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
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
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*Updated from March 2020 but this is good info!
It's cold season again and it may seem like everyone around us is sick, and we're still dealing with COVID-19 concerns. The headlines say its just going to continue to be an issue for awhile. So let’s stay on top of it!
Here is what Nonprofit Network is still doing to help keep employees – and you – from getting sick.
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 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). We also work from home one day, while someone else works from the office and rotate that schedule.
For our workshops, we have re-scheduled all events to an online platform. We use Zoom, Go To Meeting, Face Time, Skype, Google Hangouts, Microsoft Office Teams and What's App to name a few.
For smaller workshops if you choose to be in person (10 participants or less) you should arrive early, wear a mask, have extra masks, have tissues on hand, disinfect and wipe down tables, pens, shared computer equipment, door knobs and keep sanitizer and disinfectant wipes available for your guests. Then again wipe down these spaces before you leave and wash your hands often!
It has always been 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. Wear a mask. 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 6 foot perimeter from others. Avoid handshakes, try a elbow-bump, or a big warm smile instead.
Now, let’s talk about the populations you serve or your employees that might need additional help during these times.
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.
Were you 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 amazing schools, food pantries and social services generously stepped up their support to accommodate these families.
Wondering how are communities are doing? NN is hosting a "Checking Blind Spots" Leadership and Support Staff monthly call at no cost.
We got this!
And remember... 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: NN's COVID-19 page
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
Want more? Click here to sign up for our weekly e-newsletter. Each week you'll get a link to the most recent news, workshops and blog post. We promise to respect your time and will not flood your inbox. We only send one newsletter email each week and when any timely important announcements need to be made.
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?
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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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Katena Cain, PhD.
Effective verbal and nonverbal communication skills are not merely valuable in the workplace—they are absolutely essential. "When employees understand how to communicate effectively and how to resolve conflicts, the natural outcome is a more productive environment."
On January 16th, I am facilitating Crucial Conversations, a webinar that aims to build those communication skills that will strengthen your organization. By utilizing the techniques reviewed in this session, you will be able to communicate with less emotion and build stronger relationships when it counts.
Participants will learn more about their own personal approach to handling conflict while gaining a better understanding of the consequences of conflict in a work setting. I will offer some tools that will help those in the room identify their own conflict resolution and communications styles.
I invite you and your fellow staff members to join me for this hour presentation, right from your desk and learn concrete tools that you can immediately use to strengthen your team. The webinar will serve as a basic introduction on appropriate words and emotional tone for business interactions.
If you'd like to have a conversation about how to address the communication norms of your organization, or if you'd like to bring this to your organization as a training workshop please reach out to me. I'd love to talk about how I might serve you!
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“One of the things we often miss in succession planning is that it should be gradual and thoughtful, with lots of sharing of information and knowledge and perspective, so that it’s almost a non-event when it happens.”
-Anne M. Mulcahy, Former CEO and Chairwoman, Xerox
As we enter a new year, it seems all but impossible to not think about ways in which we hope to improve over the past and establish good habits. The challenge, of course, is sticking to our resolutions and embedding them into our lives so a year from now we can look back with the pride of knowing at least one of our resolutions stuck.
Here’s a resolution challenge for 2020: Succession Planning.
Succession planning doesn’t just happen, but (and this is a big BUT) it doesn’t have to, and frankly, shouldn’t be a separate organizational activity. Upon realizing we are all dispensable and “things” happen, one habit I developed many years ago, was to always do my work so that anyone could take over at any time. Not only was a succession planning mindset great for the organization, but it also benefited me personally.
Think about the planning you have to do before going on vacation, taking maternity/paternity leave or caring for an ill child or parent. If you create succession habits regularly, anyone should be able to pick up the mantle of your job.
Throughout my career. folks who took over positions from which I moved on have gone out of their way to thank me for “leaving a trail that was easy to follow.” How did I do it? It was easy once I approached my job with a succession planning mindset. In this digital age, it is easier than ever to insure that our successors have every advantage at succeeding.
So, how do we embed succession planning in our daily work lives?
**Originally posted Dec. 2017, updated for Jan. 2020
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