ONEplace

Meaning driven decision making

One of the books I’ve read this summer is Greg McKeown’s Essentialism. As the name implies, the book encourages people to focus only on those issues vital to the organization…in short, to become Essentialists.

Among the items you would expect to find (choice, clarity, saying “no,” setting boundaries, etc.) sits chapter six: Look – See What Really Matters. Here McKeown demonstrates the importance of discerning meaning from among all the data and the value of finding what really matters to people.

He suggests we take on the role of journalist: getting out in the field to see things firsthand; role playing differing perspectives to discover abnormal or unusual details, and taking time to clarify the core question as we hone in on the decision that really needs to be made.

What hooks me about the role of journalist is that the resulting story may bear little resemblance to stream of facts and figures. The journalist consumes the data not just to regurgitate it back in narrative form but to find the signal in the noise, to hear what’s not being said, and to uncover the essence of the story.

He reminds us that studies, interviews, and raw data of various sorts never drive our actions. Our decisions are guided by how we understand the information in light of our cause, our mission, and a myriad of other subjective filters. Our best decisions are meaning driven.

Best,

Thom

P.S. I recommend the book. The library has it in multiple forms. For a quick overview, see Michael Hyatt’s recent article.


Coffee with Janice Brown

This month we sat down with Janice Brown, now Trustee with The Kalamazoo Promise, as she discusses her career journey.

Tell us how you got to where you are today

My professional life has been a wonderful journey. From special education teacher to consultant, principal, central office administrator, superintendent and finally with The Kalamazoo Promise, these jobs have been so fabulous. Each and every one is a learning experience and helped to build the skill set for the next experience. The key to success is always being a learner, and enjoy the moment. I feel nothing but humility and gratefulness to have many experiences related to my professional career. Right now, I cannot pick out the “best” job I have had; each one was the best when I held it.

What do you most love about the Kalamazoo community? 

I love the people of this community and the generosity that has become engrained in each of us. Also, if you don’t know someone, you can just reach out and get to know them. Because education is universal to all walks of life, I have been fortunate to penetrate all cultures, neighborhoods and communities in my work. Each is special and has a significant gift to bring to this community.

What guides or principles do you rely most upon?

Each person must start their day with integrity and honesty and build from those principles, and those principles need to be contemplated each and every day. Most would tell you that my positive attitude, resiliency and commitment to education are what remind them the most about me.

Who was one of your mentors and what do you carry with you from that relationship?

Interestingly, I was not a well behaved child in school—often distracting the class and getting in trouble. My 4th grade teacher saw that energy and was clever enough to turn it around. She gave me “active” projects, kept me busy with productive work and overlooked my human frailties. The lesson I have learned from this is that it is pretty true of all human nature. We all have such goodness in us, but a dark side as well. If we are all about strengthening and highlighting that goodness, imagine what we could become!

What has been one of your biggest learning moments?

There have been so many “biggest” learning moments that the tale is too long to tell. Some examples include, we truly are interdependent, there are some things I do better than others, the more I learn the less I know and what you think of yourself and what others think of you often differ.

What’s an average day like for you at work?

It’s interesting that you ask this question because I am involved in a major life transition at the moment. The good news for me is that there have been many; the tough news is that this could be one of the most challenging. In June, I completed my administrative work with The Kalamazoo Promise and moved to being a trustee. In addition to this new role, I have many board/community responsibilities so it doesn’t feel quite as dramatic as one might think. I love to work and now need to find out what that will look like for me.

What are the types of challenges/opportunities that keep you up at night?

The relationship between poverty and education keeps me thinking day and night. As a community we must begin to talk about the impact of poverty, including the recent acts of violence in the community. We must also join as a community to have common goals and common accountabilities. Our fragmentation really gets in the way of our progress. We must lead, and we must follow. The challenges and difficulties of The Learning Network of Greater Kalamazoo reflect our inability to do so. WE are The Learning Network and responsible for its successes and failures. If we continue to reject a common community framework, we will continue to spin our wheels no matter how competent the individual organizations seem. Eradicating poverty and its impact on the community will take all of us…working together.

How do you stay up-to-date on latest trends in your field?

I continue to meet with folks in the community to get updates on their efforts. The latest education research is available at my fingertips, and I read books, articles and journals related to my field.

What advice do you have for those wishing to have a long lasting career in the nonprofit sector?

Enjoy the journey; never miss an opportunity to consider a new job or one that will enhance your learning. Be a good listener and a good learner. Build a team that compliments your skills and talents; and continue to do things that keep your passion for your work and life fresh and new.

What do you geek?

I geek outdoors and nature. There probably isn’t an outdoor sport or activity I don’t like. Some of my favorites include walking/hiking, swimming, camping, biking and golfing. If I’m not out doing that, you can probably find my nose behind my reader or a book.

Anything else?

I never miss an opportunity to say thank you to the donors of The Kalamazoo Promise.


Sneak a peek...workshops

You see our “This Week” email every Monday listing the next three weeks’ worth of events at ONEplace. Do you ever wonder how these events get selected…or how you can influence the selections? Let’s peek behind the curtain for a brief moment.

For several months, we’ve been selecting workshops based upon evaluation feedback, issues from direct assistance meetings, and research studies. We then ensure a balanced offering addressing leadership, management, fundraising, and communications.

Last spring, we decided to add a strategic element as well. We developed a generic calendar of nonprofit activity that plots approximately when certain activities take place in an organization’s life. For example, year-end fundraising campaigns in Nov-Dec, annual reports three months following the year’s end, annual review of communications in the spring, etc. We implemented this approach July 1 with a four-webinar series on event planning (in anticipation of fall fundraising events). Series attendance exceeded workshop averages by 20%.

As we implement this further, you’ll notice that we will announce some events months in advance. This will give you an opportunity to better plan your professional development and hold those spaces on your calendar.

Lastly, selected workshops will be ear-marked as ONEplace Leadership Series events. These events will address key leadership issues and will be suggested as preparatory work for those considering the ONEplace Nonprofit Leadership Academy. Topics such as Supervision, Mission/Vision, Strategic Communications, Emergency Preparedness and others will be offered.

Your evaluation feedback, survey responses, and comments offer extraordinary assistance in keeping ONEplace programming targeted to your needs. Thank you!


Training humility

I’m on a quest. Since first reading Jim Collins’ (Good to Great) description of Level 5 Leadership as a paradoxical combination of personal humility and professional will, I’ve searched for the answer to one question:

How can we best develop personal humility in the workplace?

Let me be clear right up front: I don’t have the answer. I may never have the answer. There may not be one definitive answer. But that won’t stop my search. Here’s a brief update.

Focus on Cause

Ask yourself, “where is my focus?” Humility takes us beyond our careers, beyond our organizations, and rests on the greater cause for which our organization was founded. Focusing on something greater than ourselves and our organizations releases us from blind loyalties to worn-out programs and lays the foundation for collaboration and collective impact.

It also takes us beyond today…or this quarter…or this year. Adopting the long view – beyond the short-term, even beyond our career-term – nurtures a perspective built more on stewardship than achievement.

Listen to yourself

Find some uninterrupted span of time and ask yourself, “what are my deeply held values and beliefs?” Stress, discontent, and all-around crotchety behavior often is rooted in the disconnect between our deeply held values and our actions. It’s difficult to diagnose because we don’t often find the space to clearly listen to the quiet voice inside – the one that knows us best.

Regularly listening to that voice, considering what it has to say and aligning our actions with it creates a personal integrity that helps us own our actions. It moves us beyond what we think we should do or what others suggest we do, to the place of what we believe is right to do. Actions grounded in humility also build courage, fortitude, and resilience.

Meet with people

Commonly asked questions at ONEplace include, “How do I…:” Increase donor contributions? Improve board recruitment? Focus my communications? Better supervise my staff? Connect more with the community?

The answer to all these questions is some form of: do what best serves the people involved. This means we need to get to know the people involved.

If you are overwhelmed by tasks, buried in reports, tied to your technology, stuck in the office, etc., then you may need to reassess. Nothing trumps face-to-face interaction when it comes to fundraising, board development, improved communications, better supervision, community connections, etc. Nothing. Above all, it’s about people.

What’s this have to do with humility? Knowing others – their circumstances, their stories – reveals the randomness of life events, puts our perspective into the kaleidoscope of varied viewpoints, and underscores the layers of interdependence that exist even within a small community.

So ends the update – brief and incomplete. The quest continues.

Best,

Thom


The B Side

Do you remember the 45 rpm record? It was a vinyl recording, a bit larger than a CD, which had a big hole in the middle. The A side was generally the highly-promoted hit single, and the B side was…well…the other side. 

Sometimes the B side made a surprise showing on American Top 40 (especially if you were the Beatles or Elvis). Generally, however, the B side remained unknown, unmentioned, and undiscovered. This reminds me of a humbling truth: 

Every action and decision we undertake – even the best ones – have a B side. 

No matter how effective or laudable, our efforts to do good carry negative ramifications for someone somewhere. This is seen most clearly in basic tradeoffs. When we choose to serve one group, other groups remain unserved.  

More elusive are the multi-layered and interweaving systems of impact. As we select vendors, pursue donations and sponsorships, select board members, and implement employee policies we weave a web of actions and associations that includes unknown tradeoffs and unintended consequences. When catching glimpses of these, it’s common to ignore them or dismiss them as simply the cost of doing business. But, what’s being missed? 

Every B side presents an opportunity…when we listen. 

When we take time to explore the flipside of our decisions, activities, and policies, we discover connections and impact that could revolutionize our organizations. Inclusive hiring practices, socially responsible investing, family-friendly employee policies, LEED certification, and more all came about, in part, because someone took the time to identify the hidden consequences of our behaviors and listen to those impacted by them. 

“I’ll Be Around” (The Spinners), “Maggie May” (Rod Stewart), “Strawberry Fields” (The Beatles), “Single Ladies – Put a Ring On It” (Beyonce), “We Will Rock You” (Queen), and “Unchained Melody” (The Righteous Brothers) started as B sides. Give a listen to the B sides of your decisions, programs, and policies. You may improve someone’s life…and find your next hit! 

Best, 

Thom 

 


New Year's Eve!

Like many of you, ONEplace operates on a fiscal year, and our new year begins July 1. This coming Monday is New Year’s Eve – Woo-hoo!

We have no New Year’s Resolutions, however we can announce some new and developing capacity building efforts.

Our ONEplace Peer Learning program launched with a recent survey of interest. With 80 of you interested in participating, we’re looking forward to many rich, insightful discussions in the months ahead.

Before the summer’s out, we’ll also be unveiling ONEplace Essentials, a core selection of workshops in each of five key areas: management, leadership, governance, fundraising, and communications. These workshops will be scheduled months in advance so you can hold the dates and better plan your professional development activities.

Details of the next ONEplace Nonprofit Leadership Academy will be announced in September. Feedback from the previous three classes and discussions with leaders of similar programs in other communities are helping to refine our Academy each year.

Finally, we will continue to encourage you to connect with your nonprofit colleagues through our Kalamazoo Nonprofit Connection on LinkedIn and in LIVE quarterly gatherings (next is August 20). These networking opportunities expand your resource pool and often connect you to the solutions you need.

So ring in the New Year by taking time to consider your professional development needs and those of your staff and board. We’re happy to work with you to prepare your plan.


Increase donor retention by 250%

Do you want to increase retention of first time donors from 20% to 70%? It’s easy.

Have a board member call the donor within 48 hours to say “thank you.” The call will take about a minute – half of the calls will go to voice mail (which is fine).

Not convinced? Last Thursday, I attended a workshop with Penelope Burk, fundraising consultant and President of Cygnus Applied Research (presented by Association of Fundraising Professionals – West Michigan Chapter). She has been researching fundraising practices and donor behavior for many years and has keen insights on what works and what doesn’t.

In a recent interview, she cited her research on first time donors who received a thank you call after their first gift:

We watched what happened with donors for two years, over six subsequent campaigns. They were never phoned again, but even by the end of the second year, the test group was still performing much higher — an average gift 42 percent higher than the control group — and they had a 70 percent retention rate from the first time they gave right through to the end of the sixth request. In contrast, the control group had an 80 percent drop-off rate [i.e., a 20% retention rate].

How much will it cost your organization’s budget to have board members make thank you calls? Zero dollars. What are the benefits? 42% increase in average gift, 250% increase in donor retention, and a more engaged board. That’s an incredibly huge ROI.

I know that some organizations already do this – Bravo! For those of you who aren’t doing this – start today.

Best,

Thom

P.S. Read the full interview with Penelope Burk from last summer (read now)


Coffee with Bill Rose

This month we sit down with Bill Rose, President and CEO of the Kalamazoo Nature Center, as he talks about how he developed his approach to leadership.

Tell us how you got to where you are today (positions held, career shifts, etc)

I went to graduate school to work on my Ph.D. so I could follow an academic career path at a university. While completing my degree, I began to realize that I had a deep passion for conservation and environmental action. A friend of mine told me about a job opening as a plant ecologist with The Nature Conservancy that she thought I should apply for. She was right. I got the job and that started me down a path of working for nature and environmental private nonprofit organizations. While working as a plant ecologist, I began to discover a latent interest that I had in administrative and fundraising work. I started raising money so I could hire more people to do more work. When a job opening came up in The Nature Conservancy for a Regional Director position, I jumped at the chance. This gave me the opportunity to further my interest in the business and leadership side of nonprofit work. After a number of years in this position, an executive search firm contacted me about working for the Kalamazoo Nature Center. It looked like a perfect fit that would allow me to combine all the things that I had a passion for: nonprofit leadership in the area of environment/nature; opportunity to continuing applying my scientific training/education; and, be active in an educational organization.

What do you most love about the Kalamazoo community?

I love Kalamazoo for many reasons. It is a progressive and philanthropic community that embraces change which leads to so many good things for all people in our community. The cultural and natural features of this community bring richness and depth that is not often found in a community of our size. The institutions of higher learner present us with the challenge to stay fresh in our ideas about how our community continues to stay relevant.

What guides or principles do you rely most upon?

  1. Follow your passion.
  2. Have fun.
  3. Be a leader, not just an administrator.
  4. Define what the culture of your organization should be and continuously work to build that culture.
  5. Strive to exceed the “customer’s” expectations.
  6. Work toward constant quality improvements in every area of your organization.
  7. Society is constantly changing so you need to change too or you begin to fall behind

Who was one of your mentors and what do you carry with you from that relationship?

Bob Tower (retired from Tower Pinkster), he taught me to be a good fundraiser and helped me begin to develop my network of contacts. I learned how important it is to be a good listener.

What has been one of your biggest learning moments?

I attended the week long program on leadership at the Center for Creative Leadership in North Carolina in the mid-1980s where I learned many of the fundamentals of “leadership.” Another big aha moment came in the early 1990s when I attended Disney University’s program on high quality customer service where I learned the significance of establishing a positive culture in your organization.

What’s an average day like for you at work?

I’m constantly juggling a thousand balls while remaining focused on a few key strategic items.

What are the types of challenges/opportunities that keep you up at night?

Not much. I am really comfortable knowing that the Nature Center is a successful organization that can always do more but satisfied that we are making a difference.

How do you stay up-to-date on latest trends in your field?

Being engaged with professional support organizations locally and nationally. This includes: Meeting with peers; Constant continuing education; Staying up with the news, and; Always looking for ways to network.

What advice do you have for those wishing to have a long lasting career in the nonprofit sector?

Follow your passion, have fun and strive for a balanced life.

What do you geek?

For me that has changed over time. Now that I have adult children and grandchildren, on opposite coasts, I love to engage with them in any way that I can. I love to play on the water at our cottage. 


Just ONEthing - June

Two workshops this past month emphasized the importance and value of planning ahead.

Audrey Randall (Paradigm Risk Management) and Adam Castle (American Red Cross) guided participants through emergency action planning. The key framework they outlined includes building a plan, periodic training and drills with staff, and clear communication protocols. The Red Cross has free online assessment tools and planning resources to guide you through your planning and preparation.

Chris Dilley (People’s Food Co-op) shared his story and insights into nonprofit financial management. He cited a key to successful financial management as building a reserve, i.e., having sufficient cash in the bank to handle small crises and the variations of cash flow through the year. Building a reserve develops community trust and allows you to take advantage of unexpected opportunities. One workshop participant’s organization has an emergency fund in addition to the operating reserve. The emergency fund is protected by several policies and procedures to ensure that it’s used only in case of an emergency. That’s planning ahead!


Sustain This

It’s a question on most grant applications and it also gets raised from time to time in the board room. It’s not a question we avoid, but it’s one of those loaded questions – the kind that elicits a tremendous amount of discussion, varied opinions, and multiple proposed solutions. The question is this:

What’s your sustainability plan?

We know we need it, but it’s difficult to get our collective mind around it. We often get caught up in trying to figure out the future. What will the world look like in five years or ten years? How can we plan for that? There are simply too many unknowns.

But, what about today…how do you know if you’re a “sustainable organization” right now? Sustainability is not a goal to reach or something to check off the To Do List. It’s a state of being. It’s a path that you choose.

So, what does a sustainable organization look like? Here are some indicators that I’ve gleaned from several articles:

  • A single, clean, up-to-date patron/donor database – the life blood of the organization. This includes up-to-date policies & protocols governing its use and procedures that ensure the data stay up-to-date.
  • Fund development activity fully funds expenses, satisfies reserve needs, and reasonably projects revenue needs and strategies for meeting those needs for the next three years.
  • Communications activities reach their target audience(s) with appropriate frequency so that audiences feel welcomed, involved, connected, and inspired.
  • Clear program policies and procedures as well as the supervision to ensure they are followed.
  • Regular measures, assessments, and evaluation of program and administrative effectiveness.
  • Succession planning for key roles in the organization (staff & board) – both short-term for sudden departures and long-term for planned departures.

I’m sure the list above is not comprehensive, but it’s a good start. What else would you add as a key indicator of sustainability?

Best,

Thom


Just ONEthing - May

Kerri Karvetski (Company K Media) presented a webinar on advanced social media strategies that ONEplace hosted in April. She made the point that nonprofits have experimented long enough with social media. It’s now time for social media to carry its weight in fundraising campaigns…but they can’t go it alone.

Multi-channel campaigns, especially those pairing email and social media, consistently provide increased impressions and highly reinforced messaging. They allow supporters to take action in the channel of their choice (which often changes over time). Multi-channel campaigns result in stronger relationships and better donor retention.

In fact, according to Blackbaud’s Idea Lab, first year donor retention rates double with a multi-channel campaign.

  • Offline only donors retain 29% of first year donors
  • Online only donors retain 23% of first year donors
  • Multi-channel donors retain 58% of first year donors

If you would like to see this webinar, you may do so at ONEplace. Simply call (553-7899);or email to set an appointment.


Coffee with Donna Odom

This month we sit down with Donna Odom as she recalls the path and passion leading to her present post as Executive Director of the Southwest Michigan Black Heritage Society.

Tell us how you got to where you are today (positions held, career shifts, etc)

There were many shifts that led me to where I am today, but the primary shift was leaving Chicago and relocating to Kalamazoo.  In Chicago I began my career as a French and English teacher.  From there I transitioned to positions in career services and cooperative education.  My last position before leaving Chicago was teaching college English Composition and Research Writing.

After coming to Kalamazoo, I began part-time at Kalamazoo Valley Museum and remained there for 12 years in the Education and Programs area, where I coordinated science and history programs.  That was where my interest in regional African American history was sparked.  In 2003 I founded the Southwest Michigan Black Heritage Society, along with Dr. and Mrs. Romeo Phillips, Harold Bulger, and Horace Bulger.  I served as president of the Society through 2010.  After retiring from the Museum, I later transitioned to serving as Executive Director of the Society.

What do you most love about the Kalamazoo community? 

I love the openness and friendliness of the people in the community and their spirit of service.

What guides or principles do you rely most upon?

I like to maintain focus, to complete what I start, and to stay true to my word.

Who was one of your mentors and what do you carry with you from that relationship?

I can’t identify any one mentor.  I learn from everyone with whom I interact and let their best qualities serve as a guide to my own behavior. 

What has been one of your biggest learning moments?

My biggest learning moment was realizing that I do my best work when I’m following my passion.

What’s an average day like for you at work?

Because I’m primarily a volunteer at what I do and I don’t have set hours, my days are always different, which is the thing I like most. However, almost all of them involve at least one meeting.

What are the types of challenges/opportunities that keep you up at night?

When we are planning a specific project or program, I find myself getting my best ideas in the wee hours of the morning.

How do you stay up-to-date on latest trends in your field?

I serve on several boards of history-based organizations.

What advice do you have for those wishing to have a long lasting career in the nonprofit sector?

Make sure you are making the decision to enter the field because what you are going to do enables you to follow your passion or your life purpose, not because you think it will make you rich.

What do you geek (i.e., what hobby or outside interest do you really like)?

Believe it or not, I geek my work which allows me to do the things I enjoy most -  expressing myself through speaking and writing, planning and organizing, researching history, interacting with others.  The only other thing I do as much is read.  I also enjoy classical music, theater, dancing, and interior decorating. 


Just ONEthing - April

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 Mary Jo Asmus, President of Aspire Collaborative Services. In her recent workshop, Coaching for Breakthrough Performance, Mary Jo taught and demonstrated the power of focused attention.

Spending as little as ten minutes being focused on the other person and asking them open questions, allows the individual to peel back layers of understanding and discover more effective courses of action.

Unlike feedback which offers evaluation of previous acts or consulting which offers specific direction, coaching opens individuals to the insights and possibilities within themselves.

More specifically, coaching:

  • Helps an individual visualize the current situation and desired future situation
  • Restates and builds on an individual’s own insights to co-discover possible options
  • Explores necessary tasks to remove barriers and achieve desired ends
  • Ensures commitment of the individual to take action and be accountable

Find out more about Mary Jo, including her informative blog at aspire-cs.com.


What's a board to do?

Faced with an ever-changing landscape and the annual coming and going of members, boards often scramble to keep up. Time and again, however, our research and experience show that keeping the basic responsibilities in front of the board provide the needed grounding and focus to maintain the board’s effectiveness.

What are these responsibilities? They may be described in various ways. Under the law, board members must meet certain standards of conduct in carrying out their responsibilities to the organization. These are usually described as:

  • Duty of care – exercising reasonable care in making decisions as a steward of the organization
  • Duty of loyalty – acting in the best interest of the organization and never using information obtained as a member for personal gain
  • Duty of obedience – being faithful to the organization’s mission and acting in ways consistent with the organization’s central goals

In our recent Leadership Academy class, Larry Hermen took the Ten Basic Responsibilities of a Board and categorized them as:

  • Mission – This includes establishing and evaluating mission & vision, engaging in strategic planning, overseeing programs, and helping the organization communicate effectively
  • Money – This includes overseeing the organization’s finances, fundraising, and ensuring sound risk management practices
  • Management – This includes managing the work of the board, member recruiting and orientation, and executive director hiring and supervision

In our recent Better Board Series, we reduced the Ten Basic Responsibilities to three foundational tasks:

  • Manage relationships – This sets the foundation for fundraising, board recruitment, executive director hiring and supervision, and enhancing the organization’s public standing
  • Set direction – This sets the foundation for establishing and evaluating the mission and vision, ensuring effective planning, and monitoring the effectiveness of programs and services
  • Ensure integrity – This sets the foundation for proper financial oversight, protecting assets, and ensuring legal compliance

I’m sure there are many other ways to slice and dice these core responsibilities.

The sum of all of these is that they encourage the board to:

  1. Keep focused attention on its mission as well as the larger cause that it serves
  2. Work together because no one person or ad hoc group may act on behalf of the board

Keeping these basic responsibilities in front of the board goes a long way to keeping the board engaged and the organization sustainable.

Best,

Thom


Just ONEthing - March 2014

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 Janice Maatman, Director of Nonprofit Education Programs at WMU, who recently presented an ethics seminar to the ONEplace Nonprofit Leadership Academy. Quoting from Ethics in Nonprofit Management by Thomas Jeavons, Jan said, “Trust is the lifeblood of any organization.” She then highlighted five attributes of trust:

  • Integrity – continuity between talk & walk, internal & external
  • Openness – “is it OK if your 6 year-old sees you doing it?” transparency
  • Accountability – you can explain your choices
  • Service to a cause – focusing beyond your own organization
  • Charity – generosity not out of pity but out of a sense of compassion

Coffee with Pat Taylor

This month we sit down with Pat Taylor, Executive Director of the Eastside Neighborhood Association. She shares her vast experience in working in the nonprofit sector and her creative approach to solving local issues.

Tell us how you got to where you are today

I began my career in the nonprofit world by volunteering, first at the defunct Civic Black Theatre (acting and technical theatre positions). My next volunteer opportunity came by assisting the Executive Director at that time, late Gayle Sydnor, at the Black Arts & Cultural Center. I really did not think of these positions as any sort of prep for a career move. I was a single parent with two teen-aged boys and I wanted to show them that mom was practicing what she preached: get out and do something positive that you enjoy just for the fun of it.

I enjoyed working in the nonprofit world enough to start thinking about making a career of it when the time (and resources) came that enabled me to go to college. While at WMU, I snagged an internship with Cass District Library working with residents and businesses. I was offered a position there but declined because I am NOT the commuting type!

After my internship with Cass I went into the AmeriCorps program and worked as a Housing Specialist at the Edison Neighborhood Association. After my tour of duty expired, the Executive Director offered me a permanent position working at Edison, which I took. After working for two years at Edison, the position at the Eastside Neighborhood Association came up. I applied for it, was hired, and here I am today!

What do you most love about the Kalamazoo community?

I love how, when faced with major challenges, the Kalamazoo Community usually looks to creative approaches to solve the issue.

What guides or principles do you rely most upon?

The Golden Rule

Who was one of your mentors and what do you carry with you from that relationship?

Of the many folks (mostly women) that come to mind, the late Gayle Sydnor was instrumental in reminding me that there are several approaches to a problem. If one thing does not work, keep looking – the solution just hasn’t been found yet! She taught me that challenges are tools to assist one to shift directions. She also helped me to see that failure is a learning curve, not a punishment.

What has been one of your biggest learning moments?

I think that my biggest learning moment came when, during my first years at the Eastside there were two “camps” (different views on how to make the neighborhood a better place). The more aggressive camp tended to push their agenda through, while the non-assertive camp – even though they did not totally agree with the agenda – stayed silent. This discovery caused me to shift from having to work for several bosses – trying to please everyone – to finding ways to make sure that everyone has a say in the decision-making process in an environment where each individual feels their concerns are heard. Through this situation I realized the importance of including EVERYONE in a conversation, making sure that everybody is really on board with the idea, and finding a venue for those who are not to have a say so the rest of the group knows. And all this must happen in a “safe” environment.

What’s an average day like for you at work?

My day-to-day work tends to be a mix of coaching volunteers, finding information to assist my board carry out their duties, bill paying , meetings, looking for resources to assist the organization and residents, and LOTS of report writing!

What are the types of challenges/opportunities that keep you up at night?

Trying to figure how to have enough time to do all the tasks I feel need to be accomplished to keep the organization moving forward. I feel that everyone involved in the organization should have a say and be empowered to assist with progress in our neighborhood and the association. Through the years my biggest challenge is finding ways that encourage residents and board members to feel comfortable enough to take the plunge. It is not a matter of “one size fits all.” Our residents are a very diverse lot. An approach that encourages one individual may very well repel another, so building relationships is key.

How do you stay up-to-date on latest trends in your field?

Modern technology has its perks! I have found several resources that help me stay up to date with trends related to my field. In addition to this, when I find that I have the time (and REALLY need to see the outside world), ONEplace is another good resource with the many workshops geared towards what local nonprofit folks are looking for.

What advice do you have for those wishing to have a long lasting career in the nonprofit sector?

Always remember that we cannot accomplish our goals of making our world a better place alone. Seek out other individuals who work in the field – not just those that are specific to your industry – who can be a wealth of ideas that one may be able to adapt to the organization you are doing your good work for. …And don’t forget to do what you love!

What do you geek (i.e., what hobby or outside interest do you really like)?

I geek so many things – Arts & Crafts, reading, theater arts, music, the outdoors, gardening, playing with stained glass, and my grandkids!


Who's your target?

Our ONEplace Nonprofit Collection has this great little book: The Five Most Important Questions You Will Ever Ask About Your Organization, by Peter Drucker and others. It’s a quick read that makes a lasting impression. Questions two & three grabbed me: Who is our customer? and What does the customer value? Specific, well-supported answers to these questions could turn your organization around.

Nonprofits have many customers. The authors distinguished between our primary customers (the persons who lives are changed through our work) and our supporting customers (volunteers, members, partners, funders, employees, and others who must be satisfied). Our business is not to casually please everyone but to deeply please our target customers. So, the first job is to clearly define our target customers in great detail. This definition affects everything.

Next, ask What does the customer value? This may be the most important – but least often asked – question. The authors suggest beginning with your assumptions of what you believe your customers value. Next, gather customer input and then compare your assumptions with what the customers actually are saying, find the differences, and go on to assess your results. Do this for both primary and supporting customers.

It takes time and hard work, but it’s worth it. The reward comes in a greater focus on your mission, money-saving operational efficiencies, and greater value delivered to all of your customers.

Best,

Thom


It comes down to this

Leadership.

We all take our cue from the top. A leader’s style determines about 70% of the organization’s culture which, in turn, drives up to 30% of performance (Firms of Endearment).

Of course, I don’t need to cite research. We all know it’s true. We see it every day: at works, at home, in schools, and in the community.

With few exceptions, when ONEplace staff meets with an organization to discuss concerns and challenges, dysfunctional leadership plays a debilitating role. The flipside is also true. When we work with healthy, effective organizations, we find that vital leadership sits at the hub of their progress and success.

Most often, the crux of the leadership challenge or success rests in the partnership between the executive director and the board. Like ripples in a pond, the actions of this crucial partnership radiate to every stakeholder, often having the greatest impact on those furthest out. This commonly means that those staff and volunteers on the front lines are motivated by impeccable clarity of mission and direction or left frustrated, arguing over ambiguous pronouncements.

So, what to do? Pointing fingers (be it blaming or idolizing) either exacerbate a problem or simplify a success. For now, I ask you to consider two things:

  1. Please share your successes. Leave a comment, post on our LinkedIn group, send me an email or otherwise share what you’re doing that works. Supporting one another in this way builds a stronger sector for us all.
  2. Please do not let a problem situation fester any longer. Problems often take months to develop, and they will take focused effort over time to resolve. Let’s work together to explore your particular situation and begin to take steps to repair your system.

It comes down to this: what’s your next move?

Best,

Thom


Where do I find...

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.

Best,

Thom


Hey! Where're you headed?

When was the last time your board discussed the organization’s mission and vision? How much has changed – big shifts as well as incremental changes – since that time?

We find that evaluating the mission and vision is either a glossed over exercise – not much more than a quick reaffirmation of the mission statement – or a tediously-detailed (i.e., word-smithing) part of a large strategic planning effort. Neither produces helpful results.

Yet, a biannual mission and vision evaluation serves several needs of the board. First, it takes stock of the environment in which you live and work. What’s it like today? How do we expect it to change in the next two or three years? How does this impact our long-term direction?

Second, it faces everyone in the same specific direction. It’s no good to say something akin to, “We’re heading north” (a 90-degree chunk of the compass). Rather, we need to say, “Our heading is 012 degrees.” Specificity lets everyone know exactly who we’re serving and why.

Third, and perhaps most significantly, reconnecting with the mission and vision of the organization breeds ownership. Effective fundraising, ambassadorship, and board recruitment requires personal connection to the mission of the organization. This exercise allows each board member the opportunity to engage the mission on his/her own terms…to find that personal stake. It deepens each person’s commitment and motivates their informing and inviting others.

So, I encourage taking time to evaluate your organization’s mission and vision at least every other year. ONEplace can help with resources or in facilitating the conversation. It will strengthen your connections and your resolve.

Best,

Thom


Unresolved

Tired of hearing about New Year’s resolutions? Me, too. So let’s have some fun with it.

Like many words, “resolution” has more than one meaning. For instance, resolution also refers to the sharpness of an image and the clarity of its detail. Resolution provides a measure of presentation quality, and higher resolution usually means better quality.

So, what if, instead of cramming more should’s, ought’s, or to do’s on ourselves via New Year’s resolutions, we create a high resolution New Year? We rid ourselves of the everything’s-a-priority, pixelated view of our efforts and sharpen our clarity on things that bring out the vibrant hues of our mission. That is, we bring our work into focus.

Daniel Goleman (Focus: The Hidden Driver of Excellence) writes daily on this topic. He identifies the myriad of distractions vying for our attention and identifies the importance of sustained, concentrated focus for insight and innovation. His suggestions include actions we can take in the workplace and beyond. For example:

When you find yourself checking your email when you should be working on something else instead, just telling yourself 'I'm distracted now' activates a brain circuit that makes it easier to drop what's irrelevant and get back to focusing on your work.

Few of us have time or energy for what’s irrelevant. So let’s make it a Hi-Res New Year.

Best,

Thom

P.S. The above example came from this brief Daniel Goleman article on Seven Ways to Sharpen Your Focus.


Up your rep

Every nonprofit desires a strong public reputation.

One recipe for increasing an organization’s civic stature is to: 

  1. identify your community’s long-term, well-funded priority, and then
  2. help it be successful while staying true to your mission.

The result is that the organization:

  • does what it does best
  • builds strong alliances with other organizations, businesses, and agencies
  • enjoys endorsements from community leaders as an example to be followed

In most communities this is a near-impossible task because there are no long-term, well-funded priorities. The priorities change with each new administration or budget cycle.

Not so in Kalamazoo County. We share a common vision – a sustainable culture of learning at home, in school, at work and throughout the community. Its pillars are the Kalamazoo Promise and The Learning Network of Greater Kalamazoo, but its active participants populate a very long list. And, make no mistake, the effort is well funded, and we’re in it for the long haul.

Recent recognition from the Lumina Foundation and Dan Cardinali, president of Communities in Schools, Inc., indicates that we’re moving in a good direction. Cardinali writes:

What's tremendously encouraging to me is the way that the entire community is coming together in support of the public schools. In Kalamazoo, public education is everyone's business. The silos that separate schools, businesses and civic organizations are coming down as everyone accepts a shared responsibility to prepare young people for a successful, productive life. In other words, Kalamazoo is re-forming its sense of community, not just reforming its schools. (read full post)

Are we on the right path? Yes…for now. But there’s a long way to go and the path twists and turns. And, it has no end. We just need to keep moving forward.

Will you and your organization be satisfied walking the sidelines or being an armchair quarterback to this adventure? I hope not. Get in the game! Claim the vision as your own, and offer your best. The least it will do is up your rep.

Best,

Thom

P.S. Kalamazoo is among 20 communities selected by the Lumina Foundation for project to boost college success (read article).


Small Group Update

Many people find that having a small group of trusted colleagues contributes to the foundation of their success. These take various forms: master mind groups, personal boards of directors, content-area small groups, sector-based small groups, and more. Some last for a few months and others continue for years.

What’s clear is that having a mutually supportive network of trusted colleagues is critical to personal development. At ONEplace, we’ve just completed piloting a mindfulness small group and we’re currently facilitating two other small groups. We’re learning as we go, but we’re already seeing promising results, such as: focused, in depth exploration of real, current issues; development of personal practices that reduce stress; and deepening relationships with nonprofit colleagues.

Would you like to participate in a small group? Do you know 2, 3 or 4 others who also may be interested? Here’s how ONEplace can assist:

  • Additional recruitment & scheduling of meetings
  • Host meetings
  • Facilitation of the group process & plan
  • Any needed follow-up

At our first meetings, the group decides how frequently they’ll meet and the number of meetings involved in the initial commitment (e.g., meet monthly for six months).

Please email me (thoma@kpl.gov) with your thoughts and interest. We’ll launch new groups in January.


Just ONEthing - Dec 2013

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 Suprotik Stotz-Ghosh of the Kalamazoo Community Foundation and others who attended our community alignment workshop on November 6. During this time, Suprotik posed the question, What are the barriers to your operating at maximum potential? Among the responses came these insights:

  • We think we have to do it all vs. working smarter
  • Organizational tunnel vision – we don’t see the full picture
  • We work in silos and will collaborate only so far. We stop when we fear losing funding
  • We may use the same terms, but we have differing definitions of those terms - misunderstanding
  • We often reinvent the wheel, trying to solve issues by ourselves when someone already has the answer
  • Always done it this way vs. Willingness to change

Suprotik offered that what works best for any specific community is found in the intersection of Best Practices (success in many communities), Local Data (trends unique to our community), and Local Voices (from people nearest the issues).


Many thanks

Thanksgiving fast approaches. So, this week I’ll simply share with you three Work-Related Gratefuls (WRGs, pronounced wergs).

1. ONEplace colleagues – It’s great to work with people you enjoy and admire, and I’m grateful to work with Adam McFarlin. Many of ONEplace’s innovations these past months are his contributions. I also am grateful for colleagues past, Bailey Mead and Bobbe Luce, whose contributions continue to benefit our nonprofit sector.

2. Consultant network – Talent abounds in so many corners of our county. Our consultant network includes smart, insightful, dedicated, and innovative persons who put the meat and muscle into ONEplace workshops, Leadership Academy, and more. I’m grateful and honored to work with them.

3. Kalamazoo Nonprofit Connection – While I’m grateful for every dedicated nonprofit staff, board member, and volunteer, I especially want to thank those who connect through the Kalamazoo Nonprofit Connection – both the LinkedIn group and our LIVE gatherings. Taking time to meet, share and regularly connect with your nonprofit colleagues illustrates your grasp of the long view and your commitment to collective impact.

I could go on, but three is a good number. Plus, why should I have all the fun – what are your WRGs?

Happy Thanksgiving,

Thom


Trust connections

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.

Best,

Thom


Inter(active)dependence

I get jazzed when I'm part of a group that's getting deep in the hoo-ha on issues that matter. Last week (Nov 6), we had moments of that during our Community Alignment workshop.

During the discussion, Suprotik Stotz-Ghosh (Kalamazoo Community Foundation) offered three keen insights that brought this elusive topic into clearer view.

Community alignment is an act of our will
We choose to be aligned or not. There's no magic formula or moment when all falls into place. Alignment occurs when two or more organizations set their intentions to a common outcome and consent to common goals; when we choose to combine our power to do good and to do it well.

Community alignment is about a better way to connect us
Our work takes on greater meaning when it engages us in something bigger than ourselves or our organizations. When we choose to align around these larger goals, the connections we make are stronger and deeper. They withstand conflict and debate, and they surround us with the net of support required to pursue transformational change.

Community alignment begins by starting conversations with people we don't know
While we acknowledge the truth that "we're all in this together," we often don't recognize that "all" includes those voices not being heard. Aligning with those we know takes work. Seeking those we don't know - but need to know - requires curiosity as well as vulnerability. Let's keep asking, "Who's not at the table?" And then, offer them a chair.

We live in a dynamic community - a living system in constant flux. In such a place, community alignment is not something to be attained so much as to be pursued (like "the pursuit of happiness"). At best we'll achieve moments - moments when months of effort from many people results in lives being changed...improved...transformed. At the end of the day, that's something to celebrate!

Then, tomorrow, we do it all over again.

Best,

Thom


Executing Leaders

It’s Halloween! So I bow to the gruesome and gory and offer a gallowed twist to basic leadership practices.

Hang’em High – Put your clean & dirty laundry high on the line for all to see. Transparency is a must and leaders should be the first to admit mistakes and offer second chances.

Stake in the Heart – Plant your stake (i.e., take a stand) aligned with your passion. A misplaced stake will burn you out, and unplanted stakes mean you and your organization stand for nothing.

Firing Squad – Keep the right people on the bus in the right seats and fire those who shouldn’t be on the bus. Make the difficult decision and do it compassionately and appropriately – but do it. Not taking action frustrates the people you want to keep and it holds back the operation.

Off with their Heads – Big-headed egos must go! And, the bigger they are, the harder they’ll fall. It’s not about you (the leader), and it’s not even about your organization. It’s about your mission and the collective impact you can make aligned with others who share your vision.

Leaders who execute well not only know what to do, they have the fortitude to do it.


Just ONEthing - Oct 2013

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.


Focus

Autofocus used to bug me. I’d take a picture of two people standing side-by-side, and invariably the camera would capture the detail of the plant centered behind them and blur their faces.

I eventually learned the trick of autofocus, but it still bothered me. The auto feature distracted me from my desired focus of attention.

Now, more than ever, distractions abound. Our attention gets pulled in several directions every minute. Yet, research and practical experience show time again that our ability to focus – to pay attention in the right way, at the right time – is critical for success.

Focus not only directs our attention, it also brings things into clear view. As the detail sharpens, we discern where to invest our time, our energy, even our very lives. Clarity draws us toward our center.

Our organizations have a center – it’s usually captured in the mission statement. Each of us also has something inside that knows when we’re in the center – when we’re on the beam or off the beam. In accepting that knowledge and pursuing that center, we find our passion, our bliss, our happiness.

Allowing ourselves this journey requires a self-acceptance that allows for the mistakes we’ll make along the way. It requires courage as we put ourselves out there and learn in public. And it requires a focus gained from self-reflection (i.e., set manually) rather than dictated from outside ourselves (i.e., autofocus).

Best,

Thom

P.S. Here’s a brief clip of Daniel Goleman speaking on focus – watch clip


On Leadership - Sep 2013

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:


Need a New Direction?

Are you squeezing every last cent out of every dollar, every year…and still running a deficit? Are you expanding your mission to chase after one more grant? Do your communications often (too often) say, “please save us, we’re worth it?”

If so, it’s time to admit that your organization’s business model is unsustainable. It’s not time to redouble efforts. It’s time for a new direction - time for a turnaround.

Turnarounds are not miracles. They result from good planning and determined implementation, and they require an unwavering focus on strong leadership, disciplined management, aggressive marketing, and right-sized fundraising.

Strong leadership delivers
* a single, unified vision
* a positive, forward-looking face to outside world
* courageous decision-making

Disciplined management delivers
* obsessive focus on the mission
* a feasible plan toward sustainability
* short-term needs handled with long-term perspective

Institutional marketing delivers
* A clear, mission-focused message that’s descriptive and inspiring
* One solid PR hit every quarter (monthly for larger orgs)
* One spokesperson who controls the media message

Right-sized fundraising delivers
* Gifts that make sense given your organization’s budget and profile
* Grants that support the current mission (vs. create new lines of programming)
* Increased revenue

Again, turnarounds are not miracles. They result from good planning and determined implementation. Further, they take place with energy and speed – no more than three years.

ONEplace@kpl can assist with your turnaround. Email or call today (269-553-7899).

Best,

Thom

Much of the above is drawn from Michael Kaiser’s excellent book, The Art of the Turnaround. He sets forth ten rules that are clear and practical, and he tells several stories of how he applied those rules to turn around various struggling organizations.


Tear Down that Wall

ONEplace renovations commence this week. While the conference room remains intact, the walls surrounding the center are coming down. With books boxed, computers carted and pamphlets packed, we’re ready for the walls to fall.

In light of our renovation, it’s tempting to play with the metaphor of “tearing down walls to embrace a broader perspective.” Indeed, creating opportunities for you to connect with your nonprofit colleagues holds a prominent position in our current plan. And, already, several important connections and insights have come about as a result of networking at events and online. Even so, I’ll avoid that temptation.

It’s also quite enticing to conjure the image of “looking out beyond the resource into the wider world.” You know, mapping new ideas and tools on to the current landscape, keeping a long-term view during short-term highs & lows, and continually asking “who else needs to be at the table for this discussion?” Very enticing, but not worth pursuing.

I could, of course, look to an outcome of the renovation – a focused collection, displayed at eye level with featured titles that get to the heart of current professional development needs. But, it’s too early for that.

So, for now, I’ll just leave it as “pardon our dust.”

Wait! Perhaps I should write on the power of asking forgiveness for those little things that….

Maybe next time,

Thom


e-Gad

Under the category, “Can’t leave well enough alone,” we're shaking up our communications…but only slightly.

Avid ONEplace email watchers know that, every other Monday, our eNews brought you this blog, job postings, and programming for the upcoming three weeks. On the off-Monday, our This Week email listed programs just for the week ahead.

In an act worthy of a Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup commercial, we combined the two to create our new This Week (which is basically a weekly eNews using This Week as the title).

Why make such a dramatic change?

First, new jobs are posted every week, so it makes sense to include the link each week. Second, listing three weeks of programming each week saves you time and clicks. And third, using the name This Week rather than eNews, saves confusion with our new ONEplace NEWSletter.

That’s right – this Thursday marks the inaugural NEWSletter designed to keep you informed on where we're headed and how you can best utilize our programs and services. It’ll be brief. To the point. And helpful. If not, we’ll stop doing it.

Best,

Thom


The Core Issue

Leadership resides at the core of our failure or our success. If incompetent, it ruins us. If ineffective, it holds us back. If satisfactory, it moves us forward. If exemplary, it takes us beyond our imagination.  

We need satisfactory leadership. 

One of my college professors offered our computer science class some excellent counsel when he said, “To succeed you don’t need to over-achieve at your job – just do it right.” We need leaders who just do it right.  

Lou Salza, Headmaster of Cleveland’s Lawrence School, defines leaders as 

 …people with a professional, personal, and passionate commitment to solving a problem about which they possess a commanding and deep understanding. “Professional” means they have studied the problem and have a sense of what works and doesn’t. “Personal” means that they are all in—and willing to burn out to succeed. “Passionate” means that it is not about them as people. It is about the mission—solving the problem. 

Satisfactory leaders embrace the first two of Lou’s three qualifications. They know their stuff, and they know how to deliver in a professional way. Further, they pour their lives into it – what Jim Collins describes as fanatic ambition for the cause. 

Leaders who take their fanatic ambition beyond themselves, their careers and even their organizations, and focus on the organization’s mission, become exemplary leaders. These rare individuals embody the paradox of Collins’ Level Five Leadership – fanatic professional ambition and extreme personal humility. They connect with others who share their vision, and, together, they deliver transformative community impact. They also care deeply for their people – staff, board, volunteers & supporters – knowing that “organizations” don’t succeed, people do. 

We value and are grateful for the leaders we have in our community, but our shared dilemma – here and throughout the country – is the need for more satisfactory leaders. While much time and money is spent on leadership development, we still find ourselves lacking.  

In her book, The End of Leadership, Harvard professor Barbara Kellerman offers her critique of the leadership industry and suggests that we need to recognize that leadership development is a long-term proposition (not the result of a brief series of workshops designed in a one-size-fits-all fashion), and, more pointedly, we need to stop ignoring and start addressing leadership that is ineffective or incompetent. 

As we look ahead, ONEplace commits to a three-year plan of establishing long-term leadership development beginning with a balance of workshops and various small group intensives. Further, we’re expanding our board of director services to help boards better develop themselves as well as their organizations.  

Leadership is our core issue. Let’s stay connected to build strong leadership over the years to come. 

Best, 

Thom 


Expanded Services This Fall

Fall kicks off expanded and more targeted services from ONEplace to you.

First, our programming focuses more on leadership development. Our ONEplace Leadership Series workshops bring executive and non-executive leadership information, skills, and processes to you every month. Plus, in addition to the annual ONEplace Nonprofit Leadership Academy (info coming in September), we’re offering intentional small group intensives beginning this fall. Small groups are forming around mindfulness based learning, case study based learning, and content area based learning.

Expanded Board of Director services also start this fall including workshops, customized training, and direct assistance. Sit down with ONEplace staff to discuss your specific needs and challenges, and together we’ll develop an approach to work for you.

Explore an array of information and instruction on our website. We’re curating general information and providing it 24/7 on our website, as downloadable PDFs, and via video. As a result, this information sits at your fingertips and reaches those of you who can’t always get away from work to attend a class.

Finally, you can keep up on emerging services and local area nonprofit issues through ONEplace NEWSletter, our new monthly newsletter. Launching on August 29, NEWSletter offers you news of developing resources and services to strengthen your skills, your staff, and your organization.

Your success defines our commitment – year round professional development, free of charge. See you soon!

Best,

Thom


TGI...

I’m writing this on Friday, and I’m grateful. So, recalling an exercise from a Forbes article on gratitude in business, I wrote out 25 things I’m grateful for (try it – takes less than five minutes).

Sixteen of my 25 were people – mostly groups of people. Connecting with these groups and the individuals within them fill my days with amazing experiences. Each brings perspective, offers insight and contributes in ways no other could. My life – our collective lives – would be less without any one of them.

Having completed my first year at ONEplace, I write reports, close out books and evaluate efforts – administrivia. These will be duly noted, mapped on to multi-year trends, and subsequently filed. Indeed, they’re important (I saw the webinar). But they never fully capture the vitality I see every day in the eyes, gestures, and spirit of our nonprofit professionals and volunteers.

So, while I add my voice to the weekly TGIF chorus, I’ll take a brief solo to say, “TGI…you!”

Best,

Thom


What's the Problem?

“Try this – it worked last time.”
“Marvin had a similar problem. 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 management process individually or with a group to address situations large and small. I’ve also taught this process several times to various management teams.

On Wednesday, June 19, I’m offering a Group Problem Solving 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 and avoid common pitfalls.

While not panacea’s, processes like these are helpful management tools and set a thoughtful, logical tone to addressing challenges of all sorts.

Best,

Thom


Survey says...

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.

Stay connected!

Thom

*Quote from “The Leadership Challenge” 3rd edition, by James Kouzes & Barry Posner, page 181


Once upon a time...

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. 

Best, 

Thom 


Achieving Buy In

How do you achieve clarity on gnarly issues?

As highly-wired, multi-networked, resource-rich folks we likely turn to our various webs of family and friends as well as books and blogs. Yet, we may be overlooking the most powerful teacher of all – ourselves.

When my son was a preschooler, he simply would not act on a suggestion or direction from me until he had made it his own. His entire body revealed his process from “I’m not so sure” to “maybe” to “I have decided that I’ll do this.” It had to make sense to him and, in essence, become his idea.

As adults, I observe (in myself and others) that we’re little different. Simply being advised or directed toward a certain solution or course of action doesn’t mean we’ll blindly give our assent. It needs to make sense to us. Often, this is a quick bit of consideration. But on those complex, many-layered issues, we need more.

Many authors suggest steps we can take, and our Achieving Clarity ONEpage resource provides a brief digest of these. Yet, outside sources alone don’t motivate action. Until we take the time to individually consider, mull and reflect – listening to the guide within – we will not commit to serious action.

When we want to achieve “buy in” with an individual or group, the critical step is not telling, it’s listening. How do you best listen to your inner guide?

Best,

Thom

Book

A Hidden Wholeness
9780787971007

Personal Learning Network

Who is in your learning network?
Who do you learn from on a regular basis?
Who do you turn to for your own professional development?

These are the questions that educator Dr. Mark Wagner poses at the beginning of his seminars on personal learning networks. He finds that, with so many of us working as “lone rangers” in our given organizations, we best keep our edge by building our own networks of learning or growth.

While ONEplace can play an integral role in your professional development, each of us needs to build our own dynamic learning network. Fortunately, the online connections available to all of us make this less of a challenge. Indeed, the greatest challenge may be the overwhelming amount of available information and connections.

While Dr. Wagner offers us some clear direction to building our personal learning networks, it’s important to keep some guidelines in mind.

First, your network is for you. Don’t follow someone on Twitter because other people do or don’t give in to the temptation to grade yourself by the number of connections or comments or likes on Facebook or LinkedIn. This is your learning network, so make sure it is serving your learning needs.

Second, your needs change so let your network change, too. Follow a thought leader’s posts and blogs as long as they are helpful. Some writers keep rehashing their insights, so after a few weeks, you know their perspective and can move on. Sometimes, you may wish to simply get new voices into your learning mix, so shake up the roster. The point is to freely adjust the mix to meet your changing needs.

Third, keep your network manageable. There is only so much that any one person can digest, so keep the number of blogs, tweets, groups, etc. within reason. Make sure the ones you follow give you the highest quality information, best connections, and most insightful conversations.

Take these three guidelines and Dr. Wagner’s information with you by downloading our ONEpage resource, Personal Learning Network.

Best,

Thom

Book

Inside Drucker’s Brain

9781591842224

 


Building Trust

Your leadership team – even if only two people – forms the core of your organization. Everyone and everything take their cues from this group. So, it is vital that this team be solid and completely transparent.

In his book, The Advantage, Patrick Lencioni outlines four disciplines leading to organizational health: build a cohesive team, create clarity, overcommunicate clarity and reinforce clarity. He suggests that the two bedrock principles of building a cohesive team are developing trust and managing conflict.

If you’re like me, you are vigorously nodding your head. A leader’s failure to execute most often centers on his/her failure to build trust in the first place. Without trust, debates on critical issues disintegrate to manipulation and even winning at all costs.

Our ONEplace Leadership Series addresses these issues in the upcoming Take the Lead: Influence workshop (Feb 13). I encourage you to participate or, if unavailable, let me know your top leadership challenges. We’ll find resources and events to address your most pressing needs.

Best,

Thom

Book

The Advantage

9780470941522


Do You Trust Me?

In Disney’s Aladdin, our hero’s disguise is betrayed when he asks Jasmine, “Do you trust me?” This is a bottom-line question. It sets the bar of any relationship, and gets down to the naked truth of where you stand and who you are.

Trust makes an impression.

Whether in a family or business relationship, trust means more than just doing what you say you’re going to do. It means that you can speak freely and openly with those you trust. You’re comfortable being totally honest and transparent with them. You’re willing to place your reputation in their hands.

In the workplace, trust’s impact goes beyond individual relationships. It affects the key organizational matters of maximizing performance and achieving desired outcomes. Without trust, we question our colleagues’ intentions and judge their personalities. Productivity disintegrates in the acidic pool of office politics.

So, how can we begin the process of building trust? A first step, as suggested by Patrick Lencioni, is the
Personal Histories Exercise – a low-risk, 20-minute activity to help team members understand one another as people. By having each person state where they grew up, how many siblings they have, and an interesting or unique challenge from their childhood, team members connect at a personal level and begin to see each other as trustworthy human beings.

Lencioni offers other exercises and models on
his website. The foundation of it all, however, is trust; and it is up to the organization’s leader to make the first move and model the desired behavior – not a bad New Year’s resolution!

Best,

Thom

Achieving Clarity

Over the past two weeks, one lesson has presented itself to me in a variety of forms – the importance of clarity over and above certainty.

Without going into all the gory details, suffice it to say that processes have stalled waiting for every last fact to be gathered, people have adorned their arguments with extraneous and jargonistic detail to prove the absolute rightness of their point of view, and meetings have been endlessly prolonged while meaningless minutia was debated. It’s exhausting!

In his book, The Five Temptations of a CEO, Patrick Lencioni names “choosing certainty over clarity” as temptation number three. While he affirms the importance of working with good information, he argues that many of us (CEO or not) take pride in our analytical skills and keen insights. Consequently, we spend too much time honing even-more-finely-detailed analyses into conclusions that get a nod but don’t move our organizations forward. Further, the higher impact issues before the group are left to the final few minutes of an already-too-long meeting.

Clarity, in contrast, means that you take a stand, and people understand the argument being made. They know points on which they agree and, perhaps more important, points on which they disagree. To speak clearly, however, requires us to set aside our fear of being wrong (or, at least, not-completely-right) and willingly invite others to challenge and improve our arguments.

Also, clarity makes accountability possible. Clarity of mission and purpose as well as clarity on individual roles and responsibilities means everyone knows why we exist, where we’re headed and who’s doing what. Everyone knows what’s expected and each person participates in keeping the organization on track.

In the study, Fearless Journeys, the researchers describe how several orchestras took on innovative ideas to invigorate their organizations. In the closing, the writer observed that what made all the difference was NOT the choice each made, but the fact that they dared to choose.

Any decision is better than no decision.

Best,

Thom

Book

The Five Temptations of a CEO
9780787944339

Lead the Way

Recently, I heard Mario Morino of Venture Philanthropy Partners speak of the “…acute shortage of the kind of leaders that high-performing nonprofit and public agencies require.”

This comment tracks with what I’ve heard from business and nonprofit leaders for years: leaders are in short supply.

Mario also says, “Bluntly put, the number-one limiter on our ability to create meaningful, lasting change in our social and public sectors is an acute shortage of the ‘right people on the bus.’” The “right people” he refers to are leaders, i.e., “people with a professional, personal, and passionate commitment to solving a problem about which they possess a commanding and deep understanding.” To be truly effective, organizations need leaders not only in the top jobs but throughout the organization.

ONEplace@kpl has doubled its commitment to bring you leadership training. Our ONEplace Nonprofit Leadership Academy 2013 will begin in January and address every area involved with running a nonprofit. We also are looking to the character of a leader and offering an occasional series called, Take the Lead. The first session is November 27 and explores the importance of focused attention – committing to it, practicing it, and maintaining it.

Consider these opportunities as well as resources found on our Leadership ONEpage to help you develop your leadership skills.

Best,

Thom

Book

A Mindful Nation
9781401939298

Tell Your Story

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.

Best,

Thom

P.S. We also recently added November programming to our ONEplace calendar (check it out).


Welcome to ONEpages

We redesigned our ONEplace@kpl website to serve you better. The new design streamlines the navigation and organizes information by work areas. At the heart of the design is our new ONEpages service.

ONEpages provides a one-click webpage for each of four target areas:
Executive Leadership     Program Management
Fund Development          Marketing & Communications

Each ONEpage offers downloadable resources, links to recent articles, a list of upcoming events, and a comment section for you to post your questions, comments, and insights. ONEpages are updated frequently, so bookmark the landing page(s) relevant to your work.

The comment area works like an ongoing roundtable. This is your area to post questions, respond to questions, provide links to helpful sites, and generally find and offer help.

I hope you find this redesign helpful. Take a tour a let us know your thoughts and suggestions. The purpose of this site – as in all we do – is to be useful to you.

Best,

Thom

Now Hear This!

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.

Best,

Thom

Book

Brandraising
9780470527535

Here We Go!

Let’s be real…September really starts the year. In addition to school, many programs, seasons, and endeavors of all sorts begin in the fall.

As I look ahead to this, my first year as director of ONEplace@kpl, I look forward to the activities, the people, the fun, the challenges, and all the ups and downs. I make plans secure in the knowledge that few things go as planned. I set a course confident that I will, more than once, find myself off course. I claim a vision encouraged by surety of surprising twists and turns.

Emboldened by the barriers, hurdles and miscues that lie ahead, I open my eyes wide and dive right in. But, that’s leadership – keeping the endeavor mission-focused over the long haul while events and circumstances (largely beyond our control) would draw it off course.

Fortunately, while we may feel isolated from time to time, none of us have to face our challenges alone. My greatest joy over the past two months has been the daily confirmation that all of us in the nonprofit community are on the same team. Every engaging post-workshop Q&A session, roundtable discussion, and counseling interaction draws upon a shared commitment to building a Greater Kalamazoo. We’re on the same team – not by virtue of common funders but because of a common passion and our common commitment to live, work, play and thrive in this place we all call home.

So, here we go! Another year kicks off promising nothing more than the opportunity to engage. Go for it – great things lie ahead.

Quote
A smooth sea never made a skilled sailor. English Proverb

Supervision & Management Series

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.

Best,

Thom

Book

The 8 Essential Skills for Managers and Supervisors
9780982181706

Great grant proposals and more

The updated (5th edition) of Guide to Proposal Writing arrived this month. It is one of the many resources available to you through our being a Cooperative Collection participant with the Foundation Center.

As a Cooperative Collection site, ONEplace@kpl offers visitors free access to the Foundation Directory Online. Updated each week, the Foundation Directory Online includes details on over 100,000 funders and more than 2.4 million recent grants. ONEplace@kpl has two computers dedicated to this service, each with written instructions to help you do effective searches of grantmakers, companies, grants, and 990’s.

Other Cooperative Collection resources at ONEplace include:
After the Grant: The Nonprofit’s Guide to Good Stewardship
Board Member’s Book
Grantseeker’s Guide to Winning Proposals
Key Facts on Social Justice Grantmaking
Securing Your Organization’s Future
• And more

Stop by ONEplace@kpl (second floor, across from the elevators) and browse our nonprofit collection. There’s a wealth of information on leadership, management, fund development, and marketing/communications waiting for you.

Best,

Thom

Book

Guide to Proposal Writing
1595421297

Is Your Nonprofit’s Website Media Friendly?

Is Your Nonprofit’s Website Media Friendly?” An interesting blog by this name dropped into my email box this week from NonprofitPR.org. They point out the need for nonprofits to help media staff: find you; learn about you; and believe in your credibility—FAST. They are always on a deadline, so the more you can help them, the better.

Especially in our changing media environment—with newspapers morphing to online publications, local radio and television sources moving to more ‘canned’ programming—nonprofits must help the remaining journalists any way we can. Websites are the perfect way, since they are available 24/7.

Answer these questions to learn if your website is ‘media-friendly’:

  • Is your website easy to find? Or, do you have an obscure name or one that is too long or clever?
  • Are your designated media contacts ‘front and center,’ with direct phone/email addresses?
  • Is the content on your site current—regularly updated—and ‘real’ news-worthy news?
  • Do you have a section showing previous media coverage you’ve had?
  • Do you have experts on your staff or board who media can trust on topics the media may be researching or seeking when ‘news hits’? Include short bios of your experts.

By helping media find you, learn about you, and reach out to you when they need to, your nonprofit will gain excellent PR and be seen as a community authority and resource far beyond the media.

The NonprofitPR.org blog is produced by Shoestring Creative Group, a source of free samples, ideas, blogs, and more. Check them out.

Book

Is Your Nonprofit’s Website Media Friendly?
media-friendly-website-160
http://nonprofitpr.org/?p=362

Communication Clarity = Cash

Mark Grimm recently presented an AFP webinar on the financial impacts of compelling messages. He says your communication has to show impact in less than 15 seconds! The way to do that is through simple, clear, precise language. He suggests achieving clear messages by ‘peeling the onion,’ over and over, until the focus is on core benefits to the reader (potential donor). The focus has to be on the reader, not the writer and his/her perspective from within the organization.

“You are proving to the donor you are making the change in the world the donor wants to pay for.” ~~Robbe Healy, Farr Healy Consulting

Clarity is the Issue

  • Simplicity: uncluttered; no jargon
  • Precise: no extra words; only what is important
  • Benefits, not services/programs: what the organization really delivers to everyday people
  • Prove it: select data that ‘tell the benefit story’
  • Emotion and reason: use testimonials related to the top three impact areas
  • Human face: connect with the reader with eye-catching visuals

By writing with clarity, (potential) donors are more easily drawn into your message, mission, and impact—and, more likely to find what they want to pay for. Once donors invest in your organization, thank them and ask why they gave a gift. Simple, yet so seldom done. Their answers will help build relationships and further clarify your next message.

Book

Mark Grimm
mark-grimm-160
/ONEplace/

Want to ‘Get Fully Funded’?

ONEplace presented an Association of Fundraising Professionals webinar this week, in which Sandy Rees, CFRE, provided a system for sustainable fundraising that can be implemented at nonprofits of all sizes and lifecycle stages.

Her system includes seven basic steps and several planning tools to assure a structured, balanced approach.

Step 1: Make fundraising a priority.

Step 2: Understand why people give.

Step 3: Identify the best donor prospect.

Step 4: Tell your story.

Step 5: Plan how and when will you ask for a gift.

Step 6: Acknowledge the gift and build relationships.

Step 7: Evaluate success.

Sounds a lot like other fundraising advice, right? Sandy’s model spells out what each of the steps means, and how to put each into action in a methodical, approachable way using a number of planning charts. Detailed, written planning is the difference in her model.

Her website has a wealth of practical resources and tips, including: a free CD for beginning fundraisers, videos, an eNews, books and CD sets, and blogs.

Hope you find some helpful information to set you on the path to ‘getting fully funded.’

Book

Get Fully Funded
sandy-rees-160
http://getfullyfunded.com/

Donors & Nonprofits: Do you know the current IRS tax-deductibility rules?

As we near the end of 2011, many of us will be making what we believe to be ‘tax-deductible donations’ to charitable causes. Before making a donation and listing it on your tax return, please review the following current regulations, including how to document electronic gifts. As our law makers search for ways to resolve state and national economic challenges, regulations will continue to change, so staying current is in everyone’s best interest.

In addition, during this past year, over 275,000 organizations, nationwide, were dropped from tax-exempt status, so checking the status of organizations is more important than ever. Publication 78 lists current eligible organizations.

Here is a summary of IRS rules, direct from their website, with links to publications they refer to at the end:

IRS Tax Tip 2011-57, March 22, 2011 (http://www.irs.gov/newsroom/article/0,,id=106990,00.html)

Charitable contributions made to qualified organizations may help lower your tax bill. The IRS has put together the following eight tips to help ensure your contributions pay off on your tax return.

  1. If your goal is a legitimate tax deduction, then you must be giving to a qualified organization. Also, you cannot deduct contributions made to specific individuals, political organizations and candidates. See IRS Publication 526, Charitable Contributions, for rules on what constitutes a qualified organization.
  2. To deduct a charitable contribution, you must file Form 1040 and itemize deductions on Schedule A.
  3. If you receive a benefit because of your contribution such as merchandise, tickets to a ball game or other goods and services, then you can deduct only the amount that exceeds the fair market value of the benefit received.
  4. Donations of stock or other non-cash property are usually valued at the fair market value of the property. Clothing and household items must generally be in good used condition or better to be deductible. Special rules apply to vehicle donations.
  5. Fair market value is generally the price at which property would change hands between a willing buyer and a willing seller, neither having to buy or sell, and both having reasonable knowledge of all the relevant facts.
  6. Regardless of the amount, to deduct a contribution of cash, check, or other monetary gift, you must maintain a bank record, payroll deduction records or a written communication from the organization containing the name of the organization, the date of the contribution and amount of the contribution. For text message donations, a telephone bill will meet the record-keeping requirement if it shows the name of the receiving organization, the date of the contribution, and the amount given.
  7. To claim a deduction for contributions of cash or property equaling $250 or more you must have a bank record, payroll deduction records or a written acknowledgment from the qualified organization showing the amount of the cash and a description of any property contributed, and whether the organization provided any goods or services in exchange for the gift. One document may satisfy both the written communication requirement for monetary gifts and the written acknowledgement requirement for all contributions of $250 or more. If your total deduction for all noncash contributions for the year is over $500, you must complete and attach IRS Form 8283, Noncash Charitable Contributions, to your return.
  8. Taxpayers donating an item or a group of similar items valued at more than $5,000 must also complete Section B of Form 8283, which generally requires an appraisal by a qualified appraiser.

For more information on charitable contributions, refer to Form 8283 and its instructions, as well as Publication 526, Charitable Contributions. For information on determining value, refer to Publication 561, Determining the Value of Donated Property. These forms and publications are available at http://www.irs.gov or by calling 800-TAX-FORM (800-829-3676).

Links:

Book

IRS Tax Tip 2011-57
irs-tax-deductions-160
http://www.irs.gov/newsroom/article/0,,id=106990,00.html 

Lobbying, Can Nonprofits Do That?

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!

Book

Lobbying-Yes You Can!
lobbyist-160
http://charitylawyerblog.com/2010/02/24/lobbying-yes-you-can/

Is Your Organization “Donor-Centric?”

A new article in the Nonprofit Quarterly by Simone Joyaux (See-MUN Zha-WHY-oh) adds another element to the discussion as she asks, “Are You So Vain?” Is your organization thinking about (and acting like) fundraising is all about you, instead of being all about the donor? She offers an assessment tool to look at your practices and attitudes, and a pledge to commit to, that will help your organization lose its vanity and gain donor loyalty.

Below are the first ten of 23 pledge items. You can find the complete list on her website. PDF

 

The Donor-Centric Pledge
We, [fill in the name of your nonprofit organization here], believe…

  1. That donors are essential to the success of our mission.
  2. That gifts are not “cash transactions.” Donors are not merely a bunch of interchangeable, easily replaceable credit cards, checkbooks and wallets.
  3. That no one “owes” us a gift just because our mission is worthy.
  4. That any person who chooses to become our donor has enormous potential to assist the mission.
  5. That having a program for developing a relationship with that donor is how organizations tap that enormous potential.
  6. That we waste that potential when donors are not promptly thanked.
  7. That “lifetime value of a donor” is the best (though often overlooked) way to evaluate “return on investment” in fundraising.
  8. That donors are more important than donations. Those who currently make small gifts are just as interesting to us as those who currently make large gifts.
  9. That acquiring first-time donors is easy but keeping those donors is hard.
  10. That many first-time gifts are no more than “impulse purchases” or “first dates.”

I recommend having several people in your organization take the assessment to see where your organization stands. Then, take the pledge and work the pledge over the coming months to see what a difference new actions and attitudes can make in your donor/nonprofit relationships and fundraising. http://simonejoyaux.com/ss_files/downloads/DonorCentricPledge.pdf.

Book

Simone Joyaux: The Donor-Centric Pledge
simone-joyaux-160
 http://www.nonprofitquarterly.org/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=16721:how-vain-are-you&catid=145:unraveling-development&Itemid=1006 

Tough Years Ahead for Fundraisers—What Can You Do?

Several fundraising and philanthropy organizations and journals, web-based experts, and sector associations are predicting ‘tough years ahead’ for all types of fundraising. Holly Hall’s article in the Chronicle of Philanthropy (June 2011) cites a Giving USA report indicating giving has fallen more since 2008 than in the past 50 years.

An article in the August 24th Chronicle cites a new report by Dunham+Company that shows two-thirds of donors surveyed plan to cut back on giving this fall—and, 10% plan to stop giving altogether!

The slow recovery and current threat of a double-dip recession, along with continued unemployment, suggest ‘it could be as long as 2016 before donations return to’ pre-recession levels.

Adding to the economic issues, the national deficit reduction talks and policy conversations may lead to additional challenges for nonprofits relying on donations to keep their doors open and serve their constituents.

What can nonprofits do? Take steps, today, to increase your skills and relationships!

The annual, year-end fundraising season is fast approaching! What can organizations do, now, to connect with their donors in more meaningful ways, and find new people to support their mission, in this environment?

  • Learn all you can about your donors and why they support your organization. What is ‘in it for them’ rather than what’s in it for the organization?
  • Gather stories (and photos) of real people benefitting from your programs and services to ‘show and tell’ what you do and what difference it makes.
  • Attend workshops and webinars at ONEplace and elsewhere to learn all you can about fundraising, donor relations, and communication.
  • Seek online resources, such as the Chronicle; blogs by fundraising experts across the country, like Tom Ahern or Donor Power; or, voices of experience on Monday Movies, Fundraising and Awareness Movies for Nonprofits; and, many more.

What can donors do? Take steps to know what your gifts do in the community/world and give** generously to those you believe in.

As donors, the choice is yours to invest in a nonprofit or not.

  • Why do you support the organizations you do and not others? How and when did you start giving to them? Are you involved in any other way? How much do you really know about them?
  • Have you stopped donating to some nonprofits? Why? Would you consider renewing gifts to them? Why?
  • Are you sure nonprofits you want to donate to are still tax-exempt? Check the new IRS rules.
  • Study online resources for donors that will help your decision making: TakeAction@GuideStar; Questions to Ask; and the Donor Bill of Rights from the Association of Fundraising Professionals
  • **Invest in the nonprofits you believe in and trust, generously, with your gifts of money, time, expertise, and ambassadorship. You will help make our community and world a better place during this challenging time, and always. Thank you!

Book

ONEplace @ KPL
fundraising-in-tough-times-160
/ONEplace/

Conquering the Blank Page

Do you cringe at the idea of facing a blank page? Does the task of blogging and writing newsletter articles make you nauseous? You are not alone; there is help available to you. Here are some useful resources you can access with helpful advice from those working in the nonprofit communication field.

Blogs:

Katya’s Nonprofit Marketing Blog is written specifically for nonprofit professionals and offers a wealth of knowledge on different topics pertaining to communication and fundraising.

Kivi’s Nonprofit Communications Blog focuses mainly on writing appeal letters, websites, and social media content. Kivi also offers webinars and podcasts.

Articles:

6 Tips for Writing Nonprofit Marketing Copy That Works written by Nancy E. Schwartz constructs the foundation for all nonprofit writing.

Books:

(all can be found at Kalamazoo Public Library)

Writing for a Good Cause by Joseph Barbato and Danielle S. Furlich

The Complete Guide to Writing Successful Fundraising Letters by Charlotte Rains Dixon

Storytelling for Grant Seekers by Cheryl A. Clarke

How to Write Successful Fundraising Letters by Mal Warwick

Writing for a nonprofit organization goes beyond your basic introduction, body, and conclusion. We as nonprofit professionals are challenged to create interest, meaning, and sometimes action surrounding our organizations. What inspires your writing? Do you have some words of wisdom to share that help you conquer the blank page?

Book

Writing for a Good Cause
0684857405

Rules of Engagement With Foundations

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.

Book

Association of Fundraising Professionals
afp-logo-160
http://www.afpnet.org/

Google+ Will It Be Worth Your Time?

The big buzz in the social media world right now is Google+. But what is it and why should nonprofits care? Google+ is a new social media venture created by Google to, “bring the nuance and richness of real-life sharing to software” according to Vic Gundotra, Senior Vice President, Engineering at Google. It offers many of the same communication features social media users of Facebook and Twitter are familiar with such as messaging, pictures, and games, along with some valuable extras.

The big difference between Google+ and other established social media sites is Google+ organizes contacts into different “circles” or groups. This allows the user to communicate specifically with targeted groups. For example, a user can send out a targeted post to their planned giving circle, and a different post to their professional circle. Other features include Instant Upload, Hangouts, Sparks, and Huddle.

To learn more about Google+, visit:

Keep in mind that Google+ has not been rolled out to the general public, it is by invitation only.

What is your opinion of Google+? Are you one of the lucky few to receive the Google+ golden ticket? Please share your comments by posting to this blog.

Book

Google+
google-plus-icon-160
http://plus.google.com/

Is There Discontent In Your Organization?

 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:

Employees

  • 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

Volunteers

  • 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

Board Members

  • 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.

Book

Nonprofit Center for Risk Management (symbol: Chinese for angry, annoyed, unhappy)
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http://www.nonprofitrisk.org/

IRS: 275,000 Groups Lose Tax-Exempt Status

The IRS changed the filing requirements so that every tax-exempt organization has to file an annual 990, no matter how small their budget. They promised to drop organizations that didn’t file for three consecutive years. They notified nonprofits and the public over and over, again. They extended the deadline to get 990 filings up-to-date.

Now, the list of nonprofits that have lost tax-exempt status for failing to file has been published—and, it numbers 275,000 (about 14% of all nonprofits in this country)! In Michigan, almost 9,000 charities are on the list.

What does this mean to your organization or you, as a donor? An article in The Chronicle of Philanthropy (6/8/11) summarizes the ramifications of a nonprofit being dropped, affects on tax-deductibility of donations to dropped groups, and how to seek reinstatement. It also provides a link to the list.

Additional information is available on the IRS website for exempt organizations. 

Do you know the current status of the organizations you are involved with as a staff or board member, volunteer, or donor?

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IRS: 275,000 Groups Lose Tax-Exempt Status
irs-990-whats-new-160
http://philanthropy.com/article/275000-Groups-Lose-Charity/127854/?sid=pt&utm_source=pt&utm_medium=en

Gail Perry Fires-Up Fundraising

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.

16 Provocative Ideas That Will Raise More Money

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

Book

Fundraising
fundraising-160
http://www.kpl.gov/oneplace/afp.aspx

ONEplace Nonprofit Employment Opportunities Webpage

ONEplace is excited to announce our Nonprofit Employment Opportunities webpage. The webpage posts position openings at nonprofit organizations in Kalamazoo County, assisting both job seekers and employers make easy, timely connections. Postings are restricted to 501c3 tax-exempt organizations located in Kalamazoo County.

We receive a wide range of nonprofit job opportunities ranging from executive to staff to seasonal internships, across a wide range of sub-sectors. Since its recent launch, the webpage continues to gain both posts and views. Positions are posted on the bulletin board in ONEplace as well as on the web and in our bi-weekly eNews.

The nonprofit sector is a powerful economic development force that continues to add jobs – up 2.8% during the recession while the for-profit sector has reduced employment over 12.8%. The sector employs over 10% of all workers in the state and is a continuing to grow to meet increasing demands for services. We know of several people who found their position through ONEplace postings.

We invited you—job seekers and nonprofit employers--to take advantage of this new community resource. If you have a job search success story related to our webpage, please share it with us.

Book

Nonprofit Employment Opportunities
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http://www.kpl.gov/ONEplace/employment/

Keep Your Donors From Defecting

The Association of Fundraising Professionals (AFP) and the Center on Nonprofits and Philanthropy sponsor the Fundraising Effectiveness Project (FEP), which provides nonprofits with tools for tracking and evaluating their annual growth or decline in giving. The FEP focuses on “effectiveness” (maximizing growth in giving) rather than “efficiency” (minimizing costs). It conducts an annual survey and publishes gain (loss) statistics in a yearly report.

The 2010 Report (pdf) is enlightening. The Project looks at “donor lifetime value: the total net contribution that a donor generates during his/her lifetime on a [nonprofit’s].” It also looks at donor defection rates, or the rate of declining donations following a first gift. For cash gifts, it’s 50% in the first year and 30% each year after that! In addition, 30% of ‘regular or sustainer givers’ are lost from year to year.

With these ongoing trends, and the time and money needed to attract new donors--over and over again--learning how to attract and keep donors with the greatest potential lifetime value is critical for nonprofit sustainability.

During a recent AFP webinar, several ‘drivers of lifetime value’ were discussed, starting with reasons donors defect. Simply: lack of customer satisfaction with their donating experience, led by the lack of responsiveness by the nonprofit staff. Donors who were surveyed said they were ignored, lied to, meetings were delayed, staff were ‘uncivil,’ and the nonprofit/staff ‘failed to deliver on promises.’

On the other hand, a high level of donor satisfaction with the customer service they receive from a charity’s staff drives donation levels and repeat gifts. The higher the satisfaction, the more likely the donor is to give again and again.

Donors want:

  • To know what makes the nonprofit qualified and competent to utilize their money to best advantage
  • To know what is done with their money; who is served and to what outcomes
  • To build a relationship with the organization beyond giving money
  • To express their own identify through their gifts

Regular, sustained giving is based on trust, commitment, satisfaction, and identification. Basing your donor-relations activities on excellent customer service, getting to know what is important to your donors, and learning how they want to engage with your organization will reduce defections and build greater lifetime value for your organization.

A win-win for all!!

Book

Effective Fundraising for Nonprofits
9781413312539

Copyright is the Law

In this day of open access to all types of information on the Internet, wikileaks, etc, the subject of copyright protection is often misunderstood, ignored, or forgotten. However, copyright laws are ‘alive and well’ and actively protecting published and unpublished original works of many kinds.

This issue came to the forefront recently when we learned that ONEplace workshop participants re-created a copyright protected document received as an educational handout. Even though not required, the document was clearly marked with © notations which were overlooked when it was re-designed to improve its appearance. They were asked to immediately destroy the illegal documents.

There are legal, ‘fair use’ provisions in the law that allow certain specific, non-commercial uses of copyrighted materials: “the fair use of a copyrighted work, including such use by reproduction in copies or phonorecords or by any other means specified by that section, for purposes such as criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching (including multiple copies for classroom use), scholarship, or research, is not an infringement of copyright.”

In seeking the best, most current, resources for ONEplace workshops, copyright-protected materials are often used as part of the curriculum for “teaching, scholarship, or research” purposes. We are now reminding participants when materials are © protected and how they may legally be used, along with advising appropriate use of all copyright-protected materials.

Read the Complete version of the U.S. Copyright Law(copyright.gov)

Download the Copyright Basics guidePDF

Book

U.S. Copyright Law
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http://www.copyright.gov/title17/

Pitch Your Story by Phone

In an interesting article in the MNA Links entitled, “Pitch Your Story by Phone,” the writers, Community Media Workshop, suggests nonprofits “pitch” or verbally tell the stories they want to see published by phoning reporters and editors. Thus, bypassing the old system of submitting a press release and crossing your fingers that it will catch someone’s attention.

The article points out that with all the media noise, “phone calls humanize and personalize your stories.” The article lists some helpful tips to make the process easier:

  • Call at the right time
  • Be Prepared
  • Make calls in front of a computer
  • Be persistent but don’t be a pest
  • Offer to do more to make their job easier
  • Be pleasant and upbeat, not frantic, moralistic, or nagging

To read the complete article, click on the link above or drop by ONEplace and pick up a copy of MNA Links at no charge. If you are already an MNA member, you can read the latest issue along with archived issues at the MNA Links webpage.

In addition, the Community Media Works website has an informative video on, “People to Pitch.”

People To Pitch: Burt Constable, Daily Herald from Community Media Workshop on Vimeo.

Has this tactic worked for you? If you’ve had success with phone “pitches,” how does it compare with more traditional electronic submission by website or email? If you have another method of getting your stories heard, please share your success with others and leave a comment.

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Pitch Your Story by Phone
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http://communitymediaworkshop.org/2009/09/pitch-your-story-by-phone/

Plan to Communicate in 2011

Have you created a communication plan for the coming year? If not, now is a good time. According to a report done by the Nonprofit Marketing Guide on 2011 Nonprofit Communication Trends, only 34% of nonprofits have a written and board approved 2011 communication plan in place. Creating a communication plan opens up opportunities and creates synergies between your organizational marketing, fundraising, and promotional efforts. Creating a clear purpose and direction for communicating with stakeholders will allow your organization to speak with one voice and strengthen your image to the public and to your constituents.

Tackling a communication plan is a process similar to strategic planning, it is done in phases. Here are four online resources specifically designed to walk nonprofits through the communication planning process.

Books written about communication plans are rich resources offering more details and breadth on the subject. Recommended books include:

If your nonprofit doesn’t have internal skill to write a plan, hiring a consultant is an option. The ONEplace Consultant & Trainer Directory includes consultants who specialize in communication, marketing, and branding.

If you have experience writing your own communication plan, or working with a consultant, please share your experience along with any helpful tips and/or advice.

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Consultants and Trainers Directory
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http://www.kpl.gov/ONEplace/consultants-directory.aspx

Significant COSA Changes Coming Soon

Michigan's Charitable Solicitations Act (COSA) was substantially amended in December, 2010. The amendments take effect on March 31, 2011.

The changes effect nonprofits of all sizes. Please learn integrate them into your operation by the effective date. Penalties for violations are steep.

Some of the significant changes made by the amendments are:

1. A charitable organization will be exempt from registering under the Act if all of its fundraising will be conducted by volunteers and it expects to receive less than $25,000 per year in contributions through their efforts. This is an increase from the current level of $8,000 per year. An organization will still have to register if it will use paid staff or a professional fundraiser to raise any amount of donations.

2. Nonprofits will now "register" with the Michigan Attorney General to solicit donations, instead of being licensed by the Attorney General to solicit donations. The registration will be good for a period of 19 months, instead of the current 12 months.

3. The law lists a number of activities that are prohibited. Many of these are targeted against misrepresentations. However, one prohibits a person from soliciting a contribution on behalf of a charitable organization that is not registered. A violation of any of these prohibitions could result in a civil fine of up to $10,000 for each violation.

4. The amendments also list certain actions that are punishable as crimes as either a misdemeanor or a felony. Misdemeanors are subject to up to 6 months in prison or a fine of up to $5,000, while felonies are punishable by imprisonment of up to 5 years and a fine of not more than $20,000. It is a misdemeanor if a person knowingly solicits or operates as a charitable organization in Michigan and the charitable organization is not registered with the Attorney General.

5. The amendments allow local County prosecutors to prosecute persons who have committed acts that are misdemeanors or felonies. This takes the burden off the Attorney General to prosecute these cases. This might result in greater enforcement of the Act and criminal prosecution of smaller infractions.

A few sections of the Act were not amended and these do not appear in the bill that was passed in December. To understand the entire Act, you will need to look at both the current law(pdf) and the amendments and insert the amendments into the current law, where applicable.

Our thanks to Leo Goddeyne, attorney with Miller Canfield, for this summary of important changes effecting nonprofit fundraising in Michigan.

Book

CHARITABLE ORGANIZATIONS AND SOLICITATIONS ACT Act 169 of 1975
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http://legislature.mi.gov/doc.aspx?mcl-act-169-of-1975 

Stress-Buster Tips and Tools

Yesterday, December 7, at the New ED Network meeting attendees discussed tools and practices they use to de-stress, organize, prioritize, and juggle demands as they go through their busy days. Especially at this time of year, activities and year-end demands within organizations actively compete with community and family activities and responsibilities. Days can seem overwhelming at times.

Everyone left with several more tools in their tool bags -- suggestions that can help any time of year!

  • See the world around you a different way, every day: take a new route to and from work; turn right instead of left; note an interesting house or new business, watch kids playing in a school yard.
  • Use different modes of transportation: bus, bike, walk, drive, car pool. The variation in time and routes is another way to learn about the community and see the world anew.
  • Play calming background music, softly, in your office.
  • Shut the door for five minutes once or twice a day for a ‘peace of mind’ time-out.
  • Take a 15-minute walking break midway through the day; look for new things in the environment, changes in the weather, etc.
  • Start the day with exercise and mental focus activities: prayer, meditation, etc.
  • Hang a picture in your office that ‘takes you away’ to a favorite spot in the world. Gaze at it as a relaxation focus.
  • When needing to write or be creative, turn off overhead and other bright lights; focus on the computer or specific work area.
  • Post inspirational quotes and sayings around your office/desk; read them often.
  • Practice ‘brain dumping’ regularly to empty your brain of everything on your mental to-do list; reduce activities to exact steps.
  • Prioritize activities that can realistically be done in a period of time and stick to it. Don’t respond to requests not associated with those priorities. If ‘emergencies’ come into the day, re-prioritize within the current time period so expectations are achievable.
  • Set a specific time when you will read/review/respond to emails and phone calls. Don’t respond in ‘real time’ when it interrupts your priorities.
  • Determine the best time of day for you to do certain tasks: writing, planning, responding to emails/calls; holding meetings.
  • Proactively set meetings for your most productive times.
  • Don’t take work home; don’t bring home to work.
  • Lots of sticky notes and lists; reward completed activities by ‘checking them off the list.’
  • Review all email content before sending to be sure it ‘reads right’ for the receiver.
  • Clarify ‘how you work’ with those you work with: board, staff, volunteers, etc. so expectations and accountabilities are clear.
  • Define a ‘work plan’ for a specific period (ex. 3 months, 6 months) and ‘work the plan.’
  • Choose foods and beverages that keep your blood sugar and hunger levels consistent through the day. 

Hope you find a few ideas that will help you ease stress, stay focused, and do your best work. Let us know your tools and tips and we’ll add them to the list.

Book

ONEplace Nonprofit Roundtables
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/ONEplace/resources.aspx 

Fundraising on the Internet

Do you solicit donations using an e-letter, email, or have a “Donate Now” button on your website or social media page? According to the IRS website, your organization is required to register with most state agencies before soliciting the state’s residents for contributions. Not all states require a solicitation license. However, those that do can often request additional information such as financial reports and other documents pertaining to fundraising activities.

Because online fundraising is rather new, individual state regulations concerning online fundraising are in a perpetual state of flux. The most up-to-date state regulations are available at the National Association of State Charity Officials (NASCO) website. The NASCO has attempted to make the filing process easier by creating the Unified Registration Statement. The Unified Registration Statement (URS) is an alternative to filing all of the respective registration forms produced by each of the cooperating states. You can obtain a list of cooperating states and their requirements for filing by visiting The Unified Registration Statement website. The website walks you through the process of filling out the URS, lists each individual state’s requirements including where to send the registration packet for each state.

The article, New 990 Makes Nonprofit Fundraising Registration Unavoidable by Joanne Fritz has some good advice and helpful tips on how to start the process of registering.

The process of registering with different states can be time consuming, even with the URS. Some organizations choose to contract with third parties to take care of the filing. As always, if you have access to a nonprofit attorney, consult them before undertaking any on-line fundraising campaign. To find out more about on-line fundraising, visit the GuideStar article On-Line Fundraising: Some Do’s and Don’ts.

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On-Line Fundraising: Some Do’s and Don’ts
internet-fundraising-160
http://www2.guidestar.org/rxa/news/articles/2003/on-line-fundraising-some-dos-and-donts.aspx?articleId=881

Nonprofit Sector Grows in Michigan

The late November issues of MiBiz includes a supplement on the nonprofit sector in Michigan featuring comments by Kyle Caldwell, president of the Michigan Nonprofit Association, and Bobbe A. Luce, director of ONEplace@kpl. Their article on the growth in nonprofit employment (1.3% per year) during the recession highlights ways the sector is helping turn the economy around and build the capacities of nonprofit professionals and organizations to function more efficiently and effectively.

The supplement also includes articles on MRC Industries’ job programs for individuals with disabilities; increasing collaborations among nonprofits; the importance and power of philanthropy; young nonprofit professionals; the growth of ‘junior boards’ to prepare young adults for future board positions; and building organizations that inspire others to act. To read the articles, go to MiBiz.com and look for articles by title.

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MiBiz
mibiz-logo-160
http://www.mibiz.com/

How Can We Get Our Board To Be More Engaged?

This question is one of the most often asked ones at ONEplace—by executive directors and board leaders, alike. The angst comes through various sub-questions such as: How can we get our Board members to show up to meetings? Show up prepared? Donate to the Annual Campaign? Help raise funds? Take leadership roles? These and other engagement issues…or lack of engagement issues…affect the functioning and outcomes of many organizations.

A new article by Gail Perry, MBA, CFRE, arrived via GuideStar that speaks directly to one of the underlying causes of disengagement: board members often don’t know ‘what your organization is trying to accomplish and what their role is in making that happen.’

“Engagement is inspiring passion in someone so they will want to take action.”
(J. Asker, A. Smith in The Dragonfly Effect)

To inspire passion and, therefore, action: clearly define annual goals for the organization and expectations for board members’ actions toward those goals. A plan gives board members something to get their hands around and strive for.

Perry offers a four-part plan with specific, quantifiable sub-steps:

  1. Be sure your board members know what you are aiming to accomplish this year.
  2. Be sure they know what the impact will be if you can make your plan happen.
  3. Be sure every board member knows what his or her job is to make the plan happen.
  4. Keep in close touch with your board members each week or month, letting them know of your success.

Read Gail Perry’s entire article and try these strategies to get your board engaged and fired-up!

Book

Keeping Your Board Engaged for Your Cause
board-of-directors-graphic-160
http://www2.guidestar.org/rxa/news/articles/2010/keeping-your-board-engaged-for-your-cause.aspx?hq_e=el&hq_m=796051&hq_l=3&hq_v=bfbd9da023

Nonprofit Social Network Benchmark Report

Social networking questions and frustrations come into ONEplace often. “Should we be on Facebook?” or “Is social media really worth all the time and effort?” are a couple of the questions we hear. An April, 2010 report by NTen, Common Knowledge, and the Port titled The 2010 Nonprofit Social Network Benchmark Report offers some insight.

The report includes benchmarks for nonprofits to learn how others in the sector are using commercial social network tools such as Facebook or Twitter, or house social networks, and the value they attach to each. Some of the percentages may surprise you.

  • 90% Answered yes to having a commercial social network
  • 92% Said the purpose of their commercial social network community is marketing
  • 60% Have not used commercial social networks to fundraise

Facebook and Twitter are the preferred social network sites, each witnessing large growth in users and community sizes (Facebook 16%, Twitter 38%). Linked In and You Tube have remained steady. My Space is declining in users and community sizes. (45%)

  • 40% Received donations from Facebook
  • 78% Of these organizations raised $1,000 or less in the last 12 months
  • Only 3.5% of the 40% fell into the successful fundraiser category by raising $10,000 or more in the last 12 months

Due to the economy and the large upfront investment for software and build-out required to start a house network, nonprofits are taking a serious look at ROI concerning for this form of social networking.

  • 22% Reported operating one or more house networks in 2010 (28% decrease from 2009)
  • 75% Valued their house networks
  • 74% Reported that they are very or somewhat satisfied with their investment
  • 57% Used their house social network primarily for marketing

Although many nonprofits see social media as a free way to market their organizations, is it really ‘free.’ Time is money and quality takes time.

  • Nonprofits that committed two or more full-time employees to the management of their commercial social networking communities experienced the highest level of satisfaction.
  • 50% Indicated they will increase staffing related to commercial social networks in the coming 12 months
  • 67% Allocated less than half of a full-time employee’s time to commercial social networks
  • 57% Allocated less than half of a full-time employee’s time to house social networks

For more information on this report, visit Nonprofit Social Network Benchmark Report, Allison Fine’s Blog, or The Networked Nonprofit by Allison Fine and Beth Kanter.

Book

Nonprofit Social Network Benchmark Report
social-network-benchmark-report-160
http://www.commonknow.com/html/white-papers/NonprofitSocialNetworkSurveyReport.pdf

The 10-Minute Marketer’s Secret Formula

Does advertising and marketing your nonprofit seem too daunting a task? We have a book for that! The 10-Minute Marketer’s Secret Formula by Tom Feltenstein gives a common sense view on how to incorporate marketing tactics at the community level. The book is written for a For-Profit audience but is easily relatable for Non-Profit organizations. Tom Feltenstein walks the reader through:

  • • The marketing process beginning with actionable research strategies
  • • How to use different media vehicles
  • • Resources you can use along the way.

You will also take some side trips and learn about legal pitfalls and ways to track your progress. Companies like Habitat for Humanity have used The 10-Minute Marketer’s Secret Formula with great success. This book, with its humor and relatable stories, is an easy read for those not intimately familiar with marketing terminology. In my opinion, this book’s main value lies in the easy, common sense ideas it suggests that, when put together, add up to a well rounded community marketing plan.

Book

The 10-Minute Marketer’s Secret Formula: a shortcut to extraordinary profits using neighborhood marketing
9781600377013

Foundation Center

The Foundation Center has recently enhanced their website with some great new features. And, although you will still need to visit the Kalamazoo Public Library to search the Foundation Directory for grants, the website offers many other helpful resources you can access from your home or office.

When you first enter the Foundation Center’s website, the amount of information can seem overwhelming. The best place to start is in the mustard yellow tool guide located near the top of the page. The headings listed in the tool guide make navigating through the website as easy as a drop down with a click. Much of the information can be found in multiple areas.

  • Get Started heading is a general overview of what the website has to offer as far as resources and tools.
    • Some are fee based, but most are free
    • Offers information pertaining to specific organizational topics
    • Most helpful are the Learn About and Training Courses
      • Classroom trainings are only offered in select cities, I recommend going directly to the free training videos and webinar
  • Find Funders heading offers a link to the Foundation Center Directory as well as other helpful tools for grant writing
    • The Foundation Center is accessible for a fee/ save money by using the computers in ONEplace at no cost
    • Related Tools and Check Statistics
      • RFP templates and prospect worksheets
  • Gain Knowledge. This section is the equivalent of having a nonprofit library at your fingertips.
    • A plethora of articles about the economic crisis, global issues, best practices, research reports, and much more
    • Glass Pockets and Pub Hub are new programs of the Foundation Center
    • FREE Philanthropy News Digest eNewsletter subscription for up-to-date information
  • View Events header is useful for accessing archived videos, audio, transcripts, and webinars at no cost
    • A lot of what is found in this section can also be found under other headings. Save time by checking the date of the event to prevent duplication

The Foundation Center website can be found at http://foundationcenter.org/. What I found most valuable were the free webinars, videos, and audio recordings; especially the Introduction to Fundraising Planning Online Training Course. Write back and let me know what you found to be most valuable and share your thoughts with other who could benefit from the Foundation Center website.

Book

Foundation Center
foundation-center-logo-2-160
http://foundationcenter.org/

ONEplace: ONEyear!

At the meeting of the Kalamazoo Public Library Board of Trustees on July 26, I presented a summary of the results received through our ONEplace ONEyear Survey, conducted in early March, 2010. It is a snapshot of the start-up and growth of Kalamazoo County’s new nonprofit management support organization (MSO) from the Grand Opening in March, 2009, through one full year in operation. While we continue to grow and improve programs and services, and increase service contacts, capturing the impact of the first year has proven valuable and informative.

Executive Summary of ONEplace ONEyear Survey

ONEplace is a management support organization, operated by the Kalamazoo Public Library and funded by the Irving S. Gilmore and Kalamazoo Community Foundations, that focuses on building personnel (staff and volunteers) skills and organizational capacities of nonprofits in Kalamazoo, Michigan.

First Year Activity Levels

In its first year of operation, ONEplace was operated by one full-time and two 10/hr/wk staff (approx 9 mos/each pt position). Over 200 requests per month (2400/yr) for technical assistance from nonprofit staff, board members, volunteers, or people seeking to start a nonprofit were addressed in-person, by phone, or email---surpassing its goal of 75/mo during the first year. Over 100 workshops and webinars were provided, with more than 1,400 people attending. Services and programs far outpaced original expectations.

As the first anniversary approached we took the opportunity to systematically gather data to better assess ONEplace’s efforts and local nonprofit needs for future planning.

Working with an evaluator from the WMU Evaluations Center, the ONEplace ONEyear Survey was sent to 1,100 people to gather feedback on the services ONEplace offers. In total, 229 people completed the short survey, for a response rate of 20.8 percent. Most respondents were from organizations more than 16 years old. They represented a wide range of roles, with the most common respondents holding paid staff positions.

Findings

Most Frequently Used Services: ONEplace’s website, workshops, and one-on-one, in-person technical assistance.

Least Frequently Used Services: webinars and ONEplace’s nonprofit collection.

Overall Rating: Satisfaction with ONEplace’s services, programs, resources, and staff was very high; the value to the community was repeatedly cited in question responses and comments.

Regardless of respondent’s personal participation in ONEplace offerings, their faith in its role in Kalamazoo was strong. Many of the comments read similarly to this one: “Really, I cannot think of anything [to improve]. This is such a wonderful resource for our community. I hope there is a plan to duplicate the model and spread it across the country. ONEplace is a true ally of the nonprofit. Thank you!”

Suggestions for the Future:

  • Provide a more complete schedule further ahead of time for adequate planning
  • Archive materials from webinars and workshops for digital access
  • Respondents asked for specific additional training topics
  • Advanced training for mature organizations
  • Professional development or orientation for board members
  • Offer services outside of normal business hours

The results mirrored the perceptions of ONEplace staff from feedback throughout the year. Even prior to this survey, advanced training, board development, enhanced calendar, and greater focus on the collection were folded into the plans for year two. Archiving presenter materials is currently done in hardcopy and under consideration for web access. Some possible actions, such as expanding service hours, are unlikely given the limited staffing of ONEplace. Thus, the focus will be on utilizing technology to more efficiently address client needs for access to information whenever they need it.

Summary of Statistics:

  • Respondents included: paid staff (60.7%); volunteers (10.5%); board members (17%); consultants (8.3%); unaffiliated community members (3.5%)
  • Organizational age: less than a year (2.6%); 1-5 yrs (17.5%); 6-10 yrs (11.8%); 11-15 yrs (6.1%); more than 16 yrs (58.5%)
  • One-on-one assistance (in person): 1-5 times (35.7%); 6 or more (1%); never (63.3%)
  • One-on-one assistance (phone/email): 1-5 times (33.2%); 6 or more (2.9%); never (61.1%)
  • Role-specific network attendance: 1-5 times (27.3%); 6 or more (6.2%); never (63.6%)
  • Workshop attendance: 1-5 times (66.2%); 6 or more (10.3%); never (23.5%)
  • Webinar attendance: 1-5 (32.2%); never (64.4%)
  • Website visits: 1-5 times (48.8%); 6 or more (40.8%); never (10.3%)
  • Frequency of checking out a book from the collection: 1- 10 times (30%); never (66.7%)
  • Referred colleagues to ONEplace: 1-5 (51.2%); 6 or more (27.4%); none (19.1%)
  • Increase in professional skills because of participation in ONEplace programs/services: on a scale of 1-10 (10 high) 70% rated their skill increase at 5 or greater; 2 or greater (84.5%); none (15.5% [may not have participated])
  • Increase in organizational capacity: on a scale of 1-10 (10 high) 57.5% rated their capacity increase at 5 or greater; 2 or greater (78%); none (22% [may not have participated])

A Few Comments and Specific Requests to the Question “What One Thing Would Make ONEplace More Useful to You?:

  • I can’t think of a thing to change
  • I just need to find time to pursue your many resources
  • Don’t forget ‘all volunteer’ organizations
  • More varied workshop times
  • Archive workshop materials online
  • Send out regular emails of upcoming events
  • I think it’s fantastic and moving in the right direction. It has been very useful.
  • Do MORE of what you are doing!
  • Offer more grant seeking labs
  • Start a blog
  • More in-depth workshops; skill building tools
  • Education about how to network with other organizations

If you have questions or comments about this information or ONEplace, in general, please contact us.

Bobbe A. Luce, director of ONEplace@kpl

Book

ONEplace @ KPL
one-place-newspaper-160
/ONEplace/

Micro-Volunteering Online

At ONEplace we're all about the value of volunteering...helping nonprofits connect with volunteers, and vice versa.  However, as we all know, one of the challenges of relying on the talent and commitment of volunteers is that they don't always have as much time as we'd like, to help nonprofit organizations turn their visions into reality.

That is precisely the issue that led to the creation of The Extraordinaries, a web-based platform for micro-volunteering that launched about a year ago.  According to the Stanford Social Innovation Review, a periodical we receive at ONEplace, "[t]he goal is to harness thousands of currently untapped hours by making volunteering fast, convenient, and bite-sized.  While waiting for a bus or cooling your heels at the dentist's office, you could be using your smart phone to tag photos for the Smithsoinian, send a study tip to an at-risk student, or map your local parks. 'We want volunteering to be as fun and ubiquitous as playing a game,' explains Sundeep Ahuja, cofounder and president of the San Francisco-based business."

As soon as I read about The Extraordinaries, I went to the site, signed up, searched some of the more popular projects, and was soon busy tagging photographic images for the Library of Congress.  And it did feel like I was playing a game, but I knew I was doing much more.  I was really making a difference.  I look forward to digging a little deeper into the site and searching for other projects, which are listed by categories such as climate, animals or education.

And of course, there is a social media angle to this effort as well.  Participants can share their Extraordinaries activities with friends via Facebook, Twitter, and the like.  This means that the brief volunteer contribution by one person could easily multiply, inspiring more to do the same.  And all it takes is a few minutes. Ingenius! 

Book

The Extraordinaries
extraordinaries-logo-160
http://app.beextra.org/home/

Happy New Year - Census 2010

The start of a new decade means it's time to prepare for another Census questionnaire.  And we at ONEplace want to make sure that nonprofit organizations do everything they can to ensure that the people they serve are counted in 2010.  Why?  Because ten years ago, in the 2000 Census, it is estimated that Michigan was undercounted by about 70,000 people, resulting in a loss of millions of dollars in federal funding.

According to Sam Singh, census consultant for the Michigan Nonprofit Association, "Census data is used to determine political representation; where to build new roads, schools, and businesses; where services for the elderly and the homeless are necessary; and where job and job programs are needed."  And when people are missed in the total count, often the services that have been created to help those very people end up suffering.

"The nonprofit community is uniquely positioned to dramatically strengthen and improve this year's census participation because you often directly serve these hard-to-count populations.  Michigan's historically undercounted residents - immigrants, people of color, low-income families, and those who are highly mobile and live in complex households" are the people who, every day, walk in and out of the door of nonprofits.  What better way to directly impact the funding those agencies receive than to take advantage of every opportunity to talk with services recipients about the Census, explain the benefits of a complete count, and actively promote their participation. 

To help nonprofits reach their constituents, the Nonprofits Count! in Michigan campaign has an online Census Toolkit.  Available in English and Spanish, the materials in this toolkit include, among other things, more details about the Census questionnaire, which is now a simple 10-question survey; as well as more information about the confidentiality of Census responses. 

Please take a minute to look at these materials and make use of as many of them as possible at your site.  The end result will benefit not only your organization but our entire community and the state of Michigan.

Book

2010 Census: Nonprofits Count
2010-census-badge
http://www.nonprofitscount.org/