley College, offers her five attributes of trustworthy leadership: question ourselves, develop and attend to solid partnerships, avoid the use of force except as a last resort, value differences not only as a source of respect but as a source of creative information, and create a community.
Certainly, others may vary their own trustworthy leadership list, but I find that in leadership, as in many other areas, it all comes down to relationships. The connections we build over the course of our careers make all the difference in our individual success as well as our organization’s impact.
Our quarterly Kalamazoo Nonprofit Connection – LIVE events were created as a venue for you to make and strengthen connections with your nonprofit colleagues. Along with its sibling, the Kalamazoo Nonprofit Connection LinkedIn group, they provide opportunities to meet, discuss, ask questions, share resources, and support one another.
I hope you’ll stop by the upcoming LIVE gathering on Wednesday, November 20. We’re here from 4:30 – 6 pm.
Every month, we learn much from the participants and presenters we meet at ONEplace. In Just ONEthing… we highlight an insight gained during the past month from our nonprofit community and its partners.
This months’ insight comes from Dann Sytsma and Brian Lam (aka, Improv Effects) who led our Manage by Improvisation workshop. Through a series of improv games and exercises we learned the power of:
- affirming what the other person says and then adding to it
- making strong choices in the moment
- having fun
One participant emailed us two days after the workshop to add to comments made on the evaluation. The participant wrote: “The improv practices we learned are highly applicable to my job, particularly to the collaborative aspects of the work I do.”
ONEplace offers the improv workshop again on January 23, 2014. Registrations open in late November.
A few weeks ago during my regular LinkedIn perusal, I came across Marilyn Hewson’s (CEO Lockheed Martin) article on building trust. A quick look piqued my interest, but I wondered if her clearly numbered five principles would be yet another example of off-the-shelf leader hoo-ha. They had that look about them.
Upon reading the article, I saw that her principles were not steps or techniques to be learned & implemented but depths of character to be developed – values, vision, honesty, and gratitude. Building trust is not so much a matter of strategy or tactic but a matter of being trustworthy.
Think of someone you’ve learned to trust. Why did you come to trust this person?
In many cases, trust directly descends from integrity. For me, a person’s integrity stems from the fact that they live an integrated life – what you see if what you get…there are no masks or veneers. It’s what Nan Russell calls authentically showing up. [read her article on trust in the workplace]
In short, building trust is, for the most part, not something you do but a consequence of who you are. We’ll explore this more in an upcoming workshop, Build Trust – Manage Conflict, on October 30.
Leadership development is becoming ONEplace’s cornerstone. Why this focus?
We’re targeting leadership development because of overwhelming evidence that leadership – both executive and non-executive – sits at the hub of effectiveness. People take their cues from the top. No major initiative ever succeeds without the leader’s support. And every unit – from task force to board – relies on effective leadership.
As a result, ONEplace will change over the next three years. Changes we’ve made to date include:
- Increased management/leadership workshops during the year
- Increased online information and fewer webinars
- Created environments for connecting with nonprofit colleagues online (LinkedIn group) and face-to-face (quarterly gatherings)
- Pilot testing small group leadership intensives
- Increased communication with you
As we endeavor to encourage and equip your long-term leadership development needs, we welcome and will solicit your feedback and suggestions. As always, our goal is your success.
Upcoming ONEplace Leadership Series workshops:
Lunch…coffee…a meeting…a walk. When we get together we have a reason. The activity creates a context and sets a tone for the interaction.
On August 14, ONEplace holds its second Kalamazoo Nonprofit Connection – LIVE gathering. The context is nonprofit and the tone is mutual support.
Sure, there will be snacks, but best of all, your nonprofit colleagues will be there – those who value referral networks, desire a deeper community connection, and want to accelerate their organization’s impact.
We all seek stronger ties to our colleagues and community. But one evening alone won’t do it. According to “The Real Purpose of Networking,” the most common mistake that individuals make after attending a networking event is not following up. So, put some time on your Aug 15 calendar for follow up.
Stronger collaborative networks open communications, save time, and make us all more effective. But, like most things of value, they require little bits of attention over a long period of time. So, take an hour or so on August 14 to invest in your future…and have a good time doing it.
Most of you are aware that ONEplace offers its programs and services at no cost to the participants. It’s all foundation funded to provide year-round professional development and assistance to the entire nonprofit sector.
Of course, there is a cost to you – your time. So, we strive to honor your time commitment to the best of our ability. In July we’re conducting some time experiments – that is, we’re trying new time slots for some of our events.
Previous surveys indicate a stronger preference for early in the day or later in the day. So, we have scheduled four events in new time slots:
July 17 Thank You Letters = Future Gifts at 9 – 10:30 am
July 24 Mission Driven & Vision Focused at 4 – 5:30 pm
July 25 Plan Your Year-End Fundraising at 9 – 10:30 am
July 31 How to Write Faster at 9 – 10:30 am
Further, we condensed a couple of webinars worth of info into a shorter, instructor-led workshop format and scheduled it at an early lunch hour: July 23 Great Short Writing at 11 am – 12 noon.
Finally, we continue to add more to our website (24/7 availability) from ONEpages to video instruction. And more to come!
We’ll continue work with you (face-to-face, via LinkedIn, via surveys) to accommodate your needs and schedules. As always, feel free to contact me with your suggestions, questions, and concerns.
Congratulations to the 2013 class of the ONEplace Nonprofit Leadership Academy!
The Academy included ten full-day sessions covering over 20 topics related to running a nonprofit organization. Each participant also engaged a mentor relationship with a current nonprofit executive director.
Instructors include many of Kalamazoo’s top consultants in nonprofit law, governance, human resources, cultural competence, program evaluation, fundraising, and communications. The experience also included occasional panel discussions with those working in the field.
The Academy class of 2013 includes:
Sonja Dean, Michigan LISC
Kara Haas, Kellogg Biological Station
Mark Hudgins, Heritage Community
Christine Jacobsen, Ministry with Community
Jennifer Johnson, Kalamazoo Loaves & Fishes
Celine Keizer, Community Homeworks
Katie Marchal, Community Healing Centers
Jennifer Miller, Senior Services
Petra Morey, MRC Industries
Christine Murphy, Transformations Spirituality Center
Dallas Oberlee, WE Upjohn Institute/Michigan Works!
Brian Penny, Senior Services
Catherine Pinto, AACORN Farm
Keith Platte, Urban Alliance
Judith Rambow, Kalamazoo Public Library
Joan VanSickler, Buy Local Greater Kalamazoo
Jennifer Welles, Housing Resources, Inc
Dana White, Heritage Community
Launched in 2012, the ONEplace Nonprofit Leadership Academy addresses the need for developing nonprofit executive leadership as this sector anticipates upcoming Baby Boomer retirements. The Academy’s third session begins in January 2014. Application information will be available in September. More information is available at kpl.gov/ONEplace/ONLA.
I’ve read it yet again in another leadership book. This time the quote reads, “…no technique can substitute for face-to-face human interaction.”*
That’s why we scheduled the Kalamazoo Nonprofit Connection – LIVE event earlier this month, to provide an environment for us to connect, get to know each other, and learn from one another. Our post-event survey provided great feedback on the event.
72% responded to the survey
86% said that the reason they went was to meet people & network
88% rated the event high overall
99% said that they would like to meet either quarterly (57%) or bi-annually (22%)
96% said that the best time to meet was after 4 pm
Overall, comments were positive and encouraging.
“I met several people that I will connect with again.”
“Perfect set-up with tables, chairs and pens/paper.”
“This event was great and I look forward to connecting with community leaders at future events.”
With the strong response and high preference for quarterly gatherings, we’ll stay with Wednesday evening and meet again in August, followed by a pre-holiday gathering in November. So, mark your calendars for Wed August 14, 4:30 – 6 pm and Wed November 20, 4:30 – 6 pm.
*Quote from “The Leadership Challenge” 3rd edition, by James Kouzes & Barry Posner, page 181
When I hear the phrase, “once upon a time,” I immediately relax, settle into my chair, and focus my attention on what’s coming next. I’m about to hear a story.
Stories form the foundation of virtually all our entertainment and learning. All TV series, movies, and books (even most non-fiction) are stories. Songs, lectures, dances, and many paintings evoke stories. It’s how we convey information and instruction, and it’s how we turn information into meaning,
Communicating with donors and other stakeholders requires us to tell stories. Yet, many of us struggle with where to start, how to gather stories, and how best to tell them.
Over the next few weeks, ONEplace offers events targeted on this challenge. Great Stores = Connection (May 29) provides interview questions to draw out information and tips on how to engage staff in gathering good stories. Plus, we’ll look at several examples.
In Assess Your Qualitative Impact (May 30), Demarra Gardner shows us how to evaluate our organization’s programs and services, drawing out the information that paints a comprehensive picture of how we are fulfilling our mission.
ONEplace also explores two arenas for telling your story with How to Win Corporate Grants (May 21) and Asking for a Legacy Gift (June 6).
Our stories carry power – power to inspire, encourage and motivate. No other medium comes close. Make it work for you.
Some things get undeserved bad raps. We get stymied or frustrated by something, so we cast it aside rather than fix, adjust or redirect.
Can you say, “strategic planning?” How about “performance appraisals”…or “meetings?”
Faulty leadership most often suffers not from a lack of know-how but from a lack of execution. We often know what to do, but, for various reasons, we simply do not follow through. So, we place the blame on the thing we won’t do and dismiss it.
This won’t do. Let’s throw a life preserver out to these water-treading children, pull them ashore, and do the work that needs to be done:
- Setting an intentional path toward increased community impact through strategic planning
- Nurturing our staff’s professional development through meaningful performance appraisals
- Taking the time to check-in, to resolve tactical issues, to make strategic decisions, and to grow together as a cohesive organization through effective meeting practices
Begin right away. You can start by reclaiming the importance of meetings by attending Effective Meetings on Wednesday, March 13. This session goes beyond agendas and timely minutes to getting the right people in the right place addressing the right issues.
We often hear phrases such as, “keep in touch,” “losing touch” or “stay in touch.” It’s about connecting with people and maintaining relationships.
A former colleague of mine frequently referred to a “touch” as any contact with a customer (i.e., client, patron, donor, funder, etc.). She recognized that the frequency and quality of our touches directly relates to the effectiveness of our organizations.
March at ONEplace is all about improving our touches. We will address issues of direct communication (Email Newsletters – Feb 26) and mass communication (MLive Update – Mar 14), donor recognition and formal gatherings (Effective Meetings – Mar 13).
Later in the month we continue with a look at connecting with Millenials (Mar 19), using LinkedIn & Twitter (Mar 27) and your overall communications personality (Mar 20).
Another phrase I often hear is: “It’s all about relationships.” Whether your focus is fundraising, communications, management, or leadership, developing and maintaining key relationships sits at the core of your effectiveness. So, plan now to take advantage of the above professional development opportunities.
Customer Once, Client Forever
Over the past few weeks I’ve enjoyed getting to know some of our area’s consultants. The topics of our conversations vary at first, but they always come back around to leadership.
While there were many common points of agreement among these conversations, one that stands out to me is that everyone can be a leader. Indeed, our organizations need leaders in every area, creating what Jim Collins (Good to Great) calls “pockets of greatness.”
Developing leadership requires long-term investment in building technical skills and nurturing adaptive skills. In the months ahead ONEplace addresses both technical and adaptive development through a series of programming:
Take the Lead: Attention – Tues Nov 27, 1:00-2:30 pm – Learn what defines leadership vs. management and why you need both. Discover how you can take the lead from your current position – wherever that may be. Explore practices that will develop your leadership ability.
Project Management – Wed Nov 28, 9:30 – 11:00 am - Learn how to prioritize an overwhelming array of activities. Discover a rational, methodical process for defining, planning, and managing your projects. Examine steps you can take to protect your plan from potential problems and capitalize on potential opportunities.
ONEplace Nonprofit Leadership Academy 2013 – January-May, 2013 – An in-depth exploration of nonprofit executive leadership over ten sessions plus a mentoring experience. Applications are due November 30.
Consider these opportunities as well as resources found on our Leadership ONEpage to help you develop your leadership skills.
Good to Great
You’re leading a staff meeting, giving a report to the board, addressing a group of program volunteers, or having coffee with a donor. In these situations and others, you have the opportunity to tell a story.
We have the stories – volunteers, staff, and participants tell us wonderful tales of how they have been greatly helped and deeply touched. The challenge becomes presenting that story so the full impact is felt by the listeners.
On October 24, we’re hosting “Three Stories Every Nonprofit Should Tell,” a webinar by Kivi Leroux Miller, president of the Nonprofit Marketing Guide. This event explores the dramatic plot lines used by writers and offers steps on how to craft your story to achieve maximum impact (more info).
Put the power of story to work in your fundraising, board development, and community relations.
P.S. We also recently added November programming to our ONEplace calendar (check it out).
Great grant proposals begin with research. In fact, approximately 70% of the grant writing process is research. Knowing the right tools and how to use them makes this critical element efficient. So, we again present our Grant Research Tools Workshop on September 26 at 1 p.m.
During the session you will identify what you need to know about your organization and learn how to match your needs with the right funder. You will discover websites and directories with relevant information, and explore the Foundation Center Directory Online with over 100,000 foundation and corporate funders.
Bailey Mead, ONEplace Associate, leads this important class. Bailey joined ONEplace last spring. Previously, she served as Development Director at WARM Training Center (an organization dedicated to building sustainable communities in Detroit through energy efficiency and job training), Grantwriter at Area Agency on Aging 1-B, and Annual Fund Manager at THAW (The Heat and Warmth Fund). With more than 13 years of fund development and leadership experience in organizations ranging in size from grassroots to statewide, she brings a breadth and depth of nonprofit experience to assist you.
Essential nonprofit fundraising handbook
It’s easy for those of us in nonprofits to get so engaged in running our programs and organizations that we forget to tell the general public. We communicate with those close to us, but the wider community may not even know we exist.
Let’s change that!
Like most important endeavors, marketing and communications needs a plan, clear task assignments, and effective execution. In the weeks ahead, ONEplace offers help to jump start your efforts.
First, the Marketing & Communication Roundtable restarts on the third Tuesday of every month beginning September 18 at 11:30 a.m. Like all our roundtables, these are lunch and learn discussions with colleagues where you reflect on your efforts, articulate your successes and issues, and learn from each other’s experiences.
Second, ONEplace hosts four events targeted to your communications needs: “Facebook for Nonprofits” on October 10, “Measuring your Nonprofit Success” on October 17, “Managing your Editorial Calendar” on October 18, and “Three Stories Every Nonprofit Should Tell” on October 24. Visit our website for details and registration. These events are free of charge.
Make October the month you nail down your marketing and communications strategy. ONEplace can help via the resources above and providing direct assistance with your specific needs. Call me (269) 553-7899 or email ThomA@kpl.gov to find out more.
I love mankind…it’s people I can’t stand
Charles Schultz bestowed those words on Linus Van Pelt in November 1959, and supervisors far and wide continue to quote him. Why? Because, like a siren’s call…
Beautifully constructed and multi-colored, the geometric artifices of management process leap from the page into our unfiltered imagination, and we bask in the glow of a well-ordered workplace. Suddenly, our idyllic vision explodes! “Real people” have entered the picture and our so-called process is mangled and shredded to bits. Men and women – full of their own “thoughts” and “opinions” – actually care and act upon their unsolicited thoughts and opinions. What’s a manger to do!?!
I trust that your supervisory task is not that bad. Even so, our clean, well-ordered supervisory systems get various degrees of messy once applied to real life. That’s why ONEplace@kpl is bringing back Paul Knudstrup’s Nonprofit Supervision and Management Series.
Based on his book, The 8 Essential Skills for Managers and Supervisors, this five-session series explores key issues and strategies in supervision and management:
• What do managers really do?
• What’s different about managing a nonprofit?
• How good communication helps create healthy relationships and a strong work environment
• Focusing on achieving the results needed by your organization
• Empowering your staff
• Taking responsibility for your ongoing growth and development
• And much more
While each session is independent, they build upon each other, so committing to the entire course will bring the greatest benefit. As an incentive, those who attend all five sessions receive a free copy of Paul’s book.
The sessions run Monday mornings Sep 10, 17, 24, Oct 1 and 15 (more info). Space is limited for this popular course, so sign up early.
The 8 Essential Skills for Managers and Supervisors
After attending the Michigan Nonprofit Association’s Nonprofit Day 2011, I found out that, yes nonprofits can lobby. According to the IRS, 501(c)(3) corporations are allowed to lobby as long as they follow their rules and fill out the proper forms. The IRS defines lobbying as attempting to influence legislation by contacting, or encouraging the public to contact, members of a legislative body for purposes of supporting/opposing/proposing legislation. The major rule is that nonprofits cannot spend a “substantial amount” of their budget on lobbying. For a clearer explanation of what the IRS considers to be a “substantial amount,” check out Measuring Lobbying Activity: Expenditure Test. Charity Lawyers Blog post titled, Lobbying-Yes You Can! clarifies in layman’s, terms what is and is not lobbying, as well as explaining the 501(h) election.
According to the IRS, qualifying organizations may file a special election under 501(h) of the Code, or Election/Revocation of Election by an Eligible Section 501(c)(3) Organization To Make Expenditures To Influence Legislation (501(H) Election), to allow them to spend up to a specified dollar amount for lobbying without fear of adverse tax consequence from such activities. The IRS and Michigan Nonprofit Association advise nonprofits to file the 501(h) election if they are planning on doing any lobbying, as well as tracking all expenditures. ‘Direct’ and ‘Grassroots’ lobbying must be tracked separately as they have separate expenditure limits.
IRS Resources on Lobbying and expenditure limits:
IRS Definition of Direct & Grassroots Lobbying
IRS Schedule C Political Campaign and Lobbying Activities
IRS General Instructions for Filing Schedule C for Lobbying Activity
Excessive lobbying activities over a four-year period may cause a nonprofit to lose its tax-exempt status, making all of its income for that period subject to tax.
For questions on how to use communication channels such as your website, email, and social media channels for lobbying, Alliance for Justice is offering a free downloadable copy of Influencing Public Policy In The Digital Age: The Law of Online Lobbying and Election-related Activities. The guide is intended to inform 501(c)(3) and (c)(4) organizations on how to stay within the law and encourage participation in the nation’s democratic process using technology.
Consult your attorney and the IRS Charities/Nonprofits webpage for more information on how nonprofits can lobby for their cause. Other helpful resources are the IRS eNews: Exempt Organization Update and Center for Lobbying in the Public Interest website. ONEplace will be hosting a webinar November 15 titled Lobbying Rules for Nonprofits presented by Alliance for Justice. Register online soon as we anticipate seats will go fast!
Please share your thoughts about nonprofit lobbying by commenting on my blog!
Lobbying-Yes You Can!
Nonprofits often seek grants from foundations for new projects or ongoing financial support. During an informative webinar, presented today by John Hicks, CFRE, for the Association of Fundraising Professionals (AFP), he discussed ways to build positive relationships with foundations.
His ‘elements of a good relationship’ include: trust, communication, shared values, honesty, and respect…as he noted, the elements of any good relationship. Learning about a foundation’s mission, values, culture, philanthropic philosophies, and practices, is critical to assessing a good match and possible funding opportunity. If mission and values clearly aren’t in alignment, he urges grant seekers to not waste their own or the foundation’s time in pursuing a relationship.
His ‘six rules of engagement’ build on those elements. Nonprofits need to know:
- The landscape--the type of foundation: mega, competitive or community, family
- The people you are dealing with--program officer/staff, board members, or family foundation donor; learn through direct conversations and through your networks
- Their considerations—what they are dealing with that has nothing to do with you, or ‘their environment’
- What they value—outcomes that relate to their vision, working with people who have authority and responsibility for funding and outcomes, and people who follow their protocol
- How to give them what they want, how they want it—by learning their culture, personalities, and information processing practices, without shortcuts. Never to under estimate the importance of the gatekeeper—the person who opens and is the first to review your correspondence, requests, and reports for process (rules) and information
- Minimize risk—their risk through failed projects or misuse of funds; grantee risk through unrealistic expectations or mission drift
Stating that, like other types of fundraising, people give to people the trust, he encourages nonprofits to keep foundations informed about their work and outcomes before and while seeking funding from them. The relationship is a professional one, not a personal one, that needs to be treated much like working with an attorney to prepare a case: the grant-seeker preparing a case to the foundation and the foundation professional preparing a case to his/her board, grants panel, or the donor, directly.
These and many other grant-seeker/grant-maker resources are available at ONEplace and through the AFP website. If you have tips for developing positive relationships with foundations, please comment on this blog.
Association of Fundraising Professionals
Do you know if there is? Do you know how much it affects your organization’s ability to do your mission-driven work now or in the future?
During our First Wednesday Risk Management Series webinar, presenter Carlye Christianson of the Nonprofit Risk Management Center pointed out several critical outcomes from having ‘unhappy stakeholders’ (staff, volunteer, board members) in your midst. Common to all stakeholder groups: discontent diminishes commitment to mission; and, costs of replacing people are high. She recommends studying retention in departments and stakeholder groups at least annually so problems can be addressed quickly. Below are some key points she made about why people leave organizations and how to proactively address discontent-causing practices:
- Only 12% leave an organization for reasons related to compensation
- 88% leave for other reasons, including: organizational culture; management style or a specific supervisor; lack of opportunities for advancement or professional development; or, the organization’s lack of commitment to quality or mission
- One in three employees is thinking of leaving at any one time; for discontented staff that rises to 50%
- Discontented workers often increase: tardiness, mistakes, detachment, poor attitude
- To proactively address potential discontent: listen to employees; conduct a ‘stay interview’ (what will keep you here/what will send you away); offer opportunities for new assignments, training, and leadership development; provide options for work/life balance, encourage ‘a voice’ in how the organization runs and how the mission is served
- Leave organizations for the same reasons staff do plus lack of: orientation, interpersonal relationships, good skill/assignment match, commitment to mission
- To get and keep volunteers: develop a volunteer management program with a policy and procedure manual; review and update recruiting practices (only recruit people and skills you really need); develop job descriptions; provide orientation, ongoing training, and recognition; assure meaningful integration into the organization; and, conduct stay/exit interviews
- Leave organizations because of: low productivity in the board room (low expectations; poor attendance, preparation, or engagement; lack of meeting management); crisis mentality; factions and impasses; poor ED-CEO / board relationships;
- To get and keep board members: recruit and orient purposefully and appropriately; create an intentional culture of candor, inclusiveness, foresight, and reflection; evaluate and change board structure, operations, and ‘work’ (clearly define board / ED roles; move from hands-on to policy focus, etc); engage in strategic discussions and issues; and, conduct stay/exit interviews
Continually assessing all areas (ED, board, staff, volunteers), individually and collectively, and implementing a culture of continuous engagement and improvement will go a long way to stemming and/or reversing discontent in all stakeholder groups. The costs for your organization and, especially the constituents you serve, are too high to do otherwise.
For more information on this and many other risk management topics, visit the Nonprofit Center for Risk Management. ONEplace presents their First Wednesday Webinar Series and Third Thursday HR Webinar Series. Check our website calendar for more information and registration.
Nonprofit Center for Risk Management (symbol: Chinese for angry, annoyed, unhappy)
Gail Perry ‘wrote the book’ about transforming your nonprofit board members into a ‘fired-up’ fundraisers by putting their passions into actions. She will be in Kalamazoo on April 28 to share her wisdom and 7-step process for creating excitement about your organization’s potential and enthusiasm to generate the resources to make it happen. She’ll explore ways to change board members’ perception of fundraising from “asking for money” to “changing the world.”
Her presentation will be held at the Fetzer Center, Western Michigan University, from 8:30 to noon, followed by a networking luncheon (optional), and is co-sponsored by ONEplace@kpl and the Association of Fundraising Professional’s West Michigan Chapter. Registration information is available at ONEplace or AFPWM. Put it on your calendar, invite board members and fundraising staff, and register today!
If you aren’t yet familiar with Gail, she is always on the lookout for stimulating and, often, counter-intuitive fundraising ideas. Following is a summary of ‘pearls’ she gathered at the Association of Fundraising Professionals’ International Conference in mid-March—and a taste of what you can expect at her April 28 presentation. For the complete idea, follow the link to the originator.
1. Go All Out for Monthly Donors On Your Home Page
Monthly donors are worth gold to you. On average, they will stay for 10 YEARS. Put the ask right on your home page. The ideal monthly appeal ties a monthly ask to something specific. “$31 a month will do xxxx.” (Harvey McKinnon)
2. Focus on Fewer – Not More Donors
You don’t make more money by having more donors. The more donors you accumulate – the less profitable your fundraising program. (Penelope Burk)
3. Encourage Restricted Giving
Restricted asks raise more money. Period. We are holding our philanthropy back, because we are asking for unrestricted rather than restricted. (Penelope Burk)
4. Get Rid of the Words
Put your whole message in the first 150 words. The rest of your copy just backs it up. (Tom Ahern)
5. Get Rid of “Unmet Needs,” “Programs,” “Services”
Write like you are an outsider to your organization. Get rid of the boring, obtuse jargon. Jargon is a flame retardant! (Tom Ahern)
6. Make Your Case Like a Series of Ads
Add photos while you get rid of words. Create your case or your fundraising materials with the fewest words and the best photos. (Tom Ahern)
7. Hire More Fundraisers
Saying, “We can’t hire any more staff” is stupid. Each additional fundraising staffer upticks gross fundraising revenue. Period. (Penelope Burk)
8. Give Your Fundraising Staff Raises
Money is the #1 reason fundraising staff leaves. Investing in retention of staff will make you money. Retention boosts profit. Extend young staff from 18 months to 30 months saves you money. (Burk)
9. Get Rid of the Raise Money Now Mindset
31% of fundraisers who are planning to leave their jobs will leave because of an unrealistic “old school” culture of fundraising: ie, “you HAVE to bring in the $ NOW.” How much more money could you raise if you took a long term, strategic approach? (Burk)
10. You Must Give Your Staff Management Training
Success in business is 95% in the management of other people. But we cut staff training first whenever there is a shortfall. Training is essential. There’s not enough management training in nonprofits.(Burk)
11. Get Rid of Lousy Board Members Now
Allowing a lousy, nonperforming board member to serve out their term is, two words: “Chicken S***” (Simone Joyaux)
12. Be Blatant
Try this: “With your help, all these amazing things happened. And without your help, they won’t.” You‘re selling the impact of the donor’s gift. (Tom Ahern)
13. Stop Talking About The Money You Need
You choose: A case is about the opportunity you‘re putting in front of the donor. OR A case is about your organization‘s need for cash. (Ahern)
14. Become a Shrink
When dealing with volunteers, you are a psychologist not a fundraiser! (Laura Fredricks)
15. Don’t Believe Your Prospect, When...
If he says, “I’m just a plain ole country boy,” it really means he is a wealthy prospect! (Eli Jordfald)
16. Close Down Some Programs
Leaders will close or giveaway a program or activity that is no longer profitable and has little impact.
So were these ideas provocative? Would they challenge your status quo? Remember fundraising is changing. Donors are changing. Doing what you’ve always done the same old way will get you yesterday’s results. Go for it! Change is good. Use this article to rattle some cages! –Gail Perry
December 15 was a special day for the nonprofit sector in Kalamazoo County! Over 100 nonprofit executives, foundation representatives, board members, and community leaders gathered to honor and celebrate accomplishments of 2010 before a New Year starts in a couple weeks.
The first-ever celebration was sponsored and hosted by ONEplace at the Kalamazoo Public Library. Consultants & Trainers Network (also sponsored by ONEplace) members helped host the fun and engaging event. The room sustained a gentle roar of excitement for over two hours as people re-connected with colleagues from across the community and met new ones. People commented on the diversity of nonprofits and supporters in the room.
A video looped throughout the morning, showing the depth and breadth of the nonprofit sector through photos and statistics from a wide array of local organizations: health & human services agencies; educational institutions; governmental units; arts, culture, & humanities organizations; environmental organizations; youth development organizations; faith-based organizations; business associations; nonprofit-support organizations; foundations; and, more.
As director of ONEplace, I commented briefly on the level of services provided despite the current economy which are enormous and ever-generous. Basic needs providers are challenged to meet demands while often reducing their own budgets. Educators at all levels continue supporting new, innovative ways to improve student outcomes and employee performance while ‘tightening their belts.’ Arts, cultural, humanitarian, and civic organizations continue supporting Kalamazoo County’s quality of life with fewer dollars. Working together with our business and governmental sectors, the nonprofit sector assures the very fabric of our community continues to thrive.
It’s important to step back, pause, and reflect on how special Kalamazoo County is and “celebrate what we want to see more of.” The Nonprofit Sector Celebration did just that.