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What Would Nonprofit Network Do?

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  • Thursday, September 14, 2017 8:06 AM | Tom Williams (Administrator)



    Tom Williams

    Capacity Builder

    Tom@nonprofnetwork.org




    What comes to your mind when you hear the word "discipline?" Is it a child is being punished as a result of misbehaving? Does it bring to mind the restriction of choices from being part of a highly organized group like a military battalion or a high school marching band? I encourage you to not let the negative definition restrict you from giving the results oriented version proper consideration. Over the next few hundred words, I want to put the word discipline in context of nonprofit success. I want to make the case that it is a positive practice that will transform your organization.


    The well respected business and nonprofit management author Jim Collins tells us discipline is the difference being a "good" nonprofit and being a "great" nonprofit. In his short, 40-page monograph called “Good to Great In the Social Sector,” he shares being a great nonprofit is the result of being disciplined in three specific ways.



    3 Disciplines of the Best Nonprofits:


    1) Disciplined people are those that are absolutely on fire for the organization’s mission and deliberately surround themselves with like-dedicated people that will act on that ambition to see the mission be reached. 


    2)  Disciplined thought is that consistent effort to address whatever issue is between you and mission obtainment and to operate in the specific space where your passion, resources and your niche in the community intersect.


    3) Disciplined actions are those that operate in the framework of responsibilities and the relentless building of incremental progress to obtain, increase and benefit from organizational momentum.



    Collins makes the point that great nonprofits include disciplined people, disciplined thought and disciplined action. In this context he is using the definition of discipline being a prescribed pattern of behavior.Collins shares that the nonprofit sector would greatly benefit from more disciplined planning, more disciplined people, more disciplined governance, and more disciplined allocation of resources.


    In my personal experience, I have observed well-disciplined nonprofits revisit thorny issues less frequently (time and energy saver), they have better relationships with their supporters (through the discipline of consistent contact), and they retain their board, staff, and volunteer human resources for longer periods of time (roles and responsibilities are clearer and understood by all). Organizations that adhere to a disciplined approach to their work aren’t rigid and emotionless, but rather they are consistent and relational because they know and practice those efforts that lead to mission obtainment.


    Take heart, discipline can be learned. Once it becomes a habit, you have arrived.



    Practical ways to become more disciplined:

    • Leadership makes the decision and declares the intent to be held accountable
    • Increased documentation of all decisions reached
    • Awareness and dedication to adherence of best organizational practices
    • Clarification and documentation of roles and responsibilities of board, committees, and each staff person
    • Time spent projecting (and documenting) the need for resources
    • Increased awareness and adherence to meeting start and stop times
    • Organizational commitment to meeting all promised deadlines.
    • Time devoted to prioritizing tasks so as to address those most important for organizational successes


    Initially, becoming more disciplined takes additional time. However, upon becoming disciplined, your efficiencies will provide you more available time than you currently enjoy.





    Want to discuss this further with Tom?






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  • Friday, August 18, 2017 10:05 AM | Sharon Castle (Administrator)



    Sharon Castle

    Capacity Builder

    Sharon@nonprofnetwork.org




    “I don’t have time to meet with donors about their estate plans. I’m a small shop and I wear many hats.” 


    “I would love to have a planned giving program, but it’s almost the end of our fiscal year and I’ve got to raise 30% of my goal if I’m going to make budget. Plus, our annual gala is next month and I’m swamped.” 


    Sound familiar?


    If your organization does not market planned gifts as a giving option you are missing an opportunity to help build its capacity and long term sustainability. Consider a 2016 Gallup poll that reports only 44% of Americans say they have a will instructing how they would like their estate and money distributed upon their death. Interestingly, that is lower than two earlier Gallop polls conducted in 1990 (48%) and 2005 (51%.)1


    So what does this mean for you as the person charged with development? Well, 55% of Americans do not have a will designating where their assets will go once they die and some of them are likely in your donor pool. With little time and resources, how do you get them to realize that a will is important and your organization is an excellent option for leaving some of their hard earned assets? 



    It’s not as hard as you think.


    First, think simple. The mystique around planned giving can be off-putting, however, according to an article from Nolo by Ilona Bray, J.D., “…the vast majority of legacy gifts to nonprofits are not made through fancy annuities and other financial arrangements requiring the nonprofit’s management, but the old fashioned way, through wills and other simple probate-avoidance devices…”2



    Here are 6 strategies that inspire planned giving:


    1. Place simple, direct verbiage  on all of your written materials, website and even use it as a tag line after your signature. For example: “Please consider leaving __________in your will or estate plans.”


    2. Create a collateral piece highlighting your organization, its mission, and ways to giveincluding leaving it in a will or bequest.


    3. Develop a list of local estate planning attorneys and email them the collateral piece annually.


    4. Find out who the top estate planning attorneys are in your area and make it a point to invite the top 3 or 5 to lunch (one at a time) to introduce yourself and your organization. Everyone has got to eat, right? Remember, you can do this over the course of a year.


    5. Get to know your donor base. Someone who has given small and consistent amounts over many years may be a great candidate for a planned gift.


    6. If you have 50 or more donors who give small, consistent amounts, add their gifts up and consider hosting an inexpensive luncheon to thank them for their support over the years. This gives you a great opportunity to showcase your programs and let them know how their gifts have made a difference. During my American Lung Association of Michigan days, I actually had a donor call me the day after she attended one of these luncheons and tell me she wanted to leave us in her will!




    Remember, planned gifts are not immediate so don’t fret if you don’t see immediate results. By investing a few hours a year, you are planting the seeds for future gifts.


    If you need coaching to help you build and implement a plan, reach out to me at sharon@nonprofnetwork.org or call our office at 517-796-4750 to have a conversation.



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  • Tuesday, August 01, 2017 2:03 PM | Regina Pinney (Administrator)





    Regina Pinney

    Executive Director

    Regina@nonprofnetwork.org





    It was one of those board meetingsthe kind that makes you question if you are the right person for the job, if you have the stamina to continue, if anyone in the room has even been listening for the past 6 months to anything you’ve said and if working at a “for profit” is an option.


    You knowone of the those meetings.


    I think all Executive Directors experience one of these meetings. They have happened to me. And even though they don’t happen frequently, they do happen. And they create an indelible memory.


    So what do you do the day after? How do you recover your momentum?


    Here are five steps that can help get you back on track after a bad board meeting.






    Step 1: Seek Perspective.

    Reach out to a trusted peer. It helps to debrief with a mentor and friend. Feel free to do this over a glass of wine. Vent, but also listen for the root causes for this bad meeting. Sometimes, reflecting with a peer who can ask good questions will reveal something that could have been done to prevent it, other times not. Remind yourself of all the things you love about your job—decisions made in the heat of the moment are rarely the best.


    Step 2: Go Back to Your Roots.

    Consider all the things you do that have made you successful, all the best practices and pearls of wisdom that got you here. Often, when I am coaching a frustrated ED, I ask them what they have done in the past to ensure board meetings go well and they realize that they have forgotten good habits.


    Step 3: Review with Eyewitnesses.

    Reach out to your board members for support. They were there—they saw it happen. Start with your Board Chair. Review the events, ask for feedback, ask for suggestions. Make a plan.


    Step 4: Acknowledge and Accept Roles

    Have an honest, open conversation with the key players about your experience—and theirs. Be willing to accept responsibility and the role you played, but also be willing to be tactfully and compassionately honest about their role. This needs to be a healthy conversation—use all of your crucial conversation skills (use “I” statements instead of “you” statements that can feel accusatory, focus on information that is data-driven, presume positive intent of the other party, refrain from incendiary language, and provide solutions).


    Step 5: Call Out the Elephant.

    Don’t sweep it under the rug. At your next board meeting, start by saying, “We had a rough meeting last month. I’d like to re-frame the conversation, share the steps I and some of the board members have taken in the past month, and let you all know that where we are today.” Everyone experienced the same meeting on different levels—ignoring the reality that an uncomfortable or unproductive conversation has occurred breeds resentment and negative conflict. Addressing it directly can help the whole team be better and stronger.




    Use the opportunity to illustrate how we recover from a bad day, that we all take ownership and that we can all forgive and be a better team.




    Find yourself reeling from a tense meeting? We can coach you through the steps and help you equip yourself to navigate the conflict like a pro.  Call today to set up a conversation with a member of our capacity building team.




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  • Tuesday, July 25, 2017 11:04 AM | Katena Cain (Administrator)



    Katena Cain

    Management Consultant

    Katena@nonprofnetwork.org





    Talking is something we often do without thinkinglike breathing. We talk to our friends, kids, coworkers, spouses, clients and customers without thinking much about it. Although it may seem easy, true communication takes quite a bit of skill: Choosing our tone, controlling our body language, and paying attention to how we listen. The ability to clearly get our message across requires intention and practice.


    Additionally, each of us have a unique way of communicating, often based on our family experiences, culture, gender and many other factors. While there is no right or wrong natural style of communicating, our past experiences build expectations that we don't verbally communicate with others, and others fail to meet our expectationsor we fail to meet theirsthe result can be tension and misunderstanding. For example, if we come from a large family that tends to shout in order to be heard, we may think that speaking loudly is normal. But if our coworkers come from a smaller, quieter family environment, they may be uncomfortable or even frightened by a raised voice. These differences in communication styles can lead to communication roadblocks—in an organization, communication roadblocks lead to conflict. 


    In order to resolve conflicts, we need to communicate about the issue; but negative patterns of communication can often lead to greater frustration and escalation of conflict.  Remember, different communications styles are not not necessarily bad, but tension can breed bad behavior. Strong communication skills can help you and your team overcome conflict that results from these roadblocks.


    Here's one step you can take to begin overcoming communication roadblocks and conflict in communication: a soft startup to the conversation. 


    Start with something positive, express appreciation, focus on problems one-at-a-time, and take responsibility for your thoughts and feelings. Discussing our backgrounds and perceptions can also help to clarify expectations of ourselves and others and can also help our coworker understand our point of view.  Knowing this information about one another is a critical piece of the problem solving process.


    I invite you to join me on August 18th to learn about the rest of this process.  At Employee Communications: Creating a Positive Workplace Culture, we'll take a deep dive into how strong communication skills can transform your workplace. It's the perfect opportunity for multiple team members to attend together and maximize impact.  Here's a preview of what participants will learn:

    • Your own style of handling conflict and how those with other styles handle conflicts
    • Communicating and working effectively across multi-generational lines
    • The key principles of effective communication
    • Using communication skills to address conflict
    • The resources available to assist in resolving conflict 
    • The importance of perceptions 
    •  Applying good listening skills in order to communicate with diplomacy, tact and credibility
    • The impact stress has on communication
    Register today for Employee Communications 101: Nurturing a Positive Workplace Culture. The content is relevant and powerful, and the day will be fast-paced, engaging, and fun.


    If you have any questions about this session, or if you'd like me to to bring it straight to your organization, let's have a conversation about how I can help you build your capacity.  





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  • Thursday, July 13, 2017 10:21 AM | Sharon Castle (Administrator)



    We are so excited to present you with the newest member of Nonprofit Network's staffSharon Castle!  With a wealth of fundraising experience as a development director, executive director, and consultant, Sharon has a unique perspective to offer nonprofits seeking to build their capacity. We'll let Sharon introduce herself. 




    Sharon Castle

    Capacity Builder

    Sharon@nonprofnetwork.org




    As the newest staff member of Nonprofit Network, I am delighted to be writing my first blog post (and first blog postperiod) as a Capacity Building Consultant. I welcome the opportunity to share my background, experience and philosophy in working with and helping build the capacity of Nonprofit Network’s members.


    First, a bit of background. I credit my in-depth fundraising knowledge to my work as Deputy Director of Development for the American Lung Association of Michigan (ALAM) where I oversaw the fundraising activities of 5 staff members and was responsible for all aspects of statewide fundraising including, special events, telemarketing, direct mail, major gifts and planned giving.


    While I loved my work and colleagues at ALAM, I was fascinated by major gift fundraising and left to become Executive Director of Development for the Michigan Historical Center Foundation where I completed the fundraising for the Michigan Historical Museum’s 20th Century permanent galleries and planned and executed the grand opening gala.


    During my tenure at ALAM, I was able to assist several organizations (with my ED’s blessing) in a consulting capacity. So, in 1995, when I discovered I was pregnant with my second child, I decided to try consulting full-time. Now, as an empty nester ( that second child is now 22) I still love consulting but want to be connected to an organization. Fate intervened and I met Regina when she presented at the Association of Fundraising Professionals – Capital Area Chapter’s annual conference. Fun fact: Regina’s session received the highest level of feedback!


    I introduced myself and asked if we could set up a time to meet as my husband and I are looking at relocating to Chelsea to be closer to family and I was looking to make connections in “that part of the state.” We met for coffee a few weeks later and I learned about Regina’s vision for Nonprofit Network, its services, including the outstanding Bridges Out of Poverty framework, and her quest to hire a Capacity Building Consultant. A couple of weeks later I had the opportunity to interview for the position and meet Carrie, Jessica, Katena, and Tom and, as they say, the rest is history and here I am writing my first blog post!


    Nonprofit Network is a perfect fit: the ability to consult while having a team of fellow consultants and outstanding support. The organization’s mission to strengthen nonprofit governance and management is spot-on. As a consultant, I worked with numerous nonprofits that simply didn’t have the basic building blocks to attain their goals. Nonprofit Network’s respectful approach to each organization fits with my philosophy of not taking a cookie cutter approach and instead looking at each organization’s unique strengths and challenges and dovetailing them with sound fundraising principles and practices

    .

    I am excited and honored to be part of this outstanding team and looking forward to working with our members!




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  • Thursday, June 29, 2017 10:31 AM | Carrie Heider Grant (Administrator)




    Carrie Heider Grant

    Program Coordinator

    Carrie@nonprofnetwork.org




    I have a confession to make: I cannot focus in a silent office.  I just can't do it.  I always have music or the radio playing (hopefully quietly) at my desk.  But these days, I am turning more and more to podcasts when I want something more substantial than background noise. And there is no shortage of nonprofit-relevant podcasts.


    What is a podcast, you might be asking? Podcasts are FREE programs that you can access through the internet or through apps on your phone. There are over 250,000 unique podcasts on iTunes aloneso trust me when I say that there is a podcast out there on virtually every topic. You can even download them to your phone to listen later when you're on the move and don't want to use your data to stream the content.


    Now, if you squirm at the idea of having someone talk in your ear while you sit at your desk, or if you are most productive in a space that is quiet, then consider instead turning on a podcast while you're cleaning, driving the car, exercising, mowing the lawn, or sitting quietly with a cup of coffee. 


    Today I am sharing 6 nonprofit-related podcasts that you need to know. They have each inspired me in different way, transforming not only the way I view my work, but how I view the worldthe very ecosystem in which nonprofits operate. 


    1) Nonprofit Optimist (hosted by Molly MacCready)

    This newer podcast "showcases positive change agents and talks through lessons that their small nonprofits have learned." Molly MacCready, a professional who founded her own nonprofit organization 10 years ago, emphasizes the good in the world and uses this podcast to elevate the stories of small, but awesome, nonprofits. I am interested to see where she goes with this over time. 


    2) Nonprofits are Messy: Lessons in Leadership (hosted by Joan Garry)

    "Hosted by Joan Garry, the "Dear Abby" of the nonprofit world, this podcast is a discussion of the most pressing issues faced by nonprofit leadership. It features real stories of nonprofit leaders like you and how they handled the mess." These episodes are longer (over 60 minutes long), so I find it's easier to listen to this podcast when I am in the car as opposed to when I am in the office where there are more interruptions. 


    3) Social Good Instigators (hosted by Kirsten Bullock)

    Formerly known as the Nonprofit Leaders Network Podcast, "this show aims to encourage and inspire leaders of social good organizations. You'll learn from other leaders who reflect not only on the ways they helped their organizations excel, but also the things that didn't work out so well."


    4) The Science of Social Media (from Buffer)

    This is a great resource for anyone who wants to broaden their social media marketing skills. It's a light-hearted series and (BONUS!)they are shorter episodes at 30 minutes or less, so it's easy to digest and apply the ideas to my work. Not every episode is relevant to my role with a small organization, but the majority is very useful. Disclaimer: this is a podcast from the social media management platform, Buffer, so there are lots of plugs and references to their product. But I don't find it distracting and still recommend it.


    5) Hidden Brain (hosted by Shankar Vedantam, from NPR)

    This is one of my favorite programs on any media platform, period. It's a blend of science and storytelling that "reveals the unconscious patterns that drive human behavior." And it's not just entertaining. The insights offered by Shankar have the capacity to impact your work life and your home life. I strongly encourage you to listen to the four episodes that aired from May 29 to June 19: Broken Windows, In the Air We Breathe, Rap on Trial, and "Is he Muslim?" They each take a deep dive into how implicit bias impacts society in Americaat the individual level, the community level, and the institutional level. The implications of the discoveries in these episodes are impacting YOUR mission and your success in achieving that mission. Do not miss these four episodes!


    6) Revisionist History (hosted by Malcolm Gladwell)

    Season 2 of this podcast dropped on June 15, and I am hooked. Malcolm Gladwell (Author of The Tipping Point) is a best-selling author and journalist who calls this series his attempt to "correct the record." Every episode "re-examines something from the pastan event, a person, an idea, even a songand asks whether we got it right the first time." This podcast has a similar impact on my world perspective as Hidden Brain.  


    Bonus Podcast: LeVar Burton Reads (hosted by LeVar Burton)

    "LeVar Burton (Reading Rainbow, Star Trek, Roots) hand-picks a different piece of short fiction in each episode, and reads it to you." Okay, so I know that this isn't relevant to nonprofit work, but I mean, COME ON.  I am so excited to dig into this series and couldn't help but add to to this list. This is one of the best things happening on the internet right now and has already jumped to the #2 spot in the iTunes podcast app. Disclaimer: This show is tagged as explicit, which means some of the content is probably not appropriate for children. Since the show just launched on June 13, it's too soon to tell just how colorful the language and topics in each story will be. So give it a shot, but know that some episodes may have more swears or adult-only content than others.



    So what do you think? Which podcasts inspire you?  There are so many unique and outstanding shows out there.  What are you waiting for?  Hop on over to your iTunes, GooglePlay, or wherever you get your podcasts, and start exploring.  You won't regret it.




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  • Thursday, June 22, 2017 1:55 PM | Jessica Chipman (Administrator)




    Jessica Chipman

    Office Manager

    Jessica@nonprofnetwork.org





    Do you wish there were more hours in a day? Busy schedules tend to make us wish for more time. Being stretched for time can cause stress and anxiety. Though we can’t add additional time to a day, we can modify our schedule to help eliminate stress. Below are some tips to make the most out of your time:


    10 Tips to Master Time Management


    1)    Plan your day.

    Take a half hour each night to plan the next day. Jotting what you need to do on paper will help you to visually plan out your day. It will help you to set realistic expectations of what you may be able to achieve.


    2)    Learn how to say no.

    Many of us overbook ourselves which causes more stress in our lives. If you don’t have the time to do something, don’t do it. Prioritize what is important in your life and say no to things you can live without.


    3)    Turn off your phone.

    If you’re in a meeting or working on something important, turn your phone off or put it out of sight. Having your phone by your side at all times may distract you and waste your time.


    4)    Ask for help.

    If you have a lot on your plate reach out to someone. They might be able to lend a helping hand.


    5)    Account for interruptions.

    Interruptions are bound to happen. Something may come up spur of the moment. When planning your day, remember not book every minute of your day so that you can address potential disruptions.


    6)    Complete important tasks first.

    Write down the top three important tasks you need to accomplish. Prioritize those tasks by carrying them out first. If you wait until later in the day, the tasks may not get done.


    7)    Follow through.

    If you scheduled a meeting or an appointment make sure you go to it. If you cancel a meeting at the last minute, it may end up being rescheduled. Continually rescheduling meetings wastes more time and energy as you search for alternate dates and meeting locations.


    8)    Under promise, over deliver.

    Though some people may not like this phrase, to me it emphasizes an important concept – setting expectations at a reasonable level. Be reasonable when making promises. Don’t set other people’s expectations too high causing disappointment. If you repeatedly over promise and under deliver – trust issues may occur.


    9)    Exercise, eat right, and sleep.

    It’s important to take care of yourself. When you are your best self, you’ll have more energy to tackle the day.


    10)  Commit to less.

    Don’t put too much on your plate. Slow down and try to eliminate activities that you don’t like or are not obligated to do. Make more time for yourself.




    We all have 24 hours in day. By using these tips, hopefully you’ll eliminate stress and get the most out of your time. Alan Lakein, a time management author, emphasizes “Time = life; therefore, waste your time and waste your life, or master your time and master your life.” Take the time to set boundaries and master your life.




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  • Thursday, June 15, 2017 10:49 AM | Regina Pinney (Administrator)



    Regina Pinney

    Executive Director

    Regina@nonprofnetwork.org





    Evaluating the executive director is a basic responsibility of the board that needs to be carried out every year. It does not need to be a process that you dread, though. Below is our suggested process to evaluate your executive director in 7 steps.


    1) Gather perspectives from all Board Members.

    • It is recommended to use a survey tool with both rank/rating of critical hard and soft skills and open ended questions
    • You may also want to consider gathering perspectives from the staff


    2) Allow the Executive to evaluate him/herself on the same criteria as the board



    3) The Executive Committee (or Board Chair) should examine all of the data collected to explore similar themes. It is also important to understand and explore unique information.

    • Discussion questions when evaluating the data
    • Do you agree on what the strengths are? List several examples of how these strengths are illustrated.
    • Do you agree on what the challenges are? List several examples of how these challenges are illustrated.
    • Do you agree on what focus the goals should have? Agree on three clearly stated professional improvement goals.
    • Are the goals and expectations achievable and measureable? Determine how you will measure the success of these goals and maintain your appropriate role.
    • Have you considered all of the information to ensure your executive's compensation is fair and competetive? Consider who else needs to be included in this conversation (i. e. Finance Committee) and do research on how to be a competetive employer. MNA's 2016 Compensation and Benefits Report is a great resource to inform this conversation.

    4) The Executive Committee should share the results of the assessment with the full board – in a closed session of the board meeting - and seek understanding and consensus regarding the goals. Ensure the board will speak in “one voice” to the Executive Director regarding these expectations. 
    • How does full board expect to see changes or improvement based on these goals.
    • How will the Chair/Executive Committee report back to the full board about how things are going?
    • What input should the Executive Director have in creating their own goals?


    5) The Executive Committee and/or Board Chair should personally deliver the feedback to the Executive Director and allow for dialogue and discussion. The ED should have an opportunity to provide input on the goals and outcomes. Together, determine deadlines, check-ins and how the goals will be evaluated.



    6) Executive Committee and/or Board Chair will report on the results of the meeting with the Executive Director and share any amendments or changes to the goals, objectives and outcomes.



    7) Full board should evaluate the process and make appropriate notes and recommendations for improvement of future evaluations.



    Have questions about how to implement this process in your organization? Give us a call at 517-796-4750.






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  • Wednesday, June 07, 2017 11:01 AM | Tom Williams (Administrator)



    Tom Williams

    Capacity Builder

    Tom@nonprofnetwork.org




    Typically, I like to use this blog space to share eye-opening ideas and tools to build your organization’s capacity so that more good is done in your community. But today I am compelled to step away from that and reflect on the ugly side of nonprofit life that ties my stomach in knots: embezzlement. Please, let me be clear: I am driven to share this, not for any sense of sensationalism, but rather because if you are aware and informed, you will be better prepared to prevent, detect, and recover any losses in the event that your organization is victimized in an embezzlement scheme.


    It feels ugly to put it in writing, and feels so foreign because most of our energies in governing or operating nonprofits are spent on enhancements--on using charitable contributions appropriately and innovatively to impact positive progress on our mission. But there are three dangerous myths out there, and I want to address them today and offer some preventative measures to help dispel each myth.



    3 Dangerous Myths about Nonprofit Embezzlement



    1)  "It hardly ever happens to nonprofits."


    Anecdotally, I can share the horror stories of respected organizations losing funds from a greedy treasurer or an executive with a gambling problem, but while those stories are sad, they do not adequately capture the scale of the issue. The 2015 Michigan's Crime At A Glance report states that embezzlement was reported over 2,800 times in 2015. And while those were not all from nonprofit organizations, the 2013 Marquet International Report on Embezzlement illustrates that nonprofit organizations are the third (out of 15) most frequent industries to experience theft in this way.


    Preventative measures:

    • Actively seek ways to be more educated on the issue
    • Create awareness among your peer leaders and have the necessary critical conversations


    2)  "Everyone who works here is really a good person."

    While embezzlement is certainly not exclusive to nonprofits, the 2013 Marquet International Report on Embezzlement makes an interesting point about their data that ranks nonprofits as third out of 15 in embezzlement frequency: "This may not be an accurate reflection of the severity of this issue, since nonprofits have a reputation for not reporting fraud incidents in an effort to avoid negative publicity. The nonprofit sector, known for serving the public good, is more susceptible to fraud than many for-profit enterprises. This can be attributed to the unusual level of trust afforded to employees, founders, executive directors, or substantial contributors, along with weak financial controls.”


    Preventative measures:

    • Inform employees and volunteers about your policies so they know appropriate procedures, how to navigate the whistleblower process, and what the consequence are for theft.
    • Follow through: If caught, prosecute, civilly and criminally.



    3)  "We don't have enough staff to have financial controls." 


    According to the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners, the median duration of a fraud (from beginning to detection) in 2016 was 18 months; and losses continued to grow as the duration of the scheme increased. In the cases when a scheme lasts five or more years, the median loss is $850,000. Think about the fact that there are nonprofits who are are currently victims of embezzlement as you read this but, but they won't know it for years. While embezzlement may cost an organization critical money, the real casualty lies in the damaged reputation. A single incident of fraud can impact your current support and future giving for years to come. If the public’s trust is broken, it’s a long uphill journey to restoration, and your reputation may never be repaired.


    Preventative measures:

    • If you are an organization with few or even zero employees be intentional on how you can incorporate volunteers into the separation of duties. 
    • Build the controls now to protect your reputation and assets--size of organization is relevant.
    • Implement measures to minimize risk and help you detect theft quickly.
    • Maintain adequate employee crime or dishonesty insurance to cover your losses.
    Note on financial controls within small organizations:  While some financial controls may be more challenging to implement for small organizations with few or even zero staff, the expectation of resources being safeguarded still very much applies.  Sharing the established financial control processes, their intent and separating key duties among several people (think: volunteers) will clearly communicate your intent to safeguard resources.


    Stumped on how to introduce such a challenging topic among your peers? It’s not easy. If it were, more nonprofits would have their money and reputations intact. Really stumped? Give me a call and we can talk it through.




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  • Thursday, May 18, 2017 4:08 PM | Regina Pinney (Administrator)



    Regina Pinney

    Executive Director

    Regina@nonprofnetwork.org





    One of the habits of highly effective people, according to Stephen Covey, is to begin with the end in mind. It is also one of the habits of highly effective organizations. Many would contend that the “end” of a nonprofit organization is accomplishing their mission and achieving their vision.


    It doesn’t matter what word you use: end, outcome, and intention, the concept is clear – know where you want to be and then work to arrive there. Notice beginning with the end is circular, not linear. Building a culture of planning within your organization will make you better for a multitude of reasons.  


    Here are the three strongest ones:


    1. You will be more adaptive.


    Knowing where you want to be, or what you want to be, is grounded in the ability to plan and predict. The power of a plan is not the plan, but rather in the planning – the power is in the middle. Highly effective organizations are not just working their missions or working towards the ends, they are working the middle. They are always in a state of planning – succession planning, board development planning, recruitment planning, financial planning, program planning. They continually identify where they are, where they want to go, and how they get there. This comprehensive approach allows organizations to avoid static conditions and adapt in real-time to maximize their effectiveness.


    2. You will be more resilient.


    Organizations in crisis often don’t see the connection between their lack of planning and their constant state of chaos. Being, or becoming, an organization with a culture of planning is a privilege. It means that an organization has protected the time necessary to plan, that resources are available to be planful, and that they have accommodated the brainspace required to think about their work beyond today. If an organization that is in a constant state of chaos (high board-turnover, high staff-turnover, financial stress, the real or perceived notion that there is no time to do or think about doing anything differently) does not intentionally build a culture that allows them to be planners, then they will always be unable to plan, predict, and identify cause and effect. But organizations that consider planning as nonnegotiable will see the chaos decrease – even in uncertain times.  Planning makes an organization resilient despite the circumstances.


    3. You will be more sustainable.


    When we enter this constant state of planning, we then enter a state of being that allows us to pivot and move in new directions when necessary. We must acknowledge that change is constant and necessary. Once we embrace that reality, we can protect the space necessary to respond to that change thoughtfully so that we can continue serving our mission. Planning allows us to act in spite of uncertainty. Planning allows us to be comfortable in not being able to plan for every possible situation and outcome. This ability to be prepared, aware, and responsive is what leads to sustainability. 


    There is a saying that you should be careful what you say after the phrase, “I am...” because your brain will manifest the words. The beginning and the end are always connected. 


    Does your organization need help building and nurturing a culture of planning? Reach out to have a conversation with us.  And in the meanwhile, let your brain get to work manifesting this


    I am adaptive. I am resilient. I am sustainable. I am a planner.





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