• Thursday, July 13, 2017 10:21 AM | Sharon Castle (Administrator)

    We are so excited to present you with the newest member of Nonprofit Network's staffSharon Castle!  With a wealth of fundraising experience as a development director, executive director, and consultant, Sharon has a unique perspective to offer nonprofits seeking to build their capacity. We'll let Sharon introduce herself. 

    Sharon Castle

    Capacity Builder


    As the newest staff member of Nonprofit Network, I am delighted to be writing my first blog post (and first blog postperiod) as a Capacity Building Consultant. I welcome the opportunity to share my background, experience and philosophy in working with and helping build the capacity of Nonprofit Network’s members.

    First, a bit of background. I credit my in-depth fundraising knowledge to my work as Deputy Director of Development for the American Lung Association of Michigan (ALAM) where I oversaw the fundraising activities of 5 staff members and was responsible for all aspects of statewide fundraising including, special events, telemarketing, direct mail, major gifts and planned giving.

    While I loved my work and colleagues at ALAM, I was fascinated by major gift fundraising and left to become Executive Director of Development for the Michigan Historical Center Foundation where I completed the fundraising for the Michigan Historical Museum’s 20th Century permanent galleries and planned and executed the grand opening gala.

    During my tenure at ALAM, I was able to assist several organizations (with my ED’s blessing) in a consulting capacity. So, in 1995, when I discovered I was pregnant with my second child, I decided to try consulting full-time. Now, as an empty nester ( that second child is now 22) I still love consulting but want to be connected to an organization. Fate intervened and I met Regina when she presented at the Association of Fundraising Professionals – Capital Area Chapter’s annual conference. Fun fact: Regina’s session received the highest level of feedback!

    I introduced myself and asked if we could set up a time to meet as my husband and I are looking at relocating to Chelsea to be closer to family and I was looking to make connections in “that part of the state.” We met for coffee a few weeks later and I learned about Regina’s vision for Nonprofit Network, its services, including the outstanding Bridges Out of Poverty framework, and her quest to hire a Capacity Building Consultant. A couple of weeks later I had the opportunity to interview for the position and meet Carrie, Jessica, Katena, and Tom and, as they say, the rest is history and here I am writing my first blog post!

    Nonprofit Network is a perfect fit: the ability to consult while having a team of fellow consultants and outstanding support. The organization’s mission to strengthen nonprofit governance and management is spot-on. As a consultant, I worked with numerous nonprofits that simply didn’t have the basic building blocks to attain their goals. Nonprofit Network’s respectful approach to each organization fits with my philosophy of not taking a cookie cutter approach and instead looking at each organization’s unique strengths and challenges and dovetailing them with sound fundraising principles and practices


    I am excited and honored to be part of this outstanding team and looking forward to working with our members!

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  • Thursday, June 29, 2017 10:31 AM | Deleted user

    Carrie Heider Grant

    Program Coordinator


    I have a confession to make: I cannot focus in a silent office.  I just can't do it.  I always have music or the radio playing (hopefully quietly) at my desk.  But these days, I am turning more and more to podcasts when I want something more substantial than background noise. And there is no shortage of nonprofit-relevant podcasts.

    What is a podcast, you might be asking? Podcasts are FREE programs that you can access through the internet or through apps on your phone. There are over 250,000 unique podcasts on iTunes aloneso trust me when I say that there is a podcast out there on virtually every topic. You can even download them to your phone to listen later when you're on the move and don't want to use your data to stream the content.

    Now, if you squirm at the idea of having someone talk in your ear while you sit at your desk, or if you are most productive in a space that is quiet, then consider instead turning on a podcast while you're cleaning, driving the car, exercising, mowing the lawn, or sitting quietly with a cup of coffee. 

    Today I am sharing 6 nonprofit-related podcasts that you need to know. They have each inspired me in different way, transforming not only the way I view my work, but how I view the worldthe very ecosystem in which nonprofits operate. 

    1) Nonprofit Optimist (hosted by Molly MacCready)

    This newer podcast "showcases positive change agents and talks through lessons that their small nonprofits have learned." Molly MacCready, a professional who founded her own nonprofit organization 10 years ago, emphasizes the good in the world and uses this podcast to elevate the stories of small, but awesome, nonprofits. I am interested to see where she goes with this over time. 

    2) Nonprofits are Messy: Lessons in Leadership (hosted by Joan Garry)

    "Hosted by Joan Garry, the "Dear Abby" of the nonprofit world, this podcast is a discussion of the most pressing issues faced by nonprofit leadership. It features real stories of nonprofit leaders like you and how they handled the mess." These episodes are longer (over 60 minutes long), so I find it's easier to listen to this podcast when I am in the car as opposed to when I am in the office where there are more interruptions. 

    3) Social Good Instigators (hosted by Kirsten Bullock)

    Formerly known as the Nonprofit Leaders Network Podcast, "this show aims to encourage and inspire leaders of social good organizations. You'll learn from other leaders who reflect not only on the ways they helped their organizations excel, but also the things that didn't work out so well."

    4) The Science of Social Media (from Buffer)

    This is a great resource for anyone who wants to broaden their social media marketing skills. It's a light-hearted series and (BONUS!)they are shorter episodes at 30 minutes or less, so it's easy to digest and apply the ideas to my work. Not every episode is relevant to my role with a small organization, but the majority is very useful. Disclaimer: this is a podcast from the social media management platform, Buffer, so there are lots of plugs and references to their product. But I don't find it distracting and still recommend it.

    5) Hidden Brain (hosted by Shankar Vedantam, from NPR)

    This is one of my favorite programs on any media platform, period. It's a blend of science and storytelling that "reveals the unconscious patterns that drive human behavior." And it's not just entertaining. The insights offered by Shankar have the capacity to impact your work life and your home life. I strongly encourage you to listen to the four episodes that aired from May 29 to June 19: Broken Windows, In the Air We Breathe, Rap on Trial, and "Is he Muslim?" They each take a deep dive into how implicit bias impacts society in Americaat the individual level, the community level, and the institutional level. The implications of the discoveries in these episodes are impacting YOUR mission and your success in achieving that mission. Do not miss these four episodes!

    6) Revisionist History (hosted by Malcolm Gladwell)

    Season 2 of this podcast dropped on June 15, and I am hooked. Malcolm Gladwell (Author of The Tipping Point) is a best-selling author and journalist who calls this series his attempt to "correct the record." Every episode "re-examines something from the pastan event, a person, an idea, even a songand asks whether we got it right the first time." This podcast has a similar impact on my world perspective as Hidden Brain.  

    Bonus Podcast: LeVar Burton Reads (hosted by LeVar Burton)

    "LeVar Burton (Reading Rainbow, Star Trek, Roots) hand-picks a different piece of short fiction in each episode, and reads it to you." Okay, so I know that this isn't relevant to nonprofit work, but I mean, COME ON.  I am so excited to dig into this series and couldn't help but add to to this list. This is one of the best things happening on the internet right now and has already jumped to the #2 spot in the iTunes podcast app. Disclaimer: This show is tagged as explicit, which means some of the content is probably not appropriate for children. Since the show just launched on June 13, it's too soon to tell just how colorful the language and topics in each story will be. So give it a shot, but know that some episodes may have more swears or adult-only content than others.

    So what do you think? Which podcasts inspire you?  There are so many unique and outstanding shows out there.  What are you waiting for?  Hop on over to your iTunes, GooglePlay, or wherever you get your podcasts, and start exploring.  You won't regret it.

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  • Thursday, June 22, 2017 1:55 PM | Jessica Chipman (Administrator)

    Jessica Chipman

    Office Manager


    Do you wish there were more hours in a day? Busy schedules tend to make us wish for more time. Being stretched for time can cause stress and anxiety. Though we can’t add additional time to a day, we can modify our schedule to help eliminate stress. Below are some tips to make the most out of your time:

    10 Tips to Master Time Management

    1)    Plan your day.

    Take a half hour each night to plan the next day. Jotting what you need to do on paper will help you to visually plan out your day. It will help you to set realistic expectations of what you may be able to achieve.

    2)    Learn how to say no.

    Many of us overbook ourselves which causes more stress in our lives. If you don’t have the time to do something, don’t do it. Prioritize what is important in your life and say no to things you can live without.

    3)    Turn off your phone.

    If you’re in a meeting or working on something important, turn your phone off or put it out of sight. Having your phone by your side at all times may distract you and waste your time.

    4)    Ask for help.

    If you have a lot on your plate reach out to someone. They might be able to lend a helping hand.

    5)    Account for interruptions.

    Interruptions are bound to happen. Something may come up spur of the moment. When planning your day, remember not book every minute of your day so that you can address potential disruptions.

    6)    Complete important tasks first.

    Write down the top three important tasks you need to accomplish. Prioritize those tasks by carrying them out first. If you wait until later in the day, the tasks may not get done.

    7)    Follow through.

    If you scheduled a meeting or an appointment make sure you go to it. If you cancel a meeting at the last minute, it may end up being rescheduled. Continually rescheduling meetings wastes more time and energy as you search for alternate dates and meeting locations.

    8)    Under promise, over deliver.

    Though some people may not like this phrase, to me it emphasizes an important concept – setting expectations at a reasonable level. Be reasonable when making promises. Don’t set other people’s expectations too high causing disappointment. If you repeatedly over promise and under deliver – trust issues may occur.

    9)    Exercise, eat right, and sleep.

    It’s important to take care of yourself. When you are your best self, you’ll have more energy to tackle the day.

    10)  Commit to less.

    Don’t put too much on your plate. Slow down and try to eliminate activities that you don’t like or are not obligated to do. Make more time for yourself.

    We all have 24 hours in day. By using these tips, hopefully you’ll eliminate stress and get the most out of your time. Alan Lakein, a time management author, emphasizes “Time = life; therefore, waste your time and waste your life, or master your time and master your life.” Take the time to set boundaries and master your life.

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  • Thursday, June 15, 2017 10:49 AM | Regina Pinney (Administrator)

    Regina Pinney

    Executive Director


    Evaluating the executive director is a basic responsibility of the board that needs to be carried out every year. It does not need to be a process that you dread, though. Below is our suggested process to evaluate your executive director in 7 steps.

    1) Gather perspectives from all Board Members.

    • It is recommended to use a survey tool with both rank/rating of critical hard and soft skills and open ended questions
    • You may also want to consider gathering perspectives from the staff

    2) Allow the Executive to evaluate him/herself on the same criteria as the board

    3) The Executive Committee (or Board Chair) should examine all of the data collected to explore similar themes. It is also important to understand and explore unique information.

    • Discussion questions when evaluating the data
    • Do you agree on what the strengths are? List several examples of how these strengths are illustrated.
    • Do you agree on what the challenges are? List several examples of how these challenges are illustrated.
    • Do you agree on what focus the goals should have? Agree on three clearly stated professional improvement goals.
    • Are the goals and expectations achievable and measureable? Determine how you will measure the success of these goals and maintain your appropriate role.
    • Have you considered all of the information to ensure your executive's compensation is fair and competetive? Consider who else needs to be included in this conversation (i. e. Finance Committee) and do research on how to be a competetive employer. MNA's 2016 Compensation and Benefits Report is a great resource to inform this conversation.

    4) The Executive Committee should share the results of the assessment with the full board – in a closed session of the board meeting - and seek understanding and consensus regarding the goals. Ensure the board will speak in “one voice” to the Executive Director regarding these expectations. 
    • How does full board expect to see changes or improvement based on these goals.
    • How will the Chair/Executive Committee report back to the full board about how things are going?
    • What input should the Executive Director have in creating their own goals?

    5) The Executive Committee and/or Board Chair should personally deliver the feedback to the Executive Director and allow for dialogue and discussion. The ED should have an opportunity to provide input on the goals and outcomes. Together, determine deadlines, check-ins and how the goals will be evaluated.

    6) Executive Committee and/or Board Chair will report on the results of the meeting with the Executive Director and share any amendments or changes to the goals, objectives and outcomes.

    7) Full board should evaluate the process and make appropriate notes and recommendations for improvement of future evaluations.

    Have questions about how to implement this process in your organization? Give us a call at 517-796-4750.

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  • Wednesday, June 07, 2017 11:01 AM | Tom Williams (Administrator)

    Tom Williams

    Capacity Builder


    Typically, I like to use this blog space to share eye-opening ideas and tools to build your organization’s capacity so that more good is done in your community. But today I am compelled to step away from that and reflect on the ugly side of nonprofit life that ties my stomach in knots: embezzlement. Please, let me be clear: I am driven to share this, not for any sense of sensationalism, but rather because if you are aware and informed, you will be better prepared to prevent, detect, and recover any losses in the event that your organization is victimized in an embezzlement scheme.

    It feels ugly to put it in writing, and feels so foreign because most of our energies in governing or operating nonprofits are spent on enhancements--on using charitable contributions appropriately and innovatively to impact positive progress on our mission. But there are three dangerous myths out there, and I want to address them today and offer some preventative measures to help dispel each myth.

    3 Dangerous Myths about Nonprofit Embezzlement

    1)  "It hardly ever happens to nonprofits."

    Anecdotally, I can share the horror stories of respected organizations losing funds from a greedy treasurer or an executive with a gambling problem, but while those stories are sad, they do not adequately capture the scale of the issue. The 2015 Michigan's Crime At A Glance report states that embezzlement was reported over 2,800 times in 2015. And while those were not all from nonprofit organizations, the 2013 Marquet International Report on Embezzlement illustrates that nonprofit organizations are the third (out of 15) most frequent industries to experience theft in this way.

    Preventative measures:

    • Actively seek ways to be more educated on the issue
    • Create awareness among your peer leaders and have the necessary critical conversations

    2)  "Everyone who works here is really a good person."

    While embezzlement is certainly not exclusive to nonprofits, the 2013 Marquet International Report on Embezzlement makes an interesting point about their data that ranks nonprofits as third out of 15 in embezzlement frequency: "This may not be an accurate reflection of the severity of this issue, since nonprofits have a reputation for not reporting fraud incidents in an effort to avoid negative publicity. The nonprofit sector, known for serving the public good, is more susceptible to fraud than many for-profit enterprises. This can be attributed to the unusual level of trust afforded to employees, founders, executive directors, or substantial contributors, along with weak financial controls.”

    Preventative measures:

    • Inform employees and volunteers about your policies so they know appropriate procedures, how to navigate the whistleblower process, and what the consequence are for theft.
    • Follow through: If caught, prosecute, civilly and criminally.

    3)  "We don't have enough staff to have financial controls." 

    According to the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners, the median duration of a fraud (from beginning to detection) in 2016 was 18 months; and losses continued to grow as the duration of the scheme increased. In the cases when a scheme lasts five or more years, the median loss is $850,000. Think about the fact that there are nonprofits who are are currently victims of embezzlement as you read this but, but they won't know it for years. While embezzlement may cost an organization critical money, the real casualty lies in the damaged reputation. A single incident of fraud can impact your current support and future giving for years to come. If the public’s trust is broken, it’s a long uphill journey to restoration, and your reputation may never be repaired.

    Preventative measures:

    • If you are an organization with few or even zero employees be intentional on how you can incorporate volunteers into the separation of duties. 
    • Build the controls now to protect your reputation and assets--size of organization is relevant.
    • Implement measures to minimize risk and help you detect theft quickly.
    • Maintain adequate employee crime or dishonesty insurance to cover your losses.
    Note on financial controls within small organizations:  While some financial controls may be more challenging to implement for small organizations with few or even zero staff, the expectation of resources being safeguarded still very much applies.  Sharing the established financial control processes, their intent and separating key duties among several people (think: volunteers) will clearly communicate your intent to safeguard resources.

    Stumped on how to introduce such a challenging topic among your peers? It’s not easy. If it were, more nonprofits would have their money and reputations intact. Really stumped? Give me a call and we can talk it through.

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  • Thursday, May 18, 2017 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 brainspace 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. 

    There is a saying that you should be careful what you say after the phrase, “I am...” because your brain will manifest the words. 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.

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  • Wednesday, May 10, 2017 1:17 PM | Jessica Chipman (Administrator)

    Jessica Chipman

    Office Manager


    It happens pretty often. An employee is suddenly absent (either temporarily or permanently) while the rest of the staff scrambles to figure out processes that the absent employee used. Documenting those processes can seem like an overwhelming task, but it is important to take it one process at a time

    As I prepare to go on maternity leave, I have been documenting processes regularly used at Nonprofit Network to ensure a smooth transition while I'm gone.  I started by first making of list of all the processes that I carry out on a regular basis. Then I focused on recording the steps of one process per day. By working on a single process at a time, I can be thorough in detailing each step.

    5 Tips to Build a Process Anyone Can Use

    1)  Store processes in an accessible, easy to find spot. 

    Use a storage method that works best for your office. Consider using a wiki page or collaborative application, such as Office365, Google Docs, or Quip.

    2)  Use a standard format with each process. 

    Format the processes in a simple, easy-to-read manner. Title each process, use an easy-to-read font, and use headings where appropriate. Don’t write all processes on one long document. Separate each process on its own document.

    3)  Be concise, but clear. 

    Don’t write too much that it prevents someone from wanting to read the process. At the same time, provide enough information for one to understand the process. Include definitions, use bullet points, insert screenshots, and/or utilize flowcharts. The key is to make it as simple and clear as possible.

    4)  Make editing easier by keeping processes organized.

    Date and initial each process every time it is edited, and avoid using names of employees (use position titles instead), and build a table of contents.

    5)  Test your processes. 

    It’s possible something was left out or is unclear. Make sure someone proofreads or edits your processes. After a process has been tested once, continue to test it quarterly or yearly. Make changes if necessary.

    It can be difficult to figure out how to carry out another person’s job responsibilities without some type of documentation. It's one of the most important steps that anyone can do and everyone should do.  It's absolutely critical to succession planning. 

    Don’t be a scrambler – make sure office processes are well documented.

    Documenting office processes and procedures not only prevents others from having to reinventing the wheel, but it also promotes consistency and efficiency. As I have been documenting processes, I’ve noticed areas where improvements can be made. Documentation allows the opportunity to improve an organization and have it run more efficiently. 

    Give us a call at 517-796-4750 if you want to have a conversation about how you can manage this process

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  • Thursday, May 04, 2017 9:00 AM | Katena Cain (Administrator)

    Katena Cain

    Nonprofit Management Consultant


    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. 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?

    • 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.
    • 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.
    • Demonstrated Commitment to Continuous Learning – A diverse, inclusive and equitable organization acknowledges that every employee is a learner and teacher.
    • 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.
    • 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.  Also, does your front line position REALLY need someone with a Master’s Degree? Make sure that you are hiring for attitude and training for skill.

    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.

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  • Wednesday, April 19, 2017 10:57 AM | Tom Williams (Administrator)

    Tom Williams

    Capacity Builder


    The success of delegation rises and falls on the quality of how the task is delegated by you. Do it well, and you'll reap the harvest of a stronger team, increased organizational production and some extra hours for you. On the other hand, poorly-executed delegation can reduce organizational output, weaken the team and be a real time drag for everyone.  So how can you guarantee the success of delegation

    Here are 10 simple steps to get you there.

    10 Steps to Guarantee Successful Delegation

    1.   Define the task

    2.   Select the appropriate person

    3.   Explain the reasons for delegation

    4.   Assess person’s ability and training needs

    5.   State required results

    6.   Consider the resources required 

    7.   Outline boundaries and authority

    8.   Agree on deadlines

    9.   Support and communicate.

    10. Provide feedback on results


    If you avoid delegating due to the aggravation from past results, try again following these steps. The more self-aware you are and the more you practice delegating, the better you will become. Like many other leadership skills, it is a front-loaded activity, and the rewards increase as your proficiency improves and as the task-takers become better at receiving the delegated tasks.

    If you choose to skip a step, understand it may impact outcomes. Over time and as relationships deepen, you and the new task owner may be able to have clarity on these items without explicitly covering each one. But if the relationship is not yet that deep, or if past experience has not been satisfactory, I suggest you include each element.

    Successful delegation requires that you and your delegate have the same understanding of the end result that is being sought, but we tarnish good delegation when we attempt to tell the person how to do it. Further, if they are uncertain about the authority they have over the process, their performance can suffer. Empowering others on your team (think: other board members, other staff members) is accomplished by sharing expectations, clarifying needed results and extending trust. 

    Nothing strengthens a team member like extending trust to them.

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  • Wednesday, April 05, 2017 9:39 AM | Regina Pinney (Administrator)

    Regina Pinney

    Executive Director


    Should you jump in or stay in the bleachers?

    I want to talk about how, when, and why the leadership of your nonprofit may choose to advocate in this contentious political climate.

    As an executive director myself, I have been thinking long and hard about how to lead and represent the organization I serve when it comes to navigating advocacy and taking stances on legislative and social issues. 

    During a strategic planning session last summer, Nonprofit Network's board had determined that in order to be sustainable, we must be relevant. Therefore, we actively seek to join tables where the conversation is about helping people, organizations, and communities to think differently about their infrastructure—to think differently about their systems and their processes. If we are that good—good enough to be invited to those tables—we will be a sustainable organization.

    Our ultimate goal is to influence community solutions through our programming and services using best practices and research.

    Your organization might have a similar goal, to influence the decisions of your clients and your community using your mission.

    Last summer, this goal had felt pretty safe. Yes, it is a big, hairy, audacious goal, but safe enough. Recent events at local, state, and national levels have caused our board to revisit this word: influence. We recently checked in with each other and asked “Did we really mean it – and if we did, what now?”

    Our official diversity and inclusion statement reads as follows: Nonprofit Network strives to be a model of inclusion. We engage all people with dignity and respect. We believe that bringing diverse individuals together is essential to effectively address the issues that face current and prospective partners.

    But in today’s divided and often cruel political climate, the work around diversity can create division, inclusion can create exclusion, and seeking equity for all somehow means someone else loses. Tensions are high, to say the least.

    Nonprofit Network strongly believes in the practice of having policies and procedures in place before you need them. So if we know that if we are going to be relevant and influence community solutions, we first need to make some decisions about when, why, and how we decide to speak up.

    We drafted a series of questions to guide that decision and I am sharing it with you here. Share this with your board and staff so you can discuss how to customize it to fit your organization.

    1)   Is there a need?

    • What is the scope and size of the issue? 
    • Are we advocating for those that cannot speak for themselves?
    • Are we speaking for those whose voices are not being heard?
    • Are we speaking for those that can’t “afford” to speak up?
    If the answer to the above is yes, then proceed to the next question.

    2)   Is it appropriate and relevant to the organization?

    • Does the topic fit our mission and values?
    • Is it appropriate for us to add our voice?
    • Are we opposing? Supporting? Educating?
    If the answer to the above is yes, then proceed to the next question.

    3)   What are the risks?

    • Can the organization be hurt by taking a public stance? 
    • If we can be hurt, can we sustain the risk?
    • Is any potential risk direct or indirect? (would we know if a donor stopped giving because we added our voice?)
    If the risks are minimal or can be sustained, then proceed to the next question.

    4)   How will we influence?

    • Programming, curriculum, best practices
    • Education
    • Leadership (modeling best practices, setting an example)
    • Getting involved
    • Blogging, using our social media
    • Contributing resources
    • Advocacy – taking a position and influencing those with power to take a direction
    • Ask our members/stakeholders/donors, staff, board and volunteers to act

    You might see Nonprofit Network jumping in the conversations that affect the nonprofit ecosystem. Know that when you see us at the table and hear our voice, we have run the decision through the questions above. These four questions will allow us to act with intention and proceed with a full understanding of our role and the potential results of our decision to influence.

    Remember! Advocacy is not political activity. 501(c)3 nonprofits cannot endorse political candidates or contribute to political campaigns. This rule is part of the Johnson Amendment, and it helps nonprofits maintain their integrity as nonpartisan entities. You can however, support legislative bills, mileages, and advocate for your mission.  

    On that note, I compel you to call your senator and urge them not to repeal the Johnson Amendment! Our friends at Michigan Nonprofit Association have recently commented on the why the Johnson Amendment is so important to the nonprofit sector, and I stand by their statement. Read it and call your representative today!

    Want to share this with your organization and build your own decision tree?  Email Info@nonprofnetwork.org to let us know and we'll send you an electronic copy of the four questions to share with your stakeholders. No strings attached.

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Jackson, MI 49202
Phone: (517) 796-4750

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