News, comments, resources, and more for nonprofits.
The calendar says that spring has sprung, and my seasonal clock tells me it’s time to clean, organize, and plan ahead.
Years ago I learned that if you want to be ready for the fall, you better have it all in place by Memorial Day. Summer is its own thing, and, for some, there’s a mystical time-space leap from May to September. So, if you’re not on their radar before June, you’re scrambling in September.
In the month ahead, ONEplace assists your spring cleaning and planning in communications (Your Communications Calendar, April 9) and in fundraising (Long-Term Development Plan, April 23).
We’re also taking a new look at nonprofit uses for social media platforms (LinkedIn and Twitter Basics, April 2 and LinkedIn Groups for Nonprofits, April 10).
Finally, our annual surveys are hitting inboxes. Please let us know your thoughts and needs so we can best meet your needs this summer, fall, and beyond.
The nonprofit strategy revolution
Over the past few weeks I’ve enjoyed getting to know some of our area’s consultants. The topics of our conversations vary at first, but they always come back around to leadership.
While there were many common points of agreement among these conversations, one that stands out to me is that everyone can be a leader. Indeed, our organizations need leaders in every area, creating what Jim Collins (Good to Great) calls “pockets of greatness.”
Developing leadership requires long-term investment in building technical skills and nurturing adaptive skills. In the months ahead ONEplace addresses both technical and adaptive development through a series of programming:
Take the Lead: Attention – Tues Nov 27, 1:00-2:30 pm – Learn what defines leadership vs. management and why you need both. Discover how you can take the lead from your current position – wherever that may be. Explore practices that will develop your leadership ability.
Project Management – Wed Nov 28, 9:30 – 11:00 am - Learn how to prioritize an overwhelming array of activities. Discover a rational, methodical process for defining, planning, and managing your projects. Examine steps you can take to protect your plan from potential problems and capitalize on potential opportunities.
ONEplace Nonprofit Leadership Academy 2013 – January-May, 2013 – An in-depth exploration of nonprofit executive leadership over ten sessions plus a mentoring experience. Applications are due November 30.
Consider these opportunities as well as resources found on our Leadership ONEpage to help you develop your leadership skills.
Good to Great
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.
Great grant proposals begin with research. In fact, approximately 70% of the grant writing process is research. Knowing the right tools and how to use them makes this critical element efficient. So, we again present our Grant Research Tools Workshop on September 26 at 1 p.m.
During the session you will identify what you need to know about your organization and learn how to match your needs with the right funder. You will discover websites and directories with relevant information, and explore the Foundation Center Directory Online with over 100,000 foundation and corporate funders.
Bailey Mead, ONEplace Associate, leads this important class. Bailey joined ONEplace last spring. Previously, she served as Development Director at WARM Training Center (an organization dedicated to building sustainable communities in Detroit through energy efficiency and job training), Grantwriter at Area Agency on Aging 1-B, and Annual Fund Manager at THAW (The Heat and Warmth Fund). With more than 13 years of fund development and leadership experience in organizations ranging in size from grassroots to statewide, she brings a breadth and depth of nonprofit experience to assist you.
Essential nonprofit fundraising handbook
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.
A smooth sea never made a skilled sailor. English Proverb
After attending the Michigan Nonprofit Association’s Nonprofit Day 2011, I found out that, yes nonprofits can lobby. According to the IRS, 501(c)(3) corporations are allowed to lobby as long as they follow their rules and fill out the proper forms. The IRS defines lobbying as attempting to influence legislation by contacting, or encouraging the public to contact, members of a legislative body for purposes of supporting/opposing/proposing legislation. The major rule is that nonprofits cannot spend a “substantial amount” of their budget on lobbying. For a clearer explanation of what the IRS considers to be a “substantial amount,” check out Measuring Lobbying Activity: Expenditure Test. Charity Lawyers Blog post titled, Lobbying-Yes You Can! clarifies in layman’s, terms what is and is not lobbying, as well as explaining the 501(h) election.
According to the IRS, qualifying organizations may file a special election under 501(h) of the Code, or Election/Revocation of Election by an Eligible Section 501(c)(3) Organization To Make Expenditures To Influence Legislation (501(H) Election), to allow them to spend up to a specified dollar amount for lobbying without fear of adverse tax consequence from such activities. The IRS and Michigan Nonprofit Association advise nonprofits to file the 501(h) election if they are planning on doing any lobbying, as well as tracking all expenditures. ‘Direct’ and ‘Grassroots’ lobbying must be tracked separately as they have separate expenditure limits.
IRS Resources on Lobbying and expenditure limits:
IRS Definition of Direct & Grassroots Lobbying
IRS Schedule C Political Campaign and Lobbying Activities
IRS General Instructions for Filing Schedule C for Lobbying Activity
Excessive lobbying activities over a four-year period may cause a nonprofit to lose its tax-exempt status, making all of its income for that period subject to tax.
For questions on how to use communication channels such as your website, email, and social media channels for lobbying, Alliance for Justice is offering a free downloadable copy of Influencing Public Policy In The Digital Age: The Law of Online Lobbying and Election-related Activities. The guide is intended to inform 501(c)(3) and (c)(4) organizations on how to stay within the law and encourage participation in the nation’s democratic process using technology.
Consult your attorney and the IRS Charities/Nonprofits webpage for more information on how nonprofits can lobby for their cause. Other helpful resources are the IRS eNews: Exempt Organization Update and Center for Lobbying in the Public Interest website. ONEplace will be hosting a webinar November 15 titled Lobbying Rules for Nonprofits presented by Alliance for Justice. Register online soon as we anticipate seats will go fast!
Please share your thoughts about nonprofit lobbying by commenting on my blog!
Lobbying-Yes You Can!
Nonprofits often seek grants from foundations for new projects or ongoing financial support. During an informative webinar, presented today by John Hicks, CFRE, for the Association of Fundraising Professionals (AFP), he discussed ways to build positive relationships with foundations.
His ‘elements of a good relationship’ include: trust, communication, shared values, honesty, and respect…as he noted, the elements of any good relationship. Learning about a foundation’s mission, values, culture, philanthropic philosophies, and practices, is critical to assessing a good match and possible funding opportunity. If mission and values clearly aren’t in alignment, he urges grant seekers to not waste their own or the foundation’s time in pursuing a relationship.
His ‘six rules of engagement’ build on those elements. Nonprofits need to know:
- The landscape--the type of foundation: mega, competitive or community, family
- The people you are dealing with--program officer/staff, board members, or family foundation donor; learn through direct conversations and through your networks
- Their considerations—what they are dealing with that has nothing to do with you, or ‘their environment’
- What they value—outcomes that relate to their vision, working with people who have authority and responsibility for funding and outcomes, and people who follow their protocol
- How to give them what they want, how they want it—by learning their culture, personalities, and information processing practices, without shortcuts. Never to under estimate the importance of the gatekeeper—the person who opens and is the first to review your correspondence, requests, and reports for process (rules) and information
- Minimize risk—their risk through failed projects or misuse of funds; grantee risk through unrealistic expectations or mission drift
Stating that, like other types of fundraising, people give to people the trust, he encourages nonprofits to keep foundations informed about their work and outcomes before and while seeking funding from them. The relationship is a professional one, not a personal one, that needs to be treated much like working with an attorney to prepare a case: the grant-seeker preparing a case to the foundation and the foundation professional preparing a case to his/her board, grants panel, or the donor, directly.
These and many other grant-seeker/grant-maker resources are available at ONEplace and through the AFP website. If you have tips for developing positive relationships with foundations, please comment on this blog.
Association of Fundraising Professionals
Gail Perry ‘wrote the book’ about transforming your nonprofit board members into a ‘fired-up’ fundraisers by putting their passions into actions. She will be in Kalamazoo on April 28 to share her wisdom and 7-step process for creating excitement about your organization’s potential and enthusiasm to generate the resources to make it happen. She’ll explore ways to change board members’ perception of fundraising from “asking for money” to “changing the world.”
Her presentation will be held at the Fetzer Center, Western Michigan University, from 8:30 to noon, followed by a networking luncheon (optional), and is co-sponsored by ONEplace@kpl and the Association of Fundraising Professional’s West Michigan Chapter. Registration information is available at ONEplace or AFPWM. Put it on your calendar, invite board members and fundraising staff, and register today!
If you aren’t yet familiar with Gail, she is always on the lookout for stimulating and, often, counter-intuitive fundraising ideas. Following is a summary of ‘pearls’ she gathered at the Association of Fundraising Professionals’ International Conference in mid-March—and a taste of what you can expect at her April 28 presentation. For the complete idea, follow the link to the originator.
1. Go All Out for Monthly Donors On Your Home Page
Monthly donors are worth gold to you. On average, they will stay for 10 YEARS. Put the ask right on your home page. The ideal monthly appeal ties a monthly ask to something specific. “$31 a month will do xxxx.” (Harvey McKinnon)
2. Focus on Fewer – Not More Donors
You don’t make more money by having more donors. The more donors you accumulate – the less profitable your fundraising program. (Penelope Burk)
3. Encourage Restricted Giving
Restricted asks raise more money. Period. We are holding our philanthropy back, because we are asking for unrestricted rather than restricted. (Penelope Burk)
4. Get Rid of the Words
Put your whole message in the first 150 words. The rest of your copy just backs it up. (Tom Ahern)
5. Get Rid of “Unmet Needs,” “Programs,” “Services”
Write like you are an outsider to your organization. Get rid of the boring, obtuse jargon. Jargon is a flame retardant! (Tom Ahern)
6. Make Your Case Like a Series of Ads
Add photos while you get rid of words. Create your case or your fundraising materials with the fewest words and the best photos. (Tom Ahern)
7. Hire More Fundraisers
Saying, “We can’t hire any more staff” is stupid. Each additional fundraising staffer upticks gross fundraising revenue. Period. (Penelope Burk)
8. Give Your Fundraising Staff Raises
Money is the #1 reason fundraising staff leaves. Investing in retention of staff will make you money. Retention boosts profit. Extend young staff from 18 months to 30 months saves you money. (Burk)
9. Get Rid of the Raise Money Now Mindset
31% of fundraisers who are planning to leave their jobs will leave because of an unrealistic “old school” culture of fundraising: ie, “you HAVE to bring in the $ NOW.” How much more money could you raise if you took a long term, strategic approach? (Burk)
10. You Must Give Your Staff Management Training
Success in business is 95% in the management of other people. But we cut staff training first whenever there is a shortfall. Training is essential. There’s not enough management training in nonprofits.(Burk)
11. Get Rid of Lousy Board Members Now
Allowing a lousy, nonperforming board member to serve out their term is, two words: “Chicken S***” (Simone Joyaux)
12. Be Blatant
Try this: “With your help, all these amazing things happened. And without your help, they won’t.” You‘re selling the impact of the donor’s gift. (Tom Ahern)
13. Stop Talking About The Money You Need
You choose: A case is about the opportunity you‘re putting in front of the donor. OR A case is about your organization‘s need for cash. (Ahern)
14. Become a Shrink
When dealing with volunteers, you are a psychologist not a fundraiser! (Laura Fredricks)
15. Don’t Believe Your Prospect, When...
If he says, “I’m just a plain ole country boy,” it really means he is a wealthy prospect! (Eli Jordfald)
16. Close Down Some Programs
Leaders will close or giveaway a program or activity that is no longer profitable and has little impact.
So were these ideas provocative? Would they challenge your status quo? Remember fundraising is changing. Donors are changing. Doing what you’ve always done the same old way will get you yesterday’s results. Go for it! Change is good. Use this article to rattle some cages! –Gail Perry
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.
Nonprofit Employment Opportunities
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.