1) Ongoing, cyclical orientation. Just because you’ve been on a particular board awhile doesn’t mean you know everything. Asking naive questions helps strengthens the board as individuals and as a whole. Making governance training and conversations a regular part of your conversation helps to ensure that all board members—both new and old alike—are on the same page.
2) All nonprofits have a life-cycle, which means that no two organizations need the same board—you need to be equipped to give your organization the most relevant skills, perspective, and leadership based on where it is and what it needs. No two boards are alike. If you’ve served on a board, then you’ve served on one board. Know where your organization is in its life cycle and seek deep understanding on what your board needs to provide.
3) You are legally liable for the organization. When you know what you’re liable for, you will make informed, responsible decisions. Board training can inform that process and may provide you with the information that will protect you.
4) More efficient meetings, more effective decisions. When a board is well-trained and each member knows their role, things run more smoothly. Meetings become more engaging and decisions are more thoughtful and strategic. Who doesn’t want that?
5) Increased impact. A board made of trained and informed experts is one that advocates for its organization and inspires action. Staff are motivated to perform and then the community sees and benefits from the mission work accomplished.
6) More funding. There are over 51,000 nonprofits in the state of Michigan alone. Your organization literally cannot afford to operate with a mediocre, meets-expectations board. There are tens of thousands of organizations seeking the same donors, seeking the same funding—if you want rise above the rest, you need to be on top of your game.
At the end of the day, it's up to the board to make sure that a nonprofit is fulfilling its purpose—that it is advancing its mission and making true, lasting impact on the community. Board governance training plays a crucial role in that success.
Join us May 14th 2020 for (free) Board Recruitment and in September for (free) Foundations of Board Governance both generously sponsored by:
*blog updated from Aug. 2016
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 jobs? And that my 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 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 basement when I’m working. Usually my husband and I take turns watching our son upstairs, while one of us works in the basement. 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 with work, I turn off my computer and go on a quick walk around the block (my commute). 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. That’s OK! This is a different time. This is 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 love to hear them! Share them with us! (I’ll use any tip I can get!)
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I need you to be normal. I’m serious. Or at least act normal. Our employees, boards, community, peers, and clients are watching us. And it is so critical for us to act settled – and quickly normalize – so that we can continue serving our missions.
You have been working hard towards an organization that can adapt, change and accommodate the ever-changing needs of the community you serve. Now its time to put that hard work to into action.
As you have - we moved all of our offices into home offices. We had to rethink every routine (and perfect in every way) procedures – like depositing a check, approving an invoice, presenting a workshop, staying connected with each other, earning revenue, and serving people! It was hard – but we now have a new system in place and a system to evaluate if its working. Are these new systems perfect – not yet. But these new systems are now our "normal".
We added a COVID-19 webpage and scheduled open phone calls. Every day there is a new opportunity for you to join a conversation to process out all of this new information and determine what to do with it. We've had so many people join and we're so appreciative of the opportunity to connect with everyone. We will continue to host these conversations and we hope you will join us to share your new normal!
On a positive note, I have been enjoying the responses from the entertainment community – the “free” streaming performances from John Legend on his Instagram account, the free operas and Broadway plays streaming on demand, the YMCA is streaming exercise classes online and all of the opportunities to be read to. We need to follow suit. Is this ideal – nope. But does it offer some sense of normalcy – yes! Let’s learn from these examples and find new ways to connect, deliver and serve.
Have questions? We're here to help you - Our Staff
*Updated from last week!
It seems like everyone around us is sick, and now we're dealing with COVID-19 concerns. The headlines say its just going to continue to be an issue. So let’s get on top of it!
Here is what Nonprofit Network is doing to help keep employees – and you – from getting sick(er).
First – we have a generous PTO plan and policy and a culture that allows staff to stay home when they are sick. We also have a work from home policy. For an example see our Policy & Agreement.
We have started to disinfect our offices daily – we wipe down our desks, shared tables, computer keyboards, mouses, desk phones, cell phones, light switches, pens, and door knobs (interior & exterior).
For our workshops, we are re-scheduling large events or moving to an online platform. We use Go To Meeting, Face Time, Skype, Google Hangouts and What's App to name a few.
For smaller workshops (10 participants or less) we are arriving early, have tissues on hand, and are wiping down tables, shared computer equipment, door knobs and keeping sanitizer and disinfectant wipes available for our guests. We are also wiping down these spaces before we leave and we wash our hands often!
It is always recommended that you wash your hands regularly, for at least 20 seconds. While hand sanitizer kills the germs, they remain upon your hands until they are washed away with plenty of soap and warm water. Keep tissues and wipes with you. Cover your cough, don't touch your face, wipe down shopping cart handles and avoid touching public doors with your hands (use elbows when you can). Avoid sick people, and if you are sick or have respiratory symptoms, stay home. Access online services or call over the phone when you can. Avoid close contact and try and maintain a 3 foot perimeter from others. Avoid handshakes and try a fist-bump, or a big warm smile instead.
Now, let’s talk about populations you serve or your employees that might need additional help during the coming weeks. Remember that vulnerable populations will experience this crisis disproportionately. Those who live in or on the verge of poverty will not be able to accommodate a decrease in pay, a decrease in hours, or an increase in expenses. We know that some items are in short supply at the grocery store or now much more expensive. Consider how you might help in these circumstances. NN is hosting a Nonprofit Executive Leadership and Support Staff daily call at no cost.
Also be aware that many children receive breakfast and lunch at school. If elementary, middle and high schools close, many children will go without regular meals. Our food pantries and social services will need additional support to accommodate these families.
We got this!
Drink water, boost your vitamin C and remember zinc rich foods like red-meat, poultry, beans and nuts. While "C" may be the super vitamin for colds, then Zinc is the super mineral!
Letter from the Office of the Governor
What did we miss? What are you doing to keep yourself, your employees and your clients healthy during this "germy" season? We'd love to hear from you! Info@NonprofNetwork.org
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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.
If you have been visiting our Facebook page you have been enjoying our Motivational Mondays, Tooltip Tuesdays, Wisdom Wednesdays, & Thoughtful Thursday posts which brings us to.... "drum roll please" Foodie Fridays! sorry,,, food excites me...,
So in order to easily share some of the unique and multi-cultural recipes that the staff here at NN grew up on each week, we've decided on a blog post so you can re-create these wonderful recipes at home!
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 Hawley - (NN's accountant) 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
Please be sure to review our February Facebook posts for awareness posts, free tools & more! Be sure to review our weekly newsletter and also visit our website diversity page to enjoy all our offerings this February in honor of Black History Month.
Questions or comments? Email me; Tracey@Nonprofnetwork,org
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Nonprofit Management Consultant
There is a consistent buzz about “equity” and “racial equity” in the nonprofit and philanthropic sectors and among cross-sector collective impact efforts. This is a good thing, and our nation’s persistent and rising racial and economic disparities demand it.
Many groups are applying an “equity lens” to look outward at social problems and solutions, dis-aggregating data and seeking to differentiate opportunities and services to reduce imbalances.
But our organizations and collective efforts must begin by looking inward, using an “equity mirror” to examine our own composition, culture, and policies that reinforce and perpetuate these societal disparities.
To do equity, we must also be equity.
We need to move beyond conversation to meaningful action. Take a look at our Diversity page and take advantage of the Tools made available to you. Is your organization already implementing any of the suggested steps?
In order to provide better direction and an "equity lens" we mentioned earlier, you should not miss out on these workshop opportunities:
~ Cross-Cultural Conversations
~ Advancing Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Within Your Organization
~ Bridges Out of Poverty Community Session
Need to have a conversation about how to make better progress? Reach out and we can make a plan together.
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 blog post, workshop updates, any free-stuff and so much more! We promise to respect your time and will not flood your inbox. We only send one newsletter email each week.
Capacity Builder ~ Laura@NonprofNetwork.org
Hopefully everyone knows that if they have a job, they should also have a position description. But there are some people out there who don’t know that volunteers need them, too. And having "position descriptions" for your volunteers will make recruiting them a LOT easier!
Why? Well, there are several reasons.
How many times have you been asked to do something as a volunteer, but the request was vague, or open-ended. Maybe you agreed to it, maybe you didn’t, but regardless, you had no real idea what you were being asked to do?
I remember my first time volunteering. It was in high school. Our high school required we perform a certain number of community service hours to graduate. I loved animals (still do!) and so I volunteered to groom dogs at the local shelter. I thought I’d be brushing them so that they’d look better for potential adopters. NOPE! My main job was to wash the matted feces out of dogs in the holding pens they had there for animal abuse cases.
I thought I would get to have some fun, interact with people looking for a pet, and play with the dogs. I did not know I would spend my time getting soaking wet, covered in hair and "other stuff", and bathing dogs that didn’t like being touched, never-mind bathed. And all this took place in the isolated cold back part of the shelter. Fun way to spend a Saturday, right? Not to mention the attachments I formed with these neglected animals, only to have them, more often than not, returned to their same situations, but at least a lot cleaner.
Had I known all this going in, I would have probably passed on the opportunity.
Now, you may be thinking it smart not to tell people about the unpleasant parts of their volunteer commitment, because then they’re more likely to agree to volunteer. But what does it get you to have an unhappy volunteer who then tells other people that they’re unhappy volunteering for you? Sure, even bad publicity is still publicity, but it isn’t the kind a nonprofit wants!
Try and remember, different people have different things they consider unpleasant. So while I wasn't one to prefer being alone with a dog giving it a bath, I maybe would have preferred cleaning kennels where I could talk to people. Then their are people who would prefer only paperwork, and then the people who very much like talking on the phone.
Putting the lists of tasks you need your volunteers to do in a position description along with a possible time-frame to be assigned to those tasks would mean much better recruitment. People can then make an informed decision, know what they are agreeing to, and hopefully give you positive GOOD publicity out of it. A happy volunteer, after all, is one of your absolute best recruitment tools!
So, spend some time. Write those position descriptions. Carry them with you and share them widely. You’ll be glad you did.
Don't miss - Volunteer Coordinator Networking - March 26th 8AM
Need help getting started? We can assist you with establishing good succession planning habits in your day-to-day operations or with developing a succession plan.
Our mission requires us to use our time wisely, be efficient and to get all the little things done to win big. I try and spend the last weeks of the year getting organized – This year it even ran into the first month of the new year... I clean, purge, plan, schedule, set goals, and created dashboards – it’s my happy place. As a planner by trade, I find great joy in doing all of this.
I have done hundreds of strategic plans, and I know two things for sure:
1- If the plan is out of sight, it’s out of mind. The plan – and planning – needs to be part of your everyday conversation.
2- If the plan isn’t measurable – you will never be able to keep track of where you are. You don't know if you are winning the game unless you are keeping score.
As I work hard to keep committed to my personal and professional goals and resolutions, I use lots of resources and tools to keep me organized and efficient. Anything that saves me time is an asset to me. Anything that keeps me focused on what’s important and allows me to advance my mission is worth my time.
Here are 7 tools I have been using to ensure success and help me crush my goals:
1.) Tracking business mileage.
I am using an app to keep track of my business mileage – the one I use is called MileageIQ – that actually prints my mileage reimbursement forms for me, from my phone, after it tracks "automatically" my business trips. Doing this by hand, after the fact, can take me hours and often I forget where I went.
2.) Time keeping process.
We are using a program called Harvest that merges time keeping and projects. It allows for easy time study’s, collective planning and keeping on track with milestones and tasks.
3.) Collaborative platforms.
We use Quip, Slack and Google Docs to work on collaboration, in unison and in alignment. We plan staff meeting agendas, create systems, and shared to-do lists using these tools and do our best to “work out loud”
4.) Streamlined and consistent calendar.
Our office has gone to a “single calendar” – gone are the days of a yearlong planning calendar on the wall, a different on one our phones and an event calendar on the back of someone’s door. We all use one tool, Outlook, and all calendars are shared and collaborative.
5.) No lost paper.
I’ve also eliminated paper to do lists, scraps of paper and sticky notes taped to my computer monitor – I use one, Tasks – through Outlook, accessible anywhere, that pings me when things are due, helps me prioritize, allows me to instantly turn an email into a task and assign tasks to other staff members – and tells me when they have marked it complete.
6.) Password security.
I use a password keeper – the one I use is called Dashlane – and I only have to remember one password and it remembers all of my other ones.
7.) Tangible milestones and accountability.
Schedule weekly or monthly check ins with your "accountability partner". This might be a co-worker, spouse or friend. Ask these questions: What did you do last week to accomplish your goal? What went well? What didn't? What challenges will you face next week and how will you overcome them? What help do you need?
I’d love to hear your methods and ways that you keep track of what’s most important to you.
Want to have a conversation about about establishing goals and identifying tools to help you crush them?
Regina Pinney ~ Executive Director
December is the giving month. According to Charity Navigator, 31% of annual giving occurs in the month of December and 12% of annual giving occurs on the last 3 days of the year. Which means that you will be sending lots of thank you’s in the New Year!
How much planning have you done around the strategy and content of those thank you letters?
If your answer is "little-to-none," then know this:
The number 1 reason that people keep giving is because they were thanked well.
Let's dive in....
The follow up and thank you to a gift is the most important step of the donor journey. Thoughtful and strategic follow-though helps you build a stronger bond with your donor, it connects them with the impact of their gift, and it communicates their active role in your success.
When done well, a thank you may be the reason a donor considers giving an increased gift next time. Remember, it costs less to retain a donor than it does to attract a new one. Fundraising expert Harvey McKinnon says “Donor loyalty is not about the donor being loyal to you, it is you being loyal to the donor.”
Here are some simple strategies to ensure your thank you is impactful and works toward retaining your donors.
1. Make it prompt.
2. Make it personal.
3. Start in a personal way.
4. Use a warm tone.
5. Be emotional.
6. Send a real letter, not a pre-printed card.
7. Thank smaller gifts warmly.
8. Refer to the donor’s past support if you possibly can.
9. Send more than one thank you letter.
10. Offer a next step
write a good thank you letter?
Join our Webinar At Your Desk: Wednesday, Feb. 5th, 2020
(Free for members)
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As someone who has been on both sides of the grant game, I still sometimes wonder who has the harder job: the person hoping for funding, or the person trying to decide which projects get funded. Today I want to share with you some of the things that I look for when reading grant applications in hopes of helping you not to make these common mistakes. While this list is not all comprehensive, it is a good jumping off point. I have seen these common mistakes made over and over again, and it is always disappointing to have to throw out an innovative and exciting proposal for these reasons!
1. Follow Directions!
I cannot stress this enough. While some grant applications are all "narrative" and "free form" and may only ask for a basic budget that you can include as a table, these are the exception, not the rule. When you have a stack of a hundred applications to read and you are only going to fund ten of them, the ones that don’t follow the directions and include all of the required pieces are easy cuts. It may otherwise be an amazing, innovative idea that could change the world, but if you don’t follow the directions, then it is seen as a lack of competence and organization and makes your ability at follow through come into question. Make a checklist and check it twice, cross your “T’s” and dot your “I’s” and don’t get weeded out in the first pass!
2. Make sure your project is a good match for both the grant you’re writing and for the funder.
There is nothing more irritating than reading a grant application and having to struggle to justify why the organization is applying for this particular grant. Don’t try and stretch your mission just to chase dollars. Funders notice mission creep, and it isn’t pretty. If your organization is going after money that is outside of its mission and scope, then be prepared to make a REALLY good case for it. Fully explain why your organization will have the competence and the ability to complete the work you are proposing.
3. Budget Carefully!
Grants will require you to submit a budget, though the amount of detail can vary. When you are putting together your budget, make sure that the numbers make sense and there are allowed expenses. Don’t ask for the maximum amount just to pad your organizations budget, but actually give a good case as to why you need the amount you are requesting. Remember, the total number of grants funded might depend on the budget amounts requested.
Usually, the board of readers rank the projects from the most innovative or complete to the least. Then the fiscal agent determines how many of them can be funded based on the requested amounts. If the total pot of money available can be split among 5 organizations or 10 organizations depending on their budget, then the funder has to decide if they would rather make 10 smaller grants or 5 larger ones. This preference will depend on the funder, so check their past awards (Form 990) and see how many of them are at the maximum grant amount. Check 990's HERE
Need more tips, tricks and information? Join us at our upcoming Grant Writing Events;
Jan. 29th 2020 - Webinar: Grant Writing - Lessons from the Front Line
March 3rd, 2020 - FREE Workshop: Grant Writing's Optimum Role In Your Organization
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