ONEplace Blog

News, comments, resources, and more for nonprofits.

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.

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Nonprofit Voting and Elections

Now that the primaries are behind us and the midterm elections loom large, nonprofits often wonder if—or how—to engage with their constituents around election issues and voting. Staying within legal parameters set forth by the IRS and Michigan state government is key to protecting your 501c3 tax-exempt status. The Nonprofit Voting & Elections website has a wealth of information, including a guide to engagement.

“501(c)(3) nonprofits can play an important role in helping their communities vote and participate in the democratic process. There is one basic rule: 501(c)(3)s may not support or oppose any candidate for public office. This means 501(c)(3)s may not endorse candidates, rate candidates, contribute to candidates, or provide special resources to one candidate that are not offered to everyone in the race.”

“There are many nonpartisan activities that a 501(c)(3) can legally do to help their communities participate and vote. 501(c)(3)s may educate voters or candidates on the issues, provide opportunities for voters to hear the candidates’ positions, encourage citizens to register to vote, help new voters navigate the voting process and get people to go to the polls on Election Day.”

“The guide discusses many possible activities and ways that nonprofits can make sure they remain nonpartisan.”

The guide is not a guide about lobbying. It is about voting and elections. Lobbying rules differ from rules about voting and elections. Nonprofits have limits on how much lobbying they can do. There are no similar limits on voter and election activity. A nonprofit can spend as much as it wants on voter education and encouraging people to vote so long as it remains “nonpartisan” and does not support or oppose a candidate for elective office.”

You may also want to review the facts sheet called ‘Election Year Activities and the Prohibition on Political Campaign Intervention for Section 501(c)(3) Organizations’ put out by the IRS.

As you will see, the answer is HOW, not IF your nonprofit can legally engage in the voting and education on issues process in the months between now and November.

Bobbe A. Luce, director of ONEplace@kpl

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Nonprofit Voting & Elections
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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

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