News, comments, resources, and more for nonprofits.
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.
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
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.
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.
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 www.nonprofitrisk.org for the answer.
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
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
...Yes, you can do it! Have you ever sat down to write a grant proposal, marketing piece, or fundraising letter, and found yourself staring at a blank sheet of paper or computer screen?
You know you have to ‘hook’ the reader with a compelling story…but how? When the needs of your clients are getting greater every day, what do you say? When you’re faced with a fund deficit and staff stretched to their limits, what do you say and how do you say it without sounding desperate?
Stories. Simple, identifiable stories. Take a story writing approach: the hero (your agency), and your characters (the people you serve), your actions (programs/services), and the tensions between them (not enough capacity to serve all who need your services).
Start writing. It won’t be the final version, but start writing your story. Then, edit until it is concise, engaging, and compelling.
Not comfortable yet, then don’t miss “Telling Your Nonprofit’s Story: Men and Women Against White Space” on Tuesday, May 19, when professional writer Bill Truesdell will tell you ‘the rest of the story’ about writing your stories.
Telling Your Nonprofit’s Story
Gov. Granholm has proclamed May as Leave A Legacy month in Michigan. As you read her statement, consider what your legacy will be.
STATE OF MICHIGAN
Jennifer M. Granholm
Certificate of Proclamation
On behalf of the citizens of Michigan, I, Governor Jennifer M.
Granholm, do hereby proclaim May 2009, as Leave a Legacy Month
Whereas, Michigan residents have traditionally demonstrated their generosity, even in the face of difficult economic times, through their annual support of charitable causes; and
Whereas, Surveys indicate very few of the 42 percent of Michigan residents who have even executed a will have included a bequest to charity; and
Whereas, All adults should have a will, the starting point of an effective estate plan regardless of family wealth or circumstances; and
Whereas, The Partnership for Philanthropic Planning believes that the American people make few bequests in their wills simply because they have not been asked to consider doing so; and
Whereas, Nonprofit organizations provide effective and essential services in all areas of our lives — religion, education, health care, research, the arts and social services for the poor and disadvantaged; and
Whereas, Charitable giving through bequests in a will provides each of us the opportunity to support and perpetuate for future generations those values and ideals most important to us and our families that we cherished during our lifetimes; and
Whereas, Many Michigan nonprofit organizations, allied professionals and community leaders are engaged in the LEAVE A LEGACY® public awareness effort that aims to “Make a Difference in the Lives that Follow” by encouraging estate gifts which will continue the work of non-profit organizations in serving and sustaining the quality of life that makes our state and its communities good places to live, work and raise families; and now therefore be it,
Resolved, That I, Jennifer M. Granholm, Governor of the State of Michigan, do hereby proclaim May 2009, as LEAVE A LEGACY Month. I encourage all citizens to recognize the value of leaving a legacy through wills as vital support of nonprofit and philanthropic organizations in the very important work they do.
Two ‘must attend’ events for staff and board members responsible for nonprofit financial management and fund development will be offered during the next couple of weeks at ONEplace: Step-By-Step: Through The New 990 on Thursday, April 16, from 1 to 4 pm; and, Creating Sustainable Funding for Your Mission on Wednesday, April 22, from 2 to 4 pm. Both will be in the Van Deusen Room at KPL Central and both require preregistration.
The new 990 requires additional information aimed at increasing transparency and accountability in your financial management, relationships, and mission-focused activities and outcomes…items that will make the form more time-consuming to prepare and more helpful to donors and other funders. Come and learn what is expected with this year’s filings.
Sustainable Funding for Your Mission focuses on building a stable funding base through an individual-donor focused plan. A balance of funding sources is critical to NP stability. Too much emphasis is generally given to grants. Learn how to change that balance to individual donors for greater security over the long-term.
ONEplace Workshops & Events
It’s the first day of Spring—one of my favorite transition days of the year. As a gardener, it marks the start of the new season of growing.
“Growing” is already happening at ONEplace! Since our launch a couple of weeks ago, we’ve had workshops with maximum numbers of people attending and had to stop registration on one for next week, already! We added a new date for the same topic in late April and already have five people signed up. This is exciting growth, and we’ve just begun.
Please check our website calendar regularly for new events and workshops—and register early!
Flowers (photo by Bobbe A. Luce)
Opening week at ONEplace has been a grand! Our launch event on March 3 found over 160 enthusiastic people gathered in the Van Deusen Room at Central Library to learn about our new support services and programs for nonprofits in Kalamazoo County. The energy was palpable!
Our speakers—Ann Rohrbaugh, Rick Hughey, Dave Gardiner, and Kyle Caldwell—joined me in sharing the value of centers like ours at all times—and, especially in difficult economic times. Building infrastructures and capacities in and across nonprofits will “float everyone’s boat” and create a stronger community for all.
Thanks to everyone who came to the event or asked about it afterward, thanks to the Kalamazoo Gazette for featuring ONEplace on the front page, and WMUK for their interview. We’re off and running…and we welcome your participation.