Monday, December 28, 2009

Books to Add to Your Reading List in 2010 – The Well Known and a Few Discoveries

In November I posted a list of books that would be good holiday gifts for nonprofit friends. To develop the list I posted a question asking for recommendations in two LinkedIn groups - Chronicle of Philanthropy and Web 2.0 for Nonprofit Organizations and of course I had my own wish list. The resulting post has been very popular and links to it have been retweeted and referenced in other blogs. When I posted notice of the blog posts on LinkedIn groups they became popular discussions and since then both as comments on my blog and LinkedIn groups people have added a treasure trove of recommended books.

So this is an encore list of additional books recommended by and for friends in the nonprofit sector. I have chosen some by well known authors and some that you might not otherwise hear of but for these generous recommendations. The hardest part is deciding which to read first.

Forces for Good: The Six Practices of High-Impact Nonprofits (J-B US non-Franchise Leadership) by Leslie Crutchfield was recommended by Holly Ross, William Hull and Paul Cwynar. Paul said, “It is an innovative guide to how great nonprofits achieve extraordinary social impact.”

Joanne Fritz and Beth Kanter recommend Twitterville: How Businesses Can Thrive in the New Global Neighborhoods by Shel Israel. Joanne included this book on her list -
The Charitable Reader: Books to Give and to Read for the Holidays at
Beth Kanter contributed to Twitterville and had a 15 copy giveaway of this book on her blog

At first I was going to pass over Outcasts United: An American Town, a Refugee Team, and One Woman's Quest to Make a Difference
by Warren St. John recommended by James Barrows because it didn’t seem to fit. But after I read the full description at the Outcasts United website it jumped to the top of my personal reading list. It's a book about resilience in the face of extraordinary hardship, the power of one person to make a difference and the daunting challenge of creating community in a place where people seem to have so little in common. Resilience is a theme of mine for 2010 and so how can I resist this book.

Sway: The Irresistible Pull of Irrational Behavior by Ori and Rom Brafman was recommended by several people and has great reviews on Amazon. Rick Schwartz commented in his recommendation “If nonprofits are ever to understand their donors, their prospective donors, their clients, and their inner workings, they have to read this book.” Laura Deaton says “fascinating book about real forces that impact our daily lives”

One category I missed entirely was philanthropic books for children. But here are two excellent books in this category:

One Hen - How One Small Loan Made a Big Difference (CitizenKid) by Katie Smith Milway, illustrated by Eugenie Fernandes(a favorite of mine)from Kids Can Press - This beautifully illustrated book inspired by true events tells the story of Kojo a small boy from Ghana who turns a small loan into a thriving farm for many and is able to return to school. I learned about this book when Steve Jennings, @zyOzyfounder tweeted the link to his reading list of poverty books

Three Cups by Mark St. Germain and illustrated by April Willy tells of life lessons that come from learning how to save, spend and give our money. This inexpensive but richly illustrated book is an excellent place to start developing philanthropy values in children. My thanks to Tony Townsley for this recommendation.

And added to my own list... BoardSource is having a spectacular year end sale that ends 12/31. Be sure to visit today!

Thanks to everyone who contributed to this great list of books. Some of them are currently on Amazon at great discounts. If you click on a title above, you will go to Amazon and you can find out more about each selection.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Wishing You Joy, Pride and Resilience

Dear Friends,

I wish all of you a joyous holiday season and a blessed New Year. This holiday letter is being posted both at Marion Conway – Nonprofit Consultant and The Grandma Chronicles. Later this week I will offer my Christmas prayers at the Christmas Vigil for all of you who work with nonprofits, those I have worked with, all whose lives you touch and grandparents everywhere.

The snow blanketed us over the weekend and we will have a white Christmas in our neighborhood. It is dazzling albeit cold. This is my grandson Zach’s first Christmas and the whole family is enjoying watching him look at the lights on the tree and the various preparations going on. He really wanted a Christmas cookie on cookie baking day but its not quite on his diet yet. He got to play with some Christmas toys still in their cardboard holders before they were wrapped on wrapping day.

For me Christmas is a time of reflection and of joy. This has been a difficult year and 2010 will hopefully be better but it certainly will also be full of challenges. I have seen resilience this year both in my work and at home and so I plan to not only reflect but to relax and enjoy this holiday time and take the time to refresh the resilience we will all need for 2010.

Having a baby around (Zach is six months old) does seem to give you the extra oomph that keeps everything moving along. We bask in the wonder we see in his eyes and wonder ourselves what he is thinking and noticing. We take care of our health and enjoy Christmas shopping in a new way. We cherish every moment family is together. I can’t help thinking about families in homeless shelters or troubled homes and I know that some of the most generous people I have come across this year are those on the front lines of social service organizations.

At the lighting of the National Christmas Tree earlier this month President Obama said “this tradition that has come to represent more than any one holiday or religion, but a season of brotherhood and generosity to our fellow citizens.” How true.

When I think of how many lives have been impacted by the nonprofit community that I know both in person and online I realize how privileged I have been to work among this group. This year I wish you joy, pride for all you have done this past year and resilience to do even more next year.

Here is the picture of my husband and I with our grandson, Zach that we sent with our Christmas cards.

And here is my favorite picture of the zillions we took for Christmas pictures with us. This one now greets me on my computer desktop.

May You Have a Blessed and Joyous Holiday,


Thursday, December 03, 2009

This Holiday Season Is a Good Time to Begin the Path to Philanthropy with Your Children

I love blogging – so much in fact that I have two very different blogs – Marion Conway Nonprofit Consultant where I blog about topics of interest to the nonprofit community and The Grandma Chronicles where I blog about grandparenting. I never thought that I would have the same post on both blogs but here it is. I started to put my thoughts together on this topic for my consulting blog and then, it came to me...This topic works for both blogs!

The topic of teaching children to be philanthropic is an important one to me and I believe it is something that starts young. The word Philanthropy is derived from Ancient Greek and means "to love people". Philanthropy is the act of donating money, goods, services, time and/or effort to support a socially beneficial cause. Webster’s definition resonates with the holiday season: “goodwill to fellowmen”

I started to do some research for this post on the web and was happy to see that there are wonderful resources and ideas available. There was even a blog post from Beth Kanter a year ago that I contributed to on this subject.
Kids and Philanthropy: Teaching Your Children To Be Charitable by Beth Kanter

We should be thinking about philanthropy as a core value to teach children. It is an important part of wholeness in adult life and it should be something that just comes naturally. That is my basic philosophy. So just as we teach the importance of education to our children by helping with homework, providing enjoyable educational experiences, encouraging and rewarding working hard in school there is the parallel in philanthropy.

Children learn about philanthropy by example, by doing things themselves and by being taught about it. We start with the very young by teaching and practicing caring and sharing. Older children participate in community service and contribute their time, talent and treasure as we say in church. There are so many things that we can do with children to develop a spirit of community service. Whether it be volunteering at a local food bank or raking leaves for an elderly neighbor there are opportunities everywhere in our everyday lives.

If you want your children to be enthusiastic about participating in philanthropy then it has to be something that is of interest to them. It may be in helping poor children or the environment. It may be supporting children who are very sick. You may have your own interests – I know I have mine – but it is a good idea to explore with children how they would like to help others and then for them to have as much of a hands-on experience as possible.

At our church all ages participate in our holiday giving program. Young children decorate Christmas cards and small trees for the elderly. Older children help stuff Christmas stockings with a variety of supplies for men at a homeless shelter. The teens participate in cooking a special meal for the homeless shelter that is served with tablecloths, flowers and a festive theme. The hands-on experience with philanthropy is an important part of their development.

The hands-on experience I remember most with my son is that for his Eagle Scout project he collected sleeping bags for children in Newark to use for summer camp. He also collected money and arranged a big discount with Coleman to buy sleeping bags. The day he and fellow scouts went to Newark to unload the sleeping bags from the delivery truck some teens were getting sleeping bags for a trip that weekend. I think my son has always appreciated his own sleeping bag a lot more since then.

Sometimes our children have set the example for us. When my son was a freshman in high school he came home and TOLD us he was going on a trip to help re-build a burned Black church in the South during his Spring vacation. My husband decided to take a week of his vacation and go with him and several years later my husband and I went together. My daughter has a caring spirit and when she works with young children she is particularly thoughtful of a child that needs a little extra personal attention that can make a difference. She is much more the touchy feely type than I am and I know she touches the lives of children she works with in an important way.

Teaching the concepts – Many people in my generation were brought up not knowing anything about family finances or giving. Looking back my parents were generous with their time, talent and treasure. I was oblivious to the treasure part but I could see the time and talent part. We have taken a different tack with our children. They know about our giving patterns and that it is spread across local, national and international causes. They know the local organizations where we are involved very well. They know that we have priorities for our giving and that charities are named in our will. When our children were young we made matching gifts to charities that they gave to and this encouraged them to give even more. They know our “philanthropy philosophy” and as adults are forming their own. When my son started working he immediately made a commitment to make a contribution to KIVA with every paycheck. He has his own philanthropy philosophy and it developed as he was growing up.

Our philanthropy manifests itself differently at different stages in our lives but it is important at every stage. For children and young adults it can be bursting with energy and innocence and a spirit true to the origins of the word. There is no time like the holiday season to start. Kayta Andresen from Network for Good offered a fantastic idea last holiday season in Beth Kanter’s post: "Give with your kids day. "She suggests giving a child $25 to donate to a charity. You can help them research the type of charities they are interested in online.

Learning to Give - offers lesson plans, activities and resources to educate youth about the power of philanthropy

Foundation Center - Youth in Philanthropy – An extensive list of online resources is available

Games for Change - Lots of video games are avaiable for teaching children about philanthropy on topics ranging from serving the poor to the environment

A favorite book of mine on this topic is Raising Charitable Children by Carol Wiseman.

A special note to grandparents: One of the things that grandparents do is fill in some blanks as parents have busy schedules. This is an excellent responsibility for grandparents to take a leadership role in and find things you can do together with your grandchildren than enrich your lives and that of others.

Enjoy the Holidays and Live Philanthropically,


Monday, November 23, 2009

Nonprofit Books That Make Great Holiday Gifts

We have a tradition in our family for the day after Thanksgiving. Everyone is prepared with their list of books, CDs and DVDs they want for Christmas and we go to as a group and I get to do a good deal of my Christmas shopping all at once. I keep a notebook with notes on books I would like or I think will be a good gift and it has clippings I’ve saved during the year with books I’d like to have. Sometimes we just have an author or artist and we check to see if there is something new. Some things don’t make it to the order because I think they are too expensive or an individual’s budget has been met. All in all it is fun and a great way to get your shopping done.

This year I decided to blog about books you might want to give your nonprofit friends or put on your wishlist for the holidays. I’ve included books that I have read and blogged about and I asked my Nonprofit network on LinkedIn and Twitter what they recommend. The LinkedIn groups I asked are Web 2.0 for Nonprofit Organizations and The Chronicle of Philanthropy. So each book on this list comes with a recommendation from a member of the nonprofit community:

Made to Stick by Chip and Dan Heath was recommended on LinkedIn by Bronwen Dearlove, and on Twitter by @MemberClicks. The book’s website says this book seeks to answer the questions: Why do some ideas thrive while others die? And how do we improve the chances of worthy ideas?

Tom Luege recommended Yes We Did! An inside look at how social media built the Obama brand by Rahaf Harfoush. Tom says this book “gives an excellent overview over how the Obama campaign used social media to mobilize people to donate time and money."
Read Tom’s review of Yes We Did

Sticking with technology, John Dukovich recommends Managing Technology to Meet Your Mission: A Strategic Guide for Nonprofit Leaders edited by Holly Ross, Katrin Verclas, and Alison Levine. He says “These days, it's all about choosing the technologies that complement and advance your organization, and effectively managing them once they are in place.”

EllenSmith-Israelson said the new Charles Bronfman book, The Art of Giving: Where the Soul Meets a Business Plan provides good insight into the strategies and motives of a major philanthropist. I also discussed this book in my post:
A Conversation about Foundation Giving, Individual Giving, Motivation and What Should Be Done

Another book in the Philanthropy category” that I have read and blogged about is Grassroots Philanthropy: Field Notes of a Maverick Grantmaker
by Bill Somerville. This slim, thought provoking volume is a quick read.
My review of Grassroots Philanthropy

There are lots of books about fundraising but these two should top any list:
No list of books would be complete without Ask Without Fear!: A Simple Guide to Connecting Donors With What Matters to Them Most
by Marc A. Pitman. The reviews on Amazon say it all.

Esther Alix and Brad Stith recommended Fundraising When Money Is Tight by Mal Warwick. Their comments: “It's a good reminder of fundamentals.” “A must read for these times.”

And for Board Members:
June Bradham said that many organizations are giving copies of her book to their boards and staff for holiday presents. You can read more about What Nonprofit Boards Want. Nine Little Things that Matter Most. at June's website. This book also has great reviews at

Nonprofit Strategy Revolution: Real-Time Strategic Planning in a Rapid-Response World by David LaPiana is great for a board beginning to think about what they’ll do for strategic planning. They may decide on a whole new and streamlined approach after they read this book.
My take on The Nonprofit Strategy Revolution

There has been a lot of buzz on Twitter about The Pollyanna Principles: Reinventing "Nonprofit Organizations" to Create the Future of Our World by Hildy Gottlieb. You can learn about this book and read a sizable excerpt at the website. (My five month old grandson has been sitting on my lap for a while and he really liked the cover of this book shown on the website.)

People Issues
With all the discussion about the impending retirement of Baby Boomers a new book from Fieldstone Alliance, Managing Executive Transitions: A Guide for NonprofitsBy Tim Wolfred may be the perfect gift for some people.

And on the flip side of managing executive transitions for someone interested in working in the community benefit sector, also from Fieldstone Alliance is The Nonprofit Career Guide: How to Land a Job That Makes a Difference by Shelly Cryer

I know this list in incomplete. Please add your own recommendations to the comments and let us know if you buy one of this books what you think. I’ve added an Amazon widget in the sidebar so that you can just click and go to Amazon to find out more about any of these titles or buy the book. If there are a bunch more recommendations maybe I'll make another post.

I’ll be placing my order on Friday. It will be my grandson’s first day after Thanksgiving Amazon ordering party. He really doesn’t need anything but that is completely irrelevant.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

A Conversation about Foundation Giving, Individual Giving, Motivation and What Should Be Done

Wall Street has changed. Big business has changed. American consumer habits have changed. What about philanthropy – Has it changed? Has it changed anywhere near how it needs to change? This subject is beginning to get some needed attention. Two thought provoking articles published yesterday by Philanthropy thought leaders inspired this post. Here’s a summary and my thoughts on the subject.

The Wall Street Journal had a special Philanthropy section yesterday with the lead article entitled “What’s Wrong With Charitable Giving & How to Fix It” by Pablo Eisenberg, a senior fellow at the Georgetown Public Policy Institute. Pablo gets right to the point with this assessment: “Much of current philanthropic giving, by foundations and individuals, neither meets the needs of our charitable organizations nor addresses some of our most urgent public needs. Foundation practices today are too bureaucratic, inflexible and cautious, and too focused on short-term objectives.” Pablo goes on to say that the primary responsibility for maintaining the strength of the nonprofit community should rest with philanthropic institutions and individual donors not the government. He recommends nine changes that foundations should embrace.

1. Increase the Distribution Percentage –A change in payout ratio from 5% to 6% could increase nonprofit coffers by $10 Billion a year. (Wow!)
2. Increase General Operating Support (All Nonprofits will applaud this one)
3. Increase Multiyear funding – Pablo suggests 5, 10 and 20 years to allow for long term goals to be reached. Few give grants beyond two years.
4. Adopt Rolling grant Making – Simply done by delegating decision making to board committees between board meetings
5. Allocate More Funds to the Truly Needy – (I was astounded by the estimate that not more than 5% of foundation money is given to the truly needy)
6. Reach Out to Local Groups And Underserved Regions - large parts of the country are underserved by philanthropy.
7. Simplify Application and Reporting Procedures – Eliminate excessively detailed and time-consuming grant-application and reporting procedures and unnecessary data required by foundations (I hear Nonprofits applauding again)
8. Improve Public Accountability – Pablo notes that newspapers have been the real public’s watchdog and their demise and extensive streamlining has reduced this capability. He suggests that foundations fund conversions of today’s newspapers to nonprofit versions
9. Fund the Watchdogs - organizations that monitor and assess government policies, public agencies, nonprofits, business and other major institutions such as the National Committee for Responsive Philanthropy

Pablo concludes with: “If foundations do not change, the public will have every right to question whether American taxpayers are getting their money's worth.”
Read the whole article - What's Wrong With Charitable Giving—and How to Fix It

While Mr. Eisenberg discussed foundation giving, Sean Stannard-Stockton has been featuring articles this past week about why people give to charity on his popular blog, Tactical Philanthropy. There has been an explosion of comments left on this topic and yesterday’s article really dovetailed with this one. Sean drew on an blog post from 2008 when he built on Maslow’s hierarchy of needs and said that he believed that giving is motivated by humans’ deeply held need to find meaning in life. In last week’s guest post on this blog, Charles Bronfman suggested that we all should understand our own motivation for giving as a starting point.

Sean Stannard-Stockton's post "Why Do People Give to Charity"

The Art of Giving: Where the Soul Meets a Business Plan, by Charles Bronfman and Jeffrey Solomon is available at

These articles gave me a lot to think about. I have been proud that my husband and I have a giving strategy which takes into account our means and distributes our giving according to our priority interests. When I work with nonprofits on strategic planning I am always amazed when updating mission statements how much the mission of organizations can change over time. The updated mission provides the basis for a strategic plan. Likewise it may be time for my husband and I to take a philosophical look at our current giving and start by asking what motivates us. What does motivate us and should we be doing anything different? How about you? Is it time for a soul searching look at the whole issue?

Join the conversation - Leave your comments and share your opinions on this important issue.

Thursday, November 05, 2009

Facing Changing Paradigms – A Nonprofit Accountant in the Catbird Seat

In the last year I have blogged twice about presentations given by Todd Polyniak of Sax Macy Fromm, an accounting firm in Clifton, NJ. Last night I attended their most recent program for nonprofits and this post provides the outlook for the future with Todd, a nonprofit accountant, in the catbird seat.
Sax Macy Fromm

In Todd’s last two talks he discussed dealing with tough economic times but last night he was discussing a new reality that nonprofits need to come to terms with – this isn’t some temporary economic crisis, there is a paradigm shift that has to be recognized and leaders need to be agents of change to be successful.

Todd likes to start out with historical highlights to put the landscape in perspective. He highlighted some of the changes we’ve had in the last 10 years bringing paradigm shifts including 9/11’s impact on the way we deal with security issues; Enron, Worldcomm etc. scandals bringing in Sarbannes Oxley legislation, (this is major paradigm shifting stuff to accountants), and the Columbia shuttle crash bringing new safety policies to NASA. Todd concludes that the economic crisis that we are still going through brings us to a paradigm shift for the nonprofit sector and that leaders need to take note and take action: Some changes he discusses:

Todd quoted the statistics from a recent Chronicle of Philanthropy article citing an expected 9% downturn in giving in 2009 in addition to the 5.7% reduced giving in 2008 from 2007 reported by Giving USA in June. The outlook for corporate and foundation giving does not look good through 2010.
Chronicle of Philanthropy
Foundation Center's Recent Report on Foundation Giving

So what is a nonprofit to do? Todd’s list of realistic, focused, right-on suggestions include:

-Focus on “warm prospects” rather than new donors. These include existing donors and those who have stopped giving
-Encourage monthly giving rather than once a year gifts
-Move away from events
-Hone your message to explain more clearly why you need the money
-Experiment with online giving (Hey, you can talk to me about this one)
-Put more effort into securing planned gifts
-Make personal thank yous by EDs and board members for even small gifts
-Refer to the tax provision -expiring this year allowing tax free gifts from IRAs up to $100,000 for those over 70½.

-Supporters from within: Nearly 30% of nonprofit leaders have taken pay cuts and reduced hours but as Ken Berger, CEO of Charity Navigator, says that people hope they won’t have to make draconian cuts.
-Supporters outside: Todd mentioned a study by the National Conference on Citizenship noting that 72% of Americans say they have cut back on volunteering and he also noted the loss of Board members sponsored by corporations.
Download the National Conference on Citizenship Report

No accountant can talk for 45 minutes to nonprofits and not mention the new 990 and Todd did not disappoint. However, he also noted that many states, including New Jersey have passed laws which allow more access to their endowments to help them tide over during this bad economy.

The 100,000 nonprofits will fail prediction by Paul Light has not materialized and less merging than expected has happened but small nonprofits are taking aggressive strategic steps to survive including unplugging some programs temporarily, sharing fundraising and marketing ideas, and combining back office operations.

Todd recommended President Obama’s seven step plan for dealing with a crisis:
1. Pull together the best people and make them work as a team
2. Insist on analytical rigor in evaluating the nature of the problem
3. Make sure dissenting voices are heard
4. Explore your range of options
5. Be willing to make a decision after you have reviewed the options
6. Insist on good execution and timely feedback
7. Remember the basics taking one step at a time
See the whole article in U.S News & World Report “In a Crisis, Obama Is Cool Under Pressure”

Todd concluded with some thoughts on leadership quoting Cory Booker, the dynamic mayor of Newark, as saying “My Mom used to say who you are speaks so loudly that I can’t hear what you say” and encouraged that being true to ourselves is an essential ingredient in leadership. He offered that the times call for transformational leaders and suggested that nonprofit leaders ask themselves these four questions as agents of change:
1. Am I results centered rather than comfort zone centered?
2. Am I internally directed behaving according to my own values and principles?
3. Am I other focused – putting the collective good first?
4. Am I externally open recognizing need for change?

Whew! That’s a lot to absorb. Todd got it all in and still got us home in time for the Yankee game! Do some of you call it the World Series? In the New York area we call it the Yankee game. Thanks Todd and congratulations Yankees! I couldn’t resist using the catbird seat theme as I thought of my favorite baseball broadcaster of all time, Red Barber and his Friday morning conversations with Bob Edwards last night.


Thursday, October 29, 2009

What Motivates Donors? New Report Dispels Some Myths and Provides Detailed Data

There is a thorough new report from the Center on Philanthropy at Indiana University entitled “Understanding Donors Motivations.” The sample size in this study was 10000 donors and the data was analyzed by various factors including region of the country, age, marital status, income and education level.

The two hypothesis tested in the study were:

•Motivations for giving to charity vary by region
•Motivations for giving to charity vary by income

The results provide insight and dispel some myths about motivations for giving. The only factors that statistically indicated different motivations were income and education level. Any perceived regional differences were eliminated when adjusted for education and income levels. Underneath these macro findings is a lot of detail that may be helpful to you in shaping your message.
Download the full Understanding Donors Motivations Report

The findings include that on an overall basis the top motivations for giving are:
•Provide for basic needs
•Help Poor help themselves
•Make community better
•Make world better

When you look at motivation by income level there are some subtle but important differences:
•Higher income donors (income greater than $100,000) were significantly more likely to select “making community better” as an important motivation for giving compared to lower income donors (income less than $50,000).
•Lower income donors were significantly more likely than higher or middle-income donors to report “basic needs” and “poor help themselves” as a motivation for giving.

Of course the devil is in the details and this report has a lot of useful information including regional analysis. If you are right now trying to craft just the right words in your year end appeal and are segmenting your list to tweak the message for different constituencies this report is a must read.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Hiring a Foundation CEO - Fascinating Findings but Most Important Variable Is Missing

Last week the Chronicle of Philanthropy had a brief article about hiring practices and foundations that caught my eye. It whet my appetite and I read the two full reports that Ian Wilhelm, author, referenced in the article.

In the last few years there have been major reports about the impact of retiring baby boomers and the need for a huge number of new leaders in the nonprofit sector. I have written a few blog posts on this subject and I also help nonprofits who are hiring for an executive position. However, this is the first spate of reports that I have seen dealing directly with Foundation Hiring and Leadership. For many people who work for nonprofits, foundations seem like “the other side” with upscale offices, genteel hours and where the money is doled out rather than begged for. Many nonprofit leaders view working for a foundation as something they’d like to do someday.

These two studies provide hard data and facts that should be of interest to you if you are one of those people. And it really should be of interest for the rest of us -there are fascinating findings and both studies will provide an important baseline to assess the changing landscape in foundation leadership.

The first report commissioned by Philanthropy New York, “Benchmarking Diversity: A First Look at New York City Foundations and Nonprofits” provides excellent benchmarking data for philanthropy leadership in a major urban city. The study surveyed 95 foundations and 540 nonprofits but this article will address foundation staffing only.
Download the full Philanthropy New York Report

The survey found that 43% of all staff at foundations are people of color, but 84% of foundation CEOs and 83% of board members are white. Women fair much better at 63% of CEOs and 45% of board members.

Does having a diversity policy make a difference? Apparently so. Foundations with a diversity policy tended to be more diverse. The proportion of people of color on the boards of surveyed foundations appears to be a strong indicator of a foundation’s overall focus on racial and ethnic diversity. Surveyed foundations with at least 25% people of color on their boards are more likely to have diverse staffs, to have both staff and grantmaking diversity policies, to target populations of color through their grantmaking, and to collect demographic data from grantseekers.

The Council on Foundations just released its Career Pathways to Philanthropic Leadership 2009 Baseline Report, which describes how foundations choose their leaders and what those leaders say about the process. Based on the appointments of 440 CEOs from 2004 to 2008, this study provides insight into hiring practices, and professional backgrounds of foundation executives. Key highlights from this report are:
-80% of the 440 foundations appointing CEOs filled them from candidates outside the foundations.
-39% of the successful candidates held CEO positions in their immediate prior position.
-Nearly 20 percent were from racially and ethnically diverse backgrounds and 48% were women. (Consistent with Philanthropy NY report findings)

Having previous executive management experience seems to be the most desired characteristic that Foundations look for in their search for a leader. The most valued skills are financial management, leadership of organizations, and the management of change. To me it appears that the process and criteria are very traditional but it remains to be seen if the results produce traditional results.

Part of the purpose of the study was to determine what foundations should be doing about leadership development within their organizations. They also interviewed “field advisers” – Board members and Foundation executives, etc. – for recommendations. Unfortunately, this section of the report is pretty skimpy. But it does suggest that mentoring and leadership development programs for internal candidates are steps that foundation should consider.
Download the full Council on Foundations Report

As I said in the beginning – fascinating! It will be interesting to see the reports in 5 – 10 years. I personally think the Foundation landscape is going to change dramatically just like everything else in the world is changing. The types of people who are chosen to be CEOs will drive that change. Neither of these reports went beyond basic data to provide any real insight into that change.

Both reports provided extensive racial and gender based data. But neither one addressed age diversity. Personally, I think that will be the real key to change in Foundation Leadership. Is it getting younger? Neither of these reports addressed that. I would love to know. What are these new leaders bringing to the table based on their personal experience. It is far different than inside employees are bringing. What is it? How will that change the landscape?

Any thoughts please share them in the comments.

Friday, October 23, 2009

How Is the iParticipate - Volunteerism Feature Going?

I've been disappointed that my favorite shows early in the week were not participating in the Volunteerism "iParticipate" project to feature volunteerism. (See my last post.) Last night I was at the 15th anniversary event for the New Jersey Community Development Corporation and didn't get to see any TV - except the Yankees lose in the 9th inning with bases loaded and full count on the batter.

Did you see any of these shows? They all were supposed to feature volunteerism. What did you think? Let us know.

-Parks and Recreation (KaBoom building a playground?)
-Grey’s Anatomy (Blood Drive? - Not too imaginative for a hospital)
-The Office
-CSI: Crime Scene Investigation
-30 Rock (This had to be funny - What was it?)
-Private Practice

Can't wait to see your comments.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Best Nonprofit Taglines - Getting Attention Reveals Winners

Nancy Schwartz is a nonprofit marketing consultant who writes the popular blog (Getting Attention). Last year Nancy's survey found that 70% of nonprofits didn't use a tagline or rated theirs as poor. Nancy recently sponsored a contest to select the best nonprofit taglines. There were 1702 taglines submitted and 13 winners were selected each representing a different category. I am not a marketing expert but I was really struck by the winning taglines. I think Nancy accomplished what she set out to do with this contest. She inspired nonprofits to think about their branding and show how powerful a tagline can be. Even a small nonprofit can do this without any budget.

The winners come from large and small nonprofits and I am truly impressed with how mch punch and focus can be delivered in a few words. My favorites from smaller nonprofits include:

Montana Historical Society
Big Sky. Big Land. Big History.

Texas Nonprofits
Building community deep in the hearts of Texans

Because the earth needs a good lawyer

Houston Food Bank
Filling pantries. Filling lives.

Homeboy Industries
Nothing Stops a Bullet Like a Job

Each of these taglines captures the mission of their organization with laser like focus and also touches the emotional draw of the mission. That's why they work so well. The contest is over but if your organization doesn't have a tagline - or it has one that just doesn't cut it, I suggest you sign up for Nancy's full report coming out in November with over 2500 tagline examples.

If you are gearing up for the holiday annual fundraising season, now is a good time to consider a tagline which communicates your brand and adds some jazz to your marketing. Today shorter communications are more effective and a tagline can really help get your message across quickly.

Thanks Nancy for making us think about this simple idea.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Volunteerism Week on TV

This week over 60 shows on Network and Cable TV will incorporate story lines about volunteers into their scripts, highlight real-life volunteers, air public service announcements, or ask cast members to create a "tag" at the end of their show encouraging people to volunteer. The idea originated with the Entertainment Industry Foundation, (EIF) a charity made up of representatives from all facets of show business, at their annual retreat. Hmmm...what ideas are you coming up with at your annual retreat?

Some examples of story lines:
On Parks and Recreation Amy Poehler's character has wanted to convert an abandoned construction pit into a park. This week, her dream is fulfilled with an assist from a real-life organization called KaBOOM!, which provides volunteers to build the park and a playground.

On The Biggest Loser, contestants will volunteer at a Los Angeles food bank.

On Brothers, the guys volunteer as coaches.

On CSI: NY, Hill Harper's Dr. Sheldon Hawkes volunteers at a hospital.

Later this year, the campaign expands with trailers in movie theaters, efforts in music and more.

Sherry Lansing, EIF Chair, put the value of the media being donated to the cause as "priceless."

I can't wait to see if my favorite shows are participating. I'll be watching The Big Bang Theory tonight and I hope they participate - I can picture Sheldon at a homeless shelter. It's an easy assignment for Top Chef but I'll have to wait until Wednesday to see if they participate.

Stay tuned this week and maybe there’s a story you can connect with and use to recognize or encourage volunteerism in your own organization. Post your comments here with feedback on any of the shows you saw this week featuring volunteerism.
It'll be a lot of fun to share our favorites.

Saturday, October 03, 2009

Great Opportunity from The Chronicle of Philanthropy for Encouraging Volunteerism and Philanthropy

The Chronicle of Philanthropy is running a great contest. It is simple and fun to enter - Go on over as soon as you finish reading this article and enter. There is a $5000 donation to your favorite charity first prize and two $2500 donation prizes. That’s a lot of motivation to enter. The Chronicle has partnered with the Entertainment Industry Foundation to have viewers create their own ideas of how volunteerism can be incorporated into their favorite TV shows. The ideas will be used for “iParticipate” week of volunteer focused television programs.

There are simple rules. Think of ways your favorite TV show could develop plots or themes that feature volunteers for your favorite charity, and send in your story pitches — either in writing or on video. The Grand Prize winner will receive a $5,000 donation in their name to their charity. Two Silver Prize winners will each receive a $2,500 donation in their name to their charity. Your pitch can be a video no more than 3 minutes long or a 250 word written proposal.

My husband and I have already entered and are rooting for our favorite charities. I submitted a script idea for The Big Bang Theory and my husband submitted one for Top Chef. Our charities are Community Agencies Corporation of NJ and Saint Vincent's Academy - both in Newark, NJ.

The contest deadline is Monday, October 26, 2009 so don’t delay. Here is the link for more information:
Chronicle of Philanthropy TV Script Contest

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Social Networking Workshop on October 8th

On October 8th, I will be offering a workshop on social networking for nonprofits. This five hour workshop is hands-on in a college computer lab. It is sponsored by the Partnership for Philanthropy and was sold out with great feedback when I offerred it in March.

Here are the details:

Social Networking 101

This five-hour workshop covers both Web 1.0 and Web 2.0 basics for nonprofits. Learn how you can use the Internet for your best advantage. Topics include websites, email marketing, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and more. Learn how to integrate all of them into your communications and fundraising plans. This workshop will be hands-on in the computer lab.

Location: Raritan Valley Community College
Date: Thursday, October 8, 2009
Time: 9:30 AM to 2:30 PM
Facilitator: Marion Conway
Cost: $75. Light meal and beverages provided
Registration: Contact Joyce Wackenhut at or 908-701-9810

Monday, August 31, 2009

So You Want to Work for a Nonprofit?

Recently, people have been asking me about how to get started working in the nonprofit sector. It could be someone who has been laid off and is checking out all possibilities or someone who is interested in opportunities in a field that they may find more satisfying than what they are currently employed at or - just about anything else you can think of. This is a common recession occurrence – when the economy is bad more people think of careers in the nonprofit sector.

Here’s the deal. Yes, it is true that when the economy is bad demand for nonprofit services go up. And in this economy it is skyrocketing. Whether it is a homeless shelter, a free/subsidized after school program, the public library, a museum or low cost arts program, demand has surged in this economy. However – and it is a big however – just like large and small businesses and individual households, nonprofit income is down. And so, almost all nonprofits are taking the same actions as the for-profit sector – hiring and salary freezes or cuts, layoffs, etc. The job market in the nonprofit sector isn’t very good, but there are openings that are being filled.

The National Council of Nonprofits has an excellent series of Special Reports on Economic Stimulus & Recovery. The reports do not reinvent the wheel but make liberal reference to studies that have already been completed and offer a summary of the impact on nonprofits, actions they are taking and advice – all of which is very good. I have blogged about many of these reports over the last year. You can find the catalog of the reports at:
National Council of Nonprofits

Advice If You Are Still Interested in Working in the Nonprofit Sector
The first thing you should do is some research on the sector. Read blogs – this one has lots of good background information (Also see my blogroll for other great blogs to visit), join nonprofit and philanthropy oriented LinkedIn groups and follow key nonprofit “types” on Twitter. Become fans of nonprofits on Facebook. And drumrolllll….the number #1 best way to learn about the nonprofit sector is to volunteer and get a insider’s view. Volunteer for hands-on program oriented work and to make good use of your professional skills. Nonprofits need and will appreciate both. Become a member of a nonprofit Board.

Where to Look for Actual Job Openings
My favorite place is at the Foundation Center but they make it impossible to find if you don’t know how to get there. “Jobs” is in the navigation of Philanthropy News Digest. Here’s the link.

You can also sign up to receive a weekly email list of the job postings and they are arranged geographically which is convenient for most people. This is a popular jobsite for nonprofits to post on because people in the sector know about it and use it, its free to post and you can post a full job description.

Young people are more inclined to be looking on, and Here’s my take on each: – It’s new and hip and highly promoted. It is popular with younger nonprofit professionals and even has great bloggers writing about working in the nonprofit sector. It is free to post a job on the site so I am recommending it to all my clients. – Very established but also attractive to the tech savvy younger crowd. Cost to post a job is only $50 and it is an effective job posting site for experienced nonprofit professionals. – Everybody knows about it and it gets a lot of traffic. Some nonprofits have told me they use it to post jobs and have been very satisfied with the results. Go figure – I thought craigslist was for advertising your garage sale.

Bridgestar - Leadership and Management Nonprofit jobs and Boards of Directors. If you are a senior management person seeking to have a second career in the nonprofit sector, I highly recommend this site. If you have a pertinent Master’s degree and experience working in a nonprofit this is a good site to check out also.

Nonprofit websites - Just like corporations most large nonprofits post their jobs right on their website and this is the best way to apply if they do. Smaller, tech savvy/oriented nonprofits also do this.

There’s lots more including Charity Channel, Opportunity Knocks and Council on Foundations, but I’ve tried to highlight the most popular sites.

Please add to the conversation and post your favorite places to find nonprofit jobs in the comments.

Monday, August 24, 2009

From Blue Avocado - Five Ways to Let Government Money Run You Over

A major problem I see with small nonprofits I work with is an over reliance on government funding and a lack of understanding that million dollar contracts can cost $1.5 million or that you can’t collect $1 million even if you spent it because you have not served the exact number of people required, or they didn’t all complete the program and get placed, or all the paperwork to ensure they were eligible wasn’t completed, etc., etc., etc. I’m sure these scenarios sound familiar to many of you. You are not alone. Don’t beat yourself up over it, examine the lessons learned and do some research on how to best manage government grants and do it right the next time.

The best article I have ever seen written on this subject is by Jeanne Bell, CEO of CompassPoint Nonprofit Services. Jeanne frequently writes about financial and management issues for Blue Avocado. Blue Avocado is the successor to Board Café and one of the best eNewsletters for nonprofits there is. I highly recommend that you sign up for a free subscription. I am delighted to have permission to reprint this article in full here on my blog.

This article is reprinted with permission from Blue Avocado, a practical, provocative and fun magazine for nonprofits. Subscribe free by sending an email to or at
Blue Avocado

Five Ways to Let Government Money Run You Over
Is government funding a way to expand what you do for important constituencies, whether they are families living with autism, low income people seeking legal help, or people attending your dance performances? Or is government funding a trap that will mire you in reporting nightmares, take you away from your values, and turn you into a heartless bureaucracy?

Let's start with a reality: local, state, and federal government agencies are major buyers of social services, education, health, and arts in the United States. In fact, government funding made up 52% of total income for social service nonprofits in 1997 (Lester Salamon in The Resilient Sector). For many organizations, the question is not whether to take government funding, but how to get more of it. Whether you are thinking about your first RFP (Request for Proposals) or are already knee-deep in existing grants and contracts, here are five ways to do it WRONG.

1. Don't assign anyone to oversee contracts management. Successful completion of a government contract requires not just doing the work well, but customized reporting of activities and finances. If no one is explicitly responsible for contracts management, some program directors may under-bid on costs, and you'll end up losing money on the contract. In other cases you may not pay attention to ensuring that the full amount of allowable costs is charged to the contract. Someone needs to make sure that budgets are appropriate prior to submission, that financial and programmatic performance is monitored, and that reports are done promptly and completely--these are not entry-level responsibilities!

2. Stay out of politics. Political engagement is an essential responsibility of government-funded organizations. It's not enough to help social service clients deal with the aftermath of our systems' inadequacies. Nonprofits need to take a seat at the budgeting and policy tables to inform policy direction and protect vital services. This might mean joining a local association of nonprofit contractors, or making sure that your board and staff leaders have the savvy to engage with government agencies and officials. Remember: endorsing a candidate for office isn't legal for nonprofits, but keeping officials informed is.

3. Blind yourself to the difference between what they're paying and what it's costing. A $1 million contract is a disaster if it ends up costing you $1.5 million to meet the deliverables. Because nonprofits have to track expenses to show they are in compliance with an approved contract budget, it's easy to post expenses only if they are at the level in the approved contract budget. In many cases, real costs that were not approved in the contract budget often get pushed somewhere else--to some nebulous "administrative" dumping zone--and the full cost of the program is lost forever. As a result, when it comes time to negotiate a renewal, the cost picture is inaccurate, and the nonprofit happily signs onto another money-losing year.

4. Let your organizational culture evolve organically. Because government funding often is a majority or even 90% of a nonprofit's budget, an implicit culture can grow that narrowly focuses on contract compliance and regards the government as the client (after all, the government is the client from a contract perspective). Culture means more than dress code or communication styles: it means a sense of nonprofit commitment to mission and to mission-identified constituencies (rather than contract-identified targets). Rather than let culture evolve on its own, devote attention keeping a nonprofit culture and a constituent-oriented outlook. Encourage cross-contract work groups and discussions. Demonstrate the same care with individual donors as you do with institutional donors. Engage your community in needs assessment, feedback, and be open to criticism and suggestions about your programs.

5. Now that you've got big money, don't sweat the little money. In CompassPoint's consulting practice, we often work with nonprofits--often those based in communities of color--whose early funding came from government agencies. Unlike nonprofits that established with large donations from their founding volunteers and board members, these groups often get started later on their individual, foundation, and corporate contacts. The result is too many 10-year-old organizations with $1 million programs but with fewer than 50 donors (who are listed in an outdated FileMaker database that nobody knows how to use!). Start to build the capacity for other kinds of funding, and set realistic goals for doing so. With even 10% of your budget coming from non-government sources, you'll enjoy the freedom to experiment, make a few mistakes, and do important work that would never be government-funded.

This article is adapted from "Government Funding: Use It Well," by Jeanne Bell, in Nonprofit Quarterly.

Thanks again to Jeanne Bell and Blue Avocado for allowing me to share this article with you. I hope you will share your experiences - both lessons learned and tips for success in the comments.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Guidestar Double Header: Impact of the Economy on Nonprofits – New Report and an Important Tip About Updating

Guidestar’s August newsletter provides an updated insight into how nonprofits are dealing with the economy. The results of a survey of over 2200 nonprofits and 181 foundations compare responses to questions for the 10/08 – 2/09 time frame and for the 3/09 – 5/09 period. I am not going to get into the comparison as it leaves you with the same analysis as that of the general economy – Is the fact that it isn’t getting worse great news? Who cares? It’s still bad and the current results show how are nonprofits coping. Here are some of the highlights of the survey for the 3/09 -5/09 period:

52% of nonprofits continue to say that donations are decreasing with almost 70% attributing this to fewer contributions and smaller contributions from existing donors.

About 38% said that corporate and private foundation grants were smaller. And a surprising 23% said that these grants were completely discontinued. Less than 15% cited smaller or discontinued government grants and contracts.

Grantmakers responding provided some insight into the steps they are taking: 20% are cutting back on the types of programs they fund and 9% actually said they were making smaller payouts to programs they were already committed to. In contrast 58% of nonprofits report an increase in demand.

So what are nonprofits doing to cope? 54% report a reduction of program services and staff is taking a big hit with layoffs, salary freeze or reductions, hiring freeze and reduction in benefits all cited.

Download the Guidestar Report

I have some simple advice that I’ve given before on this. Make sure you are keeping in touch with donors and saying thank you. Simply taking the time to say thank you – especially with phone calls without solicitation – can make a difference with being on an individual’s shorter list to support this year.

It is important that you stay in contact with foundations that support you. Make sure they know how you are doing and what steps you are taking to deal with the economy. Keep in tune with foundations that support you so you know if the type of programs you run may be in jeopardy and what kind of action they are expecting from nonprofits. You want to stay on their front burner as much as possible as the flame may go out on the rear burners.

The August Guidestar Newsletter also has a great article: “Applying for Funding from Family Foundations: Results of a New Survey.” I plan to write about that soon too.

Important Guidestar Tip
If you are a regular reader of this blog you know that I am a strong supporter of nonprofits updating their Guidestar profile. I am a member of NTEN – the premier organization for nonprofit technology and recently there have been some posts on one of their forums with this important tidbit. When you update your profile you must go to the donation tab and update that to include donations or it will default to donations not accepted. This will affect donations via Facebook and other sources using Guidestar. Ouch! I didn’t know that. If you have updated your Guidestar profile, go check this out today.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Wondering What to Do About the New 990? New Principles Workbook is a Comprehensive Governance Resource for Boards

Ever since the IRS adopted the new 990 with a series of governance questions that must be answered every year, the topic of governance has been much more popular with Boards. Sarah Hall Ingram, IRS Commissioner of Tax Exempt and Government Entities has been talking about governance and nonprofits. In recent remarks, she said that she believes that adherence to principles of good governance is entirely consistent with accomplishing charitable objectives and seeing that the tax-exempt sector complies with the IRS Code. Good governance helps advance these goals and it is a tool– something practical and useful.

It seems to me that sometimes the financial professionals almost frighten nonprofits when they talk about the new 990. But in fact, Ms. Ingram is clear that she understands there is not a one size fits all set of governance requirements and she plans to begin a dialogue with small nonprofits and membership organizations as they have particular concerns about which principles may apply to them. The IRS is actually starting quite gently here by merely asking questions - they haven't established harsh new requirements. But I do believe it will not take look for more good governance policies and practices to take hold with a broad spectrum of nonprofits. There already are good governance best practices and free tools to help you implement them.

Independent Sector and Boardsource have developed two comprehensive governance resources for nonprofit boards and they are available as free downloads at Independent Sector. I highly recommend these excellent resource as a basis for Board training.

1. Principles for Good Governance and Ethical Practice
A Guide for Charities and Foundations

This is the report of a panel on nonprofits convened by Independent Sector in 2007. The panel adopted 33 principles of good governance for Nonprofits and grouped them into four categories:
• Legal Compliance and Public Disclosure
• Effective Governance
• Financial Oversight
• Responsible Fundraising

2. Principles Workbook: Steering Your Board Toward Good Governance and Ethical Practice
Now Independent Sector, again working with BoardSource has published this user friendly tool that boards can use to for governance training. The principles are grouped into one of the related categories above and for each item there is a worksheet with a summary format including:
1. Core concepts
2. Discussion items
3. Legal and compliance issues
4. Resources

The worksheets provide a clear, concise summary and discussion items which can stimulate lively discussion around board governance and ethical practices.

The principles covered are:
1. Laws and Regulations
2. Code of Ethics
3. Conflicts of Interest
4. “Whistleblower” Policy
5. Document Retention and Destruction
6. Protection of Assets
7. Availability of Information to the Public
8. Board Responsibilities
9. Board Meetings
10. Board Size and Structure
11. Board Diversity
12. Board Independence
13. CEO Evaluation and Compensation
14. Separation of CEO, Board Chair, and Board Treasurer Roles
15. Board Education and Communication
16. Evaluation of Board Performance
17. Board Member Term Limits
18. Review of Governing Documents
19. Review of Mission and Goals
20. Board Compensation
21. Financial Records
22. Annual Budget, Financial Performance, and Investments
23. Loans to Directors, Officers, or Trustees
24. Resource Allocation for Programs and Administration
25. Travel and Other Expense Policies
26. Expense Reimbursement for Nonbusiness Travel Companions
27. Accuracy and Truthfulness of Fundraising Materials
28. Compliance With Donor’s Intent
29. Acknowledgement of Tax-Deductible Contributions
30. Gift Acceptance Policies
31. Oversight of Fundraisers
32. Fundraiser Compensation
33. Donor Privacy

My consulting work includes Board Development training and I am now integrating this workbook into my own toolbox. Give me a call if you are interested in Board Development training.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Bracing for Change - An Update on Dealing with Tumultuous Times

In November I blogged about a presentation given by Todd Polyniak of Sax Macy Fromm, an accounting firm in Clifton, NJ. That article "How Can We Possibly Stay Afloat in These Tumultuous Times?" is one of my most read blog articles and it is in the Nonprofit Good Practice Guide database.
Sax Macy Fromm

How Can We Possibly Stay Afloat in These Tumultuous Times?

NonProfit Good Practice Guide

Last week I attended another breakfast presentation and heard Todd give his update entitled “Bracing for Change.” This article provides a summary of Todd's preentation with some editorial comment by me along the way.

Todd started out with highlights of change over the last 24 months including political milestones, highpoint and lowpoint news stories and some economic indicators bringing us to where we are today with 9.4% unemployment and corporate meltdowns. He comes to the conclusion that many others are coming too… some things have changed permanently and require us to take a fresh look at how we face the world. He expressed concern about a leadership crisis among nonprofits with leaders feeling directionless and scared and employees having low morale. This is not different than at many for profit businesses. Todd offers 6 steps for a “new way of seeing normal.”

Respond with a Plan
Doing nothing and doing something rash will both be risky. So for the first step, Todd advises planning. You’ll always find me in agreement with this approach.

Assess Exposure
•Consider alternative scenarios and not just two all or nothing options*
•Quantify the impact of the various scenarios
•Assess the vulnerabilities of your competition
*(I highly recommend David LaPiana's new book, "The Nonprofit Strategy Revolution" for assessing alternatives)

Damage Control
•Protect your financial fundamentals (Remember Todd is an accountant)
•Protect your existing core programs
•Understand and maximize your value and competitive advantage (If Hildy Gottlieb is reading this she is screaming but David LaPiana is cheering)

Gain Long Term Advantage
•Invest for the future – Perhaps hire some great talent now in the job market
•Pursue opportunistic and transformative mergers and acquisitions
•Rethink the way you do business

Take Action
•Strategically focus on the most important things – Set Priorities
•Don’t get caught fighting the last war instead of this one

Break Roadblocks
•Address lack of commitment by the Board
•Address the need to take action quickly

Todd went on to reference Guidestar’s 10/08 survey citing decreasing contributions and increased demand for services. There was nodding heads in the audience with these comments. He noted the budget cutting happening in nonprofits but encouraged, as he did in November, that the best approach is to defend your top line. He strongly advocated for contacting donors by phone, thanking them, asking how they are doing and asking for support for an emergency fund (optional). He suggested setting numerical goals to make these contacts. I find this refreshing and basic sound advice.

Todd recommended that nonprofits review their Investment Policy Statement as it may make sense to update it. He made a powerful plug for reviewing the approval process and content of your 990 calling for you to “bulletproof you image.” (I’ll be writing more about that in a subsequent post).

Todd shifted gears and discussed human resource strategies you should embrace if you are downsizing including care for survivors, provide predictability, increase understanding, yield some control, and show compassion. At my son’s employer they reduced the factory workers to a 32 hour week and found that some working mothers preferred a shorter day, eliminating childcare hours at one end of the day to a four day week. Being willing to adjust workers hours according to their desired schedules helped morale quite a bit.

Todd then quoted the Fred Factor principles. He dove into the need for individuals to build relationships, continually create value for others and regularly re-invent ourselves.

Well this post is long enough and so I’ll call it a wrap. Thanks, Todd for providing the material for another important post.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Giving USA 2009 Report - What’s the Impact of the Economy on Giving in 2008 and Some Thoughts for 2009

Giving USA released its 2009 report today and I participated in the online discussion with the researchers hosted by the Chronicle of Philanthropy at Noon today. Like other bloggers, I am blogging today about the report. First of all I don’t see any surprises here. The Giving USA Report is like the bible of giving data and really gets a lot of press attention but the findings are really similar to lesser status studies done in the last six months. The scope and credibility of this report confirms what we thought we knew (Just in case that was important to you.)

Here are the major findings:

Giving did decline in 2008 by -2% or -5.7% adjusted for inflation –that’s over $6 B, not a small piece of change. This is the first decline since 1987 and the biggest percentage decline since 1974. The biggest percentage decline was in corporate giving followed by individuals and bequests. Foundation giving actually increased by 3%. Some foundation giving is really individual giving as foundations set up by living individuals is becoming more popular. Before we get too alarmed lets note that it is only the second year ever that giving topped $300B.

Two thirds of charities experienced a lower level of donations in 2008 but the only surprise was that this included human services. Previously we thought there would be increased giving in this sector. Giving USA did a separate analysis of the Human Services Sector sector this year and here are the key findings:

•54% of human services organizations reported an increased demand in 2008
•60% of these charities are cutting staff and budgets for 2009-06-10
•74% of youth development charities report being underfunded or severely underfunded and unable to meet current demand – this was the largest hit group
•53% of those serving basic needs (food, shelter) report being underfunded
You can read the full press release for more details or buy the full report at:
Giving USA 2009 Press Release

The Chronicle of Philanthropy discussion was concentrated on what to do in 2009 and there was lots of common sense, down-to-earth advice. For example, concentrate on individual giving and building relationships. Engage Boards in being involved with individual giving. Ted Druat of Convio answered the question about trends in online giving quoting a recent Convio study. First quarter 2009 is up 8% over first quarter 2008 and up 5% over fourth quarter 2008. Although its still small this is one more reinforcement that online giving cannot continue to be brushed off as not relevant.

There was good advice about general operating support. Donors want to give to something specific, and nonprofits are packaging the GOS as part of the cost of projects/programs. This makes sense to me and I think it is what should have been done all a long. The ED and payroll processor are part of the cost of the program and the relative amount of overhead should be part of the program cost. Recent studies all previously discussed in this blog were referenced in the discussion including the e-benchmarks, American Express, and Target Analytics studies.

Sean Stannard-Stockton at the Tactical Philanthropy blog made the best summary I’ve seen of the report: “the contraction was less than many people feared and the total amount given was within the range of the level of giving seen over the past few years...... Charitable giving behaved more or less as it normally does when the economy sours. This is, by most measures, the worst recession in a very long time and so we’re seeing charitable giving get hit. But it is only declining in line with the way it normally behaves.

Things are tough, but there was no apocalypse."

You can read Sean's whole post at:
"How Much Did Americans Really Give in 2008" at Tactical Philanthropy

Monday, June 01, 2009

Hiring Trends (That’s Right – Hiring) in the Nonprofit Sector – An Informative New Report

Although nonprofits just like other employers have had layoffs and part timing of previously full time employees there are still 24,000 expected openings for senior management jobs in the nonprofit sector this year.

This blog post provides a summary of the findings of a study completed by the Bridgespan Group and commissioned by the American Express Foundation on this topic. When I stepped back to look at this objectively I realized that I am working with three nonprofits who are planning to hire senior management staff – even as two of them face budget cutting.

The study provides an update to one completed in 2007 identifying the impending impact of retiring baby boomers on nonprofit leadership. This updated study confirms that the leadership deficit has become more pronounced in the past few years. The findings are based on interviews with 433 EDs of organizations with revenues of $1 Million or more and they are grouped into four key messages. The report includes the factual results of the survey and Bridgespan’s interpretive guidance. The guidance is directed at nonprofits seeking new leaders and individuals seeking to make a change from the for profit to the nonprofit sector.

Here are the highlights organized per the four messages :

Message No. 1: The leadership deficit in nonprofit organizations
remains large

The 2007 study estimated that there were 77000 senior level opening in the nonprofit sector in 2008 and that even with the bad economy there will be 24000 in 2009. Importantly, 22 percent of the positions filled in 2008 were newly created, largely due to growth and increasing organizational complexity.

Message No. 2: Functional skills matter (and are transferable across sectors)
Specific functional experience is the most highly rated criteria for hiring, with 79 percent of respondents rating it as “very important.” General management skills that are highly valued include multidisciplinary project management skills, experience of doing more with fewer resources, and flexibility/adaptability. These are skills especially transferable from the for profit sector. Participants responded that 50 to 75 percent of the roles they will need to fill in the near future require traditional business skills (finance, general management, marketing/communications, planning, evaluation, operations, technology, and human resources).

Message No. 3: Cultural fit is the deal breaker
75 percent, gave “fit with the culture of our organization” as very important to the hiring decision and Bridgespan says that from its experience this is indeed very important to the success of a person in a nonprofit job. They recommend that any candidate considering a move to the nonprofit sector be thoughtful about their own values and management styles, and about how they will integrate into a nonprofit culture. Working in the nonprofit sector will usually mean accepting a lower compensation and lack of meaningful career growth opportunities within the organization. If those conditions are important to an individual then the nonprofit sector is not the best place to look for a career change. The report recommends that when assessing candidates, nonprofits take a look at where the candidate has spent his/her discretionary time in the past and how that may matter for a cultural fit.

Message 4: Job boards, networks and search professionals most effectively connect talent to jobs

A surprise was that 49% of organizations are using job boards versus 44% using external networking to identify their candidates. Respondents said that print advertising was the least effective tool. Only 13 percent used executive search firms, but found them highly effective. When employers scan job board applicants without nonprofit experience, they want to see nonprofit board and volunteer positions on a resume as a way to communicate readiness to bridge to the sector and a candidate’s alignment with the values and/or mission of the nonprofit.

In summary, Nonprofit leaders are interested in candidates from the for profit sector but will be looking closely at critical skills, cultural fit and sincere interest in working for the organization. They are wary of candidates who appear to just be looking for a job.

Marion’s Comments
Based on my work and my personal journey from a Fortune 50 company to a second career working with nonprofits I agree completely with the report and I think it offers great advice both for nonprofits to broaden its search considerations and to those in the for profit sector seeking to make a change to the nonprofit sector. If this topic is relevant to you, I suggest that you look over all the resources at Bridgestar and download the full report. There is an excellent resource/toolkit section on this website.

Visit Bridgestar - an Initiative of Bridgespan

Monday, May 18, 2009

Council on Foundations – New Report on Foundations and the Economy and a Quick Annual Conference ReCap

The Council on Foundations has released a 24 page report on how Foundations are coping with the economic downturn. Some of the data we have heard anecdotally before but this report provides the results of a survey with 430 foundations of all sizes participating. Here are some key highlights:

Asset and Grantmaking Statistics
73% had assets decline by more than 25% in 2008
67% had an additional 10% or more loss in assets in Jan-Feb 2009

62% will reduce their total grantmaking in 2009
25% will reduce their 2009 grantmaking by more than 25%
92% are making grants in 2009 to aid low income families
60% are cutting their 2009 operating budget

The Silver Lining Is Funding Operating Expense
83% reported funding operating expense for nonprofits
8% said funding operating expenses was a new area for them
20% plan to increase operating funding in 2009

How Foundations Will Reduce their Grantmaking
The most common responses were smaller grants (63%) and not making multi year grants (46%). It will be much harder this year to be a new grantee at many foundations.

Innovation by Grantmakers
The economic downturn is also inspiring innovation and developing new approaches by grantmakers. 72% of funders say they are collaborating with other funders. Collaboration has long been a favorite idea of funders for nonprofits and now they are stepping up by setting the example themselves. 62% of funders are convening meetings - sometimes with other funders and MSOs – to develop strategies for dealing with the economy. I personally participated in one such conference last month as a speaker on “Social Networking and Fundraising.” 30% of foundations are helping nonprofits to merge operations.

Foundations Approach to Cutting Their Own Expenses
Foundations are also taking steps to reduce their own expenses. Over 60% say they are limiting attendance at conferences and reducing travel budgets. This was evident by the smaller crowd at the Council on Foundations conference this year. 45% have implemented salary freezes and 5% have actually reduced salaries. 27% have a hiring freeze and 15% have eliminated positions. 11 percent have reduced staff hours. Other steps being taken to reduce expenses include reducing professional development and paid professional memberships expense and reducing staff benefits. Only 13% report not taking any of these actions.

60% report making non-staff related expense reduction including institutional memberships, significantly reducing use of consultants (Editorial comment - Ouch!), using email to send Board materials and reducing investment management expense.

Interestingly, larger foundations have been even more aggressive in taking these steps than smaller ones. Foundations seem to be paralleling steps by corporations in reducing expenses across a broad spectrum.
Council on Foundations Report

Council on Foundations Annual Conference Featuring Bill Clinton
The Council of Foundations held their annual conference in Atlanta in early May. You can read excellent articles about the conference at Sean Stannard-Stockton’s blog, Tactical Philanthropy. 12 guest bloggers provided reports on international organizations, foundation storytelling, next generation grantmakers
dealing with the economic crisis, communications and more. Attendance at the conference was way down this year because of budget cuts, but that did not dampen the excitement of the big event - closing keynote by President Bill Clinton.
Tactical Philanthropy Annual Conference Guest Blogger Posts

Council of Foundations website - See Bill Clinton's Address

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

How to Use Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn for Advocacy and Fundraising

In March and April I discussed the boring stuff you should do before starting with Social Networking and getting started/how to develop a network. Now here is the part that everyone wants to know about – fundraising and advocacy on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn.

The previous post is an excellent slide show about fundraising on Facebook by Mike Ames. I totally agree with Mike – You can use Facebook to fundraise but don’t waste your time with Causes. You can see the statistics in the slide show and make your own decision. There are a few success stories with Causes but the fact is that those campaigns were run by top social media experts with very deep networks. If you have one of those people working with you then by all means consider using Causes. Otherwise, follow Mike’s step by step advice to build relationships and then go for fundraising using your Facebook page as a base. You can use the same approach to build awareness and advocacy.
See Mike Ames Blog

Twitter (and Facebook)
Once you have followers, then you are ready to begin fundraising on Twitter. The first and easiest way to use Twitter is to promote your events with a link to the information. This is especially useful for Arts events and informal drop-in no advance reservation needed type events. Have just one or two tweets a couple of days before the event but have 3 or 4 the day of the event. In addition to the basic information on the website change up or add a story every day for a few days and then your tweet can have something new to say. “Creating Buzz” is an essential skill for effective social networking.

Younger people give less and like to give to smaller campaigns that provide a sense that their donation matters. Structure your campaigns to them if they are your Twitter followers. Remember the whole campaign is 140 characters. So the Tweet would be something like “For every 100 people who donate $20 this week we can send 10 kids to summer camp In July see pics on website (link to website donation page).” Promise and deliver the feedback.

Use Twitter to encourage what I call “Celebration Giving.” Twitter people sometimes ask for donations to a particular cause to celebrate their birthday or other major milestone among their Twitter followers. Then they post whenever someone contributes. This also works with Facebook pages. The link on Twitter can be to a Facebook page – it does not have to be to your website. Check out some sample Facebook pages that you can recommend as examples and Tweet about them. This is the real power of social networking - not just what you do but what you get others to do for your organization.

A good way to promote advocacy on Twitter is to follow the major national organizations who provide leadership in information and advocacy and retweet their key messages to your followers. This is simple, not time consuming and effective. I follow a number of individuals and organizations with excellent advocacy messages and my knowledge, interest and likelihood to give to those causes has been greatly increased.

There are two important features to remember about LinkedIn. You must join as an individual – not an organization and fundraising is against the terms of service. However, you can build an impressive network on LinkedIn and also reach out to those not in your immediate network. You can send a message to your whole network (Be very careful to not abuse this – LinkedIn does monitor reports of problem members) and you can post in Events. My favorite way to reach people on LinkedIn is to join groups (You can start one too) where you can start and participate in discussions. You can use groups for advocacy, to promote events and to find volunteers and Board Members. LinkedIn can be a valuable networking resource.

This is just a getting started article. Please leave a comment and share how you are using Social Networking for fundraising and advocacy. Follow me on Twitter and invite me to join your network on LinkedIn. This completes this series of articles and next week I’ll be blogging on a different topic.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Getting Started Ways to Use Twitter, LinkedIn and Flickr – It’s All About Building Relationships

There are many social networking opportunities and you need to use your analytical and listening tools to see which ones will work for you. Do a few well rather than having a presence everywhere. Social Networking is an ongoing activity so finding what works and investing in it makes the most sense. Today I am going to discuss building relationships using Twitter, LinkedIn and Flickr.

Twitter – Like a huge party of people you don’t know*
Twitter is easy to get started with - you can follow anyone without asking their permission. You literally build your network 140 characters at a time. If you are tweeting for an organization make sure you do the following:
1. Use your organizational logo or personal picture as your avatar (No one wants to follow faceless people with the Twitter double zero as an avatar)
2. List your website or blog URL
3. Show brief (160 character limit) organizational description under Bio.
4. Post a couple of “Tweets” before you begin to build your network – an introduction and perhaps one about an event or article on your blog.

When you follow people, they will get an email with a link to your twitter profile and they will see the four things listed above. This is how they will decide whether or not to follow you. There are several easy ways that Twitter will help you Find People (click this option on Twitter) and you can begin to follow them right away. Chances are a high percentage of them will follow you soon.

Use the search feature with the # hashtag to find others you would like to follow with a similar interest –for example, search #nonprofit or #hunger.

Once you have some followers you want them to retweet (RT) your tweets and you will extend your network further. That is why so many people love Twitter - everything is short, sweet and to the point. Good ways to get a RT are:
• Announce an event happening soon - in the next few days
• Provide a link to a great article
• RT other tweets

A great way to build a Twitter network is to take advantage of #followfriday. On Friday, Twitterers post who they follow. Make sure you post who you follow and others will add you to their #followfriday post. Oh wait a is Friday...follow me today and I’ll include you in a #followfriday post....See you can get started building your network today..

Posting frequently is key to being successful with Twitter - but its only 140 characters and can be spontaneous. Remember its a huge party - have fun!

LinkedIn - Like a Chamber of Commerce mixer*
LinkedIn is an effective place to develop a professional network – both locally and further afield. You can only add people you already know so this is a much more intimate relationship than Twitter. You know more people than you think – LinkedIn will also help you find people you know who are on LinkedIn but you need to invite them to join your network. Once they accept you can see all of their connections and you probably will find more people that you know to invite into your network. If you have followers on Twitter, go ahead and invite them - they are people you know. Visit LinkedIn every day and your homepage will have connection updates of people in your network and you’ll find more people who you know and can invite to join your network. You can add applications and see a blogroll of recent posts by bloggers in your network or slide presentations posted on Slideshare. Use this app, and you can access a recent presentation of mine on Online Giving and Social Networking. I have found a great way to extend my network is to join groups and initiate discussions and comment on other discussions.

LinkedIn can be used for developing professional relationships, keeping current on issues, driving traffic to your blog, and posting job openings and events. Once you have an established network, you can post about your events, issues and accomplishments. You may even find potential board members this way – all through your existing network.

Flickr – A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words
Set up a Flickr account, upload pictures, tag each picture and make sure your pictures are under creative commons so that anyone can copy and post them. You can show a thumbnail Flickr photostream on your website and blog and anyone can click on the whole set of pictures. Encourage people to take your pictures and use them in a blog or facebook post about your organization. Having others use your pictures is the goal – make sure your captions “capture the spirit of the photo.” Have some pictures that include your name. I know a blogger that posts a picture from their Flickr Photostream with a caption every Wednesday with a blog post title "Wordless Wednesday." What a great idea - Keep your blog current in a quick, easy and wonderful way.

*Descriptions of Twitter and LinkedIn compliments of Hildy Gottlieb
Link to Hildy's article on Twitter

Link to Hildy's article on LinkedIn

Link John Haydon's(Super Nonprofit Socia Media Guru) free e-book Twitter Jump Start Guide for Non-profits

Whew! – That’s enough for now. Next up I’ll write about using Social Networking for Advocacy and Fundraising.