ONEplace Blog

News, comments, resources, and more for nonprofits.

Is There Discontent In Your Organization?

 Do you know if there is? Do you know how much it affects your organization’s ability to do your mission-driven work now or in the future?

During our First Wednesday Risk Management Series webinar, presenter Carlye Christianson of the Nonprofit Risk Management Center pointed out several critical outcomes from having ‘unhappy stakeholders’ (staff, volunteer, board members) in your midst. Common to all stakeholder groups: discontent diminishes commitment to mission; and, costs of replacing people are high. She recommends studying retention in departments and stakeholder groups at least annually so problems can be addressed quickly. Below are some key points she made about why people leave organizations and how to proactively address discontent-causing practices:


  • Only 12% leave an organization for reasons related to compensation
  • 88% leave for other reasons, including: organizational culture; management style or a specific supervisor; lack of opportunities for advancement or professional development; or, the organization’s lack of commitment to quality or mission
  • One in three employees is thinking of leaving at any one time; for discontented staff that rises to 50%
  • Discontented workers often increase: tardiness, mistakes, detachment, poor attitude
  • To proactively address potential discontent: listen to employees; conduct a ‘stay interview’ (what will keep you here/what will send you away); offer opportunities for new assignments, training, and leadership development; provide options for work/life balance, encourage ‘a voice’ in how the organization runs and how the mission is served


  • Leave organizations for the same reasons staff do plus lack of: orientation, interpersonal relationships, good skill/assignment match, commitment to mission
  • To get and keep volunteers: develop a volunteer management program with a policy and procedure manual; review and update recruiting practices (only recruit people and skills you really need); develop job descriptions; provide orientation, ongoing training, and recognition; assure meaningful integration into the organization; and, conduct stay/exit interviews

Board Members

  • Leave organizations because of: low productivity in the board room (low expectations; poor attendance, preparation, or engagement; lack of meeting management); crisis mentality; factions and impasses; poor ED-CEO / board relationships;
  • To get and keep board members: recruit and orient purposefully and appropriately; create an intentional culture of candor, inclusiveness, foresight, and reflection; evaluate and change board structure, operations, and ‘work’ (clearly define board / ED roles; move from hands-on to policy focus, etc); engage in strategic discussions and issues; and, conduct stay/exit interviews

Continually assessing all areas (ED, board, staff, volunteers), individually and collectively, and implementing a culture of continuous engagement and improvement will go a long way to stemming and/or reversing discontent in all stakeholder groups. The costs for your organization and, especially the constituents you serve, are too high to do otherwise.

For more information on this and many other risk management topics, visit the Nonprofit Center for Risk Management. ONEplace presents their First Wednesday Webinar Series and Third Thursday HR Webinar Series. Check our website calendar for more information and registration.


Nonprofit Center for Risk Management (symbol: Chinese for angry, annoyed, unhappy)

Gail Perry Fires-Up Fundraising

Gail Perry ‘wrote the book’ about transforming your nonprofit board members into a ‘fired-up’ fundraisers by putting their passions into actions. She will be in Kalamazoo on April 28 to share her wisdom and 7-step process for creating excitement about your organization’s potential and enthusiasm to generate the resources to make it happen. She’ll explore ways to change board members’ perception of fundraising from “asking for money” to “changing the world.”

Her presentation will be held at the Fetzer Center, Western Michigan University, from 8:30 to noon, followed by a networking luncheon (optional), and is co-sponsored by ONEplace@kpl and the Association of Fundraising Professional’s West Michigan Chapter. Registration information is available at ONEplace or AFPWM. Put it on your calendar, invite board members and fundraising staff, and register today!

If you aren’t yet familiar with Gail, she is always on the lookout for stimulating and, often, counter-intuitive fundraising ideas. Following is a summary of ‘pearls’ she gathered at the Association of Fundraising Professionals’ International Conference in mid-March—and a taste of what you can expect at her April 28 presentation. For the complete idea, follow the link to the originator.

16 Provocative Ideas That Will Raise More Money

1. Go All Out for Monthly Donors On Your Home Page

Monthly donors are worth gold to you. On average, they will stay for 10 YEARS. Put the ask right on your home page. The ideal monthly appeal ties a monthly ask to something specific. “$31 a month will do xxxx.” (Harvey McKinnon)

2. Focus on Fewer – Not More Donors

You don’t make more money by having more donors. The more donors you accumulate – the less profitable your fundraising program. (Penelope Burk)

3. Encourage Restricted Giving

Restricted asks raise more money. Period. We are holding our philanthropy back, because we are asking for unrestricted rather than restricted. (Penelope Burk)

4. Get Rid of the Words

Put your whole message in the first 150 words. The rest of your copy just backs it up. (Tom Ahern)

5. Get Rid of “Unmet Needs,” “Programs,” “Services”

Write like you are an outsider to your organization. Get rid of the boring, obtuse jargon. Jargon is a flame retardant! (Tom Ahern)

6. Make Your Case Like a Series of Ads

Add photos while you get rid of words. Create your case or your fundraising materials with the fewest words and the best photos. (Tom Ahern)

7. Hire More Fundraisers

Saying, “We can’t hire any more staff” is stupid. Each additional fundraising staffer upticks gross fundraising revenue. Period. (Penelope Burk)

8. Give Your Fundraising Staff Raises

Money is the #1 reason fundraising staff leaves. Investing in retention of staff will make you money. Retention boosts profit. Extend young staff from 18 months to 30 months saves you money. (Burk)

9. Get Rid of the Raise Money Now Mindset

31% of fundraisers who are planning to leave their jobs will leave because of an unrealistic “old school” culture of fundraising: ie, “you HAVE to bring in the $ NOW.” How much more money could you raise if you took a long term, strategic approach? (Burk)

10. You Must Give Your Staff Management Training

Success in business is 95% in the management of other people. But we cut staff training first whenever there is a shortfall. Training is essential. There’s not enough management training in nonprofits.(Burk)

11. Get Rid of Lousy Board Members Now

Allowing a lousy, nonperforming board member to serve out their term is, two words: “Chicken S***” (Simone Joyaux)

12. Be Blatant

Try this: “With your help, all these amazing things happened. And without your help, they won’t.” You‘re selling the impact of the donor’s gift. (Tom Ahern)

13. Stop Talking About The Money You Need

You choose: A case is about the opportunity you‘re putting in front of the donor. OR A case is about your organization‘s need for cash. (Ahern)

14. Become a Shrink

When dealing with volunteers, you are a psychologist not a fundraiser! (Laura Fredricks)

15. Don’t Believe Your Prospect, When...

If he says, “I’m just a plain ole country boy,” it really means he is a wealthy prospect! (Eli Jordfald)

16. Close Down Some Programs

Leaders will close or giveaway a program or activity that is no longer profitable and has little impact.

So were these ideas provocative? Would they challenge your status quo? Remember fundraising is changing. Donors are changing. Doing what you’ve always done the same old way will get you yesterday’s results. Go for it! Change is good. Use this article to rattle some cages! –Gail Perry



“Celebrate what you want to see more of.” ~ Thomas J. Peters

December 15 was a special day for the nonprofit sector in Kalamazoo County! Over 100 nonprofit executives, foundation representatives, board members, and community leaders gathered to honor and celebrate accomplishments of 2010 before a New Year starts in a couple weeks.

The first-ever celebration was sponsored and hosted by ONEplace at the Kalamazoo Public Library. Consultants & Trainers Network (also sponsored by ONEplace) members helped host the fun and engaging event. The room sustained a gentle roar of excitement for over two hours as people re-connected with colleagues from across the community and met new ones. People commented on the diversity of nonprofits and supporters in the room.

A video looped throughout the morning, showing the depth and breadth of the nonprofit sector through photos and statistics from a wide array of local organizations: health & human services agencies; educational institutions; governmental units; arts, culture, & humanities organizations; environmental organizations; youth development organizations; faith-based organizations; business associations; nonprofit-support organizations; foundations; and, more.

As director of ONEplace, I commented briefly on the level of services provided despite the current economy which are enormous and ever-generous. Basic needs providers are challenged to meet demands while often reducing their own budgets. Educators at all levels continue supporting new, innovative ways to improve student outcomes and employee performance while ‘tightening their belts.’ Arts, cultural, humanitarian, and civic organizations continue supporting Kalamazoo County’s quality of life with fewer dollars. Working together with our business and governmental sectors, the nonprofit sector assures the very fabric of our community continues to thrive.

It’s important to step back, pause, and reflect on how special Kalamazoo County is and “celebrate what we want to see more of.” The Nonprofit Sector Celebration did just that.



ONEplace Celebration

Independent Sector and Council of Michigan Foundations Annual Conference

I was very fortunate to attend the National Independent Sector/Council of Michigan Foundations Annual Conference in Detroit earlier this month. It was inspiring to be among the 1,100 people from over 30 states who came together to share insights, build collaborative skills through interactive sessions, and delve into issues facing the nonprofit sector today.

Many of the themes of the three-day conference aligned with a plenary presentation made by Diana Aviv, president of Independent Sector:

  • It’s past time to really work together across the ‘silos’ of business, government, and nonprofit; and
  • As individuals, organizations, and collaborations, we must think and act for the ‘big picture’ because, to survive and thrive, we must acknowledge our interdependence.

Below is a summary of her comments as published in the Chronicle of Philanthropy.

--Bobbe A. Luce, ONEplace @ kpl

Nonprofit Leaders Urged to Rethink Their Role in Society

Independent Sector

Expanding on a key theme of this year’s Independent Sector conference, Diana Aviv, the group’s president, called on nonprofit leaders at all organizations – regardless of size or mission – to take a broad view of their work and their responsibility to help make society better.

“We do not and cannot work in a vacuum,” she told participants at the gathering of charities and grant makers, which drew some about 1,100 attendees in all.

“If our employees and their families can’t afford medical care, it limits their productivity,” she said. “If our transportation infrastructure makes it hard to get to work, it affects people’s performance. If we don’t collectively attend to the harm inflicted on our environment, polluted air and climate change will ultimately damage everyone’s work. And if we don’t demand greater civility in Congress and in the public square, we diminish our ability to achieve our aims.”

Ms. Aviv urged nonprofit leaders “to attend to these larger issues long before they threaten our work.”
As an example of the consequences of not doing so, she cited the experiences of health and human-services groups that now must take on loans as state and local governments increasingly delay payments for services already provided.

“Except for a sliver of public-interest organizations, at no time did we step up and try to fix a system that we have known to be problematic for years,” she said. “Why was this the case? Because we have long believed that these larger issues were not our responsibility.”

She called on participants to go back to their organizations and have at least one board meeting within the next year to define a role for their groups beyond their specific issue or cause.

“My point is that excelling at your particular mission is key – but so too is attending to the wider societal issues of the world you inhabit,” she said. “Active engagement with these issues is part of the price we pay for this special place we, as a community, have been afforded by society.”

— Jennifer Moore


Independent Sector and Council of Michigan Foundations Annual Conference

Recover Michigan and Michigan NOW!

Recover Michigan and Michigan NOW! Programs Offer Capacity Building Opportunities to Small Nonprofits in Kalamazoo County and Across Michigan

NOTE: Attending an Orientation session for the programs is mandatory. ONEplace is hosting an orientation session on Friday, October 30, from 10 to noon in the Van Deusen Room of Kalamazoo Public Library, Central. Additional Orientation sessions will be held between October 26 and November 5 across the state. See the websites below for additional information or contact ONEplace at 553-7910.

Recover Michigan 

recover-michigan-logo-160.jpgRecover Michigan is a three phase program implemented by the Michigan Nonprofit Association and seven Management Support Organizations throughout the State of Michigan. During the eleven-month three-phase program, community and faith based nonprofit organizations will position themselves to strengthen their effectiveness to address the broad economic recovery issues present in their communities.

Services Offered at No-Fee

Trainings, Consulting, and Grant Opportunities (sub awards) in the areas of:

  • Program Development
  • Evaluation
  • Leadership Development
  • Collaboration and Community Engagement
  • Organizational Development

Who Can Apply?

Incorporated community and faith based Michigan nonprofit organizations with a budget less than $500,000, and specializing in assisting low-income individuals in the following areas are welcome to apply:

  • secure and retain employment
  • earn higher wages
  • obtain better quality jobs
  • gain greater access to state and federal benefits, and tax credits

Recover Michigan is a federally funded under the authority of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) of 2009 – Strengthening Communities Fund (SCF).

Michigan NOW! 

michigan-now-logo-160.jpgMichigan NOW! is a three phase program implemented by the Michigan Nonprofit Association and five Management Support Organizations throughout the State of Michigan. During the eleven-month three-phase program, community and faith based nonprofit organizations will position themselves to strengthen their effectiveness to address the broad social issues present in their communities.

Services Offered at No-Fee

Trainings, Consulting, and Grant Opportunities (sub awards) in the areas of:

  • Program Development
  • Revenue Development
  • Leadership Development
  • Collaboration and Community Engagement
  • Organizational Development

Who Can Apply?

Incorporated, Michigan nonprofit organizations, with a budget less than $500,000, and specialize in assisting the following populations are welcome to apply:

  • at-risk youth
  • the homeless
  • seniors/elders in need
  • welfare to work transitions
  • those in need of intensive rehabilitation
  • couples who choose marriage
  • prisoner reentry initiatives
  • children of incarcerated individuals

Michigan NOW! is a federally funded under the authority of the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, Office of Community Services, Compassion Capital Fund Demonstration Program (CCF).


Recover Michigan and Michigan NOW! Programs

Belarus Colleagues Visit ONEplace

During a three-week stay in Kalamazoo in July, a Colleagues International delegation from Belarus studied nonprofit management in the United States.

The group of community and nonprofit leaders, and a journalist, visited a wide variety of nonprofits in West Michigan—the list is long and thorough: arts, education, human services, government…and ONEplace @ kpl.

They came to ONEplace to learn how we train nonprofit managers and staff in the skills they need to start, develop, and sustain nonprofit. They asked many probing questions and studied the answers closely.

Once their questions were satisfied, they talked about the nonprofit sector in Belarus. It was clear their nonprofit sector is young and growing, and they are determined to help develop it into a vibrant sector in their communities.

The conversation took place through an interpreter which made the exchange even more interesting and deliberate than had it been in one language.

We were pleased to host our Belarus Colleagues, seen here in ONEplace.

Belarus Colleagues at ONEplace


Colleagues International

Michigan Nonprofit Day

On Tuesday, September 22, representatives of Michigan’s nonprofit organizations will gather in Lansing for the annual Michigan Nonprofit Day. This is the one day each year that nonprofits and our state legislative representatives (individually and collectively) focus on the nonprofit sector. It’s an opportunity you won’t want to miss.

Highlights of the day include:

  • Morning Breakfast Plenary with co-chairs of the Michigan Legislative Nonprofit Caucus
  • Keynote address by Robert Egger, Founder and President of the DC Central Kitchen and author of Begging for Change: The Dollars and Sense of Making Nonprofits Responsive, Efficient and Rewarding For All
  • One-on-one meetings with House and Senate members
  • Lunch with Legislators
  • Mini breakout sessions on making sure everyone is counted in the Census, basics of lobbying and advocacy, grassroots mobilization and media advocacy in a digital world
  • VIP Tour of the State Capitol

Never met with a senator or representative? Two webinars will be held for registrants prior to Nonprofit Day to help prepare you for productive meetings, either individually or in groups.

Information and registration


Michigan Nonprofit Day

Are You Covered? Another Important Audit for Nonprofits

Just as important―and some would say more important―as a fund development audit, is a risk management audit.

Nonprofits are governed by many of the same laws and liabilities as for-profit businesses, and some additional ones related to tax-exempt status and charitable donations. Whether newly-formed or operating for years, many nonprofits neglect the business side of their organizations because they “don't know what they don't know” or are concentrating so hard on doing their mission-driven work. Especially vulnerable are long-time all-volunteer organizations.

If your organization hasn't conducted a risk assessment or audit in the past year, or ever, now is the time, before a crisis occurs. Like a fund development audit, it starts with an evaluation of your organization’s governance decisions, policies, and insurance coverage to determine which ones are working for you or against you or missing all together.

Nonprofit Roundtable

On July 15, Dan Willson of Lighthouse Agency will lead our Roundtable discussion on the risk management side of operating a nonprofit and answer your liability exposure and coverage questions. He will provide a checklist of items to review for a variety of situations so you can start an audit immediately.

Date, Location

Additional Resources

Additional resources are available at the Nonprofit Risk Management Center website which, this summer, is focusing on employment law issues for nonprofits. A big question being covered is: Are summer interns considered employees under state and federal laws? Visit for the answer.


Nonprofit Roundtable

How Does Your Development Plan Measure Up?

ONEplace recently hosted a webinar on evaluating your fund development plan. The speaker, Linda Lysakowski, ACFRE, encouraged participants to measure the philanthropic culture and practices of their organizations on a regular basis and to conduct a formal development audit before starting any new or significantly different funding strategy.

Our economic environment has changed considerably and, many predict, permanently. This calls for “new or significantly different funding strategies” for every nonprofit going forward. Before trying new ideas or stopping current activities, take a close look at your overall development plan through an audit. Don't think you have a development plan? Whether written, or not, what you are doing to bring money into your NP, is your current “plan.”

What is involved in a development audit?

  • A comprehensive examination of past and current fund raising activities: annual fund to capital campaigns, special events, personal solicitations, planned giving programs, newsletter asks, memorials... everything.
  • An assessment of their value to the organization in terms of amount of money raised, and “human resources” (staff, board, volunteers) and technology (software, hardware, training), needed to raise the money-the return on investment
  • A review of policies and procedures related to fund raising
  • A review of external factors affecting your fund raising abilities
  • Recommendations for increasing effectiveness in all of these areas

What a development audit is not.

  • A “blame game,” rather it is a tool for improving your development program and strategically meet your fund raising goals through the best use of human assets and technologies

Who conducts a development audit?

Start with internal assessment using some of the tools available at Capital Venture or Society for Nonprofit Organizations or Association for Fundraising Professionals. Lysakowski the recommends utilizing an independent, third party who can talk with all of your audiences (internally and externally) in a neutral, confidential manner, summarize their candid input, and make recommendations for improvement.

Whether starting a new fiscal year with fresh hopes, gearing up for “regular” fall fund raising activities, or facing a financial crisis, investing some time, and perhaps money, in a development audit will pay off.

Taking an impartial look at what you've been doing, and the outcomes being realized, will help your organization plan and execute fundraising initiatives more strategically.

Workshops and Webinars

Workshops and webinars focusing on concepts and skills for building fund development capacities are being offered by ONEplace, the Nonprofit Alliance in Battle Creek, and the Johnson Center for Philanthropy in Grand Rapids. Check Workshops and Event schedules regularly for current and new offerings.


Workshops, Webinars, Peer-Learning



Fueling Efficient Nonprofits—Bold Actions Needed Now!

During the Michigan Nonprofit Association SuperConference (May 4-6), major speakers and workshop leaders focused on the challenges and opportunities inherent in our current economic environment.

Every one of the people I listened to – from Juan Williams and Bill Strickland to Patricia Martin and Barry Demp – talked about the need to “critically assess current realities” and “seize the moment” to act with bold ideas and actions.

They talked about assessing social, educational, employment, and political trends, now, compared to the trends when the last major economic downturns occurred…and ask, “How far have we come—or not come” in making the world a better place for every person. And, “How can we NOT lose this opportunity” to make significant improvements our organizations and help people become more self-sufficient at the same time?

Juan Williams told a long story based on [the ghost of] Martin Luther King, Jr. stopping by the conference, today,—40+ years after his death—and viewing current media, topics of conversation, race relations, employment, etc. “He” was stunned: from rap language and hip-hop dress to what is seen on TV sitcoms, to the lack of progress on poverty and illiteracy rates. It was a very powerful scenario that continues to resonate.

They also challenged us to seize the opportunity to take new, bold approaches; collaborate, merge, and develop new organizational models that are more efficient and cost effective while maintaining mission-based work. Consider how many more people could be served if one building housed and administered several nonprofits as a collaborative; where people good at programs and service delivery didn’t have to worry about administration and people good at the business-side of nonprofit organizations could do what they do best. Building on strengths and specialties.

Change is often hard. Change can also be exhilarating. Nonprofits are often “not so good” at change that demands creative restructuring: realizing the people needed for today and tomorrow aren’t the ones currently onboard; or, realizing others are doing the same things we are…and better; or, listening to new voices from outside whose ideas could improve a program or the entire organization because, “we’ve always done it this way and by ourselves.”

The MNA SuperConference is over for this year. I hope the messages shared here resonate with you as you work through whatever challenges your nonprofit is facing, today. What bold, new thinking can you bring to the table and act upon that will make your mission-driven work stronger for the days and years ahead. Don’t be afraid to be great!

“Great work is done by people who are not afraid to be great.” ~ Fernando Flores


Michigan Nonprofit SuperConference