News, comments, resources, and more for nonprofits.
Many people find that having a small group of trusted colleagues contributes to the foundation of their success. These take various forms: master mind groups, personal boards of directors, content-area small groups, sector-based small groups, and more. Some last for a few months and others continue for years.
What’s clear is that having a mutually supportive network of trusted colleagues is critical to personal development. At ONEplace, we’ve just completed piloting a mindfulness small group and we’re currently facilitating two other small groups. We’re learning as we go, but we’re already seeing promising results, such as: focused, in depth exploration of real, current issues; development of personal practices that reduce stress; and deepening relationships with nonprofit colleagues.
Would you like to participate in a small group? Do you know 2, 3 or 4 others who also may be interested? Here’s how ONEplace can assist:
- Additional recruitment & scheduling of meetings
- Host meetings
- Facilitation of the group process & plan
- Any needed follow-up
At our first meetings, the group decides how frequently they’ll meet and the number of meetings involved in the initial commitment (e.g., meet monthly for six months).
Please email me (email@example.com) with your thoughts and interest. We’ll launch new groups in January.
I get jazzed when I'm part of a group that's getting deep in the hoo-ha on issues that matter. Last week (Nov 6), we had moments of that during our Community Alignment workshop.
During the discussion, Suprotik Stotz-Ghosh (Kalamazoo Community Foundation) offered three keen insights that brought this elusive topic into clearer view.
Community alignment is an act of our will
We choose to be aligned or not. There's no magic formula or moment when all falls into place. Alignment occurs when two or more organizations set their intentions to a common outcome and consent to common goals; when we choose to combine our power to do good and to do it well.
Community alignment is about a better way to connect us
Our work takes on greater meaning when it engages us in something bigger than ourselves or our organizations. When we choose to align around these larger goals, the connections we make are stronger and deeper. They withstand conflict and debate, and they surround us with the net of support required to pursue transformational change.
Community alignment begins by starting conversations with people we don't know
While we acknowledge the truth that "we're all in this together," we often don't recognize that "all" includes those voices not being heard. Aligning with those we know takes work. Seeking those we don't know - but need to know - requires curiosity as well as vulnerability. Let's keep asking, "Who's not at the table?" And then, offer them a chair.
We live in a dynamic community - a living system in constant flux. In such a place, community alignment is not something to be attained so much as to be pursued (like "the pursuit of happiness"). At best we'll achieve moments - moments when months of effort from many people results in lives being changed...improved...transformed. At the end of the day, that's something to celebrate!
Then, tomorrow, we do it all over again.
Using groups to solve problems, make decisions, and set strategy generally leads to better outcomes. However, history recounts instance after horrible instance where businesses were ruined and lives were lost due to a phenomenon known as groupthink.
Groupthink occurs when a group of people make a disastrous decision due to a desire for harmony or conformity. It’s a controversial topic, and the subject continues to get attention. More than 20 major studies on aspects of groupthink have been published since 2009.
One of the earliest and most influential researchers in this area, Irving Janis (Yale University), devised ways of preventing groupthink. In reviewing these, I found these basic threads: use a process that maximizes objectivity, ensure all available information is gathered (facts & informed opinions), evaluate all reasonable alternatives, and assess risks before committing.
Our ONEplace Leadership Series offers management processes that help on many fronts – including the prevention of groupthink. The next offering in this series (Group Decision Makingon Jan 31) addresses this particular dynamic most directly. Coming next month, we will tackle Effective Meetings. Please consider attending these workshops.
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.
Essential nonprofit fundraising handbook
The updated (5th edition) of Guide to Proposal Writing arrived this month. It is one of the many resources available to you through our being a Cooperative Collection participant with the Foundation Center.
As a Cooperative Collection site, ONEplace@kpl offers visitors free access to the Foundation Directory Online. Updated each week, the Foundation Directory Online includes details on over 100,000 funders and more than 2.4 million recent grants. ONEplace@kpl has two computers dedicated to this service, each with written instructions to help you do effective searches of grantmakers, companies, grants, and 990’s.
Other Cooperative Collection resources at ONEplace include:
• After the Grant: The Nonprofit’s Guide to Good Stewardship
• Board Member’s Book
• Grantseeker’s Guide to Winning Proposals
• Key Facts on Social Justice Grantmaking
• Securing Your Organization’s Future
• And more
Stop by ONEplace@kpl (second floor, across from the elevators) and browse our nonprofit collection. There’s a wealth of information on leadership, management, fund development, and marketing/communications waiting for you.
Guide to Proposal Writing
Our ONEplace Nonprofit Collection has this great little book: The Five Most Important Questions You Will Ever Ask About Your Organization, by Peter Drucker and others. It’s a quick read that makes a lasting impression. Questions two & three grabbed me: Who is our customer? and What does the customer value? Specific, well-supported answers to these questions could turn your organization around.
Nonprofits have many customers. The authors distinguished between our primary customers (the persons who lives are changed through our work) and our supporting customers (volunteers, members, partners, funders, employees, and others who must be satisfied). Our business is not to casually please everyone but to deeply please our target customers. So, the first job is to clearly define our target customers in great detail. This definition affects everything.
Next, ask What does the customer value? This may be the most important – but least often asked – question. The authors suggest beginning with your assumptions of what you believe your customers value. Next, gather customer input and then compare your assumptions with what the customers actually are saying, find the differences, and go on to assess your results. Do this for both primary and supporting customers.
It takes time and hard work, but it’s worth it. The reward comes in a greater focus on your mission, money-saving operational efficiencies, and greater value delivered to all of your customers.
Peter Drucker’s legacy of leadership development merged with the Frances Hesselbein Leadership Institute. Their mission is to strengthen and inspire the leadership of the social sector. Online at HesselbeinInstitute.org.
The Five Most Important Questions You Will Ever Ask About Your Organization
“Is Your Nonprofit’s Website Media Friendly?” An interesting blog by this name dropped into my email box this week from NonprofitPR.org. They point out the need for nonprofits to help media staff: find you; learn about you; and believe in your credibility—FAST. They are always on a deadline, so the more you can help them, the better.
Especially in our changing media environment—with newspapers morphing to online publications, local radio and television sources moving to more ‘canned’ programming—nonprofits must help the remaining journalists any way we can. Websites are the perfect way, since they are available 24/7.
Answer these questions to learn if your website is ‘media-friendly’:
- Is your website easy to find? Or, do you have an obscure name or one that is too long or clever?
- Are your designated media contacts ‘front and center,’ with direct phone/email addresses?
- Is the content on your site current—regularly updated—and ‘real’ news-worthy news?
- Do you have a section showing previous media coverage you’ve had?
- Do you have experts on your staff or board who media can trust on topics the media may be researching or seeking when ‘news hits’? Include short bios of your experts.
By helping media find you, learn about you, and reach out to you when they need to, your nonprofit will gain excellent PR and be seen as a community authority and resource far beyond the media.
The NonprofitPR.org blog is produced by Shoestring Creative Group, a source of free samples, ideas, blogs, and more. Check them out.
Is Your Nonprofit’s Website Media Friendly?
Mark Grimm recently presented an AFP webinar on the financial impacts of compelling messages. He says your communication has to show impact in less than 15 seconds! The way to do that is through simple, clear, precise language. He suggests achieving clear messages by ‘peeling the onion,’ over and over, until the focus is on core benefits to the reader (potential donor). The focus has to be on the reader, not the writer and his/her perspective from within the organization.
“You are proving to the donor you are making the change in the world the donor wants to pay for.” ~~Robbe Healy, Farr Healy Consulting
Clarity is the Issue
- Simplicity: uncluttered; no jargon
- Precise: no extra words; only what is important
- Benefits, not services/programs: what the organization really delivers to everyday people
- Prove it: select data that ‘tell the benefit story’
- Emotion and reason: use testimonials related to the top three impact areas
- Human face: connect with the reader with eye-catching visuals
By writing with clarity, (potential) donors are more easily drawn into your message, mission, and impact—and, more likely to find what they want to pay for. Once donors invest in your organization, thank them and ask why they gave a gift. Simple, yet so seldom done. Their answers will help build relationships and further clarify your next message.
The 2011 ArtServe Report on the arts and culture sector’s impact on Michigan’s economy and quality of life is an eye-opener!
It showcases the results accumulated from the Cultural Data Project, Americans for the Arts’ Creative Industries Reports, and the Michigan Economic Development Corporation. Over 400 Michigan nonprofit arts organizations are included, many in the Kalamazoo area.
Some of the key findings (2009 data unless otherwise noted):
- Over $256 million was raised in successful capital campaigns
- 12,667,492 visits to arts and culture venues and events
- 1,841,368 school children experienced arts and culture venues and events
- $152,000,000 in salaries for 15,560 jobs
- More than $2 billion in tourism revenues (17% of all tourism dollars in 2010)
- $462,791,322 in annual direct expenditure by the creative community
- For every $1 Michigan invests in arts and culture, $51 is pumped back into the state’s economy!
- ‘From 2006 to 2010, the number of arts related jobs increased by 4% and arts related businesses increased by 43%!’
To see the complete report and more exciting information and opportunities, visit http://creativestatemi.artservemichigan.org/
2011 ArtServe Report
New Year blogs from four respected leadership authors/consultants came into my email box last week. Each addresses five items (why five?) related to leadership they recommend for action in 2012.
While these authors write primarily for business audiences, their advice is just as appropriate to nonprofit staff and volunteers.
Follow the links for their complete comments.
Dorie Clark covers her “going to stop cold turkey” list:
- Responding like a trained monkey
- Mindless traditions
- Reading annoying things
- Work that’s not worth it
- Making things more complicated than they should be
Mike Myatt shares his personal priorities for the year, and he includes a bonus item (#6).
- Family: if you are struggling with work/life balance, choose family
- White space: clearing your mind to be and act only in the present
- Listen: stop talking and listen
- Unlearn: be willing to learn and change opinions and actions
- Engage: it’s not about you, it’s about the people you serve and lead
- (Bonus) Read: few things impact your thought life more than reading
John Coleman and Bill George recommend actions for aspiring Gen X and Millennial professionals to prepare for challenges of leadership roles:
- Find a trustworthy mentor
- Form a leadership development group
- Volunteer in a civic or service organization
- Work in or travel to one new country
- Ask more questions than you answer
Leadership Tips for 2012