News, comments, resources, and more for nonprofits.
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
TIME SENSITIVE NEWS:
Recover Michigan and Michigan NOW! Programs Offer Capacity Building Opportunities to Small Nonprofits in Kalamazoo County and Across Michigan
NOTE: Attending an Orientation session for the programs is mandatory. ONEplace is hosting an orientation session on Friday, October 30, from 10 to noon in the Van Deusen Room of Kalamazoo Public Library, Central. Additional Orientation sessions will be held between October 26 and November 5 across the state. See the websites below for additional information or contact ONEplace at 553-7910.
Recover Michigan is a three phase program implemented by the Michigan Nonprofit Association and seven Management Support Organizations throughout the State of Michigan. During the eleven-month three-phase program, community and faith based nonprofit organizations will position themselves to strengthen their effectiveness to address the broad economic recovery issues present in their communities.
Services Offered at No-Fee
Trainings, Consulting, and Grant Opportunities (sub awards) in the areas of:
- Program Development
- Leadership Development
- Collaboration and Community Engagement
- Organizational Development
Who Can Apply?
Incorporated community and faith based Michigan nonprofit organizations with a budget less than $500,000, and specializing in assisting low-income individuals in the following areas are welcome to apply:
- secure and retain employment
- earn higher wages
- obtain better quality jobs
- gain greater access to state and federal benefits, and tax credits
Recover Michigan is a federally funded under the authority of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) of 2009 – Strengthening Communities Fund (SCF).
Michigan NOW! is a three phase program implemented by the Michigan Nonprofit Association and five Management Support Organizations throughout the State of Michigan. During the eleven-month three-phase program, community and faith based nonprofit organizations will position themselves to strengthen their effectiveness to address the broad social issues present in their communities.
Services Offered at No-Fee
Trainings, Consulting, and Grant Opportunities (sub awards) in the areas of:
- Program Development
- Revenue Development
- Leadership Development
- Collaboration and Community Engagement
- Organizational Development
Who Can Apply?
Incorporated, Michigan nonprofit organizations, with a budget less than $500,000, and specialize in assisting the following populations are welcome to apply:
- at-risk youth
- the homeless
- seniors/elders in need
- welfare to work transitions
- those in need of intensive rehabilitation
- couples who choose marriage
- prisoner reentry initiatives
- children of incarcerated individuals
Michigan NOW! is a federally funded under the authority of the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, Office of Community Services, Compassion Capital Fund Demonstration Program (CCF).
Recover Michigan and Michigan NOW! Programs
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.
On June 22, President Obama launched United We Serve, calling on all Americans to help in our nation's recovery by volunteering in our communities this summer. The initiative runs for 81 days, until the National Day of Service and Remembrance on September 11 and is being coordinated by the Corporation for National and Community Service.
“This summer, I’m calling on all of you to make volunteerism and community service part of your daily life and the life of the nation,” said President Obama. “And when I say ‘all,’ I mean everyone—young and old, from every background, all across the country. We need individuals, community organizations, corporations, foundations, and our government to be part of this effort.
“The challenges we face are unprecedented in their size and scope, and we cannot rely on quick fixes or easy answers to put us on the road to recovery,” said President Obama. “Economic recovery is as much about what you're doing in your communities as what we're doing in Washington – and it's going to take all of us, working together.”
By visiting www.serve.gov and entering your zip code you can find local opportunities, post organizational projects, and get ideas for creating projects.
Kalamazoo has always had a high level of volunteerism. This initiative in these critical time urges each of us to reach out wider and deeper. Are you involved in new or bigger volunteer projects this summer?
Let us know by submitting a comment. And, thanks for volunteering.
President Barack Obama signing the Edward M. Kennedy Serve America Act