• Friday, June 22, 2018 12:00 PM | Deleted user

    Carrie Heider Grant

    Program Coordinator


    The day has arrived!  As of right now, Nonprofit Network's website is officially under construction. We are completely overhauling the structure to make it a more useful and relevant tool for you. 

    The new site will be available to you in a couple weeks--we're looking at a mid-July launch date--but there is still plenty of content available to you while you wait. 

    Here are 5 things you can do while our site is under construction:

    1) Workshops 

    Our workshops are up and running!  We've got some great, brand new sessions coming up.  Looking for fund development? Grant Writing's Optimum Role in Your Organization (And Processes to Fully Realize This)  Leverage Your Story: Building a Case for Support, and Moving Your Organization from Fundraising to Philanthropy.

    Need a deep dive into governance? Accelerating Board Performance: Better Conversations, Discussions, and Decisions is the training for you!  

    Check out the full training calendar to make sure you get the training you need to fulfill your organization's mission.

    2) Bridges Out of Poverty

    We know that organizations who employ equitable policies and programs are more sustainable and successful. Bridges Out of Poverty is a powerful framework that can help you be more successful and effective as an employer and as a service provider.  Join us at the next Bridges Out of Poverty: Community Session.

    3) Blog

    Our team of nonprofit experts publishes content here every week and that will continue during this website construction phase. As a nonprofit professional and volunteer, we know that time is short and your to-do list is long.  This blog is one way we work to provide tools, insights, and perspectives that equip you to succeed.

    4) Membership

    Membership is not affected by the website renovation.  You can still login to receive workshop discounts and to manage your account.  Not a member but are interested in learning more?  Join today or contact Membership@nonprofnetwork.org to find out Nonprofit Network can build your resourcefulness and ability to fulfill your mission.

    5) Team of Experts

    Our staff of nonprofit experts is always available to answer your questions and explore solutions.  Each Capacity Building Consultant is certified in Adaptive Schools facilitation and familiar with all aspects of nonprofit governance and management.  Don't hesitate to reach out to us via phone or email.  We are here to serve you.

    You can expect our new website to be live in mid-July.  In the meanwhile, know that we are still available to serve you and connect you with the resources and information you need.  Whether it's professional development, articles, coaching, or customized services---we have you covered.

  • Wednesday, May 30, 2018 9:30 AM | Deleted user

    Victoria Reese
    Capacity Builder

    Businesses are essential in the fight against poverty. Not only are businesses consistently interacting with consumers who are living in poverty, some of their employees are facing the same dynamics. Good business sense calls on businesses to create internal policies that support employees and consumers living in poverty, as well as advocating to influence public policies that systemically have adverse effects on people in poverty.

    Acknowledging the benefits of tackling social issues appears to be a stretch for many businesses however. Communities riddled with high poverty rates impact their bottom-line. People in poverty have little or no discretionary income which impacts what products they purchase and from where. The business sector is often constrained by a shortage of skilled human capital and low-income communities offer a potentially valuable labor market. However, hiring low-income workers without considering the necessary supports that help them be successful is a disservice to them and the community. 

    The Bridges Out Of Poverty workshop offered by Nonprofit Network positions businesses to think about their role in alleviating poverty, holds up examples of best practices, and provides strategies for out-of-the-box engagement with people in poverty.

    In the city of Jackson. 36.3% of its residents live in povertyover half of those living in poverty are children under the age of 18and 75% of the population have attained less than an associate’s degree.

    Nonprofit safety nets and government assistance are critical but insufficient alone in addressing the generational and systemic poverty that transcends the personal choices of people living in poverty. Harnessing the prowess of the business industry is necessary in alleviating the pain of historical legacies and eradicating discriminatory policies and practices that burden low-income families.

    Join us in the fight against poverty! The first step is attending a Bridges Out of Poverty workshop to gain better insight on the causes of poverty, explore solutions and begin planning for institutional change.

    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. We promise to respect your time and will not flood your inbox. We only send one or two e-mails each week.

  • Tuesday, May 08, 2018 4:25 PM | Deleted user

    Sharon Castle

    Capacity Builder


    I’m not going to sugarcoat it; fundraising is tough. Been there, done that, and I continue to do it. Let’s face it, there’s a reason many of us describe fundraising as “the oldest profession.” It has been around a long time and not going to go away anytime soon.  I have great respect for Executive Directors, Development Directors, Board members, Staff and Volunteers who understand and actively engage in fundraising for their nonprofit organizations.

    Alas, each of us has a responsibility to play a role in philanthropy: acting as an ambassador and sharing positive aspects of how the community is benefiting from the organization’s activities with friends, relatives and coworkers; being part of a team of solicitors and participating in well developed “asks”; making the public feel welcome at events or when they making an on-site visit; or making a personal gift, something we all should be doing at least once annually. 

    We are all capable and responsible for supporting the development and sustainability of philanthropy within the organizations in which we choose to be involved.  

    Embracing John D. Rockefeller’s philosophy is an excellent start:

    “Never think you need to apologize for asking someone to give to a worthy objective, any more than as though you were giving him an opportunity to participate in high-grade investment. The duty of giving is as much his as the duty of asking yours. Whether or not he should give to that particular enterprise, and if so, how much, it is for him alone to decide.” – John D. Rockefeller

    Before you are able to execute Rockefeller’s advice to “ask”, you need to craft a well thought-out strategy. While each organization has unique strengths and challenges to overcome or draw upon, the fundamentals of fundraising remain consistent. 

    Your fund development plan should cover all the bases, including:

    1. Supports the overall organizational strategic plan
    2. Developing and knowing how to articulate a strong case for support
    3. Writing effective direct mail appeals
    4. Adding new prospective donors and stewarding current donors
    5. Capturing motivational stories to share about your organization’s impact (or feeding the soul as I like to say)
    6. Identifying priority donors
    7. Evaluating special events (are you fundraising, friend raising, or both)
    8. Involving program staff in the development process

    Indeed, these are all necessary parts in pieces of not only a strong development program, but a strong organization as well.  

    To that end, there are a multitude of opportunities and trainings to help you learn best practices and sharpen your tools when it comes to fundraising.  Take advantage of these activities to learn from folks who have been in the field. Use the time out of the office and among colleagues to stretch your mind by sharing and listening to others’ fundraising successes and failures - Yes, we’ve all had failures and, hopefully, we learn from our mistakes. And when you can, role play and practice solicitations regularly to stay on top of your game.

    Look for professional development that will truly make you and your organziation better?  Register for Moving Your Organization from Fundraising to Philanthropy.

    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. We promise to respect your time and will not flood your inbox. We only send one or two e-mails each week.

  • Wednesday, May 02, 2018 2:41 PM | Deleted user

    Katena Cain

    Nonprofit Management Consultant


    There is a growing body of research regarding the benefits of diverse teams in the areas of organizational performance and problem-solving. In addition, there are some powerful examples of leading nonprofit organizations which successfully utilized diversity to help generate innovative initiatives and services that delivered tangible benefits to their organizations, employees, and communities.

    While many of the documented examples of diversity initiatives focus on race and gender, the concept of diversity is broader and encompasses factors including age, culture, personality, skill, training, educational background and life experience. The influence of a variety of perspectives and viewpoints can contribute to flexibility and creativity within organizations, which can help it thrive.

    This is where the Nonprofit Diversity, Inclusion and Equity Assessment comes into play.

    Nonprofit Network has collaborated with Michigan Nonprofit Association and NEW: Solutions for Nonprofits designed a survey instrument to gauge the perspectives of board and key leadership staff regarding the best practices for diversity, inclusion and equity that the organization has implemented.

    Nonprofit Diversity, Inclusion and Equity Assessment is designed to help nonprofit organizations assess their capacity and progress in demonstrating best practices in diversity, inclusion and equity. The underlying assumption of this assessment is that all organizations will move back and forth along a continuum of effectively implementing best practices. Best practices, organizational capacity, diversity, inclusion and equity are complex concepts sensitive to local conditions and subject to multiple interpretations.

    The assessment is in two forms: one for board members and one for executives and staff.

    The assessment may be used by nonprofit managers, staff, board members, external capacity builders and funders in the following ways:
    • To identify those areas of capacity relative to diversity, inclusion and equity that are strongest and those that need further advancement, which could inform the development of a diversity and inclusion action plan for organizational improvement in this area.
    • To measure changes in an organization's progress towards effectively building and sustaining diversity, cultivating inclusive environments and creating social equity. 
    • To serve as a starting point for discussions among those in the organization by drawing out different views regarding diversity, inclusion and equity. Different responses to the grid among staff, board members and funders, for example, can be a valuable discussion-starter within an organization.

    The discussion around Diversity, equity and inclusion is complex, which is why Nonprofit Network is available to facilitate conversations for your board and staff. 

    Are you interested in taking the next step? 

    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. We promise to respect your time and will not flood your inbox. We only send one or two e-mails each week.

  • Monday, April 23, 2018 10:04 AM | Deleted user

    Tom Williams

    Capacity Builder


    Mediocre performers are busy with the best intentions, but the wrong conversations. To separate your organization from the crowd of mediocre performers you must make the best decisions possible. Great decisions only occur in a culture that creates space and time for crucial conversations, and these conversations cannot take place in “unsafe” environments. A room doesn’t have to hostile to be unsafe. In fact, most unsafe conversations are not hostile--they're often the result of an error of omission. Those in the “room” or meeting have not intentionally created and maintained an environment that nurtures free exchange of genuine opinions.

    Two things need to be present in order for a conversation to be safe, and if you can establish these elements, then you've created the space for those conversations that will take your board from mediocrity to excellence:  1) Mutual Purpose and 2) Mutual Respect.

    Mutual purpose is all about being clear about the intent of the conversation. We often dive headfirst into meetings without pausing at the very beginning to clarify the purpose of what we hope to accomplish with the discussion. How many conversations have you been in where you're asking, "what is the point?" 

    People who are unclear about the conversation's purpose (is it to inform, decide, criticize, change, congratulate?) will very often sit on the sidelines and may even check out entirely. Being intentional about speaking the purpose of the conversation puts all of the parties, whether that's 2 people or 29 people, on the same page. The more people in the room, the more  divergent the focus will be when the purpose is left to the audience to figure out.

    Mutual respect involves having a trusting environment. Leaders probably don’t verbalize enough the respect they already have for their staff. Likewise, the front line staff don’t provide feedback on the respect they hold for their leaders. Creating an environment where mutual respect can be openly affirmed goes a long way to assuring all parties. If the mutual respect is lacking, some serious work needs to be done. Its hard work (see mention of crucial conversations above). However take note that this trusting environment leading to mutual respect is possible to build.

    Ask yourself these two questions to get this process underway : Am I viewed as a person of integrity? Am I viewed as a person that is highly competent in my role?

    Making it safe

    We’ve heard it before. “I didn’t feel safe saying that” or “I would have brought that up with him, but the room wasn’t safe”. Is being “safe” a cop out for not having the courage to speak up? Is it some undefinable excuse to cast the blame for poor communication onto others?

    No. It’s actually a real thing. And it’s your job to make it happen.

    Leaders of meetings will find that when these elements are present, participation is increased and the quality of conversation is enriched. While the meeting leader is not solely responsible for these two elements being present, in their position of authority they can be a significant influence as well as motivator the other participants to keep the room safe. A key leadership practice is to model the way. Teams that operate in safe environments are much more impactful than those who spend their time navigating landmines.

    I've written previously about the required skills to conduct crucial conversations. Mastering them can be a real game changer for organizations that have not been hitting the marks they desire. Leaders who master the skill of facilitating these hard conversations will see a difference in the performance of their board and the organization. I guarantee it.

    I have a lot of respect for the work you are doing in your community. If you want to have a conversation about getting better at creating a safe room, give me a call. 

    If you want some hands-on training, consider attending Accelerating Board Performance: Better Conversations, Discussions, and Decisions on June 20th. 

    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. We promise to respect your time and will not flood your inbox. We only send one or two e-mails each week.

  • Tuesday, April 10, 2018 12:41 PM | Deleted user

     Carrie Heider Grant
    Program Coordinator

    April 10th is Equal Pay Day, which symbolizes how far into the year (on average) a woman has to work to be paid the same amount as a male counterpart in the prior year.

    Imagine what you could do with 20% more income than you are currently paid. It’s not hard for me to answer: That money would go to student loans, health-care, long-term savings, and charitable contributions. And of course I'd seek out some lesser services like doggy day-carethe luxury of sparing my home the daily trauma of these two anxious doggos would be worth every penny. 

     Good, anxious doggos.

    My point is that 20% is a huge amount of money. 

    And that gap is even wider when you break it down by race: Black women are paid 38% less than white men, while Latinas are paid 46% less. 

    Source: www.leanin.org 

    Those numbers are staggering.

    Meanwhile, in the nonprofit sector, we’re working on making sure the elderly have safe housing, that children are fed, that rivers are clean, and so much more—how can we possibly take on another issue with no apparent solution? 

    I’ve got good news and bad news.

    Bad news: this is already a nonprofit issue. Michigan Nonprofit Association’s 2017-2018 Compensation and Benefit Report illustrates the average salary for a full-time executive director of a Michigan nonprofit—

    Men: $123,648

    Women: $88,727

    That’s a whopping 28% average decrease in pay for Michigan women!

    Feeling a little less smitten with the mitten state? 

    Here’s the good news: the nonprofit sector is a powerful force that drives the nation’s economy. In Michigan alone, nonprofits are responsible for employing 11% of the working population (Source: MNA). We have the potential to impact our communities in meaningful, lasting ways.

    Think the gender pay gap doesn’t exist at your organization? Back that up with data by conducting an audit on your hiring and promotion practices. Compare compensation, qualifications/experience, and gender. That audit is the first step for anyone who genuinely seeks to achieve their nonprofit mission—we cannot address poverty and its effects if we are actively contributing to poverty by sustaining inequitable wage practices.

    Let’s roll up our sleeves, and seek solutions with humility—we all have to do better if we want our communities to be better.

    Here are some great resources if you’re looking for more information and data:

    Want to talk about where to start?

    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. We promise to respect your time and will not flood your inbox. We only send one or two e-mails each week.

  • Monday, March 12, 2018 1:10 PM | Deleted user

    Victoria Reese

    Capacity Builder


    When I think about Bridges Out of Poverty I am reminded of an insight from Shelly L. Francis's The Courage Way: Leading and Living with Integrity:

    “The inner work of leadership depends on the strongest muscle in the human body the heart.”  

    Bridges Out of Poverty allows leaders to connect head and heart to bring about viable institutional and community change.

    The Bridges Out of Poverty framework uses research on economic classes to provide concrete tools and strategies for a community to alleviate poverty. I truly believe that the solution to a community 's problem will be found in the community itself. After all, problem-solving is a core competency of most businesses and institutions. So those who serve people who live in deep poverty, or those whose employees live in deep poverty are natural stakeholders in this work. 

    Bridges uses a triple lens approach to address the dynamics that cause poverty from an individual to a systemic level:

    The Triple Lens of Bridges Out of Poverty:

    1. Individual 
    2. Institution/Organizational
    3. Community

    This structure helps you to thoroughly assess and process poverty as you seek to build solutions. Often times, we view poverty and other social ills only through the individual lens—we focus on what the unique choices and circumstances of an individual.

    But if we do not change our perspective, we miss a majority of the picture.  We must also consider the lens of the institution and the community. Looking at poverty through an individual lens does not provide the depth of understanding that comes from viewing it through all 3 lenses. 


    This framework offers powerful tools for change that can help to—

    • Can help organizations and companies with retention rates
    • Reduce turnover costs
    • Improve employee performance and productivity
    • Create a positive workplace environment
    • Reduce barriers to employment
    • Build resources
    • Empower individuals
    • Move individuals from poverty to self-sufficiency
    • Create sustainable communities

    This is some of the most important work that Nonprofit Network does.  I hope you'll consider joining us June 14th for a Bridges Out of Poverty workshop that is open to the community.

    Nonprofit Network is able to present Bridges Out of Poverty in several ways to meet your specific needs.  We can provide as little as a brief preview of why Bridges Out of Poverty matters to multi-day workshops encompassing key points, solutions, strategies, action steps, and a plan for institutional change.  If you’re tired of doing the same thing and expecting different results, give us a call.  We can help.

  • Wednesday, March 07, 2018 4:58 PM | Sharon Castle (Administrator)

    Sharon Castle
    Capacity Builder

    Storytelling is the "it" thing these days. Why is that?  Here's one explanation from the Moth Radio Hour:

    “Since 1999, we have been partnering with community organizations around the world to practice storytelling as an art form and a powerful tool of communication. Through workshops and performance opportunities, participants shape selected life experiences into well-crafted stories and share them with members of their communities and beyond. 

    We believe that by honoring the individual experience, we can:

    • Challenge dominant narratives
    • Inspire greater confidence in storytellers
    • Deepen connection in community
    • And spark empathy among listeners around the world.”

    As you see from the explanation taken from the Moth’s website – and if you haven’t had a chance to listen to some of their podcasts, I would highly recommend it – telling one’s story can have a huge impact. 

    As with individuals, for-profits and nonprofits are also developing their unique storiestheir vibeto motivate folks to buy their product, to support their cause in short, to invest in their vision.

    So where should you, as a leader of a nonprofit reliant on donors, begin to develop your organization’s story?  

    Start by creating your organization’s Case for Support or CFS.  The CFS should articulate in clear and compelling language your organization’s story and “make the case” for why a donor should continue to give, increase their giving, or why a prospective donor should begin giving to your organization.

    Once you’ve gone through the difficult work of writing the CFS, your life will be much easier and you will be able to use its language when writing your annual appeal, thank you letters, creating verbiage for your fundraising efforts on your website or designing a special event invitation.  

    Simply put, the Case for Support is the genesis for all of your fundraising efforts.  It is the place where all fundraising should start. Even more importantly, it is a wonderful tool for board, staff and volunteers to use when soliciting support for your organization.

    Before you begin working on your organization’s CFS, think KISS. You know: keep it simple, stupid.

    In order to develop a strong CFS you will need general information like your organization’s mission and vision (if you have one) statements and strategic plan; financial information including budget(s) and financial statements; program information including statistics, expenses; and dreams (what we could accomplish if we had…)

    Be sure to gather all of that information, because you'll need it to effectively these critical parts of your story: 

    • Your organization’s history
    • The need your organization was designed to address
    • Impact and success to date
    • What you hope to achieve, by when
    • How much it will cost and how it will be funded
    • Why your organization should be the beneficiary of the donor’s gift.

    The final version of the CFS should be no more than 2-3 pages on the organization and no more than a page for each program or other activity supported by fundraising.  Furthermore, it should be light on text and include quotes and pictures to support written information.  

    Just as you began, end with KISS—and remember to be thorough and succinct.

    Ready to learn how to use your organization's unique story as you pursue funding for your organization? 

    Attend Leverage Your Story: Building the Case for Support on September 25th.

    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. We promise to respect your time and will not flood your inbox. We only send one or two e-mails each week.

  • Monday, February 26, 2018 2:00 PM | Tom Williams (Administrator)

    Tom Wiliams

    Capacity Builder


    When it comes to mission achievement, I have yet to meet the individual that has the ability to pull it off entirely by themselves.

    In fact, one consistent observation I’ve made over all these years in the nonprofit world, is that mission is achieved only by teams. 


    Observation #2: Mission is achieved deeper and faster when a team is stronger and more passionate.

    Conversely, the teams that constantly rebuild, are not cohesive, and don’t rally around results struggle with delivering on that mission. Too often, organizations that struggle at mission opt to seek out new programs to deliver or revise what services they are providing, thinking they will come across a programmatic answer.  

    The inconsistency in staffing keeps the organization always in the beginning half of the learning curve. This is an exhausting place to exist.

    Research from GuideStar and Nonprofit HR tells us that nonprofit organizations have a staff turnover of about 19% annually. 

    That rate has a significant impact. 

    Some expenses of staff turnover are hard expenses, but the hidden costs are drastically impacting your organization. These costs can include:

    • Lower productivity now that you have a vacant position (which will continue until the replacement has come up to speed)
    • Overwork of the remaining staff to cover the vacancy
    • Lost knowledge and external relationships that are no longer with the organization
    • Interviewing costs (for you and others)
    • Training (or mentoring) costs for the replacement

    Some estimates have calculated the above costs at over 150% of that staff person’s salary. 

    And yet still, many of us just accept the turnover as our nonprofit reality. That acceptance is made easier by the fact that many of the true costs of staff turnover are hidden.  Hidden or not, the costs are still impacting you financially. This is a part of our world we actually can influence.  By striving to retain our people, we can build not only a higher performing crew, but also a vast savings of money.

    As organizational guru Jim Collins tells us, getting the right people “on the bus” (recruitment) is key to success.  And keeping them on our respective buses long enough to coalesce into a high functioning team (retention) is how we transition from a good team to a great team .  

    High functioning teams hold each other more accountable, have deeper commitment to the mission and focus on getting results.  This is a formula for more mission accomplishment.

    Imagine investing those resources—financials, mental capacity, more available time, increased productivity—elsewhere in your organization. Building the team for more mission and obtaining significant cost savings in the process.  Makes becoming an employer of choice sort of attractive doesn’t it?

    You cannot afford to to ignore it.

    Join us on March 15 as we dive into the world of HR and employee management and retention at a workshop facilitated by area HR professionals

    Managing and Retaining Our Biggest Asset: Our Employees.

  • Monday, February 26, 2018 8:40 AM | Regina Pinney (Administrator)

    Regina Pinney

    Executive Director


    As we honor President Washington this week, I'm reflecting on my recent experience of seeing Hamilton: An American Musical, in Chicago. There are four key lessons, as demonstrated by George Washington's character, that are especially important for nonprofit leaders to remember.

    Power should be shared. Washington voluntarily resigned as the U.S. President after serving two terms, to both of which he was unanimously elected. He sought to establish a precedence that giving up power makes governance stronger. His example teaches us that succession planning and term limits are important tools for growth and sustainability.

    Values and ethics matter. Before the age of sixteen, Washington studied 110 Rules of Civility and Decent Behavior. This exercise is regarded as a formative influence in the development of his character and teaches us that our own character is something that we must intentionally shape and maintain.

    Flexibility is critical. During the Fight for American Independence, the British had more supplies and more soldiers, and all of those soldiers had more training than Washington's Continental Army. Keeping his army and his team in tact was critical to winning the ultimate war, and he retreated when he knew the battle was too expensive. Washington prevailed because he recognized the power of flexibility, teaching us how critical it is to be adaptive to circumstances and find creative solutions.

    Equity matters. In his will, George Washington freed his slaves and adamantly made provisions for his estate to continue providing care for them after they were freed. This made him the first and only slaveholder among the founding fathers to free his slaves. At the time of his death in 1799, more than half of Mount Vernon’s enslaved population was either too old or too young to work–signifying that he had kept families together in lieu of profit. These decisions were certainly not common in their time, and yet still he could have done more.  He seemed to know that slavery was incredibly unethical, but he continued to run an estate that depended on the institution. This problematic relationship teaches us the importance of pursuing equity, even if–or when–it hurts us economically and socially. True equity is difficult to achieve because it requires turning social norms on their heads, and we have a critical role in moving that needle forward.

    All facts and figures are from http://www.mountvernon.org

    Some of us may have had President's Day off work, some of us may take advantage of a sale or two, and some of us go about our business without a thought to our first President.

    I hope that all leaders spend time reflecting on these lessons, 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 and announcements.  Each week you'll get a link to the most recent blog post. We promise to respect your time and will not flood your inbox. We only send one or two e-mails each week.

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