• Wednesday, November 04, 2020 6:13 PM | Regina Pinney (Administrator)

    Regina Pinney
    Executive Director

    I think we can all agree on one thing - none of us "won" in this election.  We voted (we should certainly celebrate how many of us did!), and those votes were counted, and we elected leadership.  But we, the people, emerge bruised, disoriented, and bewildered.  

    In these days after an election that once again directed a spotlight at how divided this country is, and cast shadows on a clear path to unity, I hope to share tools that we can all agree on, especially for those of us in the nonprofit sector and employed and volunteer leadership. 

    The nonprofit sector can be the glue that begins to put our broken pieces back together. Maybe because we are designed to be nonpartisan, maybe because we were created to provide a social network for all, or maybe because empathy is the root of every mission, I believe that we are in the best position to start the healing process for our communities. 

    These are the truths that we hold to be self evident: 

    Power should be shared. The design of nonprofits require a shared power structure, decisions built on we - not me. We require multiple and diverse funding streams. The nonprofit sector was designed around a volunteer workforce, putting others before self.  

    Values and ethics matter.  Nonprofits live and work in a fishbowl, working transparently in the light of day. We operate solely on the trust of our community, donors and constituents.  If we sacrifice this trust, we sacrifice our mission. 

    Flexibility is critical. The world is constantly changing and the needs of our communities evolve. The strategies that used to work may not work today.  Evaluation is a reflection of how we did and must be used to plan and adapt. Change is certain and modeling how to change is key. 

    Equity matters. The voice of one is as important as the voices of the majority.  We seek unique and diverse perspectives in order to point out blind spots. Just because "most of us" prosper doesn't mean the programs or services work.  We must always examine the views of all and determine what we can learn, ensuring barriers are reduced.  

    I hope that all leaders spend time reflecting on these lessons, and are living them out in our own roles.

    Do you want one-on-one coaching? 

    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.

  • Thursday, October 29, 2020 1:54 PM | Tracey Wilson (Administrator)

    Regina Pinney
    Executive Director

    Over the course of the last 24 months, the nonprofit community led Michigan’s efforts to gather a complete Census Count.  Nonprofit organizations, as trusted voices, engaged in thousands of hours to reach deep into communities to ensure all people knew the census was occurring, its importance and providing access to complete their census. 

    Their efforts were herculean considering the challenges of a new way to count our residents (internet first), the pandemic and the multiple changes to the timeline.

    The 2020 Census has wrapped up its data gathering phase and the apportionment counts will be delivered to the President by April 30, 2021, and redistricting data to be delivered to the states no later than July 31, 2021.

    Apportionment is the process of dividing up the 435 memberships, or seats, in the House of Representatives among the 50 states according to population. It counts the population at 10-year intervals (yup – the Census). It uses the results of the count to calculate the number of House memberships each state is entitled to have.

    The Census provides our community with population data – and this data is used to draw political districts and determine how hundreds of billions of federal funding will be distributed for 100’s of programs like:

    • Medicaid
    • Head Start
    • Block grant programs for community mental health services
    • Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, also known as SNAP
    • Road Funding
    • School Funding

    The Census count started on March 10 – just days before the pandemic diminished our ability to utilize kiosks, door to door campaigns and events.

    But our communities prevailed and found ways to engage the community.

    The Census responses come in two forms: self-response (which means you and I completed the Census without the help of an government enumerator), and those that had an enumerator knock on their door and gather the necessary information.

    The 2020 Census moved to an internet first model for the first time this year.  This effort was due in part to the growing costs of conducting the Census and utilizing better ways to enumerate our population.  The pandemic revealed significant issues regarding many family’s ability to access the internet, and we can see evidence of this in the internet response rates.

    Early next year, demographers and data analysts will begin distributing the data gathered through the 2020 Census.

    Michigan finished 8th in the U.S. self-response rate. We became the first state in the nation on June 17, 2020 to have exceeded its 2010 self-response rate. We also ranked 3rd-best in the nation for the largest gain in statewide response from the 2010 census at 71.3%.  

    Michigan’s self-response rate was 71.3%

    Internet response was 55.9%

    2010 self-response rate was 67.7%.

    Here is a breakdown of our service areas response rate.  You can dig deep into the data, explore response rates by census tracks HERE:


    2020 Self Response Rate

    2020 Internet Response Rate

    2010 Self Response Rate





























    A big Thank you to all the nonprofits who supported the efforts! We are mighty when we work together!

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  • Thursday, October 08, 2020 2:49 PM | Tracey Wilson (Administrator)

    Tracey Wilson
    Program Coordinator

    You won’t know until you know...

    Did you see my “oops" last week? I sent out our newsletter with the subject line of: “If you ax us the questions, we’ll provide the answers!” It was my play on words to draw you into reading our blog titled, Sharpen Your Ax, and in my humbled opinion, what I thought would be a cute and funny play on words.

    Some of you maybe even wondered about our follow-up correction email: “How do you keep your tools sharp to be the best?”

    After the first email was sent, I got a call from Regina who said she had received some negative feedback about the subject line of our email.  I didn't understand.  My first response was “Wait! I googled it. I know it's spelled correctly!  I looked it up!”.

    Even as it was being explained to me that I had used black American speech (or Ebonics) and some would consider it cultural misappropriation, I was still confused. I mean, I looked it up online. I was stuck on the fact that I even googled “Ax vs. Axe” . I wanted to be sure I wasn’t going too far off base with what I thought would be a fun play on words to draw you into reading our newsletter.

    But… Clearly I did an “oops”

    OOPS are statements made as a slip and inadvertently may be the cause of an OUCH.

    An OUCH is when someone negatively feels the impact of a statement or action. In this case we can assume it is from an unconscious and unintentional slip of awareness

    It took me a minute to absorb this, and then acknowledge it. Even with the hours, and I mean hours I have spent and dedicated to cultural competency professional development in 2020, I still missed this.

    So how do we make an “oops” right? When someone says or points out an “ouch” we all must own it and say “oops” and apologize. None of us are perfect and the important lesson here is to learn together and from each other. I made a mistake, I’m not going to let this haunt me, and my learning will never be over. I am going to be conscious of what I say and do, and how I interact with others. And be conscious not only in the “workplace” but also at home and in my own social circles, because we never really know someone’s story until we listen.

    So please accept this as my official, oops, and I am sorry for the ouch.

    If you know me, you’ll know I grew up in New Jersey, which is a culturally rich and diverse place filled with people from all over the world. And there, the use of “slang” is common. Not to mention with a NJ ‘’joisy” accent, attempting to pronounce the word “asked” was virtually impossible to say and would always come out as “axed”. So hopefully you can see why I was initially confused about how someone would not find my play on words as funny. Offending anyone is never my intention.

    At NN our intention is to create a courageous place. A safe place. Our goal is to increase our cultural sensitivity, understand and respect other’s values, beliefs and expectations. To be aware of one’s own assumptions and to be willing and able to adapt the way we communicate, in order to be harmonious with others. And I plan to keep fully embracing this goal. 

    If you would like to learn more about cultural competency, visit our Diversity, Equity & Inclusion page for blogs, articles, resources and tools and upcoming events. And of course, if you would like to have a discussion with us and yourself or with your organization, email us today, we’d love to hear from you!

    Learn more HERE about the “ax” versus “ask” oops

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  • Thursday, October 01, 2020 2:00 PM | Deleted user

    Tom Williams

    It seems I'm always having a lot of conversations with leaders about self-care. Today, I'm specifically thinking about professional development.

    When I contemplate professional development, I immediately think of the saying largely attributed to our 16th president, Abraham Lincoln, “Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four sharpening the ax.” 

    You will note his advice is deliberatebefore the work starts, he spends a significant amount of time preparing himself completely.  Two-thirds of the allotted time is spent developing a tool that will be ready for the task. 

    Prioritizing preparation does not have to cause you to miss your deadline. In fact, investing more than half of your allotted time to equip yourself can be a recipe for success.  

    From my perspective, this proverb is a resounding endorsement of professional development.  

    Which leads me to two questions: 

    1) Why are we jumping straight into the work? 

    I suspect our rush to start the work directly in front of us may be due to our addiction to urgency. Being compelled to put out all the “urgencies” (checklists, emails, social media, and unscheduled visitors) provides many of us with a sense of accomplishment. This is actually a physical reaction from your brain firing adrenaline and other feel-good chemicals. However, this comes at the cost of not addressing items that are most important. Self-care is made possible when we spend time working the “important” items instead of the most “urgent” ones that are right in front of us.

    2) Why are we swinging a tool that's not up to the task? 

    Regrettably, we often defer professional development to "when we get the time" or "when we get the money." Sound time management practices tell us that these things don't happen on their own. We have to deliberately make the time and budget the funding. Sharpening the ax is all about working smarter, not harder. If you're a board member, make sure you're protecting a line-item for professional development for everyone—that's staff, your executive director, and yourselves.  Seek out grants and funding that will cover the costs of professional development. This is soundly in your control. Own it. Take control and be intentional. Which, by the way, is the best approach for self-care. 

    What’s your ax? Is it a new hard skill? How about all the soft skills that are so important in our nonprofit sector? Becoming better at our profession accomplishes many things. It obviously impacts the quality of our outcomes, but also has a significant impact on our self-care.

    Work that falls within your skill set also is done more quickly (sooner diagnosis of issue, less trial-and-error) and is done under less stress (because of your increased confidence). Working within your skill set is also a major contributor to job satisfaction. So identify an area of your work that needs to be refined or built. If you add sound time management and increased proficiency at your work, you are well on your way to the work/life balance we crave.

    Be intentional.

    In response to the need for intentional and deliberate professional development, Nonprofit Network offers intentional focus to all Executive Directors, CEO's, Managing Directors and/or Direct Reports.

    Peer Coaching and Executive Director Academy

    - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

    NN's Peer Coaching

    Peer Coaching Groups meet online once a month for 7 sessions and are designed to facilitate goal-setting, coaching and action learning within a small group of peers. Each group member decides what real-world goals or issues they wish to address and guided by a cognitive coach, your peers will coach you primarily through asking open-ended questions to expand the member’s thinking and options.

    Groups are no larger then 8, but require a minimum of 6 participants

    NN's Executive Director Academy 

    The Academy is a 9-month cohort of 15 (or fewer) ED's who have been in their job for under 5-7 years or ED's in training.  The cohort meets monthly online covering different topics important to your role and you will apply the information in real-time between these sessions.

    If you're interested in a cohort for EDs who have been in the field for more than 5 years (or if you're a new ED but are not free for this season's cohort dates), let us know! We'll add you to the wait-list for the next relevant cohort!

    *Updated from original post of Sept. 2019

    Our Upcoming Calendar

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  • Thursday, August 13, 2020 2:47 PM | Tracey Wilson (Administrator)

    Contact Sharon today

     Laura Fuller
     Capacity Builder

    As I prepare for the workshop I am leading next month on Project Management Basics, I feel like we need to highlight a tool that nonprofits need to embrace right now, and that is doing a Risk Assessment.

    For project managers, a risk assessment is a series of calculations to determine what things may be likely to derail your project.  The equation is simple. 

    Risk = probability of something happening x the Impact of it happening. 

    The people on the project team will list the "risks" and then assign a number from 0 to 5.  0 is no impact/probability and 5 is high impact/probability.  Anything 12+ is High, 6-9 is Medium, and 5 and below is Low Risk.

    Let’s say you are planning an outside event in the fall.  A possible risk might be Bad Weather.  The probability of a storm or other bad weather in the fall in Michigan is fairly high, I’d say a 3.  Determine the impact, I'd say the impact of a storm on an outside event is fairly high, so I'll assign it a 5.  3 x 5= 15.  So we've determined Bad Weather is a High Risk Factor.  *Please note, at this step we are not looking for ways to mitigate a risk (that comes later!) we are only determining the risk.

    12+ is High, 6-9 is Medium, and 5 and below is Low Risk.

    Now, let’s say you’re planning a "Stream Clean Up" in the spring.  What’s the risk of not having enough volunteers to your event?  The impact of not having enough volunteers might be medium because you’d still manage to get some of the work done.  I’ll say a 2.  What are the chances of you not having enough volunteers?  Maybe also a 2?  2 x 2= 4.  Not having enough volunteers would be Low Risk.

    So, why is this tool important for nonprofits right now?

    Because we are in a time of unprecedented uncertainty for many organizations.  Thus, using a simple tool like this with your board allows you to rate the risk to various programs, funds, and events.  What is the Risk to your organization of losing a grant that your organization has counted on for years?  Ask the people on the board to use the 0-5 scale and ask them what the impact would be, and what the probability of it happening is.  If the Risk is high, then start now in trying to figure out what you need to do to mitigate that risk!  Perhaps a call to the donor before the application is due is in order to get more information on their funding priorities.  Perhaps it is time to cultivate other funding streams (hint: it is ALWAYS time to cultivate new donors!). 

    Go through the list.  Assess your risks honestly, and use the scores to prioritize what you need to do NOW to keep your organization alive and afloat.

    To discuss these scenarios and others further please join me on Wednesday September 2nd at 9 AM for our new workshop, Project Management Basics

    Our Upcoming Calendar

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  • Thursday, July 30, 2020 8:07 AM | Regina Pinney (Administrator)

    Regina Pinney
    Executive Director


    From the moment we are brought into this world, we begin to hear how important it is to be kind to others. Whether it was sharing your toys with a sibling, or including someone at recess, shoveling a neighbor’s driveway, delivering a meal to a sick friend,  we have always been encouraged to give to others. While we heard it often, most of us never questioned the phrase, “Sharing is caring.” That is, until we grew older.

    It happens to all of us at some point. We begin to question if our efforts are really worth it. We begin to calculate if we have enough resources to allocate to others. Eventually, the kid who valued the idea of sharing whenever possible begins to question if they should even share at all. I’m here to tell you that you are more influential than you think and that every act of giving you perform creates a butterfly effect that changes the world.

    CRSToday | Overcoming the Butterfly Effect in Refractive Cataract ...

    Giving your time or a donation to an organization creates a shock-wave. A small donation to an organization can help carry out a mission that inspires others to give as well. Giving your time can inspire others to join an organization or be the extra boost it needed to succeed. Helping spread a message can help educate someone that otherwise would never be exposed to it.

    You see, the simple act of giving is not so simple. Sir Isaac Newton's first law states that every object will remain at rest or in uniform motion in a straight line unless compelled to change its state by the action of an external force. As long as you are trying, as long as you are giving in some way, you are that external force. 

    You are the difference maker. 

    You don’t have to give a million-dollar donation to make a shock-wave. You can give your time to help build a playground for instance. A playground where someone may learn for the first time that “sharing is caring.”

    All nonprofits benefit from public support and donations, and most depend on private donations to serve their communities. While an individual taxpayer only receives a partial tax benefit for charitable donations, the community served by the charitable nonprofit receives the full value of every hour and dollar.

    Now more then ever your donations are critical to a nonprofits success.  NN uses contributions to help fund scholarships, workshops and to provide resources. 
    A gift of any size is deeply appreciated.

    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.

  • Thursday, July 16, 2020 12:41 PM | Tracey Wilson (Administrator)

    Regina Pinney
    Executive Director

    There is strong evidence to suggest that the worst isn’t over.  Many have tried to compare the pandemic with a natural disaster and utilize similar strategies to respond and recover. This pandemic could be compared with some of the most significant natural disasters in recent history, like Hurricane Katrina for example.  As with that major event, the actual hurricane wasn’t the scary part – it was what happened afterwards.   

    We are in the eye of this storm and we have opportunities to regroup, replenish and prepare for a long road ahead. 

    As we all struggle to fight the onslaught of challenges brought on by COVID-19, let us not bury our heads in the fear, but look up and look forward and prepare for the realities we are now facing.

    Let’s look at some sobering facts and begin to explore what we should be doing to prepare.

    Unemployment Rates

    • During our last recession in 2010, the national unemployment rate peaked at 9.5%. Experts are hopeful that our unemployment rate will get this low by December 2020.  In Michigan, right now, it’s at 19.9%. That means Michigan has the highest rate of unemployment in the country except for Nevada.
    • In this time of increased awareness of racial disparities, it is important to note that during our last recession, the unemployment rate for Black Americans was far higher, and peaked at 16% a full year after the unemployment rate peaked for White Americans. This disparity is maintained during normal times as well; the black unemployment rate remains 4.4 percentage points higher than white Americans. 
    • It’s estimated that Michigan has lost 1 million jobs permanently.
    • The federal stimulus payments of $600 per week are slated to end July 2020, and while the next stimulus might maintain some of these benefits, it won’t be at $600 per week.
    • Currently, MI unemployment lasts 26 weeks – so if you were laid off starting March 12th, your unemployment runs out in mid-September. 

    What does this mean for you?  It means that the nonprofit sector will have more people to take care of.  People will have to struggle to meet their basic needs and pay their rent. Foreclosures and evictions will increase.   Our food pantries will be busy.  Substance abuse and domestic violence will increase and so will child abuse cases.  Mental health needs will increase.  Now more than ever, you should be exploring and addressing any disparities to who and how your mission is delivered. 

    What can you do?  Stay informed about what is going on at the state and national level. Watch for updates from resources like the Michigan Nonprofit Association and the Michigan League for Public Policy.  Now is the time to be heard and use our collective voices. Know how every decision impacts you and the organizations that matter to those you serve.

    State Budget

    • Michigan has a budget shortfall of more than $3 billion for this fiscal year, cuts that are necessary before October.  Another $3 billion needs to be cut from next year’s budget – and this does not account for the impact COVID-19 is having on state revenues, which are already down considerably. 
    • History may repeat itself – in 2010 during our last recession, there were many significant cuts made to programs.  Though not an exhaustive list, some of the effected programs include financial aid for higher education, K-12 school aid, and before and after school programs. Medical and Mental Health funding, such as Medicaid took a significant hit and there were reductions in mental health initiatives for older persons and substance abuse services. Residential facilities for individuals with developmental disabilities and mental illness closed their doors

    What does this mean for you?  It means if nonprofits who rely on state or government contracts, could experience delayed payments or even the cancelling of contracts.  It means that some of the people we have been partnering with might not be able to hold up their end of the agreement. 

    What can you do?  Check your financial history. Go back to 2008-2012 and review what happened to your funding sources.  Were your payments delayed or were contracts decreased or cancelled?  One thing to remember is that COVID-19 has changed the rules of this game – our legislators are less likely to cut education funding because our schools need more, not less, to get our kids back in the classroom.  So that means things that were safe last time might not be this go-around. Make a contingency plan that will allow you to act quickly when the new budget details are revealed. 

    Social Distancing

    • Michigan is in Phase 4 of 6.  Phase 6 is no restrictions and life returns to whatever normal people might be comfortable with.  Right now, we are required to wear masks and social distance and being asked to maintain vigilance.
    • Large gatherings are still prohibited, and when they return will have new safety guidance and procedures.
    • With many employers choosing to keep their employees working from home, and many large gatherings cancelled for the rest of the year, we must wait and see if people will be willing to return to entertainment venues in early 2021. Even without state mandates, many surveys are showing that people will not be comfortable in a large gathering until a vaccine is found. 
    • COVID-19 will not be our last pandemic.
    • Some prominent and previously stable programs are making permanent - not temporary – decisions that will contribute to the devastation after the storm has ended and skies have cleared.  For example several universities are terminating some varsity athletic programs, impacting jobs, facility use and higher education income. These types of decisions are just the tip. (And not to be over looked, at some universities such as Ohio State, Florida State, and the University of Southern California, black men are more than 50 times as likely as white men to be on athletic scholarships. The disparity is shocking and the impacts of canceling these programs will be devastating and reduces access to education.)

    What does this mean for you?  It means that if a nonprofit has relied on large fundraising events, that income will not return this year.  Programs that rely on people gathering will be significantly impacted.

    What can you do?  Revisit your mission and remember that the programs you currently deliver are just one way you achieve your mission.  Now is the time to change your fundraising strategy – if you haven’t already – and develop a vibrant individual donor program. 

    Nonprofit Sector Health

    • A study released this month by the Johnson Center found that the larger the nonprofit by revenue, the less cash (or cash + savings) on hand — sometimes falling to dangerous levels. Small nonprofits ($10,000 to $499,999 in annual revenue), for instance, have a median of 2.8 to 8.6 months of cash on hand. But for larger nonprofits with $5 million or more in annual revenue, the median falls dramatically to 3+ weeks.  
    • The organizations with less than one month cash on hand employ roughly two-thirds of the sector’s employees.
    • Experts are estimating that more than 25% of the nonprofit sector will suffer a long term or permanent set back. 

    What does this mean for you?   Some of us will not survive.  And this will mean that our communities will rely on support provided by less organizations. Fewer support services will mean more individuals will struggle to navigate systems and receive services.    

    What can you do? Check on your neighbors, partners and friends.  Understand who might be in jeopardy. Become more efficient, and eliminate waste: time, energy and resources. Continue to develop contingency plans. Affirm your organizational and institutional values so you know what to protect.


    If you are an Executive Director, you need to gather your data and evaluate your risks.  Your board members need to meet, regularly, and you need to begin preparing them for hard decisions. You will need to help them make difficult cuts.  You need to ask for help. 

    If you are a board member, you need to check in with your Executive Director.  They are not OK.  The burden is enormous. They are managing the impacts to your clients, employees, the organization, the community and the threat to not only their livelihoods, but life’s passion and work.  

    For some organizations, drastic cuts and dissolution's are on the horizon.  They might see it – they might not. They can’t do this alone.

    We have upcoming workshops that will help you (see below). 

    Critical Conversations for Nonprofits 

    Executive Director Academy - August 2021 - April 2022

    As with any severe storm, the world will look different afterwards. We will emerge, changed and not quite the same, but stronger and smarter and understand how to be better equipped for the next one.

    Call us if you need help, we will brave the storm together.

    If your organization needs help with planning, feel free to reach out to us, it's what we do. As always, we’re here to help you make the world a better place. Call 517-796-4750 or email us today! We're happy to help!

    Click here for a PDF copy of this blog that you can print or email.

    *NN's ED Regina Pinney adds her thoughts and voice behind this week's blog; Facebook Link

    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.

  • Thursday, June 25, 2020 3:05 PM | Tracey Wilson (Administrator)

    Regina Pinney
    Executive Director

    Being colorblind is the idea that ignoring or overlooking racial and ethnic differences promotes racial harmony. In some circles, it’s called color-evasive. In others, it is called a myth.

    But we can’t not see color. We are taught in school to sort by color. We are regularly asked our favorite color.  When we look at a new face the first thing we see is the color of their eyes and their appearance. In fact scientists say that the first thing we look at in a new person are all the ways we are similar. We talk about the color of our skin, we tan, color our hair, cheeks, eyelids and lips. We know what colors look good against our skin. We like colorful flowers. We use color to describe almost everything.  We use it to filter our shopping choices, to help other people find something. Movie directors use color to signify relationships. We toil over the color of paint.

    “Color plays a vitally important role in the world in which we live. Color can sway thinking, change actions, and cause reactions. It can irritate or soothe your eyes, raise your blood pressure or suppress your appetite,” says a popular graphic design resource.

    In nature, we use our color to attract a mate, the more bold, and pretty the more likely it is we will attract our suitor. Color is all around us and beautifies our environment.

    But – let's ignore all of that when it comes to our black and brown people?

    Uros Petrovic - White peacock | White peacock is one of the … | Flickr

    Research shows that we don’t like to talk about the color of ones skin because it makes some of us uncomfortable.  These studies show when we teach colorblindness, we are teaching our children that we do not have to accept or acknowledge the impacts of racism. 

    For centuries, the color of one’s skin determined everything –where you could live, where you could go to school, if you could get a job, if you could be out past dark, who you could date and who you could marry. In fact, a study completed in 2006 found that realtors were still steering white buyers to white neighborhoods and black buyers to black neighborhoods.   

    When we pretend not to see, we can’t talk about our differences.  If we can’t talk about it, we then struggle to learn about or understand our differences. And we will continue to fear and make up stories in our heads (reinforce bias and stereotypes) about things we don’t understand instead of celebrate, embrace and be inclusive in our differences. 

    Color still matters.

    Why? We like differences in lots of other ways – we like different foods and music.  We like to share recipes. We like to know where people were born and where they grew up.  We like to know about people’s traditions and heritages.  We like to know it all – except how the color of someone's skin has impacted their life.

    Being color blind (I don't see color) allows some to ignore the significant effects of racism that occur every day. Multiple studies show that racism is causing significant health issues like post-traumatic stress disorder. These equated constant racial macroaggressions produce the same trauma as experiencing violent crime.

    Imagine if our doctors don't notice our color, our health will suffer.  Race is incredibly important when it comes to diagnosing symptoms and preventative care.

    How is this relevant to the nonprofit sector?  When we don’t see color, we miss critical information that would help us attract, connect with and recruit donors, board members, and serve clients. Differences are important and allows us to customize how we work in order to be more effective and more impactful.

    Inclusive design strategies, like Human Centered Design, have been proven to produce better outcomes because we create programs based on the needs of our community and who we serve.

    Let’s replace color blindness with color appreciation. We all should be proud of who we are – what we look like. Let's embrace and enjoy our differences. Color makes us beautiful.

    Rainbow Peacocks

    If your organization needs help with diversity, equity, and inclusion, feel free to reach out to us, it's what we do. You can also visit our Diversity, Inclusion & Equity page for free tools and updates on upcoming events. But as always, we’re here to help you make the world a better, safer, and more equitable place. Call 517-796-4750 or email us today! We're happy to help!

    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.

  • Thursday, June 18, 2020 11:38 AM | Tracey Wilson (Administrator)

    Laura Fuller
    NN Capacity Builder

    All too often I hear from nonprofit leadership that they are afraid to speak out on what they see as political issues.  Generally, the fears fall into two categories.  First, they are afraid they will get their IRS tax status revoked for being ‘political’ and second, they are concerned about public perceptions of their organization being too political or partisan, possibly costing them donors.

    Let us start with a discussion about what lobbying is and what it isn’t.  The IRS defines lobbying narrowly.  There are two kinds of lobbying, direct and grassroots.  Direct Lobbying is direct contact with elected officials or their staff to try and enact specific legislation.  Grassroots Lobbying is attempting to sway public opinion on legislation.  The IRS also recognizes that some lobbying by a 501c3 is permissible, so long as it isn’t a major part of its work.  For example, when I worked for Cornell, once a year I made a trip to Albany to request a budget increase in the state budget for education.  That was the only lobbying I did, and thus, it was not a major part of my work.

    Advocacy, however, is something ALL nonprofits should be doing, especially now.

    Advocacy includes a broad range of activities focused on the changes you want to see made without saying ‘vote for this bill.’  You can present your research, you can write papers, you can show evidence, arrange a protest or march, and schedule time to meet with your elected representatives all without it being lobbying.  You can also share all the reasons you support specific legislation, and so long as you don’t ask them to vote a certain way, it isn’t lobbying, it is education.

    Members of nonprofit leadership are some of the best people to advocate on behalf of the issues facing our communities.  We work in the trenches and see the problems facing our communities first hand.  Frequently, we’re the first people responding to those needs.  We serve the people who all too often don’t have the political capital or frankly the time to advocate to politicians. But when their voices are heard they can be particularly powerful. We all know how difficult it is for those working multiple hourly jobs to meet their basic needs already.  Finding a way to bring people along with you for an advocacy trip, though, can not only help to break down stereotypes, it can also open everyone’s eyes to the need to engage with our elected officials.

    Plan. Create. Engage. Action. Momentum

    Here are some things you can do to make an advocacy campaign as effective as possible:

    • Write a one page document that highlights the problem and the solution you would like to see enacted.  Infographics are perfect for this.  Officials are busy, and they won’t read something too wordy or long.
    • Set up your appointment two weeks out, then call back a week out to confirm, and then the day before.  Officials’ schedules are constantly changing.  You want to confirm your appointment to make sure of who you will be meeting (official or staff) and that a committee meeting didn’t get scheduled in the interim.
    • Be respectful of their staff.  Their staff have their attention.  If you impress the staff, you will be presented in the best possible light.  Don’t be disappointed if you meet with staff instead of the official.  Instead, send a follow up communication to the staff member, and build that relationship.
    • In politics, relationships and reputation are everything.  The more you interact with staff, the more seriously they’ll take you.
    • Do your research.  Know what their hot button issues are.  Know what they care about, what committees they serve on, what they did in their life before political office.  They more you tailor your message to them, the more effective you will be.
    • Don’t give up.  Our missions are often life or death for their constituents.  Make sure you can speak to that clearly!

    A lot of times, people are nervous about meeting with their elected representatives.  The more you do it, the more you come to understand that they are people, too.  Many of them got into politics because of a desire to make the world a better place for the people they represent.  Assume good intentions and don’t ever give up.  Together, we can all make the world a better place.

    If your organization needs help call (517-796-4750) or email us Info@Nonprofnetwork.org today for an appointment, we'd be happy to discuss a plan with you.

    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.

  • Wednesday, June 10, 2020 4:08 PM | Regina Pinney (Administrator)

    Regina Pinney
    Executive Director


    One of the habits of highly effective people, according to Stephen Covey, is to begin with the end in mind. It is also one of the habits of highly effective organizations. Many would contend that the “end” of a nonprofit organization is accomplishing their mission and achieving their vision.

    It doesn’t matter what word you use: end, outcome, and intention, the concept is clear – know where you want to be and then work to arrive there. Notice beginning with the end is circular, not linear. Building a culture of planning within your organization will make you better for a multitude of reasons.  

    Here are the three strongest ones:

    1. You will be more adaptive.

    Knowing where you want to be, or what you want to be, is grounded in the ability to plan and predict. The power of a plan is not the plan, but rather in the planning – the power is in the middle. Highly effective organizations are not just working their missions or working towards the ends, they are working the middle. They are always in a state of planning – succession planning, board development planning, recruitment planning, financial planning, program planning. They continually identify where they are, where they want to go, and how they get there. This comprehensive approach allows organizations to avoid static conditions and adapt in real-time to maximize their effectiveness.

    2. You will be more resilient.

    Organizations in crisis often don’t see the connection between their lack of planning and their constant state of chaos. Being, or becoming, an organization with a culture of planning is a privilege. It means that an organization has protected the time necessary to plan, that resources are available to be planful, and that they have accommodated the brain-space required to think about their work beyond today. If an organization that is in a constant state of chaos (high board-turnover, high staff-turnover, financial stress, the real or perceived notion that there is no time to do or think about doing anything differently) does not intentionally build a culture that allows them to be planners, then they will always be unable to plan, predict, and identify cause and effect. But organizations that consider planning as nonnegotiable will see the chaos decrease – even in uncertain times.  Planning makes an organization resilient despite the circumstances.

    3. You will be more sustainable.

    When we enter this constant state of planning, we then enter a state of being that allows us to pivot and move in new directions when necessary. We must acknowledge that change is constant and necessary. Once we embrace that reality, we can protect the space necessary to respond to that change thoughtfully so that we can continue serving our mission. Planning allows us to act in spite of uncertainty. Planning allows us to be comfortable in not being able to plan for every possible situation and outcome. This ability to be prepared, aware, and responsive is what leads to sustainability. 

    Be careful what you say after the phrase, “I am...” because your brain will manifest the words and you will become what you say you are. The beginning and the end are always connected. 

    Does your organization need help building and nurturing a culture of planning? Reach out to have a conversation with us.  And in the meanwhile, let your brain get to work manifesting this

    I am adaptive. I am resilient. I am sustainable. I am a planner.

    (blog updated from May 2017)

    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.

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