Strengthening Nonprofit Governance & Management
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What Would Nonprofit Network Do?

  • Thursday, September 01, 2016 10:50 AM | Tom Williams (Administrator)


     

    Tom Williams
    Capacity Building Consultant
    Tom@nonprofnetwork.org





    You would never leave home on a road trip to Disney World without some version of a map to assure you got to your destination on time, would you?  Let's consider how this translates to the nonprofit world of fund development, where the “destination” could be that you reach year’s end with your programs and organization totally funded.
     


    Your “map” for this journey is a fund development plan that is documented step-by-step. The critical conversations and processes your organization goes through as part of the map planning forces you to focus on the intermediate legs of the journey in addition to the end destination.


    It’s all about being deliberate. This effort actually builds organizational muscle and enlarges the group’s capacity to address its mission. 


    Taking a rambling, less planned route typically results in a few (and potentially expensive) detours, increased anxiety over the outcome, and a higher risk that your goals might not be reached at all.  Just like that that map for a trip to Disney World, a documented fund development map provides clear direction for the journey.


    Here are five reasons you should map out your fund development plan step-by-step:


    1. Build the Donor's Trust. 

    A plan is a great communication tool to signal donors you are an organization that takes its mission and resources seriously. This is ground work for acquiring, retaining, and upgrading donors' gifts.


    2. Engage Staff & Board. 

    A plan is also a great internal communication tool to engage your board, staff, and volunteers in the effort to raise funds.


    3. Increase Efficiency and Success.

    The process of developing the plan is much more efficient than trial and error fundraising. It will help you to save time and money while increasing success rates.


    4. Identify Growth Opportunities. 

    The process naturally identifies areas in the organization that need to be built up and improved. Strengthening these areas that have been holding you back is key in gaining ground on mission accomplishment.


    5. Provide Peace of Mind. 

    A solid fund development plan has a calendar component to it. These dated benchmarks go a long way in eliminating frantic, last-minute preparations to complete a grant request, get the tickets printed on time, or identify the location for next season's event. This automated aspect provides the peace of mind that can contribute substantially to organizational morale. 


    Often times, an organization that does not map out its fund development plan follows the same logic that we might use when we fail to exercise our bodies: We don't have the time...It didn't work the last time we tried...We didn't stick with the plan before and it only added to the guilt.


    You and I both know that these are not legitimate reasons for not assuring our missions are met. Make a plan. Have the conversations. See it through to the end.


    If you want to discuss the process of developing a useful fund development plan, contact me.  We can talk it through.




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  • Thursday, August 25, 2016 2:00 PM | Katena Cain (Administrator)

    Looking for 5 Reasons to Map out Your Fund Development Plan?  

    Click here:  http://nonprofnetwork.org/WWNND/4222454




    A great nonprofit leader drives a sense of mission down through the organization, upward through the board, and outward through the community.  She is also the organization’s chief storyteller, brand advocate, brand guardian, crisis spokesperson, chief marketing officer, and chief fundraiser. To be effective in these roles, she must be authentic and be able to connect, collaborate, persuade, mediate, and negotiate with the best.


    A great leader is also the ambassador for the health of the organization, both structurally and financially. This means she is responsible for building and maintaining relationships that enable the organization to flourish. She must recruit and retain the talent and supply the tools necessary to develop a strong infrastructure and a culture that builds morale.


    A great leader is "tapped in" to her board, staff, and the people she serves.  She’s in tune with the social and economic conditions that affect the organization’s mission. 


    Faced with funding shortfalls, increased demand for services, and donors seeking demonstrated results for their dollars, today’s leader must be a master at adapting, recognizing challenges to be overcome, and seizing opportunities as they arise.


    Most of all, a great leader leads. Everyone around her should understand where they are headed and why. Ideally, they will live for it. If it seems like something is not working, she resists the urge to blame. She will, instead, explore the motivations and interests of employees, volunteers, and board members to get some insights into what’s driving people toward (or away from) the organization’s mission.  



    At Nonprofit Network, our mission is to strengthen nonprofit governance and management.  Feel free to reach out to me to build your capacity.



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  • Wednesday, August 17, 2016 4:18 PM | Tom Williams (Administrator)

    Envision a world where all of the important tasks have been accomplished and only the least important things are delayed until tomorrow—or are even dropped from the to-do list entirely. 


    Would you feel less stressed about your organization’s future? Would you feel more accomplished about your day? Would you feel more in control of meeting your organizational mission? 


    There are several techniques for setting priorities and working more efficiently. The first step in all of them is to stop doing something. 


    Stop being re-active. 


    Stop going with the flow.




    Being aware that the “most urgent” item, whether it’s the pinging of phone or the next item on the list, is not the most important item is your first step towards taking control of your time. Once you reach this point in your journey, it’s all about task analysis and adopting the techniques that agree with your style of work.


    Feel free to contact me and we can talk through the process of setting priorities and identifying systems and techniques that work for you.




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  • Wednesday, August 10, 2016 12:30 PM | Regina Funkhouser (Administrator)



    Regina Pinney

    Executive Director

    Regina@nonprofnetwork.org




    I came across a great blog post about global issues and potential solutions. The content was fascinating, but the title had me hooked before I even began reading: Empathy: The Missing Link to Solving the World’s Most Pressing Problems.


    As community builders and problem solvers, I believe empathy is our most important skill. 


    Empathy is the link between self and others, because it is how we as individuals understand what others are experiencing as if we are feeling it ourselves.  At its simplest, empathy is awareness of the feelings and emotions of other people. And empathy is keystone in the human-centered design concept. 


    Human-centered design is a creative approach to problem solving. It’s a process that starts with learning directly from the people you want to serve and designing a solution as you immerse yourself in their lives. That’s what Bridges Out of Poverty helps you do—it enables you to develop solutions to help people get out of poverty by understanding 1) the world from their eyes, and 2) the lessons they have learned about living in this world.


    There is already so much data that counts the number of people who live in poverty, are unemployed, need food, need shelter— but data can only tell a small portion of the story. Bridges Out of Poverty provides a larger perspective and shares another side of the story to build that critical empathy between decision-makers and the communities they serve.


    Nonprofits exist to accomplish community change.  To do this, we need to influence behavior and we need to change the way that minds work. But how do we influence behavior and thought processes? Nonprofits collect all sorts of metrics that illustrate issues, problems, and solutions—but it is not enough to communicate in numbers.  We need to communicate with humans by gathering stories.  Testimonies are essential in our work to address social problems because testimonies embody the data that we collect. They also help to build empathy.


    Let’s break this down the process of building empathy:  


    Recently, Nonprofit Network conducted a series of focus groups with people who live in extreme poverty. The stories we gathered in these groups, on the behalf of a local health center, have the potential to make a measureable impact on the health center’s work. Decision-makers are using these testimonials and experiences to identify different training needs, improved methods of communication, and innovative solutions.


    The issues in our communities are complex and thus require complex, multi-faceted solutions. It is when we build empathy and a better understanding of those whom we serve that we can begin to fully address the issues at hand. The first step is simply to listen.


    What are you doing to capture stories of the people you serve?



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  • Thursday, August 04, 2016 3:52 PM | Katena Cain (Administrator)

    Effective verbal and nonverbal communication skills are not merely valuable in the workplacethey are absolutely essential. When employees understand how to communicate effectively and how to resolve conflicts, the natural outcome is a more productive environment. 


    On August 10, I am facilitating a workshop that aims to build those communication skills that will strengthen your organization. By utilizing the techniques taught 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 a variety of 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 the afternoon on August 10th and learn concrete tools that you can immediately use to strengthen your team. If you'd like to have a conversation about how to address the communication norms of your organization, please reach out to me.  I'd love to talk about how I might serve you. 



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  • Friday, July 29, 2016 8:19 AM | Tom Williams (Administrator)

    No one likes to be rejected. The fear of no can hold us back from progress, including seeking the funds needed to meet our mission. We camouflage this fear sometimes with explanations like not having time or haven’t gotten around to it yet or even I don’t know that person.


    Eventually, asking people for money becomes a lower priority and we seek out less threatening ways of getting the money, like a new event or searching for more grants.

    However, you should take note: individuals are the leading funders of nonprofit organizations, contributing as much as 85% of all gifts to nonprofits, and those organizations with a broad base of financial support from many individuals are more sustainable for the future. Individual donors are an important part of your funding plan.


    One way this “fear-of-the-ask” can be overcome is by rearranging your fundraising perspective. Statistics say that a response of “no” is something to expect at least 50% of the time and this rarely has anything to do with you. Another reality to consider is that your request for funds provides the potential donors with an opportunity to make a difference in their community. Why would you want to deny them this privilege?


    If you are looking to overcome your fear, give me a call and let’s talk it through. Better yet, grab your board members, leadership staff, and some key volunteers and join us at Mission Driven Fundraising: Lead and Advance Your Fund Development Program. It's always better to do something hard with people who can help you and support the process.


    - Tom Williams, Capacity Builder



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  • Friday, July 22, 2016 10:39 AM | Anonymous

    What if you had access to a group of volunteers that were highly skilled in delivering your mission?  What if utilizing these volunteers increased your ability to get things done quickly and effectively?  What if these volunteers made you more sustainable and reduced your costs?

    Sign me up, right?

    Nonprofit Network is adding a program that will teach your organization how to do just that – train and utilize volunteers in high level, mission-impact work.

    Nonprofit Network is excited to provide a new program: the Service Enterprise Initiative.  We will facilitate nonprofit organizations through this initiative, a proven program that makes nonprofits more sustainable, adaptable, and better able to achieve their mission.

    A certified Service Enterprise is an organization that doesn’t just engage volunteers, but has deeply integrated volunteers into their strategic plan and day-to-day operations, thereby allowing them to reduce costs and increase efficiency and effectiveness in providing services to fulfill their mission.
     Using the Service Enterprise model, certified agencies have been able to operate at half the median budget of their peers! 


    If you're interested in becoming a Service Enterprise or if you'd like to learn more, please join me at the Introduction to Service Enterprise Webinar on August 11 from 12:00p-1:00p, when we'll outline how to become a Service Enterprise agency. Sign up to join in on learning or e-mail me to have a conversation about how to best leverage the value of volunteerism in building your organizational capacity.


    Holly Ball, Capacity Builder



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  • Friday, July 15, 2016 6:54 AM | Katena Cain (Administrator)


    Nonprofits and community-based, grassroots organizations are on the front lines of promoting the health and well-being of local communities – serving as a safety net for social services, offering training and education, promoting cultural arts and acting as advocates and facilitators for individual and community voice.  Faced with the concentration and persistence of inequities facing low income communities and people of color, Nonprofit Network provides Bridges Out of Poverty as a problem solving approach. 


    Many of our community problems are persistent because we continually look through the lens of our own worldview, which is made up of how we “learned the world,” and not through the mental models of those who “face the world.”

       

    Participants who have attended our Bridges Out of Poverty workshops have walked away with a myriad of concepts and strategies.  One participant said, “for years, I have been working in my community, serving low-income families. But it was not until I had my own aha! moment at a Bridges Out of Poverty Workshop, that I began to better understand poverty and what my clients were up against. So many missing pieces of the poverty puzzle came together in my mind. Besides adjusting some of my own practices when caring for families in poverty, now I am a much stronger advocate for change in our policies and procedures in delivering services to those in poverty.”

    If you're ready to address poverty in a comprehensive way, reach out to me.  Bridges Out of Poverty has the potential to transform your programs and the way you serve those who live in poverty. 

    Katena Cain, Nonprofit Management Consultant


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  • Friday, July 08, 2016 8:30 AM | Regina Funkhouser (Administrator)

    Originally published March 2014


    Starting off your board development meetings with a statement that resembles, “I know someone that may say yes,” is a clear signal that all you are doing is filling the seats with beating hearts. Developing an engaged board member starts (and sometimes ends) with the recruitment process.  

    Board members want to be part of an exclusive team and are honored and impressed that a board makes every effort to be sure of a good fit, rather than simply seeking a beating heart that says yes. The recruitment process sets the expectations – any minimization of the legal duties, fundraising responsibilities, or time commitment will eventually lead to a new board member asking if they have been tricked into making a commitment.

    If the recruitment process is done poorly and without deliberateness, you will have a board member that shows up to three meetings and then disappears, rarely speaks, or, worse yet – micromanages (note that micromanagers are not necessarily “bad” board members, but rather board members who are seeking their appropriate role – guessing what, exactly, they should be doing.)  Set the bar high and lay out clear expectations of attendance, participation, donating, fundraising and leadership.


    -Regina Funkhouser, Executive Director


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  • Wednesday, June 29, 2016 11:30 AM | Tom Williams (Administrator)

    One observation I’ve made as I work with a variety of nonprofit organizations is that we often formulate rules, adopt policies, or set procedures to safeguard our organization, but sometimes forget to follow the rules we have set for ourselves. Forgotten bylaws are one example. These documents are the rules we agree to follow when we are established and they ensure that our donors' money is safeguarded.


    If these guidelines aren’t revisited periodically, the addition of new people along with day-to-day activities will likely distract us, and the awareness of our own rules fades.


    This may lead to the situation where we operate in a fashion considerably different than we had originally intended.


    However, this slow transfiguration is not entirely bad. Modifications may actually enhance the original product. The crucial piece is what happens between Point A and Point B, in which we intentionally review and reconcile what our bylaws state we should do with how we are actually operating. If we're waiting to call on the rules until they're needed to settle a controversy, then we're too late and the review process will be of little value at that time. 


    When was the last time you officially reviewed your bylaws? If it has been more than two years, then reach out to me. Now is the perfect time to discuss bylaw review and reconciling your current operations with the policies you’ve established.


    Tom Williams, Capacity Builder


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