Class of 2019
Please join us in congratulating the Class of 2019 graduating from the Minority Executive Leadership program. Pariss Coleman of The Andersons presided over certificate presentations.
Every community has seen the sad headlines of a theft or some sort of fraudulent activity at a charitable organization. It is particularly heartbreaking if it is a charity that you are closely involved with because there are generally never enough resources available to address all of the needs served by charity. And the feelings can be even worse if you are on the board of directors. The feeling of betrayal and even guilt can be overwhelming. The fiscal and reputational damage in these situations can be overwhelming. Far too often, boards of directors are asleep at the wheel and not living up to their legal obligations to ensure the safe and effective use of its assets.
So many boards are caught up with the busy and important work of providing essential programs that they don’t take time out to evaluate how they are doing living up to the needs of the organization and whether their important legal obligations are being met. Sieck said.
The good news is that the vast majority of people involved in the charitable community are passionately committed to the causes served by their organizations and want to do a responsible job. And with just a few tweaks, charitable boards of directors can take positive steps forward that will protect the good work of their organizations so that its clients can rely on its services into the future.
“We often talk about how we should receive a medical checkup every year from our doctor. Charitable board leaders also need to do an annual review about how well they are living up to their important responsibilities and protecting the charity so it can offer valuable services into the future,” Sieck said. “So many of the cases we deal with in the Attorney General’s office could have been avoided if board members were tuned in to their important obligations.”
The fiduciary obligations of charitable board members apply to leaders of large or small organizations. William Sieck of the Ohio Attorney General’s Charitable Law Section will be discussing some adjustments that boards of directors can consider. The training will provide concrete suggestions and tips for board members to consider when evaluating board governance practices and financial controls. Most are simple and common sense.
Register now for Bill's workshop on October 8, 2019, Bootcamp for Nonprofit Leaders.
Back when I started working in nonprofits, I was told that there is always a leap of faith necessary, no matter how perfectly designed the program.
The design of the program could be as simple as this:
1) I teach a class in how to write grant proposals.
2) You attend that class and pay attention.
3) Therefore, you will learn how to write grant proposals.
4) Therefore, you will get grants.
It seems straightforward. But when you begin to look hard at it—say, if you are a funder, and are wondering if it’s a good investment—you see that there are ways to pick holes in it:
Yipes! But let’s assume we can eliminate these two issues. I can prove to an objective party (say a funder) that I know what I’m teaching. And maybe I can test you before and after you take the class to see what you’ve learned, and you seem to do better on that test after the class.
But what about #4 above? Can I ever guarantee this? It seems to follow that if you write grant proposals the right way, then you will get grants. But there are many other factors that enter into that. How do I know that I will have that impact on you? Logic models and understanding the crucial differences between outputs, short-term outcomes, and impact are the place to start.
We’d love to have your insight and ideas in the room! Register now for David's workshop on October 2, 2019, Outcome Mesurement.
Dave Holmes is the Cleveland Lead at Foundation Center Midwest, coordinating the training, reference, and research services for the Midwest region. He returned to the Foundation Center in 2015 from a position as Senior Consultant at Grants Plus, writing grants and doing research for a variety of large and small nonprofit clients.
Our colleague was awarded the Certificate in
Nonprofit Management. Please join us in congratulating Lexi on her accomplishment.
Welcome to the C4NPR alumni community!
Our colleague was awarded the Certificate in
Nonprofit Management. Please join
us in congratulating Ash on his accomplishment.
Welcome to the C4NPR alumni community!
The Ability Center
In nonprofit budgeting, some things are fairly straightforward. The salary of a member of the program delivery team is a program expense. Travel and lodging for board members coming to the annual meeting are administrative expenses. The costs of the spring gala are fundraising expenses.
What about rent? Utilities? Office supplies? And what if one location houses all of an organization’s programs, as well as its' administrative offices and fundraising department?
The terminology we commonly use to describe costs such as rent and heat and electricity—we might think of and even refer to such costs as “overhead”—can sometimes be confusing in the nonprofit context, where “overhead” often connotes something spent on organizational administration rather than on delivery of mission-related programs. And following the logic of this terminology, we might be tempted to assign all of our “overhead” costs like rent into the “management and general” category of our budgets along with costs of administrative functions such as finance and HR.
But the reality is that costs like rent and utilities are as integral to the functioning of a program as are more obvious costs such as staff salaries or program materials. Anyone who thinks otherwise should try to run a job training program or stage an art exhibition on the sidewalk. That means that programs -- along with administrative and fundraising functions — should all take on some of the expense associated with organization-wide resources like a building to work out of and lights to see what you’re doing. Costs of items used by each individual department of an organization are known as "shared" costs. Shared costs shouldn’t automatically be dumped into an administrative budget (where, incidentally, they will be more challenging to raise funds for), but should instead be spread or allocated across the various functions of an organization -- including programs — in a way that’s proportional to how they are used (based on square footage, for example, or the relative head counts of each department). This provides a more realistic picture of what it costs to run programs and deliver services.
Shared costs, by their nature, don’t fit neatly into one bucket, which is why they are often misunderstood and wrongly categorized in budgets (including grant budgets). Even though we may casually refer to these costs as “overhead,” that doesn’t mean that they aren’t also part of running our programs.
Learn more about "Understanding the True Cost of Delivering Your Mission" on April 11th when Gretchen joins us. Click Here to Register.
Gretchen Upholt is a Senior Consultant with Fiscal Management Associates. An experienced staff and program manager, she has expertise in training, capacity building, research, and program and volunteer management.
3 Top Ways to Increase Your Marketing ROI
There are blogs, workshops, seminars, and even full textbooks that examine how to conduct effective marketing initiatives for your nonprofit organization. Where do you start? Start with these three aspects of marketing and you will surely increase the return on your marketing investment.
1. Understand the value of storytelling
At the core of nonprofit messaging, regardless of the marketing platforms being used, is the ability to tell a story. We should express, in a persuasive manner, the value of services provided to our intended clients, and why the community should value these efforts enough to volunteer, donate funds or advocate for our respective causes.
2. Know who you are trying to reach
Perhaps another challenge many nonprofits face is that they try to be all things to all people instead of taking a more strategic approach. Do an analysis; who specifically are you trying to reach? What medium are they using? Reaching teens for a new program may very well fit on Snapchat or Twitter but reaching out to a more mature generation may require more traditional methods through press releases in newspapers or public service announcements on radio stations they listen to.
3. Have a plan
Arm yourself with a marketing plan. Whether it be designed like a calendar, or a more structured written document, the plan should have larger goals, SMART objectives and tactics that map up. Otherwise, how will you benchmark your success?
Are you interested in Getting the Biggest Bang for Your Marketing Buck? Join us for The Center workshop on October 20, 2018 when Laura Macknick shows us how. Learn More
Laura M. Macknick, MA, CFRE is a consultant, public speaker, teacher and former “in the trenches” fundraiser, marketer and Executive Director for a variety of nonprofit organizations, big and small.
Imagine you are in a car. Your vehicle is – unsurprisingly – on the right hand side of the road. Suddenly, you see an oncoming vehicle in your lane. In the wrong lane! Your mind is racing, what should you do? Feelings of fear, anger, and your survival instinct cause you to change lanes. As you cross paths, you lay on the horn to demonstrate your disgust with the other driver. They do the same. Neither driver stops to ask of the other why they were on that side of the road, no one questions if they may have been on the wrong side. You both drive on.
Now, what if I told you the other driver was from Mauritius, where the ‘right side’ of the road is the left. If you had just stopped to ask why they were driving as they were, you would have quickly learned that, and been able to help them learn the rules of ‘our roads’. Alternatively, what if I told you that you were driving in Mauritius and therefore, you were in the wrong lane. If the oncoming driver had stopped to talk to you, you would have quickly adjusted.
Our cultural identity, much like the road rules, paves a logical path for people within a community to follow. In context, and absent of other cultures, you can travel easily along life’s path. However, in our increasingly globalized world, different paths cross more and more often. These interactions are, like in the story, inevitable. The question is if you will be prepared to stop and learn something from them, or as in the case of our imaginary drivers, just drive on.
The first step in learning about cross-cultural communications is to learn about yourself and your culture. Only then can you accurately identify that which is different. Only then will you know if you are driving in the US or Mauritius.
The second step is to learn how to communicate about your culture, and then ask, and learn about others. It is how to engage once you have stopped the car.
Finally, cross-cultural communications is a life-long journey. You have to keep driving and you will encounter different drivers in oncoming traffic. At each crossing, you have an opportunity to learn something new and further your cross-cultural communications journey.
Think of our Cross Cultural Communications workshop offered by The Center like the driver’s education of cross-cultural communications. We will provide you with the tools to be a good driver on our globalized roads. With our tools and your practice, you will become a better driver. We encourage you to take the wheel and begin your cross-cultural communications journey today!
When friction is reduced between the Board of Directors and the Executive Director, nonprofits honor their mission and deepen the impact.
Nonprofits produce their most effective work when leaders on the board, within the staff, and within the community are connected and communicating well. Keeping these relationships fluid and open is important. This is easier said than done, however.
Like those dinner parties when there are too many cooks in the kitchen all trying to craft their own menus, Boards and EDs may run into communication, structural, or relational barriers as they work to achieve the best for their nonprofit. If approached with intentionality, honesty, and interest in developing a collaborative relationship, EDs and Board Chairs can work together to align their structural processes and practices with their strategies and tactics to move the organization forward.
Though we know that “form follows function,” we also know that when we step into a pre-existing leadership role, be it as a board or staff member, we must respond to the structures and systems within which that role exists. It is important to:
The relationship between Board Chair and Executive Director is critically important for setting the tone of how the board and staff will work together to advance the nonprofit. Beginning with open conversations, consider discussing why each person is working and advocating for the organization, what work styles they prefer, and establish clear expectations of each other regarding communication and areas of leadership and responsibility. From deepening the relationship to revisiting board functions and structures, board chairs and ED’s can find ways to effectively communicate and thrive.
A major gift is different at every organization and to every donor. My career in fundraising illustrates this point.I started my career in fundraising at the battered women’s shelter. We rarely received gifts over $1,000. Our first $10,000 gift was cause for major celebration! That was a MAJOR Gift. Any personal gift over $1,000 was a major gift there.
Rutgers University was my next stop. There a major gift was $25,000 or more. Just down the road was Princeton University where Major Gifts didn’t start until $100,000 or more. I’m certain it’s $1 million or more now.
If you’re at a small organization, just getting started with personal giving and major gifts is enough of a challenge. It would be ridiculous to hold you to the standards of Princeton University.
Let’s set some parameters for determining the size of major gifts at your organization.
There are three important reasons for knowing how much a major gift is at your organization.
1. Donor Recognition
Special Donors get special recognition. Setting the Major Gift amount focuses your recognition efforts.
Knowing what a major gift is determines who gets recognition on things like Donor Walls.
Major Donors get personal recognition, like calls from a board member and a handwritten note from the executive director.
It’s nice to think that every single donor to your organization will receive a personal call and a handwritten note, but sometimes that’s simply not practical or even possible. Knowing your major gift levels will help you determine who must get the royal treatment.
You’ll want to acknowledge all donors, of course, but your major donors should always get VIP treatment.
2. Time Management
Setting a major gift size helps you manage your time. If it makes sense to go meet with a donor to ask them for $1,000, then that’s a major gift at your organization.
If you’re thinking, “No way!” then how about $10,000?
It’s a matter of time management. I don’t know many development directors who wouldn’t make time to visit with a donor to ask for $10,000.
Leadership level gift managers spend their time focused on donors who could give $1M or more, but we’re not quite there yet.
The third reason for setting a major gift size is for accountability and tracking metrics. If your major gift levels start at $10,000, then you will be able to easily track how many $10,000 plus gifts you received this year.
Now that we know some benefits of setting a major gift size, let’s determine what works at your organization.
Remember, gifts don’t have to be over six figures to be considered major, and they aren’t only for capital campaigns. There’s no better way to skyrocket your annual fund than to infuse it with some major gift power.
This week’s action item will help you determine what constitutes a major gift at your organization.
Step 1: Run a list of your top donors.The simplest way to determine a major gift level is to run a list of your top 10 donors for the last 12 months. Exclude any foundations or corporations on the list. Let me say that again — you’ll want to eliminate any foundations or corporations from the list. (However, if you have donors who give from their family foundations without grant applications, it’s fine to include them.)
Also, exclude any extreme outliers or one-time gifts. In other words, if you received $100,000 from a bequest or in honor of someone, but it’s unlikely you’ll receive another gift of that level this year, don’t include it in your top 10.
Total up the donations from the top 10 donors (they may have given multiple times throughout the year – use their total giving in your calculation). Now divide by 10.
Step 2: Average your top 10.Take the average of the top ten donor’s totals from last year. Now round up to the nearest $5,000. If your average major gift level is $8,500, then round up to $10,000.
Remember, fundraising is an art and a science. In this case, there are no hard rules to determining what you consider a major gift at your organization.
Be realistic yet optimistic when picking an amount. Be optimistic, because you’re growing your major gift program and you don’t want to play it too safe or small. Consider where you want to be 3 years from now, not simply where you are today. However, if you’ve never received a gift of over $1,000, then $25,000 is probably too high. Start with a more realistic number like $5,000.
Ensuring nonprofits in northwest Ohio and southeastern Michigan have the information and resources to operate in an efficient and effective manner.
LEAN Six Sigma
Minority Executive Leadership
Starting A 501(c)3