• Thursday, May 07, 2020 11:10 AM | Tracey Wilson (Administrator)

    Sharon Castle

    Capacity Builder
    Nonprofit Network

    It's time. Time to replace our “let’s go back to how it was” Strategic Planning with “let’s look to the future” Adaptive Planning. 

    I’m not advocating kicking good old Strategic Planning to the curb; just merely modifying it to mold around all that has taken place in a short few weeks since the Coronavirus developed a stranglehold on our lives (see I’m adapting already).

    KEEP CALM AND BE ADAPTIVE - Keep Calm and Posters Generator, Maker ...

    Let’s start by watching this TED Talk to get us in the right frame of mind, Could One Question Uplift and Unite Humanity? | Jon Berghoff

    OK, you back? Need guidance?

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  • Thursday, April 30, 2020 1:14 PM | Tracey Wilson (Administrator)

    Regina Pinney
    Executive Director

    It’s time to breathe

    Some of us have been holding our breath for so long we are at risk of becoming light headed.  Breathe. Because it’s time to get “back” to work.

    We all agree we are in uncharted waters.  Never before have we experienced such a seismic shift in our communities, economy, work, life style and habits.  Soon we will be asked to reemerge from our homes and find a new normal, a new way of life and a new way to work. 

    What will be the same – if anything – and how much will have changed? And what are things that will continue to change?

    Many experts have assessed the landscape, like The Nonprofit Finance Fund, and SeaChange Capital Partners who have conducted a survey which resulted in some hard truths. Sixty percent of nonprofits reported they were experiencing "destabilizing conditions that threaten long-term financial stability."

    NFF COVID-19 Survey and COVID-19 could mean extinction for many charities

    Many of us will not survive unless we take very aggressive and proactive measures to protect our futures.  And even then, this virus will take very healthy, young and vibrant nonprofits all too soon. 

    OK, breathe. So, what are these measures?

    We need to ask ourselves some very hard questions:

    • What will our community need from me? How have their needs changed?
    • What is our contingency plan?
    • Do we dramatically conserve our resources and shrink to have something we can regrow? Run your numbers:  Many ED’s are planning on taking reduced pay, permanent layoffs and closing less critical programs.
    • Do we dramatically grow?  Do you merge with others to reduce administrative costs, take on programs to serve those impacted by these economic conditions?
    • Who should we be partnering with? How can I work to improve this relationship and how can I be the best partner I can be? Who are my partners with risky funding streams that might not be able to maintain our agreements? Are we stronger together?
    • What condition are my donors and funders in?  Are these funding sources in jeopardy of shrinking or are there opportunities to strengthen this partnership? If I don’t know – how would I find out?
    • Strategies here: Prepare Now To Rebuild Your Program and 8 Steps To Prepare For The COVID-19 Reboot

    You can also find more ideas and strategies here: COVID-19 Coverage: Financial Sustainability and In Times Of Crisis, Don't Create Your Own 

    Reach out to your peers and to us, for support.  We can help you brainstorm, strategize and ensure that you have turned over every leaf and rock. We can help you with the heavy lifting.

    Now, breathe. 

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  • Thursday, April 23, 2020 12:30 PM | Tracey Wilson (Administrator)

    Contact Sharon today

    Laura Fuller
    Capacity Builder

    Self Care Activities You Can Do In 10 Minutes or Less

    1.       Pet your dog or cat.  As you do so, focus on the softness of their fur, and the repetitive motions.  If you don’t have a pet, use a fluffy pillow, blanket or sweater!

    2.       Do a few Affirmations.  Positive self-statements can bring more confident self-talk into your day and they force you to say nice things to yourself where you usually wouldn’t.  There are many resources online, choose a statement each day and take 5 minutes to say it out loud to yourself at least 10 times.  Really focus on the statement, don’t argue with yourself against it!

    3.       Accept a compliment.  While not something you can plan, accepting compliments can go a long way in improving your self-esteem.  Think about it.  Every time you reject a compliment, you are filling your head with excuses and negative self-talk.  Instead, when someone compliments you, say thank you and SMILE!

    4.       10 Deep Breaths.  Breathe. How often are we really aware of our breathing (other than when the respiratory virus is going around, or it’s allergy season…). Instead, sit and focus on your breathing.  Ten deep, slow breaths can calm you, slow your heart rate, and bring you to a resting state.

    5.       Stretch.  Stand up and lift your arms over your head, then touch your toes (if you can!).  Stand back up slowly, and let your head roll from side to side gently and slowly. 

    6.       Message a loved one.  We get so wrapped up in work, routine, and all the stress in our lives that it can be easy to forget our loved ones.  Send a text to a friend or family member and let them know you’re thinking about them.

    7.       Watch a funny YouTube clip.  Laughter is great medicine for stress.  Personally, I love watching dogs do ridiculous things, but there are lots of blooper reels out there, too!

    8.       Make a cup of herbal tea.  This not only makes you step away from the computer a few minutes, but depending on the tea you choose, it can also be a natural mood booster.

    9.       Try zentangles.  Zentangles is the creation of art through repetitive patterns.  It can be relaxing and improve focus and concentration. 

    10.   Talk a walk.  Outside, inside, or even in place.  The point is to get up, get the blood moving, and feel better.

    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 and blog post. We promise to respect your time and will not flood your inbox. We only send one newsletter email each week and one other email when and if we have an announcement. 

  • Thursday, April 16, 2020 10:41 AM | Deleted user

    Leading a nonprofit organization is a lot like preparing for an athletic competition.  It requires consistent training, practice, and a plan to succeed.  An athlete never gets to check the box off next to a basic skill. It doesn't matter how many times you've run that drill—you still review, practice, and adapt when necessary, and yes, keep on training.  

    It is the same for a board of directors. A board is never past the need for training.  Seasons, needs, rosters, crisis and experiences are just some of the variables that change the environment in which a nonprofit lives. All board members benefit from regular governance training.  So let's talk about what some of those benefits include:

    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:

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    *blog updated from Aug. 2016

  • Thursday, April 09, 2020 2:34 PM | Tracey Wilson (Administrator)

    Jessica Chipman
    Office Manager

    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!)

    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 and blog post. We promise to respect your time and will not flood your inbox. We only send one newsletter email each week and one other email when and if we have an announcement. 

  • Thursday, March 19, 2020 5:06 PM | Tracey Wilson (Administrator)

    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!

    Image result for crisis can be a unique opportunity to change your path

    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

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  • Thursday, March 12, 2020 12:32 PM | Tracey Wilson (Administrator)

    Regina Pinney
    Executive Director

    *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.

    We'll discuss: 

    • Opportunities to problem-solve with your peers
    • Share resources and information
    • Strategize your plan around staffing, fundraising, maintaining services and the evolving needs of the clients and communities you serve

    Register Here

    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.  

    Image result for femail fist bump 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! 

    Additional resources:

    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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  • Thursday, February 20, 2020 5:01 PM | Tracey Wilson (Administrator)

    Defining Diversity

    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!

    WEEK 1

    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

    Image result for noodle kugel"

    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

    WEEK 2

    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

    WEEK 3

    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

    WEEK 4

    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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  • Thursday, February 20, 2020 9:51 AM | Katena Cain (Administrator)

    Katena Cain

    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.

  • Thursday, February 06, 2020 1:00 PM | Tracey Wilson (Administrator)

    Laura Fuller

    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.

    Contact Nonprofit Network to schedule a free discovery conversation

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