You see our “This Week” email every Monday listing the next three weeks’ worth of events at ONEplace. Do you ever wonder how these events get selected…or how you can influence the selections? Let’s peek behind the curtain for a brief moment.
For several months, we’ve been selecting workshops based upon evaluation feedback, issues from direct assistance meetings, and research studies. We then ensure a balanced offering addressing leadership, management, fundraising, and communications.
Last spring, we decided to add a strategic element as well. We developed a generic calendar of nonprofit activity that plots approximately when certain activities take place in an organization’s life. For example, year-end fundraising campaigns in Nov-Dec, annual reports three months following the year’s end, annual review of communications in the spring, etc. We implemented this approach July 1 with a four-webinar series on event planning (in anticipation of fall fundraising events). Series attendance exceeded workshop averages by 20%.
As we implement this further, you’ll notice that we will announce some events months in advance. This will give you an opportunity to better plan your professional development and hold those spaces on your calendar.
Lastly, selected workshops will be ear-marked as ONEplace Leadership Series events. These events will address key leadership issues and will be suggested as preparatory work for those considering the ONEplace Nonprofit Leadership Academy. Topics such as Supervision, Mission/Vision, Strategic Communications, Emergency Preparedness and others will be offered.
Your evaluation feedback, survey responses, and comments offer extraordinary assistance in keeping ONEplace programming targeted to your needs. Thank you!
If I had a nickel for every time I’ve heard the phrase, “stretched too thin,” I’d be neck-deep in nickels. Nonprofit or not, many staff feel the strain of too much to do and not enough time to do it. One executive director recently phrased the question this way:
How do we prioritize our work and then be willing to live with it?
Setting priorities, in part, means choosing what’s not going to get done. Everything can’t be a priority. Most things can’t be a priority. Only the few, essential, mission-critical things are priorities. The rest…well…I can hear it now.
“52 of my 57 tasks ARE mission-critical! It all MUST be done and done soon!”
Assuming the criteria of what is and is not mission-critical is sound, you’re left with two choices: delegate or delete. Both involve letting go.
Delegation means being willing to let go of control and trusting someone else to put their stamp on the result. However, there may be more options here than you first imagine. We may delegate to someone within our organization or work collaboratively with another organization. We may hire out certain tasks. We may be able to divide a task and only attend to the critical aspect of it. What other options can you think of?
Deleting critical tasks may mean facing the fact that capacity is truly being exceeded and then letting go of that which makes the task critical (e.g., paring programs or services). This is an extreme measure to be sure.
These are not easy decisions. The important ones rarely are. Yet, we must maintain the capacity to deliver on our commitments, and recognize that every “yes” that takes us beyond our capacity diminishes the quality of our programs and the integrity of our organization.
If you find yourself wresting on this particular mat, please contact ONEplace. We’ll work with you to sort things out.
Like many of you, ONEplace operates on a fiscal year, and our new year begins July 1. This coming Monday is New Year’s Eve – Woo-hoo!
We have no New Year’s Resolutions, however we can announce some new and developing capacity building efforts.
Our ONEplace Peer Learning program launched with a recent survey of interest. With 80 of you interested in participating, we’re looking forward to many rich, insightful discussions in the months ahead.
Before the summer’s out, we’ll also be unveiling ONEplace Essentials, a core selection of workshops in each of five key areas: management, leadership, governance, fundraising, and communications. These workshops will be scheduled months in advance so you can hold the dates and better plan your professional development activities.
Details of the next ONEplace Nonprofit Leadership Academy will be announced in September. Feedback from the previous three classes and discussions with leaders of similar programs in other communities are helping to refine our Academy each year.
Finally, we will continue to encourage you to connect with your nonprofit colleagues through our Kalamazoo Nonprofit Connection on LinkedIn and in LIVE quarterly gatherings (next is August 20). These networking opportunities expand your resource pool and often connect you to the solutions you need.
So ring in the New Year by taking time to consider your professional development needs and those of your staff and board. We’re happy to work with you to prepare your plan.
We consistently hear from you (including our recent survey results) that you value discussion and interaction with your peers. This makes sense. As we work together on new information, we challenge each other’s assumptions, uncover specific insights, and learn from one another.
A recent study supports your feedback. Last year, the Johnson Center for Philanthropy did a study for Wilberforce University on effective capacity building strategies. This exhaustive study examined literature from 2008-2013, surveyed 236 foundations, and included 20 interviews. One key result of this study was that peer learning surfaced as the most effective capacity building approach.
Over the past several months, ONEplace has been piloting peer learning groups. In addition, we’ve interviewed persons who have benefitted from other peer learning groups. Now it’s time to move this effort to its next phase.
Soon we will issue an invitation for our ONEplace Peer Learning program. Participants will be gathered in small groups. Here are some details:
- Groups will be approximately 8 persons
- Peer groups will be defined by common position held and similar level of experience
- Time commitment will be up to each group (suggestion is at least six monthly meetings)
- All groups will be facilitated by ONEplace
We look forward to this new venture, and we look forward to your participating and helping it to grow into an effective way to learn, connect, and grow in your career.
- You want your board to be more engaged…how do we get them to focus?
- You’ve been on a board for years…is this really what we should be doing?
- You’re elected to a nonprofit’s board…now what?
- You’re considering serving on a nonprofit board…what am I getting myself into?
This past year, ONEplace increased its assistance and training with nonprofit boards. One of the insights from working with almost 20 boards is that there often is confusion as to what is and is not the board’s role. We find this is true for experienced board members as well as newer members.
This is not surprising. As the world around us changes, the governance challenges shift as well. Concerns with funding, long-term planning, and public perception lead us into a labyrinth of ideas as well as stories of past successes and failures. As one person put it, “It’s easy to get lost in the weeds.”
To address this fundamental concern, ONEplace will offer a Board Membership 101 workshop three times over the next year. During this 90-minute workshop, participants will:
- Learn the ten basic responsibilities of a board
- Examine proven practices in meeting these responsibilities
- Explore how these interface with your board
- Discover the benefits of serving on a board
The next Board Membership 101 is scheduled for Tuesday, June 24 at 4 pm. Others are slated for October and April. Consider having two or more of your board members attend the upcoming workshop to see how this event may integrate with your onboarding and continuous improvement processes.
ONEplace exists to help you do your job better. So, when you talk, we listen.
Last year, you said that you wanted more interactive workshops and fewer webinars. We cut the number of webinars in half and replaced them with 60-90’ workshops/discussions, often supplementing these with ONEpage or video pre-work.
You also said you liked small group roundtables but wanted the group to be bigger and more targeted. This past year we discontinued the open roundtables and replaced them with targeted, short-term small groups. Look for our next small group invitations coming soon.
Overall, you find ONEplace to be meeting your training needs, but you wanted more time for chatting and connecting with colleagues. In response, we started the Kalamazoo Nonprofit Connection (LinkedIn group) and our quarterly Kalamazoo Nonprofit Connection – LIVE networking event. Your participation makes these valuable tools to strengthen our nonprofit sector.
A few weeks ago, we sent our semi-annual Training Event Survey. “Thank You” to the 95 respondents who participated.
At ONEplace, we measure our impact with post-session evaluations and a bank of semi-annual surveys. In the recent Training Events survey, we measure success on these questions:
- Do you plan to return? If you find value, you’ll return for more.
- Do you recommend ONEplace to others? If you find value, you’ll recommend ONEplace to others.
- Do you see a benefit to your job, your organization, and yourself? You notice improvement.
- Do you expand your network by attending? You feel more connected to your nonprofit colleagues
Our benchmark is 85%. Here’s what you reported:
- 99% plan to attend future events at ONEplace
- 97% have recommended ONEplace to colleagues or others
- 99% agree or strongly agree that workshops benefitted their organizations
- 99% agree or strongly agree that workshops helped them do their jobs better
- 98% agree or strongly agree that workshops benefitted them personally
- 91% agree or strongly agree that workshops expanded their network
Your comments also help guide ONEplace programs and activities. Here’s a summary of your 45 separate comments.
- Twelve (27%) comments affirming current programming and approach
- Eight (18%) requested evening workshops
- Three (7%) suggested holding events at locations other than the library
- Three (7%) requesting more small group opportunities with like positions
- Two (4%) encourage more interaction & discussion time in workshops
In addition, there were several single comments sharing ideas for programs and improvements. Some we’ve already started on based upon comments gleaned from post-session evaluations. Others are still to be considered.
We know that ideas and concerns arise any time (not just at survey time), so please do not hesitate to send us your thoughts (email@example.com).
Mission, vision, values, strategic plans, purpose statements, case statements, and the list goes on. With so many ways to document our organization’s focus, it’s easy to be overwhelmed. Sometimes a good metaphor helps.
The Celery Test (from Simon Sinek’s Start with Why) puts organizational focus within a grocery metaphor. We ask for advice from outside experts and each offers their own ideas of what we should buy: Oreos, Celery, Rice Milk, and M&Ms. We go to the grocery and buy all these items. In the checkout line, our variety of items indicates nothing of consequence to onlookers. Furthermore, we know that some items will be more helpful than others.
However, if we were clear that our purpose was healthy eating, then what would we buy…celery and rice milk. At the checkout, someone may notice our healthy choices and strike up a conversation based upon our shared concern (a new supporter?). We know that our money was spent on items that will be helpful. Further, once I wrote that our purpose was healthy eating, you already knew what I would be buying. In other words, clarity of purpose provides organization-wide criteria for good decision-making.
It seems that I cannot visit LinkedIn, Twitter or the bookshelves without finding more and more evidence that having and articulating a clear understanding of your purpose, your cause, and the better world you envision is the single most unifying factor for your entire stakeholder universe (staff, board, volunteers, donors, community). It speaks louder than any talking points, advertising or appeal letter. It’s at the heart of organizational integrity.
If your organization needs to recapture its purpose or simply check-in on it, ONEplace can help. Do not hesitate to call (269-553-7910) or email (ONEplace@kpl.gov) – that’s why we’re here.
P.S. Check out this detailed explanation of the Celery Test.
Eight years ago, the Stanford Social Innovation Review published an article warning of a nonprofit leadership deficit “during the next 10 years” due in large part to a wave of Baby Boomer retirements. As we see nonprofit leaders retiring in our community, we recognize that their predicted future is upon us.
In anticipation of this situation, ONEplace developed the ONEplace Nonprofit Leadership Academy (ONLA). In 2011, former ONEplace Director, Bobbe Luce, worked with Paul Knudstrup and others in the Consultant and Trainer’s Network to develop an intensive course offering a comprehensive overview of running a nonprofit organization. Supplemented with readings and a mentor relationship, ONLA provided a strong foundation for up-and-coming leaders.
The third ONLA class will come to completion in mid-May. Three participants from the previous two classes have already moved into executive director positions. While ONLA may not have played a pivotal role in their careers, it certainly played a preparatory one.
The ONEplace Nonprofit Leadership Academy will be highlighted at the next Kalamazoo Nonprofit Connection LIVE gathering on May 14. Information about next year’s Academy will also be available.
“Try this – it worked last time.”
“Larry had a problem like that. How did he fix it?”
“Just smack it!”
How often do we take a trial and error approach to fixing problems? It’s good to draw on our expertise and past experience, but every attempted fix costs time and money. So, we can’t afford to just wing it.
In these situations, a rational, step-by-step process provides great assistance. Throughout my career I’ve used a problem solving process individually or with groups to address assess problems and identify root causes. I’ve also taught this process several times to various management teams.
On Thursday, April 3, I’m offering a Solve Problems for Good workshop at ONEplace. This 90-minute session explores how to fully describe a problem, identify possible causes, evaluate those causes and confirm the true cause. The process helps us gather solid data, avoid common pitfalls, and document the process for effective communication.
Processes like these are helpful management tools and set a thoughtful, logical tone to addressing challenges of all sorts.
Every month, we learn much from the participants and presenters we meet at ONEplace. In Just ONEthing… we highlight an insight gained during the past month from our nonprofit community and its partners.
This month’s insight comes from Mary Jo Asmus, President of Aspire Collaborative Services. In her recent workshop, Coaching for Breakthrough Performance, Mary Jo taught and demonstrated the power of focused attention.
Spending as little as ten minutes being focused on the other person and asking them open questions, allows the individual to peel back layers of understanding and discover more effective courses of action.
Unlike feedback which offers evaluation of previous acts or consulting which offers specific direction, coaching opens individuals to the insights and possibilities within themselves.
More specifically, coaching:
- Helps an individual visualize the current situation and desired future situation
- Restates and builds on an individual’s own insights to co-discover possible options
- Explores necessary tasks to remove barriers and achieve desired ends
- Ensures commitment of the individual to take action and be accountable
Find out more about Mary Jo, including her informative blog at aspire-cs.com.
I don't go to many movies but I always watch the Oscars. This year was no different.
Every year, without fail, the one thing you can count on is that every acceptance speech will include a long list of names – usually too long to name everyone. These lists include close colleagues, family, and long-time supporters; people to thank and to share in the award. Why? The point is clear:
No one achieves great things alone.
I see the same thing happen at any awards program from the national stage to the local community center. Working together is the only way we can move the needle, change the conversation, create collective impact or fulfill our vision. So, a key question for each one of us is this:
With whom do I need to connect?
I recently talked with a board president who told me that their board created a list of key influencers - people who would support their cause and were in a position to advance their cause. After refining the list, they divided it up, each person taking responsibility for connecting with the people on their list. In this way, the board engaged efforts towards building public support and laid the foundation for sustainability.
What’s your vision for a better tomorrow, and who shares that vision? Who can help address the cause your organization is working so hard to advance? These and similar questions may stimulate discussion at your next management or board meeting. If you’re not sure how to proceed, contact ONEplace and we’ll work on a strategy together.
Many of you are aware that ONEplace offers direct assistance services, i.e., first line consultation on unique challenges and concerns faced by nonprofit staff and boards. We average about six contacts each day, attending to phone calls, emails, and personal appointments.
We value this work in large part because of the trust inherent in our conversations. You not only trust us to provide sound guidance and resources but also to hold your concerns in confidence. We honor this position and hold it as a cornerstone of our organization’s integrity.
Building upon this position, we have responded to specific needs by conducting limited on-site facilitation and training for organization staff and boards of directors. These tailored events not only address your specific challenges and concerns, they also provide a common experience upon which to build. Responses to this service so far have been very positive.
Another extension of our direct assistance services comes in recognizing that ONEplace doesn’t have all the answers. Sometimes your best solution resides within another organization that has faced a similar challenge in their recent past. So, from time to time, we facilitate introductions and connections between nonprofits to address the specific concern and to continue to strengthen the overall nonprofit sector.
We value your trust and hope you will extend it to your colleagues as we assist one another in building more effective organizations and a stronger community.
Every month, we learn much from the participants and presenters we meet at ONEplace. In Just ONEthing… we highlight an insight gained during the past month from our nonprofit community and its partners.
This months’ insight comes from our Annual Reports People Actually Read webinar. During the webinar, Kivi Leroux Miller (Nonprofit Marketing Guide) presented the sobering fact that the vast majority of people receiving our annual reports will spend only 30-to-90 seconds with them before putting them in the recycle bin. Ouch!
This led into an excellent presentation and discussion on how to best use annual reports. Since there are no regulations or requirements governing nonprofit annual reports, they may focus on connecting with the target audience – commonly donors. Her two main guidelines: frame the report with one main thing to be remembered and keep the report short, personal, and timely.
More information may be found at Kivi’s webpage devoted to annual reports. Also, this webinar (like many that we present) may be viewed individually at the library. Simply call ONEplace to set an appointment (269-553-7910).
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 (firstname.lastname@example.org) with your thoughts and interest. We’ll launch new groups in January.
Once again, a challenge arrives that stops you in your tracks. What do you do? Where do you turn?
Help! I need somebody
You’re the only one in your organization who does this work – a lone ranger. Be it fundraising, communications, executive leadership, program manager – you need to talk through this challenge with someone who gets it.
Help! Not just anybody
After combing the internet, you find information. Some of it may be helpful…you’re just not sure. The more info you find, the more you time you spend, generates as many questions as it does possible answers. So frustrating!
Help! You know I need someone
Do not hesitate to contact ONEplace. We were created by area foundations and nonprofit leaders to offer direct assistance to nonprofit staff and volunteers. You face a challenge and you need to talk it through, to make sense of it, and to set a reasonable course of action. Don’t remain stuck – call (269-553-7899) or email (email@example.com).
P.S. Enjoy this video of the Beatles singing “Help” at Shea Stadium.
Let’s be real…for many of us, September starts the program year. In addition to school, many programs, seasons, and endeavors of all sorts begin in the fall.
As I launch into this year, I look forward to the activities, the people, the fun, the challenges, and all the ups and downs. I make plans secure in the knowledge that few things go as planned. I set a course confident that I will, more than once, find myself off course. I claim a vision encouraged by the surety of surprising twists and turns.
Emboldened by the barriers, hurdles and miscues that lie ahead, I open my eyes wide and dive right in. But, that’s leadership – keeping the endeavor mission-focused over the long haul while events and circumstances (largely beyond our control) would draw it off course.
Fortunately, while we may feel isolated from time to time, none of us have to face our challenges alone. My greatest joy over the past year at ONEplace has been the daily confirmation that all of us in the nonprofit community are on the same team. Every engaging post-workshop Q&A session, discussion, and counseling interaction draws upon a shared commitment to building a Greater Kalamazoo. We’re on the same team – not by virtue of common funders but because of a common passion and our common commitment to live, work, play and thrive in this place we all call home.
So, here we go. Another year kicks off promising nothing more than the opportunity to engage. Go for it!
A smooth sea never made a skilled sailor.
According to Ten Basic Responsibilities of Nonprofit Boards, each board is responsible for keeping itself competent. This is done through good recruitment and good training.
When boards act, they act as one, so it’s often helpful for them to learn and grow together as one. These common experiences not only provide useful governance tools but the board also grows together – deepening relationships and building trust. It adds effectiveness and satisfaction to their work.
Boards rarely have extra time, so ONEplace works with executive directors and board leadership to target training on specific, high priority concerns. Further, we follow up to help ensure that the change you desire comes to pass.
Each nonprofit board is as unique as the organization it governs. Sometimes, our board members need more than prior board experience to navigate your board’s particular challenges. We’re here to help.
While staff development line items wither on many of our budgets, we still know that attending to our team’s learning promotes job satisfaction and increases productivity.
In a January 2012 Forbes article, Josh Bersin says that the days of the formalized training programs in big corporate universities are gone. Today, many high performing companies use “formalized informal learning programs” that mix on-the-job learning with coaching and performance support.
Does your organization’s training program need some attention? We work with those responsible for staff training (e.g. Executive Directors or Human Resource Directors) to help organize learning programs. Together, we balance learning opportunities from your industry, from internal resources and from ONEplace to provide a comprehensive approach to staff learning.
Whether your program is well-established or more of a thought bubble, I suggest you read Peter Senge and the Learning Organization. It’s lengthy, but it provides an excellent summary of Senge’s 1990 seminal work, The Fifth Discipline, and offers lessons learned from those who’ve used it.
Books, articles, blogs, on-the-job research, peer discussions, workshops, and time to think – these and more all play a role in your learning. And there’s more than enough from which to choose.
Do you have a personal learning plan? What are your career goals? A personal learning plan (a.k.a., professional development plan or action plan) focuses your learning so that you can select an effective balance of resources to meet your goals.
To assist you in preparing a personal learning plan, we provide a template you can use, workshops on personal learning, and we’re happy to meet with you to help focus your goals.
The key is finding what works best for you at this time in your life, and then cultivating a balance of new knowledge, skill development, and personal development. You learn something new every day. Being intentional about your learning will greatly increase your retention.
Under the category, “Can’t leave well enough alone,” we're shaking up our communications…but only slightly.
Avid ONEplace email watchers know that, every other Monday, our eNews brought you this blog, job postings, and programming for the upcoming three weeks. On the off-Monday, our This Week email listed programs just for the week ahead.
In an act worthy of a Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup commercial, we combined the two to create our new This Week (which is basically a weekly eNews using This Week as the title).
Why make such a dramatic change?
First, new jobs are posted every week, so it makes sense to include the link each week. Second, listing three weeks of programming each week saves you time and clicks. And third, using the name This Week rather than eNews, saves confusion with our new ONEplace NEWSletter.
That’s right – this Thursday marks the inaugural NEWSletter designed to keep you informed on where we're headed and how you can best utilize our programs and services. It’ll be brief. To the point. And helpful. If not, we’ll stop doing it.
Fall kicks off expanded and more targeted services from ONEplace to you.
First, our programming focuses more on leadership development. Our ONEplace Leadership Series workshops bring executive and non-executive leadership information, skills, and processes to you every month. Plus, in addition to the annual ONEplace Nonprofit Leadership Academy (info coming in September), we’re offering intentional small group intensives beginning this fall. Small groups are forming around mindfulness based learning, case study based learning, and content area based learning.
Expanded Board of Director services also start this fall including workshops, customized training, and direct assistance. Sit down with ONEplace staff to discuss your specific needs and challenges, and together we’ll develop an approach to work for you.
Explore an array of information and instruction on our website. We’re curating general information and providing it 24/7 on our website, as downloadable PDFs, and via video. As a result, this information sits at your fingertips and reaches those of you who can’t always get away from work to attend a class.
Finally, you can keep up on emerging services and local area nonprofit issues through ONEplace NEWSletter, our new monthly newsletter. Launching on August 29, NEWSletter offers you news of developing resources and services to strengthen your skills, your staff, and your organization.
Your success defines our commitment – year round professional development, free of charge. See you soon!
ONEplace pilot tests Small Group Leadership Intensives this fall and invites your participation.
Groups will be formed to ensure similar levels of interest, experience and expertise among the participants. Our hope is that group participants
- engage deeper learning of their current leadership practice
- gain insights into their leadership development needs
- develop strong ties with their nonprofit colleagues
If you are interested in finding out more about the groups and possible participation, please email us.
Most of you are aware that ONEplace offers its programs and services at no cost to the participants. It’s all foundation funded to provide year-round professional development and assistance to the entire nonprofit sector.
Of course, there is a cost to you – your time. So, we strive to honor your time commitment to the best of our ability. In July we’re conducting some time experiments – that is, we’re trying new time slots for some of our events.
Previous surveys indicate a stronger preference for early in the day or later in the day. So, we have scheduled four events in new time slots:
July 17 Thank You Letters = Future Gifts at 9 – 10:30 am
July 24 Mission Driven & Vision Focused at 4 – 5:30 pm
July 25 Plan Your Year-End Fundraising at 9 – 10:30 am
July 31 How to Write Faster at 9 – 10:30 am
Further, we condensed a couple of webinars worth of info into a shorter, instructor-led workshop format and scheduled it at an early lunch hour: July 23 Great Short Writing at 11 am – 12 noon.
Finally, we continue to add more to our website (24/7 availability) from ONEpages to video instruction. And more to come!
We’ll continue work with you (face-to-face, via LinkedIn, via surveys) to accommodate your needs and schedules. As always, feel free to contact me with your suggestions, questions, and concerns.
Congratulations to the 2013 class of the ONEplace Nonprofit Leadership Academy!
The Academy included ten full-day sessions covering over 20 topics related to running a nonprofit organization. Each participant also engaged a mentor relationship with a current nonprofit executive director.
Instructors include many of Kalamazoo’s top consultants in nonprofit law, governance, human resources, cultural competence, program evaluation, fundraising, and communications. The experience also included occasional panel discussions with those working in the field.
The Academy class of 2013 includes:
Sonja Dean, Michigan LISC
Kara Haas, Kellogg Biological Station
Mark Hudgins, Heritage Community
Christine Jacobsen, Ministry with Community
Jennifer Johnson, Kalamazoo Loaves & Fishes
Celine Keizer, Community Homeworks
Katie Marchal, Community Healing Centers
Jennifer Miller, Senior Services
Petra Morey, MRC Industries
Christine Murphy, Transformations Spirituality Center
Dallas Oberlee, WE Upjohn Institute/Michigan Works!
Brian Penny, Senior Services
Catherine Pinto, AACORN Farm
Keith Platte, Urban Alliance
Judith Rambow, Kalamazoo Public Library
Joan VanSickler, Buy Local Greater Kalamazoo
Jennifer Welles, Housing Resources, Inc
Dana White, Heritage Community
Launched in 2012, the ONEplace Nonprofit Leadership Academy addresses the need for developing nonprofit executive leadership as this sector anticipates upcoming Baby Boomer retirements. The Academy’s third session begins in January 2014. Application information will be available in September. More information is available at kpl.gov/ONEplace/ONLA.
The calendar says that spring has sprung, and my seasonal clock tells me it’s time to clean, organize, and plan ahead.
Years ago I learned that if you want to be ready for the fall, you better have it all in place by Memorial Day. Summer is its own thing, and, for some, there’s a mystical time-space leap from May to September. So, if you’re not on their radar before June, you’re scrambling in September.
In the month ahead, ONEplace assists your spring cleaning and planning in communications (Your Communications Calendar, April 9) and in fundraising (Long-Term Development Plan, April 23).
We’re also taking a new look at nonprofit uses for social media platforms (LinkedIn and Twitter Basics, April 2 and LinkedIn Groups for Nonprofits, April 10).
Finally, our annual surveys are hitting inboxes. Please let us know your thoughts and needs so we can best meet your needs this summer, fall, and beyond.
The nonprofit strategy revolution
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.
Good to Great
We redesigned our ONEplace@kpl website to serve you better. The new design streamlines the navigation and organizes information by work areas. At the heart of the design is our new ONEpages service.
ONEpages provides a one-click webpage for each of four target areas:
Executive Leadership Program Management
Fund Development Marketing & Communications
Each ONEpage offers downloadable resources, links to recent articles, a list of upcoming events, and a comment section for you to post your questions, comments, and insights. ONEpages are updated frequently, so bookmark the landing page(s) relevant to your work.
The comment area works like an ongoing roundtable. This is your area to post questions, respond to questions, provide links to helpful sites, and generally find and offer help.
I hope you find this redesign helpful. Take a tour a let us know your thoughts and suggestions. The purpose of this site – as in all we do – is to be useful to you.
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
Let’s be real…September really starts the year. In addition to school, many programs, seasons, and endeavors of all sorts begin in the fall.
As I look ahead to this, my first year as director of ONEplace@kpl, I look forward to the activities, the people, the fun, the challenges, and all the ups and downs. I make plans secure in the knowledge that few things go as planned. I set a course confident that I will, more than once, find myself off course. I claim a vision encouraged by surety of surprising twists and turns.
Emboldened by the barriers, hurdles and miscues that lie ahead, I open my eyes wide and dive right in. But, that’s leadership – keeping the endeavor mission-focused over the long haul while events and circumstances (largely beyond our control) would draw it off course.
Fortunately, while we may feel isolated from time to time, none of us have to face our challenges alone. My greatest joy over the past two months has been the daily confirmation that all of us in the nonprofit community are on the same team. Every engaging post-workshop Q&A session, roundtable discussion, and counseling interaction draws upon a shared commitment to building a Greater Kalamazoo. We’re on the same team – not by virtue of common funders but because of a common passion and our common commitment to live, work, play and thrive in this place we all call home.
So, here we go! Another year kicks off promising nothing more than the opportunity to engage. Go for it – great things lie ahead.
A smooth sea never made a skilled sailor. English Proverb
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!
Lobbying-Yes You Can!
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.
Association of Fundraising Professionals
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.
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
ONEplace is excited to announce our Nonprofit Employment Opportunities webpage. The webpage posts position openings at nonprofit organizations in Kalamazoo County, assisting both job seekers and employers make easy, timely connections. Postings are restricted to 501c3 tax-exempt organizations located in Kalamazoo County.
We receive a wide range of nonprofit job opportunities ranging from executive to staff to seasonal internships, across a wide range of sub-sectors. Since its recent launch, the webpage continues to gain both posts and views. Positions are posted on the bulletin board in ONEplace as well as on the web and in our bi-weekly eNews.
The nonprofit sector is a powerful economic development force that continues to add jobs – up 2.8% during the recession while the for-profit sector has reduced employment over 12.8%. The sector employs over 10% of all workers in the state and is a continuing to grow to meet increasing demands for services. We know of several people who found their position through ONEplace postings.
We invited you—job seekers and nonprofit employers--to take advantage of this new community resource. If you have a job search success story related to our webpage, please share it with us.
Nonprofit Employment Opportunities
The Foundation Center has recently enhanced their website with some great new features. And, although you will still need to visit the Kalamazoo Public Library to search the Foundation Directory for grants, the website offers many other helpful resources you can access from your home or office.
When you first enter the Foundation Center’s website, the amount of information can seem overwhelming. The best place to start is in the mustard yellow tool guide located near the top of the page. The headings listed in the tool guide make navigating through the website as easy as a drop down with a click. Much of the information can be found in multiple areas.
- Get Started heading is a general overview of what the website has to offer as far as resources and tools.
- Some are fee based, but most are free
- Offers information pertaining to specific organizational topics
- Most helpful are the Learn About and Training Courses
- Classroom trainings are only offered in select cities, I recommend going directly to the free training videos and webinar
- Find Funders heading offers a link to the Foundation Center Directory as well as other helpful tools for grant writing
- The Foundation Center is accessible for a fee/ save money by using the computers in ONEplace at no cost
- Related Tools and Check Statistics
- RFP templates and prospect worksheets
- Gain Knowledge. This section is the equivalent of having a nonprofit library at your fingertips.
- A plethora of articles about the economic crisis, global issues, best practices, research reports, and much more
- Glass Pockets and Pub Hub are new programs of the Foundation Center
- FREE Philanthropy News Digest eNewsletter subscription for up-to-date information
- View Events header is useful for accessing archived videos, audio, transcripts, and webinars at no cost
- A lot of what is found in this section can also be found under other headings. Save time by checking the date of the event to prevent duplication
The Foundation Center website can be found at http://foundationcenter.org/. What I found most valuable were the free webinars, videos, and audio recordings; especially the Introduction to Fundraising Planning Online Training Course. Write back and let me know what you found to be most valuable and share your thoughts with other who could benefit from the Foundation Center website.
At the meeting of the Kalamazoo Public Library Board of Trustees on July 26, I presented a summary of the results received through our ONEplace ONEyear Survey, conducted in early March, 2010. It is a snapshot of the start-up and growth of Kalamazoo County’s new nonprofit management support organization (MSO) from the Grand Opening in March, 2009, through one full year in operation. While we continue to grow and improve programs and services, and increase service contacts, capturing the impact of the first year has proven valuable and informative.
Executive Summary of ONEplace ONEyear Survey
ONEplace is a management support organization, operated by the Kalamazoo Public Library and funded by the Irving S. Gilmore and Kalamazoo Community Foundations, that focuses on building personnel (staff and volunteers) skills and organizational capacities of nonprofits in Kalamazoo, Michigan.
First Year Activity Levels
In its first year of operation, ONEplace was operated by one full-time and two 10/hr/wk staff (approx 9 mos/each pt position). Over 200 requests per month (2400/yr) for technical assistance from nonprofit staff, board members, volunteers, or people seeking to start a nonprofit were addressed in-person, by phone, or email---surpassing its goal of 75/mo during the first year. Over 100 workshops and webinars were provided, with more than 1,400 people attending. Services and programs far outpaced original expectations.
As the first anniversary approached we took the opportunity to systematically gather data to better assess ONEplace’s efforts and local nonprofit needs for future planning.
Working with an evaluator from the WMU Evaluations Center, the ONEplace ONEyear Survey was sent to 1,100 people to gather feedback on the services ONEplace offers. In total, 229 people completed the short survey, for a response rate of 20.8 percent. Most respondents were from organizations more than 16 years old. They represented a wide range of roles, with the most common respondents holding paid staff positions.
Most Frequently Used Services: ONEplace’s website, workshops, and one-on-one, in-person technical assistance.
Least Frequently Used Services: webinars and ONEplace’s nonprofit collection.
Overall Rating: Satisfaction with ONEplace’s services, programs, resources, and staff was very high; the value to the community was repeatedly cited in question responses and comments.
Regardless of respondent’s personal participation in ONEplace offerings, their faith in its role in Kalamazoo was strong. Many of the comments read similarly to this one: “Really, I cannot think of anything [to improve]. This is such a wonderful resource for our community. I hope there is a plan to duplicate the model and spread it across the country. ONEplace is a true ally of the nonprofit. Thank you!”
Suggestions for the Future:
- Provide a more complete schedule further ahead of time for adequate planning
- Archive materials from webinars and workshops for digital access
- Respondents asked for specific additional training topics
- Advanced training for mature organizations
- Professional development or orientation for board members
- Offer services outside of normal business hours
The results mirrored the perceptions of ONEplace staff from feedback throughout the year. Even prior to this survey, advanced training, board development, enhanced calendar, and greater focus on the collection were folded into the plans for year two. Archiving presenter materials is currently done in hardcopy and under consideration for web access. Some possible actions, such as expanding service hours, are unlikely given the limited staffing of ONEplace. Thus, the focus will be on utilizing technology to more efficiently address client needs for access to information whenever they need it.
Summary of Statistics:
- Respondents included: paid staff (60.7%); volunteers (10.5%); board members (17%); consultants (8.3%); unaffiliated community members (3.5%)
- Organizational age: less than a year (2.6%); 1-5 yrs (17.5%); 6-10 yrs (11.8%); 11-15 yrs (6.1%); more than 16 yrs (58.5%)
- One-on-one assistance (in person): 1-5 times (35.7%); 6 or more (1%); never (63.3%)
- One-on-one assistance (phone/email): 1-5 times (33.2%); 6 or more (2.9%); never (61.1%)
- Role-specific network attendance: 1-5 times (27.3%); 6 or more (6.2%); never (63.6%)
- Workshop attendance: 1-5 times (66.2%); 6 or more (10.3%); never (23.5%)
- Webinar attendance: 1-5 (32.2%); never (64.4%)
- Website visits: 1-5 times (48.8%); 6 or more (40.8%); never (10.3%)
- Frequency of checking out a book from the collection: 1- 10 times (30%); never (66.7%)
- Referred colleagues to ONEplace: 1-5 (51.2%); 6 or more (27.4%); none (19.1%)
- Increase in professional skills because of participation in ONEplace programs/services: on a scale of 1-10 (10 high) 70% rated their skill increase at 5 or greater; 2 or greater (84.5%); none (15.5% [may not have participated])
- Increase in organizational capacity: on a scale of 1-10 (10 high) 57.5% rated their capacity increase at 5 or greater; 2 or greater (78%); none (22% [may not have participated])
A Few Comments and Specific Requests to the Question “What One Thing Would Make ONEplace More Useful to You?:
- I can’t think of a thing to change
- I just need to find time to pursue your many resources
- Don’t forget ‘all volunteer’ organizations
- More varied workshop times
- Archive workshop materials online
- Send out regular emails of upcoming events
- I think it’s fantastic and moving in the right direction. It has been very useful.
- Do MORE of what you are doing!
- Offer more grant seeking labs
- Start a blog
- More in-depth workshops; skill building tools
- Education about how to network with other organizations
If you have questions or comments about this information or ONEplace, in general, please contact us.
Bobbe A. Luce, director of ONEplace@kpl
ONEplace @ KPL