Katena Cain, PhD
Nonprofit Management Consultant
“Far too often, people think of themselves as just individuals, separated from one another, whereas you are connected and what you do affects the whole world. When you do well, it spreads out; it is for the whole of humanity.” – Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu
As humans, we operate within many different networks, all of which influence our perspectives and serve different purposes in our lives. While most networks are formed around a shared experience – such as the organization we work for, the city we live in, or identities that we hold – it is important to be cognizant of the networks we are part of and the diversity that is present within them. Given that our networks influence the way we think and the opportunities we give and receive, lack of diversity within these networks can propagate inequitable systems and create echo chambers of perspectives.
As nonprofits, we cannot meet our missions without having courageous conversations about inclusion and anti-racism in the systems, programs, policies and procedures that govern our organizations. It’s all fine and good to have these conversations in silos, but it is much more impactful when community leaders can come together to engage in conversation about their strengths, barriers and ideas. When we do this, we can learn from each other, share stories and have accountability partners.
On April 22nd from 11:00 am – 1:00 pm, thanks to our partner, Michigan Humanities, we are offering Conversations with Community Leaders, a no-cost opportunity for community leaders to come together to do just this. We will engage in conversation with those who are seeking tangible and tactical strategies to transform their organizations into inclusive and welcoming spaces.
If you've read this and are questioning if you are a leader in your organization, I must tell you that leaders are made and not born. If you play a role in your organization, if you run a program or even if you manage the front desk, you are still welcome to join us in this conversation. We look forward to seeing you there!
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DiSC® Certified Consultant
How many of us have experienced a breakdown in communication in our lives? All of us, probably. It may be at work or at home, it may be with family or friends or coworkers. At some point, we all have felt like we were talking to a wall, failing to communicate, to get our point across, or to convince someone of something we felt was essential. Obviously, not all these breakdowns are caused by a difference in communication style, but it’s safe to say at least some of them were. Everything DiSC® is a personal assessment tool that helps us to understand ourselves and the people in our lives a little better.
DiSC® is a personal assessment tool to help improve teamwork. And the DiSC® model provides a common language which is key to understanding people and improving relationships.
So, how does DiSC® work?
First, the assessment asks a series of questions in which the respondent indicates their preference between two statements. Eventually, your answers are compiled to determine where you fall along two continuums: Do you like to make your decisions quickly or slowly, and are you more focused on data or relationships. Using these two scales, we plot your dot on a map, and with that map, we'll share with you quite a few things you may not even realize about yourself.
Knowing your preferences, and recognizing these scales in others, can ease all sorts of communication. Does your teammate want all the details in an organized way with plenty of time to ponder their commitment to a decision? Or do they get enthusiastic at the mere mention of a new project, ready to jump into the deep end without knowing what they are even agreeing to it? How, as a manager, should I recognize the achievements of a staff member? All these questions and more are clarified by understanding DiSC®. People reading is easier, which makes donor relations, team management, and other crucial conversations way more productive.
Interested in learning more? You can view our new webpage HERE and join us for a DiSC® workshop on April 20, 2021!
“The three most important ways to lead people are: by example…by example…by example.” - Albert Schweitzer
Fundraising doesn’t happen in a vacuum. If you want to move your organization toward a culture of fundraising, then lead by example – educate and advocate on behalf of your organization; make a personal gift and volunteer to assist in areas for which you are not responsible.
As a consultant, I often find myself repeating to potential clients, “If you want to hire me to fund raise for you, I’m not that kind of consultant. Effective fundraising is the product of a cohesive organization with strong and viable programs where all members are engaged in fundraising. What I can do is help you strengthen your fundraising capability and success.”
The strongest fundraising programs are often found within organizations that embrace a culture of philanthropy. Merriam Webster defines philanthropy as “goodwill to fellow members of the human race; especially: active effort to promote human welfare.” And, “an act or gift done or made for humanitarian purposes.”
Creating a culture of philanthropy does not happen overnight – particularly in organizations that have been without such a culture – and requires the buy-in of everyone, including grounds keeping and housekeeping staff to administrators to volunteers helping run a program or answering phones to the board chair and everyone in between. Turning the corner and establishing a culture of philanthropy can be done with time, patience and buy-in from board, staff and volunteer leadership.
Here are some strategies that you can start using today:
Include all staff in fundraising activities and treat them well. I organized a grand opening event and invited the program staff to attend with the one stipulation that they sit among donors and enjoy dinner. Unbeknownst to me, I was breaking a long-standing tradition of not inviting staff or inviting them with the understanding they would take tickets, help set up or tear down or some other chore. I held my ground and, in the short term, was the beneficiary of a grateful program staff and donors who were regaled with interesting stories. In the long term, the program folks understood the importance of being ambassadors for the organization and became my link to prospective donors.
Ask program staff their goals and aspirations. Encourage them to share program stories including struggles and successes. This will help build trust and provide a link between program and fundraising. As a development officer, I shared my annual goals with program staff and asked them to share theirs with me.
Include fundraising as part of the recruitment and orientation of board members, volunteers and staff so they understand and view it as “part of the whole” and as well as their role in encouraging a philanthropic culture.
When recruiting board members, ask them where they think they best fit in the philanthropic process. It may be by acting as an ambassador for programs; hosting a small gathering of friends to learn more about your organization, and of course making a personal gift.
And, most importantly: Lead by example…lead by example...lead by example.
Learn more about creating a culture of philanthropy at Moving Your Organization from Fundraising to Philanthropy on March 18th, 2021 at no-cost thanks to our sponsors this year. And don't miss-out on Fundraising to Philanthropy Part 2: The Power of Relationships on May 6th, 2021.
Or check our calendar HERE, we usually repeat this workshop once or twice a year but have a full calendar for your review.
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
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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
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!
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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.
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
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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.
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