Strengthening Nonprofit Governance & Management
 2800 Springport Road, Jackson, Michigan 49202

What Would Nonprofit Network Do?

  • Thursday, June 09, 2016 4:26 PM | Tom Williams (Administrator)

    If I was asked to reduce the role of a nonprofit Executive Director’s work down to a single action, I think it would be “team builder." Approaching the role as if it's the work of a single person is daunting, if not entirely impossible. But a team approach blends the multiple talents available to the organization and more effectively addresses the complex needs of mission-based entities. 

    We are confronting community issues, and teams provide community solutions. 

    One of the most critical teams an Executive Director can build consists of herself and her board of directors. Other teams that can appropriately address the work might be high functioning committees, distinct staff teams, partnership teams between nonprofit organizations and fund raising teams with donors.

    In Five Dysfunctions of a Team, Patrick Lencioni shares that teams often suffer from key dysfunctions. Our team building skills are enhanced when we understand the causes and remedies of these dysfunctions. 

    Fear of conflict is one of the dysfunctions teams often struggle to address. 

    Conflict within organizations is inevitable. Managing that conflict is healthy and builds stronger teams and, ultimately, healthier organizations. 

    If you have a team you want to enhance and are stuck on how to do that, give me a call at 517-796-4750. Strong Executive Directors are surrounded by strong teams.

    Want more? Click here to sign up for our weekly e-newsletter and announcements about training opportunities.  We promise to respect your time and will not flood your inbox.  We only send one or two e-mails each week. 

  • Friday, June 03, 2016 10:02 AM | Deleted user

    Greetings from the newest member of Nonprofit Network! I come to you officially as Capacity Builder and unofficially as someone who earnestly wishes to support the meaningful work you’re doing.

    I join the Nonprofit Network team with over 10 years’ experience in the nonprofit arena. Throughout this time, I have come to know the importance of inclusionary leadership, strong governance practices, and ongoing strategic planning in establishing organizational vitality. 

    John F. Kennedy once said, “Efforts and courage are not enough without purpose and direction.” It is my firm belief organizations must not only value, but also take the time to support the great courage and daily work it takes to drive our missions through continuous improvement efforts. Periodic “retreat” sessions are most effective in providing the evaluation, consideration, and direction necessary to drive work forward.

    Reach out to me at if you'd like to discuss how I can help you make the most of your precious time! Nonprofit Network is poised and ready to facilitate a variety of effective and efficient retreat sessions for your board.

    Want more? Click here to sign up for our weekly e-newsletter and announcements about training opportunities.  We promise to respect your time and will not flood your inbox.  We only send one or two e-mails each week. 

  • Friday, May 27, 2016 9:00 AM | Regina Pinney (Administrator)

    Think the Fair Labor Standards Act and Upcoming Regulation Changes Don't Apply to Nonprofits? You're Wrong.

    Nonprofits are not exempt from labor and wage regulations simply because they are nonprofits. "Neither the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) nor the Department's regulations provide an exemption from overtime requirements for nonprofit organizations. While some nonprofits may not be covered under the FLSA, it is likely that many employees of nonprofits are entitled to FLSA protections" (DOL). Even if your organization as a whole does not have to comply with FLSA standards (because your business revenues are fewer than $500,000), you probably have individual employees who are eligible for FLSA protections. 

    Over the next few weeks, we will be providing you with additional information to help you determine your next steps. The information is complicated and important to understand clearly. In the meanwhile, begin having conversations about how these regulations and failure to comply with them might impact your organization. 

    The hard truth is that many nonprofits contribute to poverty by not paying employees a living wage. The intent of the FSLA and its associated regulations are to ensure that employees are treated fairly. Nonprofits are competing for qualified and skilled employees; complying with FLSA will further help us to attract and retain quality staff.

    Have the hard conversations. Make a plan. Call if you need any help.

    Here are some resources that might help guide your conversation:

    - Regina Funkhouser, Executive Director

    Want more? Click here to sign up for our weekly e-newsletter and announcements about training opportunities.  We promise to respect your time and will not flood your inbox.  We only send one or two e-mails each week. 

  • Thursday, May 19, 2016 4:48 PM | Tom Williams (Administrator)

    Nonprofit leadership requires courage. Without a doubt, the decisions and actions necessary to successfully lead your organization are hard work. I say it requires courage because best practices are rarely achieved by going with the flow. In fact, taking the path of least resistance can sometimes reduce our impact and zap our passion for the work. The iconic actor, John Wayne, probably clarified it best for me, when he defined it this way: “Courage is being scared to death and saddling up anyway.” 

    It takes courage to have the hard conversations with key people in our organization. It takes courage to hold ourselves accountable to the path we planned out and all agreed upon. And yes, courage is often the missing component of our funding goal shortfalls. One-on-one coaching is sometimes a means to uncover the courage needed. Other times, having an unbiased, third party come in to facilitate a group discussion about hard topics can be the way forward.


    If this resonates with you, I'd love to talk through it and discuss it further. Feel free to contact me at

  • Friday, May 06, 2016 8:54 AM | Katena Cain (Administrator)

    The responsibility of the board is to provide leadership by assisting the executive director in establishing goals and building the capacity of the organization.  It's a big responsibility, and to accomplish it, your board needs to be a carefully curated group of individuals whose skills and perspectives represent the best interests of the organization. If you don't have the right people on the board, governance can be ineffective and the organization will suffer.

    Here are some symptoms that might indicate your board is ineffective:
    • Programs aren't growing
    • Funders are not supporting you the way they once did
    • The community does not know about you
    • People do not want to join your board
    • Board attendance rates are inconsistent and sporadic

    Having the right people in the room ensures you have the diverse skill sets, knowledge, and worldviews necessary to lead your organization in a comprehensive way.  Recruitment needs to be strategic. Start by asking these naive questions: Do we have the right people on our board?  Do we have enough people to accomplish the work we want to do?  Have a conversation as a board around these questions and revisit them regularly.


    Nonprofit has a variety of tools and surveys available to help you assess your board's effectiveness.  Would you like to have a conversation about how we can build your capacity?  Please reach out to me. We're here to serve you.

    Want more? Click here to sign up for our weekly e-newsletter and announcements about training opportunities.  We promise to respect your time and will not flood your inbox.  We only send one or two e-mails each week. 

  • Friday, April 29, 2016 11:22 AM | Carrie Heider Grant (Administrator)

    We have been teaching Bridges Out of Poverty for two yearsthat's over 13 organizations and over one thousand individualsand the feedback is overwhelmingly positive.  Participants leave with a fresh perspective and a series of concepts that they can readily implemented in their daily work.  After our training with Community Action Agency, the "front-line" is now equipped to build stronger relationships with the families they serve and improve the success of their programs by taking small steps. One participant's plan had been incredibly straightforward and doesn't cost CAA a penny: "develop relationships before approaching with paperwork/forms." 

    That's the thing that makes Bridges such a powerful programthe resulting "next steps" are simple and actionable, but have the potential to revolutionize your program's outcomes and success. Nonprofit Network is able to customize this program to meet the needs of any organization, ranging from country hospitals to city police departments to grassroots programs and organizations.  Here's a a glimpse of the organizations we've trained in Bridges Out of Poverty in the past two years: 

    • Jackson Community Foundation
    • Barry Eaton Health Plan
    • Henry Ford Allegiance Health
    • Center for Family Health
    • SouthCentral Michigan Works
    • Compassionate Ministries
    • Community Action Agency
    • Jackson County Substance Abuse
    • Michigan Community Reinvestment Act 
    • City of Jackson Police Department
    • Felician Sisters
    • Building Michigan Communities Conference
    • Lenawee ISD

    If you'd like to learn more about the Bridges concepts, please join us on June 14 in Ann Arbor for an introduction to Bridges Out of Poverty.  This morning seminar is a great way to "get your feet wet" in the Bridges materialyour only regret will be that you didn't attend sooner. In the meanwhile, please reach out with any questions you have about the value and the content of Bridges.  We can bring this training to you in a variety of ways and will customize it to meet your needs.  Nonprofit Network exists to serve you.  

    Want more? Click here to sign up for our weekly e-newsletter and announcements about training opportunities.  We promise to respect your time and will not flood your inbox.  We only send one or two e-mails each week. 

  • Friday, April 08, 2016 12:43 PM | Regina Pinney (Administrator)

    Last week, Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette distributed a report indicating that on average, when a paid fundraiser is involved, fewer than 33% of the funds raised go to the nonprofit.

    This is scary on many levels:

    • Nonprofits (as a sector and for our individual missions) rely on a trusting relationship with our donors
    • We could have really used that extra 67%
    • The report didn’t qualify how the paid fundraiser was soliciting the donations (we all know the first gift a donor makes is the most expensive to secure as nonprofits – so were these fundraisers just acquiring first gifts?)
    • The report didn’t describe the trap that many nonprofits fall into when using unethical fundraisers who hold the donors information hostage

    But – I totally get it. You need money. You don’t have time. You don’t have enough volunteers to help. Your old tactics aren’t working. Calling in a professional seems like a good idea, and receiving some of more money is better than receiving none. That bottom line number (whatever the 33% is) is more than you have today and you might just be able to serve more people. There are many things that nonprofits can outsource to save money, manage time and be more productive – building relationships with donors isn’t one of them.

    If you are going to work with a professional fundraiser, make sure you maintain control of your donor list. Make sure the relationship with the donor is with you, the nonprofit – not with the fundraiser. Donors should be leery of high pressure tactics or if the check needs to be made out to someone other than the charity – ask who will show up on the donor's credit card receipt – the nonprofit or another name.  Donors should also use caution if the caller wants to pick up the donation immediately – most organizations are happy to wait for the donation to arrive in the mail. 

    On April 20, I am teaching Mission Driven Fundraising: Lead and Advance Your Fund Development Program. If you are struggling to generate the money you need, this full-day class will help. Together, we will problem solve how you recruit the people you need to implement the fund development plan that will advance your mission. You will still need to find time, but I promise that we will work on efficient strategies and practices that makes the time you do have more productive. 

  • Thursday, March 17, 2016 11:20 AM | Tom Williams (Administrator)

    The word is printed on our money, in political ads, blazoned across product advertisements and blaring from our media sources. We use the word often. TRUST.  It is often misunderstood and sometimes “trust” seems like an evasive concept. In the nonprofit world, this idea about building trust is crucial to our donors, clients, stakeholders and partners. But I’m not sure we truly focus on building and safeguarding trust. We need to better understand and keep on the front burner as we make decisions as staff and board members in our organizations.

    Some might say that trust is primarily about one's character. But in reality, there is a formula for building and maintaining trust: competence, respect and integrity. You can have complete confidence in someone's character, but if you don't know that he or she has the ability and the willingness to follow through and a willingness to listen—in short, that the person is able to accomplish the task—then trust is absent.

    Trust not a soft concept, but rather a hard and clear element that is critical in all relationships, especially those between nonprofit and the community, nonprofit staff and boards and among colleagues. When trust is in low supply, things move slower and opportunities (think resources!) get missed. I encourage you to look at your professional relationships--with your board, with your executive director, with your staff and with your community and intentionally work to build, reinforce and, if necessary, repair trust.

    Nonprofit Network has resources and tools available to help you build trust within and around your organization and to strengthen your team. Contact Tom today or call us at 517-796-4750 to have a conversation about how we might facilitate that process for you.

  • Thursday, September 04, 2014 11:15 AM | Regina Pinney (Administrator)

    Evaluating the Executive Director
    How to make it a valuable use of everyone’s time and a useful tool for moving forward

    Conducting a performance evaluation is typically not one of the reasons a board

    member serves a nonprofit. 

    But one of the most important jobs a board does is choosing, supporting and evaluating the chief executive. 

    An effective and ongoing performance evaluation is one of those tasks when - done well - can “build” a great organization. Evaluating the executive director has a critical role in the overall success of an organization.  It should be regarded as one of the most important functions of the board.

    I often say that good leadership is the one crucial element of success for every nonprofit.  A great board creates a great executive director – and a great executive director creates a great board.  Neither can happen in isolation or without deliberateness. 

    The evaluation process is one of those deliberate acts.  Performance evaluations are an opportunity to address unclear expectations and poor communication. 
    Evaluations should be an ongoing process – not a task that is ever completed.  The ongoing feedback should serve as a guide for the executive director and a source of professional support. 

    But possibly more important, evaluating the executive director is part of the natural flow of the organization and should be incorporated into the annual strategic planning process. 

    The ED starts with evaluating the staff and an assessment of the internal needs of the organization.   The Board evaluates the ED and assesses how the strengths of the Executive Director can move the organization forward and the barriers to success or issues that slow progress.  The Board should also evaluate themselves and their own effectiveness.

    These results are then taken into account as the organization creates a strategic plan – what does the organization need to accomplish goals more efficiently and effectively.  Once the strategic plan has been developed, the budget process begins and supports the strategic plan.

    While the process should be customized to fit your organization, here are a few possible questions that could be answered by the entire board:
    o Name the director’s three greatest strengths.
    o Has s/he helped strengthen the board? How/In what ways?
    o Have organizational systems improved? How/In what ways?
    o Has staff productivity and morale improved? How/In what ways?
    o Has s/he helped advance the quality of our programs? How/In what ways?
    o Has funding increased?  How did this occur?

    o Has the public’s interest in the organization increased?
    o How can s/he become an even more effective leader? 

    Nonprofit Network offers assistance in the area of performance evaluations.  We   provide comprehensive tools and will help evaluate results.  If you need help, just call. 


  • Thursday, July 17, 2014 12:40 PM | Deleted user

    Are You Inclusive? Here's a Test 
    by Regina Funkhouser - Executive Director


    If the demographics of your donors, board members, staff and clients don’t reflect the average make up of your community, your recruiting, hiring and fundraising practices may not be geared to include everyone.  Nonprofits can sometimes fall into a homogeneous trap.  Board members look and think the same.  Staff looks and thinks the same.  Donors look and think the same. And sometimes – without intention – the design of our services exclude rather than include. 

    Being an inclusive organization that values diversity doesn’t “just happen”.  Like every other best practice, organizations must be committed and diligent to have good habits.  If you are intentionally an inclusive organization, you will naturally attract donations from a diverse population, your board will be diverse in skill set, education, race, income and culture and when you post positions, you will have a diverse set of applicants to interview.  If you don’t attract diversity, I suggest you examine your practices for any that may be exclusive. 

    Nonprofit Network strives to be a model of inclusion.  We believe that bringing diverse individuals together is essential to effectively address the issues that face current and prospective partners. 

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