News, comments, resources, and more for nonprofits.
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.