ONEplace Blog

News, comments, resources, and more for nonprofits.

Once upon a time...

When I hear the phrase, “once upon a time,” I immediately relax, settle into my chair, and focus my attention on what’s coming next. I’m about to hear a story. 

Stories form the foundation of virtually all our entertainment and learning. All TV series, movies, and books (even most non-fiction) are stories. Songs, lectures, dances, and many paintings evoke stories. It’s how we convey information and instruction, and it’s how we turn information into meaning,  

Communicating with donors and other stakeholders requires us to tell stories. Yet, many of us struggle with where to start, how to gather stories, and how best to tell them. 

Over the next few weeks, ONEplace offers events targeted on this challenge. Great Stores = Connection (May 29) provides interview questions to draw out information and tips on how to engage staff in gathering good stories. Plus, we’ll look at several examples.  

In Assess Your Qualitative Impact (May 30), Demarra Gardner shows us how to evaluate our organization’s programs and services, drawing out the information that paints a comprehensive picture of how we are fulfilling our mission. 

ONEplace also explores two arenas for telling your story with How to Win Corporate Grants (May 21) and Asking for a Legacy Gift (June 6). 

Our stories carry power – power to inspire, encourage and motivate. No other medium comes close. Make it work for you. 

Best, 

Thom 

ThomA

Of Babies and Bathwater

Some things get undeserved bad raps. We get stymied or frustrated by something, so we cast it aside rather than fix, adjust or redirect.

Can you say, “strategic planning?” How about “performance appraisals”…or “meetings?”

Faulty leadership most often suffers not from a lack of know-how but from a lack of execution. We often know what to do, but, for various reasons, we simply do not follow through. So, we place the blame on the thing we won’t do and dismiss it.

This won’t do. Let’s throw a life preserver out to these water-treading children, pull them ashore, and do the work that needs to be done:
- Setting an intentional path toward increased community impact through strategic planning 
- Nurturing our staff’s professional development through meaningful performance appraisals
- Taking the time to check-in, to resolve tactical issues, to make strategic decisions, and to grow together as a cohesive organization through effective meeting practices

Begin right away. You can start by reclaiming the importance of meetings by attending Effective Meetingson Wednesday, March 13. This session goes beyond agendas and timely minutes to getting the right people in the right place addressing the right issues.

Best,

Thom
ThomA

Improve Your Touch

We often hear phrases such as, “keep in touch,” “losing touch” or “stay in touch.” It’s about connecting with people and maintaining relationships.

A former colleague of mine frequently referred to a “touch” as any contact with a customer (i.e., client, patron, donor, funder, etc.). She recognized that the frequency and quality of our touches directly relates to the effectiveness of our organizations.

March at ONEplace is all about improving our touches. We will address issues of direct communication (Email Newsletters – Feb 26) and mass communication (MLive Update – Mar 14), donor recognition and formal gatherings (Effective Meetings – Mar 13).

Later in the month we continue with a look at connecting with Millenials (Mar 19), using LinkedIn & Twitter (Mar 27) and your overall communications personality (Mar 20).

Another phrase I often hear is: “It’s all about relationships.” Whether your focus is fundraising, communications, management, or leadership, developing and maintaining key relationships sits at the core of your effectiveness. So, plan now to take advantage of the above professional development opportunities.

Best,

Thom

Book

Customer Once, Client Forever
9780938721826
ThomA

Pockets of Greatness

Over the past few weeks I’ve enjoyed getting to know some of our area’s consultants. The topics of our conversations vary at first, but they always come back around to leadership.

While there were many common points of agreement among these conversations, one that stands out to me is that everyone can be a leader. Indeed, our organizations need leaders in every area, creating what Jim Collins (Good to Great) calls “pockets of greatness.”

Developing leadership requires long-term investment in building technical skills and nurturing adaptive skills. In the months ahead ONEplace addresses both technical and adaptive development through a series of programming:

Take the Lead: Attention – Tues Nov 27, 1:00-2:30 pm – Learn what defines leadership vs. management and why you need both. Discover how you can take the lead from your current position – wherever that may be. Explore practices that will develop your leadership ability.

Project Management – Wed Nov 28, 9:30 – 11:00 am - Learn how to prioritize an overwhelming array of activities. Discover a rational, methodical process for defining, planning, and managing your projects. Examine steps you can take to protect your plan from potential problems and capitalize on potential opportunities.

ONEplace Nonprofit Leadership Academy 2013 – January-May, 2013 – An in-depth exploration of nonprofit executive leadership over ten sessions plus a mentoring experience. Applications are due November 30.

Consider these opportunities as well as resources found on our Leadership ONEpage to help you develop your leadership skills.

Best,

Thom

Book

Good to Great
9780066620992
ThomA

Tell Your Story

You’re leading a staff meeting, giving a report to the board, addressing a group of program volunteers, or having coffee with a donor. In these situations and others, you have the opportunity to tell a story.

We have the stories – volunteers, staff, and participants tell us wonderful tales of how they have been greatly helped and deeply touched. The challenge becomes presenting that story so the full impact is felt by the listeners.

On October 24, we’re hosting “Three Stories Every Nonprofit Should Tell,” a webinar by Kivi Leroux Miller, president of the Nonprofit Marketing Guide. This event explores the dramatic plot lines used by writers and offers steps on how to craft your story to achieve maximum impact (more info).

Put the power of story to work in your fundraising, board development, and community relations.

Best,

Thom

P.S. We also recently added November programming to our ONEplace calendar (check it out).

ThomA

Research Makes All the Difference

Great grant proposals begin with research. In fact, approximately 70% of the grant writing process is research. Knowing the right tools and how to use them makes this critical element efficient. So, we again present our Grant Research Tools Workshop on September 26 at 1 p.m.

During the session you will identify what you need to know about your organization and learn how to match your needs with the right funder. You will discover websites and directories with relevant information, and explore the Foundation Center Directory Online with over 100,000 foundation and corporate funders.

Bailey Mead, ONEplace Associate, leads this important class. Bailey joined ONEplace last spring. Previously, she served as Development Director at WARM Training Center (an organization dedicated to building sustainable communities in Detroit through energy efficiency and job training), Grantwriter at Area Agency on Aging 1-B, and Annual Fund Manager at THAW (The Heat and Warmth Fund). With more than 13 years of fund development and leadership experience in organizations ranging in size from grassroots to statewide, she brings a breadth and depth of nonprofit experience to assist you.

Best,

Thom

Book

Essential nonprofit fundraising handbook
9781601630728
ThomA

Now Hear This!

It’s easy for those of us in nonprofits to get so engaged in running our programs and organizations that we forget to tell the general public. We communicate with those close to us, but the wider community may not even know we exist.

Let’s change that!

Like most important endeavors, marketing and communications needs a plan, clear task assignments, and effective execution. In the weeks ahead, ONEplace offers help to jump start your efforts.

First, the Marketing & Communication Roundtable restarts on the third Tuesday of every month beginning September 18 at 11:30 a.m. Like all our roundtables, these are lunch and learn discussions with colleagues where you reflect on your efforts, articulate your successes and issues, and learn from each other’s experiences.

Second, ONEplace hosts four events targeted to your communications needs: “Facebook for Nonprofits” on October 10, “Measuring your Nonprofit Success” on October 17, “Managing your Editorial Calendar” on October 18, and “Three Stories Every Nonprofit Should Tell” on October 24. Visit our website for details and registration. These events are free of charge.

Make October the month you nail down your marketing and communications strategy. ONEplace can help via the resources above and providing direct assistance with your specific needs. Call me (269) 553-7899 or email ThomA@kpl.gov to find out more.

Best,

Thom

Book

Brandraising
9780470527535
ThomA

Supervision & Management Series

I love mankind…it’s people I can’t stand

Charles Schultz bestowed those words on Linus Van Pelt in November 1959, and supervisors far and wide continue to quote him. Why? Because, like a siren’s call…

Beautifully constructed and multi-colored, the geometric artifices of management process leap from the page into our unfiltered imagination, and we bask in the glow of a well-ordered workplace. Suddenly, our idyllic vision explodes! “Real people” have entered the picture and our so-called process is mangled and shredded to bits. Men and women – full of their own “thoughts” and “opinions” – actually care and act upon their unsolicited thoughts and opinions. What’s a manger to do!?!

I trust that your supervisory task is not that bad. Even so, our clean, well-ordered supervisory systems get various degrees of messy once applied to real life. That’s why ONEplace@kpl is bringing back Paul Knudstrup’s Nonprofit Supervision and Management Series.

Based on his book, The 8 Essential Skills for Managers and Supervisors, this five-session series explores key issues and strategies in supervision and management:

• What do managers really do?
• What’s different about managing a nonprofit?
• How good communication helps create healthy relationships and a strong work environment
• Focusing on achieving the results needed by your organization
• Empowering your staff
• Taking responsibility for your ongoing growth and development
• And much more

While each session is independent, they build upon each other, so committing to the entire course will bring the greatest benefit. As an incentive, those who attend all five sessions receive a free copy of Paul’s book.

The sessions run Monday mornings Sep 10, 17, 24, Oct 1 and 15 (more info). Space is limited for this popular course, so sign up early.

Best,

Thom

Book

The 8 Essential Skills for Managers and Supervisors
9780982181706
ThomA

Lobbying, Can Nonprofits Do That?

After attending the Michigan Nonprofit Association’s Nonprofit Day 2011, I found out that, yes nonprofits can lobby. According to the IRS, 501(c)(3) corporations are allowed to lobby as long as they follow their rules and fill out the proper forms. The IRS defines lobbying as attempting to influence legislation by contacting, or encouraging the public to contact, members of a legislative body for purposes of supporting/opposing/proposing legislation. The major rule is that nonprofits cannot spend a “substantial amount” of their budget on lobbying. For a clearer explanation of what the IRS considers to be a “substantial amount,” check out Measuring Lobbying Activity: Expenditure Test. Charity Lawyers Blog post titled, Lobbying-Yes You Can! clarifies in layman’s, terms what is and is not lobbying, as well as explaining the 501(h) election.

According to the IRS, qualifying organizations may file a special election under 501(h) of the Code, or Election/Revocation of Election by an Eligible Section 501(c)(3) Organization To Make Expenditures To Influence Legislation (501(H) Election), to allow them to spend up to a specified dollar amount for lobbying without fear of adverse tax consequence from such activities. The IRS and Michigan Nonprofit Association advise nonprofits to file the 501(h) election if they are planning on doing any lobbying, as well as tracking all expenditures. ‘Direct’ and ‘Grassroots’ lobbying must be tracked separately as they have separate expenditure limits.

IRS Resources on Lobbying and expenditure limits:

IRS Definition of Direct & Grassroots Lobbying

IRS Schedule C Political Campaign and Lobbying Activities

IRS General Instructions for Filing Schedule C for Lobbying Activity

Excessive lobbying activities over a four-year period may cause a nonprofit to lose its tax-exempt status, making all of its income for that period subject to tax.

For questions on how to use communication channels such as your website, email, and social media channels for lobbying, Alliance for Justice is offering a free downloadable copy of Influencing Public Policy In The Digital Age: The Law of Online Lobbying and Election-related Activities. The guide is intended to inform 501(c)(3) and (c)(4) organizations on how to stay within the law and encourage participation in the nation’s democratic process using technology.

Consult your attorney and the IRS Charities/Nonprofits webpage for more information on how nonprofits can lobby for their cause. Other helpful resources are the IRS eNews: Exempt Organization Update and Center for Lobbying in the Public Interest website. ONEplace will be hosting a webinar November 15 titled Lobbying Rules for Nonprofits presented by Alliance for Justice. Register online soon as we anticipate seats will go fast!

Please share your thoughts about nonprofit lobbying by commenting on my blog!

Book

Lobbying-Yes You Can!
lobbyist-160
http://charitylawyerblog.com/2010/02/24/lobbying-yes-you-can/
MonicaP

Rules of Engagement With Foundations

Nonprofits often seek grants from foundations for new projects or ongoing financial support. During an informative webinar, presented today by John Hicks, CFRE, for the Association of Fundraising Professionals (AFP), he discussed ways to build positive relationships with foundations.

His ‘elements of a good relationship’ include: trust, communication, shared values, honesty, and respect…as he noted, the elements of any good relationship. Learning about a foundation’s mission, values, culture, philanthropic philosophies, and practices, is critical to assessing a good match and possible funding opportunity. If mission and values clearly aren’t in alignment, he urges grant seekers to not waste their own or the foundation’s time in pursuing a relationship.

His ‘six rules of engagement’ build on those elements. Nonprofits need to know:

  • The landscape--the type of foundation: mega, competitive or community, family
  • The people you are dealing with--program officer/staff, board members, or family foundation donor; learn through direct conversations and through your networks
  • Their considerations—what they are dealing with that has nothing to do with you, or ‘their environment’
  • What they value—outcomes that relate to their vision, working with people who have authority and responsibility for funding and outcomes, and people who follow their protocol
  • How to give them what they want, how they want it—by learning their culture, personalities, and information processing practices, without shortcuts. Never to under estimate the importance of the gatekeeper—the person who opens and is the first to review your correspondence, requests, and reports for process (rules) and information
  • Minimize risk—their risk through failed projects or misuse of funds; grantee risk through unrealistic expectations or mission drift

Stating that, like other types of fundraising, people give to people the trust, he encourages nonprofits to keep foundations informed about their work and outcomes before and while seeking funding from them. The relationship is a professional one, not a personal one, that needs to be treated much like working with an attorney to prepare a case: the grant-seeker preparing a case to the foundation and the foundation professional preparing a case to his/her board, grants panel, or the donor, directly.

These and many other grant-seeker/grant-maker resources are available at ONEplace and through the AFP website. If you have tips for developing positive relationships with foundations, please comment on this blog.

Book

Association of Fundraising Professionals
afp-logo-160
http://www.afpnet.org/
BobbeL