Strengthening Nonprofit Governance & Management
517-796-4750   
 2800 Springport Road, Jackson, Michigan 49202

What Would Nonprofit Network Do?

  • 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.



    Want more? Click here to sign up for our weekly e-newsletter and announcements about training opportunities.  We promise to respect your time and will not flood your inbox.  We only send one or two e-mails each week. 



  • Friday, May 27, 2016 9:00 AM | Regina Funkhouser (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



    Want more? Click here to sign up for our weekly e-newsletter and announcements about training opportunities.  We promise to respect your time and will not flood your inbox.  We only send one or two e-mails each week. 


  • 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.


    Want more? Click here to sign up for our weekly e-newsletter and announcements about training opportunities.  We promise to respect your time and will not flood your inbox.  We only send one or two e-mails each week. 


  • Friday, April 29, 2016 11:22 AM | Carrie Heider Grant (Administrator)


    We have been teaching Bridges Out of Poverty for two yearsthat's over 13 organizations and over one thousand individualsand the feedback is overwhelmingly positive.  Participants leave with a fresh perspective and a series of concepts that they can readily implemented in their daily work.  After our training with Community Action Agency, the "front-line" is now equipped to build stronger relationships with the families they serve and improve the success of their programs by taking small steps. One participant's plan had been incredibly straightforward and doesn't cost CAA a penny: "develop relationships before approaching with paperwork/forms." 


    That's the thing that makes Bridges such a powerful programthe resulting "next steps" are simple and actionable, but have the potential to revolutionize your program's outcomes and success. Nonprofit Network is able to customize this program to meet the needs of any organization, ranging from country hospitals to city police departments to grassroots programs and organizations.  Here's a a glimpse of the organizations we've trained in Bridges Out of Poverty in the past two years: 

    • Jackson Community Foundation
    • Barry Eaton Health Plan
    • Henry Ford Allegiance Health
    • Center for Family Health
    • SouthCentral Michigan Works
    • Compassionate Ministries
    • Community Action Agency
    • Jackson County Substance Abuse
    • Michigan Community Reinvestment Act 
    • City of Jackson Police Department
    • Felician Sisters
    • Building Michigan Communities Conference
    • Lenawee ISD

    If you'd like to learn more about the Bridges concepts, please join us on June 14 in Ann Arbor for an introduction to Bridges Out of Poverty.  This morning seminar is a great way to "get your feet wet" in the Bridges materialyour only regret will be that you didn't attend sooner. In the meanwhile, please reach out with any questions you have about the value and the content of Bridges.  We can bring this training to you in a variety of ways and will customize it to meet your needs.  Nonprofit Network exists to serve you.  


    Want more? Click here to sign up for our weekly e-newsletter and announcements about training opportunities.  We promise to respect your time and will not flood your inbox.  We only send one or two e-mails each week. 


  • Friday, April 08, 2016 12:43 PM | Regina Funkhouser (Administrator)

    Last week, Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette distributed a report indicating that on average, when a paid fundraiser is involved, fewer than 33% of the funds raised go to the nonprofit.


    This is scary on many levels:

    • Nonprofits (as a sector and for our individual missions) rely on a trusting relationship with our donors
    • We could have really used that extra 67%
    • The report didn’t qualify how the paid fundraiser was soliciting the donations (we all know the first gift a donor makes is the most expensive to secure as nonprofits – so were these fundraisers just acquiring first gifts?)
    • The report didn’t describe the trap that many nonprofits fall into when using unethical fundraisers who hold the donors information hostage

    But – I totally get it. You need money. You don’t have time. You don’t have enough volunteers to help. Your old tactics aren’t working. Calling in a professional seems like a good idea, and receiving some of more money is better than receiving none. That bottom line number (whatever the 33% is) is more than you have today and you might just be able to serve more people. There are many things that nonprofits can outsource to save money, manage time and be more productive – building relationships with donors isn’t one of them.


    If you are going to work with a professional fundraiser, make sure you maintain control of your donor list. Make sure the relationship with the donor is with you, the nonprofit – not with the fundraiser. Donors should be leery of high pressure tactics or if the check needs to be made out to someone other than the charity – ask who will show up on the donor's credit card receipt – the nonprofit or another name.  Donors should also use caution if the caller wants to pick up the donation immediately – most organizations are happy to wait for the donation to arrive in the mail. 


    On April 20, I am teaching Mission Driven Fundraising: Lead and Advance Your Fund Development Program. If you are struggling to generate the money you need, this full-day class will help. Together, we will problem solve how you recruit the people you need to implement the fund development plan that will advance your mission. You will still need to find time, but I promise that we will work on efficient strategies and practices that makes the time you do have more productive. 


  • Thursday, March 17, 2016 11:20 AM | Tom Williams (Administrator)

    The word is printed on our money, in political ads, blazoned across product advertisements and blaring from our media sources. We use the word often. TRUST.  It is often misunderstood and sometimes “trust” seems like an evasive concept. In the nonprofit world, this idea about building trust is crucial to our donors, clients, stakeholders and partners. But I’m not sure we truly focus on building and safeguarding trust. We need to better understand and keep on the front burner as we make decisions as staff and board members in our organizations.

    Some might say that trust is primarily about one's character. But in reality, there is a formula for building and maintaining trust: competence, respect and integrity. You can have complete confidence in someone's character, but if you don't know that he or she has the ability and the willingness to follow through and a willingness to listen—in short, that the person is able to accomplish the task—then trust is absent.

    Trust not a soft concept, but rather a hard and clear element that is critical in all relationships, especially those between nonprofit and the community, nonprofit staff and boards and among colleagues. When trust is in low supply, things move slower and opportunities (think resources!) get missed. I encourage you to look at your professional relationships--with your board, with your executive director, with your staff and with your community and intentionally work to build, reinforce and, if necessary, repair trust.



    Nonprofit Network has resources and tools available to help you build trust within and around your organization and to strengthen your team. Contact Tom today or call us at 517-796-4750 to have a conversation about how we might facilitate that process for you.

  • Thursday, September 04, 2014 11:15 AM | Regina Funkhouser (Administrator)

    Evaluating the Executive Director
    How to make it a valuable use of everyone’s time and a useful tool for moving forward


    Conducting a performance evaluation is typically not one of the reasons a board

    member serves a nonprofit. 


    But one of the most important jobs a board does is choosing, supporting and evaluating the chief executive. 


    An effective and ongoing performance evaluation is one of those tasks when - done well - can “build” a great organization. Evaluating the executive director has a critical role in the overall success of an organization.  It should be regarded as one of the most important functions of the board.


    I often say that good leadership is the one crucial element of success for every nonprofit.  A great board creates a great executive director – and a great executive director creates a great board.  Neither can happen in isolation or without deliberateness. 


    The evaluation process is one of those deliberate acts.  Performance evaluations are an opportunity to address unclear expectations and poor communication. 
    Evaluations should be an ongoing process – not a task that is ever completed.  The ongoing feedback should serve as a guide for the executive director and a source of professional support. 


    But possibly more important, evaluating the executive director is part of the natural flow of the organization and should be incorporated into the annual strategic planning process. 


    The ED starts with evaluating the staff and an assessment of the internal needs of the organization.   The Board evaluates the ED and assesses how the strengths of the Executive Director can move the organization forward and the barriers to success or issues that slow progress.  The Board should also evaluate themselves and their own effectiveness.


    These results are then taken into account as the organization creates a strategic plan – what does the organization need to accomplish goals more efficiently and effectively.  Once the strategic plan has been developed, the budget process begins and supports the strategic plan.


    While the process should be customized to fit your organization, here are a few possible questions that could be answered by the entire board:
    o Name the director’s three greatest strengths.
    o Has s/he helped strengthen the board? How/In what ways?
    o Have organizational systems improved? How/In what ways?
    o Has staff productivity and morale improved? How/In what ways?
    o Has s/he helped advance the quality of our programs? How/In what ways?
    o Has funding increased?  How did this occur?

    o Has the public’s interest in the organization increased?
    o How can s/he become an even more effective leader? 


    Nonprofit Network offers assistance in the area of performance evaluations.  We   provide comprehensive tools and will help evaluate results.  If you need help, just call. 

     

  • Wednesday, August 13, 2014 2:32 PM | Katena Cain (Administrator)

    Nonprofits are in the business of making their communities healthier, stronger and more enriching for all of its members. Whether they are involved in health care, the arts, civil rights, religious activities, or any other worthwhile charitable cause, nonprofits influence the quality of life for people in the communities they serve. In a community as culturally diverse as Jackson, organizations that value diversity – racial and ethnic diversity, as well as diversity in age, ability, thought, planning processes, and recruitment strategies – are stronger.

    Research suggests that employees who view their organization as being supportive of diversity and inclusion also tend to have higher levels of engagement. Highly engaged employees are more likely to stay with the organization, be an advocate of the organization, its products and services, and contribute positively to the bottom line business success.

    So, what does an organization look like when it has embraced diversity, inclusion and equity?

    • There is a Demonstrated Commitment to Diversity – In a diverse, inclusive and equitable organization, visible and invisible heterogeneity is present throughout all departments and at all levels of responsibility.
    • There are Equitable Systems of Recognition & Reward – A diverse, inclusive and equitable organization establishes systems to recognize, acknowledge and reward the diverse contributions and achievements of employees at all levels of responsibility.
    • There is a Demonstrated Commitment to Continuous Learning – A diverse, inclusive and equitable organization acknowledges that every employee is a learner and teacher.
    • There are Collaborative Conflict Resolution Processes – A diverse, inclusive and equitable organization values and utilizes progressive conflict resolution procedures that empower employees at all levels to work collaboratively to solve problems.
    • There is a Demonstrated Commitment to Community Relationships – A diverse, inclusive and equitable organization forges constructive alliances with the community to expand outreach to diverse communities, widen opportunity, enhance access or promote understanding to overcome prejudice and bias.

    Capacity builders, like Nonprofit Network, can contribute to organizations who desire to be more diverse and inclusive, by helping them develop a vision for inclusivity, and provide concrete tools, practices and processes that eliminate barriers to success. Nonprofit Network is responsible for ensuring that all nonprofit organizations in Michigan have affordable access to best practices that help them to be efficient and effective. Diversity and inclusion is not a luxury, but an important foundation for organizations – making it possible to serve all communities, bridge across differences, and ultimately improve the social, health and educational outcomes of our community.

    Building an Inclusive Team
    Having a diverse candidate pool to hire from is primary and critical – you can’t become a diverse organization if you don’t have diverse applicants.
    Here are some tips:
    1. Posting your position in the same places will get you the same candidates. Positions should be posted and advertised in a wide variety of places, including community boards, cultural community groups, local ethnic and community newsletters, and associations and organizations that serve ethnic communities. Your efforts should extend beyond the standard. (And – typical avenues will only reach people who are currently looking for a position. You may want to recruit from the already employed.)
    2. Build relationships with cultural groups and organizations that work with diverse communities. Contact local agencies that serve diverse populations. Ask these organizations to help distribute your job posting.
    3. Promote your organization as a viable place to work. Individuals may not be considering a nonprofit as a possible employer. Nonprofit employment can sometimes be perceived as insecure. Promote the strength of your nonprofit, the benefits you provide and communicate your value as an “employer of choice”.
    4. Walk the walk. Do the pictures on your promotional materials, website and social media illustrate your organization values diversity? Do your paid holidays value diversity? Do your HR policies value diversity? Does your organization value communication and respect?

    Changing your recruitment habits may improve the candidates you attract. Don’t forget to provide additional training around diversity and inclusion – retention is critical! If you haven’t been successful in retaining a diverse workforce, you may need to look at your inclusion policies and practices.

  • Thursday, July 17, 2014 12:40 PM | Deleted user

    Are You Inclusive? Here's a Test 
    by Regina Funkhouser - Executive Director

     

    If the demographics of your donors, board members, staff and clients don’t reflect the average make up of your community, your recruiting, hiring and fundraising practices may not be geared to include everyone.  Nonprofits can sometimes fall into a homogeneous trap.  Board members look and think the same.  Staff looks and thinks the same.  Donors look and think the same. And sometimes – without intention – the design of our services exclude rather than include. 


    Being an inclusive organization that values diversity doesn’t “just happen”.  Like every other best practice, organizations must be committed and diligent to have good habits.  If you are intentionally an inclusive organization, you will naturally attract donations from a diverse population, your board will be diverse in skill set, education, race, income and culture and when you post positions, you will have a diverse set of applicants to interview.  If you don’t attract diversity, I suggest you examine your practices for any that may be exclusive. 


    Nonprofit Network strives to be a model of inclusion.  We believe that bringing diverse individuals together is essential to effectively address the issues that face current and prospective partners. 



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