Monday, November 19, 2012

2012 Wishlist of Books for Nonprofit Folk and GIVEAWAY!!

Update 12/17/14 - See the 2014 Wishlist here...

Update 12/26/13 - Check out the 2013 Wishlist here....

Update (12/7/12:  Thanks to everyone who left a comment and entered to win a signed copy of Building Nonprofit Capacity by John Brothers and Anne Sherman at the blog, facebook and LinkedIn groups.  The winner is Lynette Davis who left a comment at my facebook page - Marion Conway - Nonprofit Consultant.

From My Own Nonprofit Book Collection
This is the fourth year that I am publishing my Wish List of Books for Nonprofit Folk.  It is a curated list and I am sure that you will find something special that will be of interest and value to someone you know working with nonprofits.  A book from this list will make a perfect holiday gift.

I have tapped my nonprofit network once again and asked them to make recommendations for this annual list.   What I love about writing this article is that I always learn about books that I will want to read in the next year and so I add them to my own wishlist.  In the past I have put the books into categories, but this year I am just listing all of them – in random order.  Check them all out – there are some real finds on the list.

This year’s list comes with a special holiday gift.  John Brothers, author of Building Nonprofit Capacity is offering a signed copy as a giveaway.  Read to the end to see how you can win.

And if that hasn’t whet your appetite, the contributors to this list include Anne Ackerson, Debra Beck, Kathleen Brennan, John Brothers, Heather Carpenter, Nell Edgington, John Haydon, Beth Kanter, Matt Koltermann, David LaPiana, JD Lasica, and Marc Pitman.

I asked the contributors to let me know about their new publications and books that they recommend.  And Wow!!!! What a diverse list it is!!  There is something for everybody.  Whether you are looking for a straightforward practical book or something philosophical and inspirational you’ll find a great recommendation straight from a thought leader for nonprofits. Here’s the wishlist….

Recommended by me. I wrote about this book in September and how I used it at a Board retreat to do a nonprofit lifecycle analysis.  I highly recommend it and conducting a lifecycle analysis on your organization.   Building Nonprofit Capacity provides a modern, updated approach to an important subject and you won’t find another current resource available specific to nonprofits. The model focuses on growth and sustainability and provides realistic characteristics of organizations at various stages of their lifecycle.

by Howard Rheingold and Anthony Weeks 
Recommended by Beth Kanter. This book will enhance your understanding of digital media and its interconnectedness with all aspects of life.  It captures how to use social media intelligently, humanely and mindfully.  Bring your understanding of the net to a new level.

The Nonprofit Business Plan: A Leader's Guide to Creating a Successful Business Model by David La Piana, Heather Gowdy, Lester Olmstead-Rose and Brent Copen
David LaPiana is known as a forward thinking nonprofit strategic planning expert and this book looks at the economic and operational requirements for strategy to succeed.

The Fundraiser's Guide to Irresistible Communications by Jeff Brooks  

Recommended by Kathleen Brennan and Marc Pitman so it MUST be a winner.  Even the title makes you want to read it. Amazon features 5 star reviews by other fundraising notables.  This is a must have for any fundraiser’s bookshelf.

Leap of Reason: Managing to Outcomes in an Era of Scarcity   by Mario Morino

Recommended by Nell Edgington and Anne Ackerman.  Nell and Anne work with nonprofits to develop more effective organizations.  Their work is outcomes oriented and Anne says that Mario Morino “brings a knowledgeable perspective to the discussion of measuring nonprofit impact.”    Excellent reviews on Amazon too.  Big Bonus – this book is inexpensive and available for free on Kindle.


Measuring the Networked Nonprofit: Using Data to Change the World by Beth Kanter and KD Paine

Recommended by J Lasica.  As long as we are talking about measuring, you definitely want to have this new book by Beth Kanter and KD Paine on your list.  Beth is the queen of the networked nonprofit and KD is of measurement.  Together they can help you bring your social media efforts to a new level by adding the all important ingredient of measurement.

Brandraising: How Nonprofits Raise Visibility and Money Through Smart Communications by Sarah Durham
Recommended by John Haydon.
  John is not subtle in his recommendation: “If you run a nonprofit, you need to buy this book. Period. Brandraising is the smartest book written on branding for causes and organizations.” Branding is about a lot more than coming up with a catchy phrase and the right colors.  Sarah Durham demystifies what can be a difficult topic and explains clearly its depth.

Facebook Marketing For Dummies by John Haydon, Paul Dunay and Richard Krueger
Recommended by me.  I was lucky to win a copy of John’s new book by leaving a comment on his facebook page.  If you are involved in working with a nonprofit and their facebook presence you NEED to have this book.  Whether it is understanding your target audience, using applications, engaging fans or measuring with insights you will learn what you need to become an expert with this book.

Recommended by Debra Beck.  Debra says”that this book really brings home the importance of developing, communicating and organizing around a compelling mission.  Particularly useful are the exercises and resources – makes it not only inspiring but practical.”  Thanks Debra – I’m adding this one to my list as this is an important topic in my work.

Recommended by Heather Carpenter. Heather uses this book in college level classes that she teaches. If you know a small nonprofit that wants to get started with using social media but has a limited budget and limited know-how, this book is the must have primer.  This book gets 5 star reviews from people getting started using social media for nonprofits. 

This year, for the first time, there are two eBooks recommended.

Lies, White Lies, and Accounting Practices; Why nonprofit overhead doesn't mean what you think it means By Saundra Schimmelpfennig
Recommended by Matt Koltermann. Matt makes a strong call out for this 20 page ebook and has this to say.The idea that a nonprofit should be primarily evaluated by how much it spends on "overhead" has always frustrated me since it's so easily manipulated.  Schimmelpfennig's 20-page book exposes the reasons why it's an outdated metric and armed me with the knowledge I needed to have informed conversations about why perpetuating this method does more harm than good to nonprofits and donors alike.”

Check it out here. 

Since this is Marc Pitman of Fundraising Coach fame, you can get this  any way you want.  Originally, a live seminar in Montreal, you can get this as audio only, audio with PowerPoint slides on a flash drive file or as an eBook pdf file.  Only Marc would give you all of these options.  And no one can be as inspiring and fun to listen to as you learn.
Check it out here

Giveaway Details
If you would like an opportunity to win a signed copy of Building Nonprofit Capacity by John Brothers and Anne Sherman just leave a comment here about a book you would recommend or visit my facebook page and leave a comment with your recommendation on the post about this giveaway.  The winner will be chosen from all comments made by midnight, December 2, 2012. 

Wednesday, November 07, 2012

BoardSource Nonprofit Governance Index 2012

Every 2 - 3 years BoardSource conducts an in depth survey and publishes The Nonprofit  Governance Index.  This important report helps us understand how nonprofits govern,  benchmark our organization and Board to others, and provides updates in trends and recommendations by BoardSource.   My articles about the Nonprofit Governance Index are always popular – and enduring long after they are published.  As always I mix in my commentary along with the objective results – so please don’t blame BoardSource which has diligently reported the data objectively.

Today I am publishing two articles on the 2012 Nonprofit Governance index.  This article covers:

  •  Board Policies and Practices
  •  Board Performance

  • Organizational Characteristics
  • CEO Characteristics
  • Board Composition and Structure

1341 nonprofit CEOs from across the country completed a detailed questionnaire with multiple choice and open ended questions – 66 questions in total.  Large, medium and small sized organizations are fairly represented across all nonprofit sectors. The median budget size was in the $1 - $5 Million range.

So here are the results of all this:

Board Policies and Practices
Adoption of accountability measures has continued to increase since the revision of IRS Form 990, which began requiring disclosure of governance policies in 2009. 96% now have conflict of interest policies and 88% have whistleblower and documentation retention and destruction policies.  81% of boards have a formal written evaluation of their CEO and provide 990s to Board members before filing.  This represents significant progress with accountability by Boards on these  important responsibilities.  Boards are definitely taking their responsibilities more seriously than in the past.

44% of nonprofit Boards meet 4-6 times a year and also 7-12 times a year.  It’s a dead heat.  I am often asked how often is most common and I always say that I have seen every frequency.  This data bears that out.  What is also true is that if there are fewer meetings the meetings are longer.  Boards reported spending 35% of their time on committee or staff reports and 38%  on strategy and policy issues rather than operational issues.  88% of Boards report 75% attendance at meetings or better.  Sounds great but I think they are counting more tele and video conferencing than in the past since 47% say they use these technologies.

55% of the respondents report that they have conducted a formal self-assessment in the past three years, but nearly 30% of respondents report that their Board has never conduct­ed a formal, written evaluation of its own performance.  When I am contacted in the early stages of Board Retreat planning, I frequently recommend conducting a Board Assessment and I have an excellent tool for conducting an assessment.  I am surprised that so many Boards don’t consider this an important thing to do.  ALL of the organizations that I have done an assessment with have found it helpful and it provides an excellent springboard for discussion on how Board performance can improve.  If you haven’t done a board assessment, seriously consider it.

Board Fundraising
75% CEOs report 90% to 100% personal board giving.  This is good news.  However,  while 75% of CEOs say that expec­tations regarding fundraising are explained during recruitment,  40% of nonprofit CEOs report that their board members remain reluc­tant to participate in fundraising activities.  CEOs identify fundraising as the most common area needed for board im­provement, and fundraising is consistently the lowest scoring area on the board report card.  I have seldom met a nonprofit CEO that does not have this complaint. But frankly – no egg throwing now – I think the expectation in small -  especially urban based -  nonprofits is frequently unrealistic.

Board Orientation
This chart clearly shows the value of having formal Board orientation.  Boards that do report having a structured orientation report having significantly more well informed boards.  It does make a difference.

Board Responsibilities
BoardSource asked CEOs to assess their Board’s performance in the responsibilities outlined in the BoardSource publication, Ten Basic Responsibilities of Nonprofit Boards. Over 80% of CEOs rated their Boards as having a grade of A or B in their understanding of the organization’s mission and financial oversight.  From there the grading goes down rather precipitously. Once again, as in past surveys, boards received a low grade for fundraising. In fact 45% of CEOs gave their Board a D or F in fundraising. Not very encouraging. 


Sunday, November 04, 2012

Personal Update on Sandy from New Jersey

We live in northern New Jersey and by some miracle we did not lose power at all during Hurricane Sandy.  We endured hours of unbelieveable howling wind and were prepared with extra food and batteries. We did not lose power although 80% of the people in our town did.  It seems like almost everyone we know except our immediate neighbors lost power including  ALL of my family.  My daughter, her husband and my three year old grandson have been staying with us since Monday.  Thursday night when it began to get very cold, my niece came to stay with us too.  We also have been a place to take a hot shower and recharge your cell phone.

I do sorely miss my neighbors' huge pine tree which I can see from my office.  I watched it sway and sway and then filled their yard and hit their house but thankfully did no damage.  Here is a picture of my daughter and grandson with the tree before it was removed.

And then Zach posed in front of the truck that would remove the tree and leave a big empy space fo us to get use to.

Now it’s Sunday.  My daughter still does not have power.  My son-in-law spent five hours on a line to get gas for his car.  My niece has had power restored and gone home. 
If you'd like to contribute to the disaster relief in NJ here are two of the best ways:
The Red Cross – The Red Cross is the premier organization for dealing with disasters.  They have the infrastructure and know how to be efficient and do the most important things first.

Community Food Bank of NJ – The Food Bank is part of the Feeding America network and is a huge operation with locations in North and South Jersey. They have been working with the Red Cross and Salvation Army to distribute 100,000 pounds of food a day.  The Community Food Bank is volunteer powered who are usually stocking shelves and filling bags.  But this week they are cooking up a storm (No pun intended)  to be distributed throughout the state to those affected, and the workers and volunteers who are working around the clock to bring some sanity to the lives of millions.
I hope all of you have safely made it through the storm, have power restored and can get back to leading a normal life as soon as possible.
If you work for a nonprofit that is involved in disaster relief I invite you to post a comment here about what they do and how readers can contribute.