What Would Nonprofit Network Do?

  • 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 Pinney (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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  • Thursday, June 23, 2016 7:58 AM | Anonymous

    As another week comes to a close, do you find yourself with leftover items on your “to-do” list? Are you dreading projects you’ve put off because you aren’t quite sure how to do them, you lack the support, or just don’t have the time?


    Nonprofit Network is excited to partner with Points of Light Foundation to bring Service Enterprise to our members and clients! Through this training, we can help your organization fundamentally leverage volunteers and their skills across all levels of your work to successfully deliver on your social mission.


    Research conducted by TCC Group and Deloitte demonstrates that nonprofits operating as Service Enterprises outperform peer organizations on all measures of organizational capacity, thereby allowing these nonprofits to more effectively address community needs and operate at almost half the median budget.


    More information on learning more and how you can become Service Enterprise certified will be coming soon, so stay tuned! Reach out to me if you have any questions in the meanwhile.




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  • Thursday, June 16, 2016 2:17 PM | Katena Cain (Administrator)

    According to the US Census Bureau's 2015 report, over 48 million Americans live in poverty.  48 million.  Does your organization serve those in poverty?

    Poverty is a complex social, economic, and political issue that a "one-size-fits-all" approach fails to resolve.  Investing time to explore the research, listening to the stories of those in poverty, and discovering new ways of thinking about policies and systems will create better outcomes. 

    One tool to begin this important journey is the Bridges Out of Poverty framework.

    Bridges Out of Poverty is a family of concepts, workshops, and products that helps employers, communities, policy-makers, social service agencies, and individuals attend to poverty in a comprehensive way.  Bridges Out of Poverty brings people from all sectors and economic classes together to explore and discover all facets of poverty, build resources, improve outcomes, and support those who seek to move out of poverty.  Bridges Out of Poverty brings awareness to the barriers that exist for under-resourced families and individuals. It provides the tools to build stable and sustainable communities for everyone.


    Nonprofit Network is licensed to bring Bridges Out of Poverty to your community in a variety of ways.  We are presenting two introductory workshops that are open to the public in August and in October. We strongly encourage you to attend.  If you'd like to have a conversation about how we can train your organization in a customized session, please don't hesitate to reach out to me. Your work is so important to the 48 million Americans living in poverty, and I am eager to explore how Bridges can improve your outcomes.


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  • Thursday, June 09, 2016 4:26 PM | Tom Williams (Administrator)

    If I was asked to reduce the role of a nonprofit Executive Director’s work down to a single action, I think it would be “team builder." Approaching the role as if it's the work of a single person is daunting, if not entirely impossible. But a team approach blends the multiple talents available to the organization and more effectively addresses the complex needs of mission-based entities. 


    We are confronting community issues, and teams provide community solutions. 


    One of the most critical teams an Executive Director can build consists of herself and her board of directors. Other teams that can appropriately address the work might be high functioning committees, distinct staff teams, partnership teams between nonprofit organizations and fund raising teams with donors.


    In Five Dysfunctions of a Team, Patrick Lencioni shares that teams often suffer from key dysfunctions. Our team building skills are enhanced when we understand the causes and remedies of these dysfunctions. 


    Fear of conflict is one of the dysfunctions teams often struggle to address. 


    Conflict within organizations is inevitable. Managing that conflict is healthy and builds stronger teams and, ultimately, healthier organizations. 


    If you have a team you want to enhance and are stuck on how to do that, give me a call at 517-796-4750. Strong Executive Directors are surrounded by strong teams.



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  • Friday, June 03, 2016 10:02 AM | Anonymous

    Greetings from the newest member of Nonprofit Network! I come to you officially as Capacity Builder and unofficially as someone who earnestly wishes to support the meaningful work you’re doing.


    I join the Nonprofit Network team with over 10 years’ experience in the nonprofit arena. Throughout this time, I have come to know the importance of inclusionary leadership, strong governance practices, and ongoing strategic planning in establishing organizational vitality. 


    John F. Kennedy once said, “Efforts and courage are not enough without purpose and direction.” It is my firm belief organizations must not only value, but also take the time to support the great courage and daily work it takes to drive our missions through continuous improvement efforts. Periodic “retreat” sessions are most effective in providing the evaluation, consideration, and direction necessary to drive work forward.


    Reach out to me at Holly@nonprofnetwork.org if you'd like to discuss how I can help you make the most of your precious time! Nonprofit Network is poised and ready to facilitate a variety of effective and efficient retreat sessions for your board.



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  • Friday, May 27, 2016 9:00 AM | Regina Pinney (Administrator)

    Think the Fair Labor Standards Act and Upcoming Regulation Changes Don't Apply to Nonprofits? You're Wrong.


    Nonprofits are not exempt from labor and wage regulations simply because they are nonprofits. "Neither the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) nor the Department's regulations provide an exemption from overtime requirements for nonprofit organizations. While some nonprofits may not be covered under the FLSA, it is likely that many employees of nonprofits are entitled to FLSA protections" (DOL). Even if your organization as a whole does not have to comply with FLSA standards (because your business revenues are fewer than $500,000), you probably have individual employees who are eligible for FLSA protections. 


    Over the next few weeks, we will be providing you with additional information to help you determine your next steps. The information is complicated and important to understand clearly. In the meanwhile, begin having conversations about how these regulations and failure to comply with them might impact your organization. 


    The hard truth is that many nonprofits contribute to poverty by not paying employees a living wage. The intent of the FSLA and its associated regulations are to ensure that employees are treated fairly. Nonprofits are competing for qualified and skilled employees; complying with FLSA will further help us to attract and retain quality staff.


    Have the hard conversations. Make a plan. Call if you need any help.


    Here are some resources that might help guide your conversation:

    - Regina Funkhouser, Executive Director



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  • Thursday, May 19, 2016 4:48 PM | Tom Williams (Administrator)


    Nonprofit leadership requires courage. Without a doubt, the decisions and actions necessary to successfully lead your organization are hard work. I say it requires courage because best practices are rarely achieved by going with the flow. In fact, taking the path of least resistance can sometimes reduce our impact and zap our passion for the work. The iconic actor, John Wayne, probably clarified it best for me, when he defined it this way: “Courage is being scared to death and saddling up anyway.” 


    It takes courage to have the hard conversations with key people in our organization. It takes courage to hold ourselves accountable to the path we planned out and all agreed upon. And yes, courage is often the missing component of our funding goal shortfalls. One-on-one coaching is sometimes a means to uncover the courage needed. Other times, having an unbiased, third party come in to facilitate a group discussion about hard topics can be the way forward.

     

    If this resonates with you, I'd love to talk through it and discuss it further. Feel free to contact me at Tom@nonprofnetwork.org.


  • Friday, May 06, 2016 8:54 AM | Katena Cain (Administrator)


    The responsibility of the board is to provide leadership by assisting the executive director in establishing goals and building the capacity of the organization.  It's a big responsibility, and to accomplish it, your board needs to be a carefully curated group of individuals whose skills and perspectives represent the best interests of the organization. If you don't have the right people on the board, governance can be ineffective and the organization will suffer.



    Here are some symptoms that might indicate your board is ineffective:
    • Programs aren't growing
    • Funders are not supporting you the way they once did
    • The community does not know about you
    • People do not want to join your board
    • Board attendance rates are inconsistent and sporadic

    Having the right people in the room ensures you have the diverse skill sets, knowledge, and worldviews necessary to lead your organization in a comprehensive way.  Recruitment needs to be strategic. Start by asking these naive questions: Do we have the right people on our board?  Do we have enough people to accomplish the work we want to do?  Have a conversation as a board around these questions and revisit them regularly.

     

    Nonprofit has a variety of tools and surveys available to help you assess your board's effectiveness.  Would you like to have a conversation about how we can build your capacity?  Please reach out to me. We're here to serve you.


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