Thursday, August 30, 2007

The Board, Strategic Planning and Major Gifts - My Thoughts Just Published in The Major Gifts Report

I was recently asked to contribute to "The Major Gifts Report" published by Stevenson, Inc. First, the important disclaimer - I am NOT a fundraising consultant. This short article appeared in the "Professional Opinion" section and was provided from my perspective as a board development consultant. It is in question and answer format.

Q: Knowing your board’s collective giving should amount to one-third or more of your campaign goal, what key steps should you take to ready them for that major undertaking?

A(Marion): “Update your strategic plan and make sure it clearly inspires passion for your mission and goals. Your Board should be committed to your goals, experienced in fundraising initiatives and able to communicate both anecdotal and factual information about your organization. The implementation stage of the strategic plan is paramount. It should have specific action steps that board members can follow. Ask them to share experiences in attempting to reach these goals. This will differ for each board member. One may be involved in program development, and another in assessing real estate possibilities.

It is of the utmost importance to communicate your progress as the plan progresses. This can be done through your website, e-newsletters, mailed newsletters, press releases, and verbal communications. Post your goals on your website. Keeping the goals and progress – front and center requires continual effort on multiple fronts.”

You can find out more about Stevenson's monthly newsletters for nonprofits and their other publications at their website:
Stevenson Inc

Marion Conway Consulting

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Govenor Corzine, Mayor Booker and New Anti Crime Program Meet Agencies I Am Invovled With

I grew up in Newark, NJ and received all of my education there from pre-school to graduate school. Today I live about ten miles away and I am still very active in and committed to the city. When I retired from my first career, I decided that I would spend my time volunteering and it would all be in Newark. I was involved with a number of organizations which led me to my current career as a nonprofit consultant.

Currently I am on the Board of two related social services agencies in Newark - Community Agencies Corporation of NJ(CAC) and Protestant Community Centers, Inc (PCCI).

After the recent murder of three teens the City is yet to recover. The new mayor, Cory Booker, has put a priority on making Newark safer and reducing crime. This murder was particularly chilling. The victims were good kids just spending a summer night at a local school playground in one of the better neighborhoods in the city. They weren't drinking, weren't involved with drugs and didn't provoke anything.

Newark has finally been making progress towards a comeback from its low point of the riots forty summers ago this year. I remember that summer very well. I think that Cory Booker is determined that this will also be a low point and is doing all that he can in marshaling federal, state and private resources to fight gang/drug violence and make Newark a better place to live.

Today Governor Corzine announced expansion of after school programs in Newark as an integral prevention component to a broad-based anti-crime/anti-gang strategy.

I am proud that two of the nine after school programs funded are for the agencies whose Boards I am on. Visit the website for more information about the full breadth of our work. And you can join me in supporting them. See my charity badge in the right column.
CAC and PCCI website

Marion Conway Consulting

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Changing of the Guard in Philanthropy

During the last week there have been two major changes in leadership in philanthropy worthy of note. This post is inspired by an article in the Chronicle of Philanthropy on this subject. Leslie Lenkowsky writes about two New Yorkers - Brooke Astor who died and Luis A. Ubiñas who was elected to be the next CEO of the Ford Foundation.

Brooke Astor gave away over $200 Million of her family fortune to New York based nonprofits. She is a well known patron of the arts and, in fact, the Metropolitan Museum of Art lowered their flags in recognition of her. But she also quietly contributed generously to many small social service nonprofits throughout the city. She was known for personally visiting these agencies even in challenging parts of the city.

This characteristic of personal involvement is still respected as exemplified by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. The Gates have also added a new dimension to the culture of philanthropy. They have been supported by large (Warren Buffet) and small ($1) donations to their foundation because of their personal involvement and emphasis on a business like approach of measurements and results.

Mr. Ubiñas grew up a crime-ridden neighborhood in New York City and he graduated from Harvard Business School and went on to a successful career as head of the West Coast media practice at McKinsey & Company, mostly advising corporations about new technologies. He has a strong business background but his personal background should also equip him with understanding the importance of small nonprofits and their impact at the individual human level.

As Ms. Lenkowsky says "it is worth remembering that such institutions can also benefit those who are trying to get ahead by making available opportunities they could not otherwise grasp. And even make it possible for a child from a modest background to become the head of a major foundation."

Read the whole article at

Chronicle of Philanthropy

Marion Conway Consulting

Monday, August 13, 2007

Craigslist Foundation Nonprofit Boot Camp 2007 - September 15th A Great Opportunity!

On September 15th the Craigslist Foundation will host its second annual Boot Camp for Nonprofits in the New York area. The event will be held at the Brooklyn Academy of Music from 8 AM - to 5:30 PM and the $50 registration includes breakfast, lunch and snacks. Over 1000 people are expected to attend and 100 partner organizations are participating.

The program includes workshops, keynotes, exhibit hall (more than 50 exhibits), one-on-one coaching with the Ask-The-Experts team, Career Coaching, and the opportunity to network and collaborate with hundreds of nonprofit leaders.

Workshop tracks will feature Nonprofit Basics, Fundraising, Social Entrepreneurship, Big Ideas (Nonprofit Trends) and Technology.

Keynote adress speakers and major panelists have yet to be announced but you can expect that leading nonprofit support organizations will be featured in the keynote and major panels.

I will be participating as an "expert" in the "Ask an Expert" segment. You can sign up for a 15 minute meeting with an expert on a particular topic. I have listed strategic planning and board development as my areas of expertise.

See the announcement at the Craigslist Foundation page, and check back for updates as speakers are added. This will be my first Craigslist Foundation Boot Camp and I am really looking forward to it. Last year's Boot Camp got rave reviews. I hope I get to meet some of you who I know through LISTSERVs and my blog. And hope some of you who have attended my workshops will make it out to Brooklyn too.

Craigslist Foundation Boot Camp Announcement

Marion Conway Consulting

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Expanding into Email and Accepting Donations Online?- Don't Miss This Great Opportunity from Network for Good

There is a special offer coming up at TechSoup that I just have to post about in case you haven't heard. You have to already be registered at TechSoup as qualified so make sure today that you are registered if you are interested in this offer.

On August 15 for 8 hours only, 300 bundles of Network for Good's powerful online fundraising services will be available to eligible nonprofits for a special administrative fee of only $99 at TechSoup. The bundle includes one year of these services:

* DonateNow - an online donation processing service to securely
accept credit card contributions at your organization's Web site

* EmailNow - a flexible email messaging tool to send
e-newsletters, raise money online, and communicate with

* Training - six live 90-minute online group sessions including
"Driving Traffic to Your Site" and "Creating a Successful
Internet Strategy"

After this offer ends, the discounted fee of $725 will apply. This substantial discount will only be available from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Eastern time on August 15 while supplies last.
Learn more about the promotion at:

TechSoup Promotion Offer

Learn more about the tools at:

Network for Good

Marion Conway Consulting

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Listen Up All Board Members! Transparency and Changes to the IRS 990 Form

Those of us involved with Board Development are always preaching about trends in good governance and recommend such things has having a conflict of interest policy, separate audit committee , whistle blower’s policy, etc. I do get fewer “you can’t be serious” looks than I used to for sure, and more small boards are taking steps in the direction of transparency but I always have to clarify which things they must do to comply with Sarbanes Oxley and which items are a good idea but are not required. All of this good advice is about to get a big boost.

The IRS is asking for comments on a new draft 990 form that will be used for 2008 (filed in 2009). Here are some highlights of new questions asked about your governance:

-the number of “independent” board members of the governing body;
-whether the organization:
*made any significant changes to the organization’s governing documents during
the past year, and if so, to briefly describe the changes
*has a conflict of interest policy, and if so, the number of transactions reviewed by the governing body under the conflict policy during the past year
*has a whistleblower policy
*has a written policy on document retention and destruction
*regularly documents the actions of the governing board and committees
-whether board members, or employees review and prepare the financial statements
-whether an independent accountant provides any services such as a financial review or an independent audit
-whether board members review the IRS Form 990 before it is filed

The IRS says that these questions were added because “in our view and experience, a well managed organization is likely to be a tax compliant organization.”

Find out more about this and other governance issues at You can comment on the draft through September 14th.

Marion Conway Consulting