• Thursday, June 23, 2016 7:58 AM | Deleted user

    As another week comes to a close, do you find yourself with leftover items on your “to-do” list? Are you dreading projects you’ve put off because you aren’t quite sure how to do them, you lack the support, or just don’t have the time?


    Nonprofit Network is excited to partner with Points of Light Foundation to bring Service Enterprise to our members and clients! Through this training, we can help your organization fundamentally leverage volunteers and their skills across all levels of your work to successfully deliver on your social mission.


    Research conducted by TCC Group and Deloitte demonstrates that nonprofits operating as Service Enterprises outperform peer organizations on all measures of organizational capacity, thereby allowing these nonprofits to more effectively address community needs and operate at almost half the median budget.


    More information on learning more and how you can become Service Enterprise certified will be coming soon, so stay tuned! Reach out to me if you have any questions in the meanwhile.




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  • 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.



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  • 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 Holly@nonprofnetwork.org 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.



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  • 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



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  • 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. 


  • 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. 

     

  • Wednesday, July 09, 2014 12:30 PM | Deleted user

    Top 10 Technology Takeaways

    (A Recap of the Nonprofit Network’s Tech Expo)

    By Rebecca Caulkins, Public Relations and Technology Manager, Experience Jackson


    The Nonprofit Network’s Inaugural Tech Expo was quite a success. Everyone walked away with something valuable, whether that was something they’d like to start doing, something they’d like to stop doing or something they would start doing differently.


    Speakers from Bloomerang, Data Driven Detroit, Courtland Consulting, RjM and Highway T presented on a variety of technology related topics including: making advocacy maps with Google Fusion Tables, social media for nonprofits, Microsoft 365, Google AdWords, and cloud security and ethics.


    Unique to this event were the short tech talks that gave 15 minute snippets of each topic. These optional previews gave attendees the opportunity to choose the sessions on their top priority list or spend that time interacting with vendors.


    My Top 10 Technology Takeaways:


    1.  Use interactive Google Maps and Google Fusion Tables to spend time with data and have  an important visual for grant writing.


    2.      Of 9000 small to medium nonprofits surveyed, 20% spend less than an hour on social media and 40% spend 1-2 hours on social media. 


    3.      45% find social media very valuable, yet 65% have no strategies for social media marketing. 


    4.      Create a separate Google UTM code for each media to track data in Google Analytics. (UTM codes are little snippets of text added to the end of your URL to help you track the clicks of your ads on the web.) 


    5.      Learn how to harness online advocates offline by engaging with your online champions individually and in other avenues.


    6.      Three types of nonprofit social media posts are: appreciation, advocacy and appeals. 


    7.      Donor retention rate is a very important statistic. After first donation the rate is 22. 9%, but after second donation the rate raises to 60%. Acknowledge that first gift within 7 days.


    8.      Follow the “You Test” when writing appeals: Always have more “You” statements than “I” or “We”.


    9.      Google Ad Grants are available to nonprofits for up to $2 Cost Per Click and up to $10,000 a month.


    10.   Use action verbs when writing you ads. For example, “Click here for…” 

     

    Rebecca Calkins, Public Relations and Technology Manager for Experience Jackson manages the social media on Facebook /ExperienceJackson and Twitter @ExperienceJxn as well as a monthly eNewsletter. Rebecca grew up in Jackson and returned after attending college at Ball State University in Muncie, Ind. When not working, she enjoys cooking and traveling and is always looking for the "next culinary or cultural adventure." 

  • Monday, July 07, 2014 1:32 PM | Deleted user

    Planning For an Engaged Board

    By Regina Pinney, Executive Director

     

    Are you struggling with a less than fully functioning board?  Do you find your board meetings lasting way too long and filled with conversations that produce no decisions and no action?  Are your meetings filled with committee chairs rambling on about committee details?  Do you have board members that consistently don’t show up?  Do you struggle to get on the same page?

    A fully engaged, active board doesn’t happen organically.  It takes deliberate acts, concentrated efforts, planning and lots of behind the scenes work to create a board that understands their role and takes governance seriously. 

     

    Steps to engaging your board:

    1)      Recruit board members with a plan – and share the plan with the candidates  Starting off your board development meetings with a statement that resembles “I know someone that may say yes” is a clear signal that all you are doing is filling the seats with beating hearts.   Developing an engaged board member starts (and sometimes ends) with the recruitment process.  Board members want to be part of an exclusive team and are honored and impressed that a board made every effort to be sure of a good fit, rather than simply seeking a beating heart that said yes. The recruitment process sets the expectations – any minimization of the legal duties, fundraising responsibilities or time commitment will eventually have a new board member asking if they have been tricked into making a commitment.  If the recruitment process is done poorly and without deliberateness – you will have a board member that shows up to three meetings and then disappears, rarely speaks or worse yet – micromanages (micromanagers are not “bad” board members, but board members who are seeking their role – guessing what, exactly, they should be doing.)  Set the bar high and lay out clear expectations of attendance, participation, donating, fundraising and leadership.  

    2)      Recognize that board orientation is not a task – it is a process Handing a new board member a 3 inch binder with every policy, procedure, itemized budget and marketing piece from the last five years and going through it page by page is not orientation, it’s torture.  I’m not saying never provide these items, I’m just saying that especially in the beginning, less is more and quality before quantity. Even if a new board member read every ream of paper you gave them, they cannot possibly retain or apply the knowledge. This practice will only overwhelm a new board member.  It may take 18 months before a board member has been through a complete cycle of your budget process, your planning process, your evaluation process and committee process.  Recognize that ongoing training to apply knowledge is critical to the ability to participate fully as a board member.  If we continue to expect a new board member to “get it” after three months, we create a group of people who collectively think “I must be the only one who doesn’t understand this because I’m new, so I will remain mute and allow others to make decisions.”

    3)      Even the best board members need hand holding, follow up and reminders We choose board members based on their ability to get things done.  Regardless of their passion for our mission – they have a job, a family, a life and other commitments that keep them very busy.  Of course they want to donate – but don’t expect them to remember it’s been a year since their last donation.  Don’t send them committee meeting notes a day before the next meeting – or worse – hand them out at the meeting – and expect a board member to remember what they volunteered to do.  Board members need and appreciate reminders.  Send an email to say “our next meeting is in two weeks, at our last meeting we agreed to ….”. 

    4)      Create a mutually beneficial relationship  If we expect Board Members to come prepared, rise to the occasion, work diligently as a group and expect to be intellectually taxed by complex and consequential questions then by golly we better deliver that opportunity.  Allow your agenda to create this environment.  If there is no discussion required, put the report: financial, committees, Executive Director’s, on the consent agenda.  Don’t allow anyone to “read” to your board or for your board.  They are big girls and boys and can do it themselves.  Fill your board meetings with engaging and interesting governance conversations.  I recommend creating an annual board calendar with these conversations scheduled.  These could include budget planning conversations (are our staffing levels appropriate – will we need to figure out how to hire more next year or should we add or eliminate a program), strategic planning review sessions, possibly even committee training sessions, for example the finance committee could do an annual reminder about what happens at the committee level, what the reports that are given to the board mean and what philosophies they are using to manage money.

     5)      Work the locker room Sometimes, the Board Chair and/or the Executive Director needs to spend some time in the locker room.  The intent of these locker room conversations may be to simply check in to make sure the board member is feeling heard, has any concerns or if the organization/board is living up to their end of the bargain in the mutually beneficial relationship department.  When is the last time your board members have been asked if they think time at the board meeting is well spent, if meetings are run efficiently or if decisions are being thoroughly vetted?  Asking the question is as valuable as the answer. 

    6)      Define and Measure The fastest way to kill momentum is to fail to define and measure.  We all agree that board members need to participate in fundraising and raise more money. But if we don’t take a moment to collectively define and share a vision for what “participate” means or what “more” means, we will never agree on what success looks like.  One board member will donate a check and think they did their part, while another board member is organizing house parties, meeting with possible donors, writing thank you notes and selling raffle tickets.  Both efforts may be fine, but if we never discussed the expectations and the shared definition –one may look across the board table and wonder why they are doing all the work while the other does nothing.  Without a common language and shared definition, when will we know it’s time to celebrate a win?

    Create an environment that breeds success – not failure – around your board table.  Make sure everyone has the right tools, clear expectations and the training required.  And most importantly, repeat frequently. 

    If you'd like to learn more - join us: (This one's on us!) Free Workshop: Foundations of Board Governance

  • Tuesday, July 01, 2014 1:31 PM | Deleted user

    By Regina Funkhouser


    A fully engaged, active board doesn’t happen organically.  It takes deliberate acts, concentrated efforts, planning and lots of behind the scenes work to create a board that understands their role and takes governance seriously.  


    Recognize that board orientation is not a task – it is a process Handing a new board member a 3 inch binder with every policy, procedure, itemized budget and marketing piece from the last five years and going through it page by page is not orientation, it’s torture.  I’m not saying never provide these items, I’m just saying that especially in the beginning, less is more and quality before quantity. Even if a new board member read every ream of paper you gave them, they cannot possibly retain or apply the knowledge. This practice will only overwhelm a new board member.  It may take 18 months before a board member has been through a complete cycle of your budget process, your planning process, your evaluation process and committee process.  Recognize that ongoing training to apply knowledge is critical to the ability to participate fully as a board member.  If we continue to expect a new board member to “get it” after three months, we create a group of people who collectively think “I must be the only one who doesn't understand this because I’m new, so I will remain mute and allow others to make decisions.”

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