Project Management and Staying Within Scope!
Scope is important. Not just the mouthwash, either.
Scope creep is one of the most dreaded, terrifying red flags for any project manager. That’s why one of the first things a project manager should do is make sure to nail down project scope at the very beginning and get clear agreement from all of their critical stakeholders. The Project Management Institute defines Scope as ‘the extent of what a project will produce (product scope) and the work needed to produce it (project scope).’ Basically, the “What” and the “How” of a project.
There are lots of things that cause scope creep. Sometimes it comes from the best of intentions. Life is change, and we have seen a LOT of changes in the last year! COVID has been a nightmare for project managers as we’ve had to pivot on both the "What's" AND the "How's" in our various projects. And I would be willing to put forth that everyone reading this blog is a project manager, whether it’s part of your official job title and duties or not.
In fact, as I started writing this, I began thinking about how all of us working in the nonprofit sector are part of projects. Our organizations are led by our Missions, which should be part of what determines our Scope.
I’m pretty sure we all know on some level that scope creep is bad. But why is it bad? The answers are remarkably similar for both a project and a nonprofit.
Scope creep almost always has a cost to it. Sometimes that cost is money, time, or other scarce and precious resources. If the initial project was to plan a workshop, and part way through planning the topic changes, sure some things will still be the same. But some things won’t. You might have to find a new presenter or redo the brochures. Scope creep for an organization might mean hiring or retraining staff to be able to perform the new functions needed. Previously, I worked for an organization that was focused on ending childhood hunger. They decided to go after a grant from the EPA for Environmental Education. When they got it, they realized they had to hire someone who could teach about the environment, since at the time they only had nutrition specialists. They ended up spending more on new staff and training than the grant was worth. And they aren’t alone. Over the years, I’ve observed that one of the most pervasive causes of scope creep for nonprofits is chasing grant dollars.
Another cause of scope creep is insufficient buy-in and communication with key stakeholders. On a project, that might be the direct supervisor of the person you need to commandeer to set up the website. For an organization, this can be funders, board members, staff, or the community you serve. Having a clear understanding of mission can help you define your scope. Honest communication about ideas, changes, and opportunities with these stakeholders allows you to discuss the impacts that opportunities have to your scope.
Asking, “Is this in scope for us? And if not, “Is it worth changing our scope?” are a great place to start. If key stakeholders agree to the change, it isn’t scope creep, it’s an authorized change. But this kind of communication doesn’t happen for all boards or on all projects, and that’s a problem.
If you’re struggling with scope creep, especially now during COVID, I invite you to join us for the Project Management Basics workshop on March 11th at 10 AM. We’ll be discussing this and other key aspects of keeping your projects and your organizations moving along even in these changing times.
All of our upcoming workshops can always be found on our website HERE
Want more? Click here to sign up for our weekly e-newsletter. Each week you'll get a link to the most recent news, workshops and blog post. We promise to respect your time and will not flood your inbox. We only send one newsletter email each week and when any timely important announcements need to be made.
Nonprofits are in the business of making their communities healthier, stronger and more enriching for all of its members. Whether they are involved in health care, the arts, civil rights, religious activities, or any other worthwhile charitable cause, nonprofits influence the quality of life for people in the communities they serve. Organizations that value diversity – racial and ethnic diversity, as well as diversity in age, ability, thought, planning processes, and recruitment strategies – are stronger.
Research suggests that employees who view their organization as being supportive of diversity and inclusion also tend to have higher levels of engagement. Highly engaged employees are more likely to stay with the organization, be an advocate of the organization, its products and services, and contribute positively to the bottom line business success.
So, what does an organization look like when it has embraced diversity, inclusion and equity?
Building an Inclusive Team
Having a diverse candidate pool to hire from is primary and critical – you can’t become a diverse organization if you don’t have diverse applicants.
Posting your position in the same places will get you the same candidates. Positions should be posted and advertised in a wide variety of places, including community boards, cultural community groups, local ethnic and community newsletters, and associations and organizations that serve ethnic communities. Your efforts should extend beyond the standard. Also, does your front-line position REALLY need someone with a Master’s Degree? Make sure that you are hiring for personality and attitude and training for skill.
Changing your recruitment habits may improve the candidates you attract. Don’t forget to provide additional training around diversity, equity and inclusion – retention is critical! If you haven’t been successful in retaining a diverse workforce, you may need to look at your inclusion policies and practices. How can I do that you're thinking? Start with NN!
We have been working very diligently with our partners, on helping organizations address and transform into inclusive and welcoming spaces. Take a look at our community events in 2021 and take advantage of the sponsored training today. See our upcoming events at the bottom of our Diversity, Equity and Inclusion web-page
Questions? Need help? Email me today! Katena@Nonprofnetwork.org
Want more? Click here to sign up for our weekly e-newsletter. Each week you'll get a link to the most recent news, workshops and blog post. We promise to respect your time and will not flood your inbox. We only send one newsletter email each week and when any timely important announcements need to be made.
What NN Has To Offer You:
1) Our Team of Experts
Our staff of experts is always available to answer your questions and explore solutions. Each Capacity Building Consultant is certified in Adaptive Schools facilitation and familiar with all aspects of nonprofit governance and management. Don't hesitate to reach out to us via phone 517-796-4750 or email; Info@NonprofNetwork.org. We are here to serve you. (About Us)
2) Workshops and Webinars
Our events are engaging, inclusive and designed to help your organizations or an individual's mission move forward. So if you're looking for assistance in Starting a Nonprofit, fund development, or a deep dive into governance we have the training for you! We have a newly packed schedule for 2021 including DiSC Assessments!
Check out our full online workshop calendar often, and register early so you do not chance missing out on the training you need to impact and improve your performance.
Your Nonprofit Network membership is valuable! As a member, you receive discounts on workshops, reduced prices on consulting services and online products, along with access to numerous resources, statistics, tools, templates and policy samples. For a list of other member benefits Click Here.
If you're not a member but want to learn more on how Nonprofit Network can build your resourcefulness and ability to fulfill your mission, Join Today!
4) Online Store
Did you know NN offers different Products, Tools & Resources to help you drive your mission forward? We offer recorded webinars on board governance and other topics, assessment, evaluation and risk reduction tools. We even developed a 7 part Video Course for nonprofit boards when it's difficult to get everyone in the same room!
5) Other Resources Link
Here you will find the links to our NN Blog, COVID_19, Newsletter, and Policies pages and so much more. Our team of nonprofit experts publishes blog content here every month and page updates are made sometimes daily as new information becomes available. As a nonprofit professional and volunteer, we know that time is short and your to-do list is long. These resources are a way we work to provide tools, insights, and up to date perspectives that equip you to succeed.
6) Professional Development
NN offers Executive Director Academy and Peer Coaching for those looking for that deep, meaningful professional development that will impact your ability to lead.
The ED Academy is a multi-session event that covers topics like understanding the responsibilities of the ED and board relationship, Fund Development, Trust, Change & Crisis Management.
Peer Coaching is also a multi session event designed to facilitate goal-setting, coaching and action learning within a small group of peers. Groups are customized for when you are available, where you want to meet and with your goals in mind.
We know that organizations who employ equitable policies and programs are more sustainable and successful. Bridges Out of Poverty, Cross-Cultural Conversations, ACEs and our DEI workshops are powerful framework sessions that can help you be more successful and effective as an employer, an employee and as service providers. We have a significant amount of workshops coming up in 2021 so please check our Workshop calendar for what's coming up!
Want more? Click Here to sign up for our weekly newsletter and special announcements. We promise to respect your time and will not flood your inbox. We only send one, sometimes two e-mails each week and never share our contacts info!
Too busy for all those emails? Quickly find what you need to know on our Social Sites;
In honor of Black History Month, we are celebrating the contributions that African Americans have made to American history as well as the diversity that is all around each of us every day.
Hopefully you're enjoying our Facebook posts, and have visited our DE&I website page.
Last year we celebrated as an organization by posting some of our favorite recipes on "Foodie Fridays" and we'd like to share this with you all again along with some additions.
sorry,,, food excites us....
Please enjoy these wonderful and multi-cultural recipes that the staff here at NN grew up on and we hope they inspire you to re-create them in your own homes!
Katena Cain - One of her favorite dishes that she insists you must try this black history month comes from this food blogger, Cooks With Soul;
Braised Short Rib Meatloaf
Sharon Castle - Sharon's family recipe comes from her Aunt Florence with whom she enjoyed many wonderful dinners. When Sharon started cooking, her Aunt gave her the cookbook that included this recipe which she still loves to this day; Noodle Kugel
Jessica Chipman - Jessica's family recipe comes from her Busia Freda, who was an amazing cook! Golumpki's are a staple in many polish homes so when her Aunt & Uncle decided to put together a family recipe book, they made sure to include this one! Any day that golumpkis are for dinner is a good day! Golumpki Recipe
Tracey Wilson - Growing up on the east coast surrounded by so many bakeries we always had fresh bread around. But when I moved to MI many years ago I found myself craving a good artisan bread I could sop up all the goodness at mealtime with, so I dug into my roots, enjoy! Irish Brown Bread
Laura Fuller - Laura's recipe comes from her middle eastern background, and is one of sweet indulgence. She also likes adding an american twist and using pecans! She says this may look difficult, but make it once and you'll find it becoming a regular go to recipe! *As long as it's not too humid out! Baklava
Regina Pinney - Growing up in the Midwest, Regina was raised within the confines of the Betty Crocker Cook Book & casseroles were adored – yum.. Cream of whatever with noodles!
This one is her favorite from her childhood (oddly, there is a dispute with her siblings about the actual list of ingredients, what order to add things and how long to cook it. But this is her blog so she gets to do it her way.) Corn, Beef & Noodle Casserole
Katena Cain - This dish takes her back to her childhood. Her Mom had her staples and liked cooking this dish. When Katena met her now husband, this was one of the first dishes that he cooked for her and that's when she knew he was a keeper ;) This is now one of her regular "go to" recipes.
Louisiana catfish with okra & corn
Dorothy Svinicki - Dorothy’s recipe comes from her Aunt Helene. This Kringle truly is easy and so delicious! The dough is made the night before and Auntie would often have it ready for her first thing in the morning when she would go to stay. With the size of her family, you wouldn’t want to sleep in, there may not be any left! Easy Kringle
Emerald Pruitt - NN's "new" Consultant Support Specialist (we're working on her website profile) - Growing up, no matter what the event was. My grandma always made baked mac and cheese. She grew up in the south (we can all agree that the southern parts of the states have some delicious foods and recipes). No dinner was ever complete without her delicious southern style mac and cheese. Now that she is gone, I plan on continuing her tradition.
Southern Baked Macaroni & Cheese
We hope you enjoy this blog post and it inspires good conversations and awareness within your own organization in honor of Black History Month.
Questions or comments? Email me; Tracey@Nonprofnetwork.org
Want more? Click here to sign up for our weekly e-newsletter and announcements. Each week you'll get a link to the most recent news & blog post. We promise to respect your time and will not flood your inbox. We only send one, occasionally two e-mails each week.
Since I'm now getting ready to balance both a newborn and a toddler, I thought it was a good time to go back and reflect on what I wrote in April of 2020. I hope this helps you too!
Balancing meetings and changing diapers is no simple task. Like many others, I’ve found myself working from home and taking care of my son at the same time. After hearing many other people’s stories during the Coronavirus pandemic, I know that I am very fortunate and privileged. How lucky am I that my husband and I still have our jobs? And that my now two year old son is safe at home? And all three of us get to spend much more time together under one roof. That being said, it doesn’t mean working and “mom-ing” at the same time is easy. As I’ve been navigating this new “normal,” I’ve come across a few tips and tricks that have helped me and my family during these uncertain times…maybe they will help you too.
1. Family Huddle – Communicate with your family. Each night, my husband and I have a quick meeting. We briefly plan for the next day. We let each other know when our important Zoom calls are so that the other can take care of our son during that time. These family meetings help us stay on the same page.
2. Set a Schedule – Set a schedule for yourself and your child. We have multiple schedules over here. We try to have my son follow a similar schedule to his daycare. We also schedule out who is watching our son and when. It helps us stay on track and in a somewhat normal routine. Here’s an example of some of my family’s schedules. Although we try to stick to our schedules, we also know it’s important to also be flexible.
3. Prioritize – Try to schedule meetings or accomplish difficult tasks when you know your child will be occupied. I know this is easier said than done! For me… my golden hour is usually around 1:00 pm (when my son takes his nap). During this quiet time, my husband and I are both able to get important work tasks done.
4. Create a Work Space – Find a space that is devoted to work. I use a desk in our finished basement when I’m working. Usually my husband and I take turns watching our son upstairs, while one of us works downstairs. My two year old knows when one of us heads downstairs, we are working. This designated "somewhat more quiet" space downstairs helps me stay focused.
5. Unplug – When you’re done with your work, try to unplug. When I’m done working, I turn off my computer and go on a quick walk around the block (my commute). (I still do this every day now at 9 months pregnant) This signals that I’m done for the day and it helps me transition into paying more attention to my family.
6. Don’t Be Hard On Yourself – I know I tend to be my worst critic. It’s important to remember that you are doing multiple things at once. I often have to remind myself that these are unique times. It’s okay if things don’t go according to plan. If my son is watching more Paw Patrol than normal - that’s OK! If I don’t answer an email as quick as I used to - that’s OK too. Give yourself some grace.
We're all still navigating this new way of life… I'm balancing meetings and diapers. Some days go smooth and I get to experience little joys with my family that I wouldn’t have had otherwise (like watching my son giggle as we made Jell-O during lunch time). Other days everything seems to be falling apart and it seems so hard to juggle everything. But that’s OK! This is a different time. This is still new and we are all still learning different tips and tricks to live a better life. One thing is for sure… We are all in this together and we will get through it!
Do you have any tips or tricks for working from home with kids? I’d really love to hear them!
Share them with us! (I’ll use any tips I can get!)
*Updated from April 2020
I am so angry.
Last week on the steps of our Capitol, domestic terrorists broke through the doors of a sacred place with the intent to kidnap, kill and overthrow representatives of our government, ultimately to circumvent our government. The horrific, gruesome, and disgusting details are still revealing themselves – from who helped them, to what they did when they were inside. Figuratively and literally, they not only desecrated the rule of law of this country, but sent a clear message that white supremacy is embedded in our principles and values.
Images of nooses, Proud Boys using the “OK” hand gesture which has long been associated with White Power, Confederate Flags, and messages supporting the holocaust were plentiful and proudly displayed by rioters. The use of these props and symbols were designed to oppress, quiet, and diminish the civil rights of any American who doesn’t currently have power and privilege.
Let's be clear, what happened inside the Capitol was not a protest but an act of violence against our nation.
I wish to believe this was the fleeting and waning efforts of dying breed, grasping at a philosophy that has survived far too long. But I am not that naïve.
I am angry. Evil lives comfortably, well- fed and warm – among us. Like those that stormed the Capitol, doors have been unlocked and evil is invited in. Systemic, raw, and unfettered racism was on full display. I did not miss that these individuals seemed to enjoy the trauma inflicted on anyone in the way, including our Nation as a whole. And once again – a very loud message intended to intimidate anyone who is fighting for social justices, equality and equity to be quiet. To be small.
I am angry. And I am so sad. I am so sad that so many people are blind to the true impact of these events. That they compare the screams in the streets for justice from police brutality in towns across the country this past summer, with an attempted coup. That the cries of the oppressed are compared to the shame of a lost election.
Some are saying that if we had “controlled” the protests last summer, we would have prevented the siege on the Capitol. If we had not sought fair treatment for black and brown people, white supremacist would not have had to so strongly flex their muscle and put us all back in our place.
I am angry, not surprised, that we did it again. This country showed black and brown people our true colors. We – all of us – allowed the smallest of gestures, the dog whistles, the innuendoes, the wink and a nod – to go unchecked. Our country was assaulted – repeatedly – and our attackers are saying we asked for it, consented to it, that it is our fault and that the shame is ours.
I am angry at myself that I didn’t do more. I am angry that I gave too much grace and forgiveness to people who claim racism doesn’t exist or isn’t that prevalent. I am angry at myself for accepting that change takes time.
I am angry. I don’t have a call to action yet. I am not ready to call for unity and ask that black and brown people give us more grace and more time. I am not ready to make any more empty promises.
But I do ask that each of us sit in the knowledge that being passive aligns us with those that stormed the Capitol. It makes us complicit and on the wrong side of justice.
May You Have A very Happy New Year!
There isn’t a more appropriate blessing than this. If you are fortunate enough to say that you survived 2020, I wish you a very, very Happy New Year.
It would be easy to want to erase this year, but I hope we carry forward the many lessons learned. Let us not forget these things:
Empathy is necessary. This past year put on full display our enormous inequities. We can no longer ignore the inescapable realities of racial and economic injustice. We can’t un-see it.
Health is precious. Mental health is as important as physical health, and neither can be taken for granted, and both need to be protected. The strongest of us can be taken down by invisible factors. And the weak can surprise us with the capacity to recover quickly.
We are all connected. The Butterfly Effect is an awareness that small states of change result in large differences in a larger state. This was a significant lesson for many of us. People we will never meet or know are impacted by our behavior and actions. Wear a mask.
Resiliency is intentional. Research tells us that some children who have been impacted by trauma seem to bounce back better than others. Resilient children acknowledge their expectations of the future have changed and adapt to new information. Those that don’t bounce back tend to be stuck in a reality that no longer exists.
Grief is powerful. The act of mourning can look like anger, can manifest into protests and activism. Experiencing these raw emotions, “sitting” with someone as they grieve, can move people to “do something”. Grief can be a powerful tool for change. (See resiliency.)
Grace is required but not perpetual. Change is constant. And it is ok to long for what you knew and what felt normal. People need time to adapt. But life is a journey. Moving forward is healthy. Evolution and progress are natural.
Celebrate everything. We yearn for ways to connect. We learned to celebrate differently. Continue to take advantage of opportunities to celebrate new traditions.
I can’t wait to see all of you in the new year. Be well. Be safe.
One of the most critical skills in being a successful leader is the ability to read between the lines. This is doubly true when it comes to conversations that nonprofits have with funders. They say hindsight is 20/20, and I don’t think they’re wrong. There have been several occasions that, looking back on conversations, I recognize that I was in fact given a subtle warning about whether there would be a change to a funding stream. If only I had recognized the hints that they dropped.
I feel it’s important that I share these types of hints with you, as we are all experiencing a lot of upheaval in our financial reports due to changes in programming, events, and general life during COVID.
First and foremost, it is important to realize that most funders do not intend to fund an organization forever. This is especially true if they’re funding a specific program. Often this is self-evident as funders often indicate at the proposal stage that funding is limited to a certain time frame. But even when a nonprofit finds the golden opportunity of a funder that is willing to support operating costs, too often we become complacent, thinking that the support will continue over the long haul.
Suggestion: Have a conversation with funders about their expectations for you to be supported by them, how long they usually fund organizations, and whether you are eligible to reapply at the end of your funding cycle. Have it during the proposal stage. Most funders prefer to have those frank conversations and set expectations at the beginning.
Another thing to be aware of is that funders do not want to prop up an organization that couldn’t exist without them. In fact, if one funder provides your organization with more than 33% of its revenue, it puts you both in a very awkward position with the IRS, especially if it continues over a period of time. If a funder finds out that other revenue streams are drying up, they are also much more likely to not fund you. That does NOT mean hide the reality from them. That means you need to find a way to diversify your funding and ask the hard questions about WHY you are currently struggling to find support. Sometimes it is something outside of your control (Covid, anyone???), but often it’s because of mission drift or failing to connect with a real need in the community.
Suggestion: Don’t wait until you’re in crisis to develop a diverse funding plan that is a combination of grants, gifts, and income for services. If you wait until you’re in crisis, you’ll have a much harder time of it! So put this on your To Do list today.
Funding priorities change. Even the most stable stream of revenue from a funder can end when the board shifts priorities. Don’t be caught unaware. The best way to avoid this is to have a good relationship with your funders. The more they know you and feel like your organization is working hard at achieving its mission, the more lead time you will have when this sort of thing happens.
Still, this lead time often comes by reading between the lines.
For example, I worked for an organization that had received stable funding for a program for 6 years before I started in my position. When I came on, I was told by my board and long term staff that the grant application was a mere formality because the funder LOVED the program. When I went to meet with the program officer (along with one of those long term staff), we were told to be sure we got the application in as soon as possible because money was tight this year. We did as instructed and three months later were SHOCKED when we were not renewed for the grant.
The big hint I was given was the subtle comment that money was tight.
Had I not been new, had I been more embedded in the political climate, I would have known that priorities had shifted from supporting educational programs to safety programs. I also would have realized that we had already been funded for 6 years for this program, and I would have put priority into finding ways to diversify the funding stream. Alas, this was a horrible shock that meant I had to lay off staff and scramble to keep this program alive as the community thought it was important.
The moral of this story is to be proactive. Ask the tough questions, diversify your funding streams, and be ready to shift your programs. Don’t get stuck in the rut of thinking nothing will change, because change is constant. And right now, things are changing a lot. Funding is changing to meet new priorities. Tax dollars have dried up meaning that government support may no longer be available to our programs.
Get ahead of this potential concern, work on creating your strategic funding and communications plans now! If you need help, guidance or ideas, please know we’re here for you!
You may also be interested in our Recorded Workshop: *Crisis Fundraising: Donor Conversations During Coronavirus
The weight of it all can be oppressive. Being a leader, being responsible for anything or anyone right now is a job filled with angst and stress, worry and fears. It can be hard to breathe through the anxiety.
You are exhausted, burned out and ready for a break.
The projections indicate that you will not get relief anytime soon. The people you serve are hurting, and they need you now.
The last several months most of us have just ducked our heads and focused on our feet – one foot in front of the other. Get through today. Get up tomorrow and do it again.
You must find ways to reenergize and renew. You must focus on selfcare. And encourage your staff to do the same. Be that role model! Remember their strength is your strength.
Take a minute, take a breath, lift your head, and see the horizon. You just ran a marathon and are being asked to run another.
There is much to be thankful for – you have, in fact, survived this far. You are smarter now. You are stronger now.
You have responded to your clients and eased their pain. You have served your mission. You have done much with little. But you are going to be OK.
Get sleep. Take your PTO. Move – every day. Turn off the news. Get fresh air. Take extra Vitamin D. Drink lots of water. Call a friend and laugh. Cook your favorite meal. Read a book. Listen to music. Doodle – with color.
You are not alone. It is OK to be the person you are today
And ask for help. Your community is eager to step up.
Katena Cain, PhD.
Nonprofit Management Consultant
Starting a nonprofit organization is an exciting way to make an impact in your community. Who wouldn’t want to be a part of this community of do-gooders? Well, with over 1.5 million nonprofits in the United States and roughly 51,000 (up from 43K in 2018) in Michigan, ensuring the sustainability and longevity of a nonprofit are not easy tasks. It takes a solid foundation, a strong board of directors, a willing group of volunteers, and lots of dedication. Resources can be scarce, and receiving your tax exemption status is just the beginning of the work that lies ahead. So here are three key things to consider when starting a nonprofit organization.
With millions of nonprofits out there, your vision and ideas may not be unique. Therefore, when considering to start a nonprofit begin by asking yourself the following questions:
Once you have completed your research and still want to start a nonprofit, begin the process of documenting your idea, mission, and vision as well as the formation path in a detailed business plan.
2) Incorporate and Establish
After documenting your plan, mission and vision, your next step is to complete all of the necessary paperwork and steps that are required to obtain your nonprofit status. Some of these things include,
Another critical piece of this process is to establish a Board of Directors of no less than 3 individuals. This group is very important and requires a large commitment from them because they will be legally responsible to help your organization meet its mission and vision.
Draft your bylaws with your Board of Directors' guidance. This will be your operator’s manual for your nonprofit. You will need to have a copy of these for filing your Articles of Incorporation and will need to submit these when applying for your federal tax-exemption. Your board will also be critical in assisting you with policy formation and financial development planning.
3) Work Your Mission and Stay Compliant
Once your nonprofit status is approved, your goal is now to ensure its success and sustainability. To do this, you will need to work your mission, develop policies, build a strong board, maintain a solid financial plan, and file your IRS 990 tax form annually to keep your tax-exempt status.
Starting a nonprofit takes a lot of work. Nonprofit Network is here to help you along the way. Do you know about the 1023ez application?
Attend our Starting a Nonprofit workshop and we'll take you through the process and provide you with a copy of our Guide to Starting a Nonprofit.
Website collaboration with Courtland Consulting | Sitemap | Staff Login