Posts Tagged ‘CausePlanet’

What grade does your board earn in fundraising?

More than 73 percent of the United States’ charitable giving in 2010 came from individuals, according to Giving USA 2011. When coupled with BoardSource’s report that asserts fundraising is the area most in need of improvement, nonprofit leaders can’t afford to ignore this challenge any longer.

In fact, when nonprofit CEOs were asked by BoardSource to rate board performance on a report card, fundraising received the lowest grade, a D+, and only a C+ when board members rated themselves. Fundraising Guide author, Julia Walker, acknowledges a board’s capacity to raise funding doesn’t change overnight, she does demonstrate it’s absolutely possible over time.

Having personally gone through the board fundraising experience as board chair and board member, I was impressed by Walker’s thorough approach in her book. Chock full of interesting facts, real-world anecdotes and useful tables for planning purposes, Walker’s book doesn’t leave you guessing.

I’ll excerpt one of her sidebars today because it’s a good reminder about motivation. If you want to get better grades on board fundraising, consider first how to make the grade on reasons for giving.

“When asked about their chartable behavior, high-net-worth households reported that their top motivations for giving were:

• Being moved by how their gift can make a difference (72%).
• Feeling financially secure (71%).
• Giving to an organization that will use their donation efficiently (71%).
• Supporting the same causes or organizations annually (66%).”

This information was quoted from the AFP wire report on the 2010 Bank of America Merrill Lynch Study of High Net Worth Philanthropy and was conducted by Bank of America and Merrill Lynch in partnership with the Center of Philanthropy at Indiana University. The study focused on 800 high-net-worth households. Respondents’ household incomes were greater than $200,000; net assets were at least $1 million; and the average household wealth was $10.7 million excluding the value of their residences. Over 98 percent donated to charitable causes.

Think about what your supporting materials say to emphasize making a difference, spending efficiently and promoting financial security of your donors. Furthermore, consider how you’re training your board members to induce these feelings in their personal asks.

Watch for more highlights from Julia Walker’s book next week at our Page to Practice™ blog. If you can’t wait that long, purchase her book at www.wiley.com or download our Page to Practice™ summary and author interview by joining CausePlanet or visiting our summary store.

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Photo credit: ACCCBuzz

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Maximize your business planning with “repeatability”

Every once in a while the planets align. And when they do, it’s exciting to share about it. Two books we’ve recently added to our library of recommended titles reinforce one another and make a strong case for 1) purposeful business planning and 2) keeping it simple by adhering to three principles.

We recently featured The Nonprofit Business Plan: A Leader’s Guide to Creating a Successful Business Model. This book does a tremendous job of differentiating strategic planning from business planning and justifies why the two work in tandem to provide your board and executive director with more certainty in, well, an uncertain world.

I had the good fortune of landing one of the coauthors, Heather Gowdy, for a live and in-person interview at the LANO (Louisiana Association of Nonprofit Organizations) annual conference in Baton Rouge this week. The interview was met with a great deal of questions and input—many thanks to those of you who participated.

Consider the merits of The Nonprofit Business Plan while I introduce you to our newest feature at CausePlanet: Repeatability by bestselling business authors Chris Zook and James Allen. This book was recommended to me by one of our readers (we always welcome requests) and its applications in the nonprofit sector are undeniable. The premise? Complexity is the silent killer of innovation.  If you adhere to three simple principles, your nonprofit can be more nimble and responsive to approaching opportunities without succumbing to protracted process or limited information.

Adhering to your well-differentiated core, clear nonnegotiables and closed-loop learning allow your organization to adapt to constant change from a source of stability. Your consistent bond with these key principles becomes your rudder as waves of opportunities present themselves or the changing environment demands a fitting response. If you worry about mission drift or charting unfruitful territory, consider how repeatable your business model is.

For those of you new to CausePlanet, we aim to satisfy professional curiosity, inform better book choices and promote best practices through Page to Practice™ book summaries, author interviews and relevant discussion by peer contributors. Download these book summaries or other titles by visiting our summary store or subscribing to summary library. Or try us out by printing a free sample.

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So you want more but do you know why?

According to David La Piana and his coauthors, a nonprofit needs a business plan just as much as a business does. “Perhaps more so given the narrower room for experimentation and the high consequences of failure—both of which can be traced back to often narrow operating margins and lack of adequate capital.”

Why do you need a business plan?

A business plan can help you recognize a limited or broken model that may be holding your organization back.

Business planning can also help you assess and prepare for substantial changes in your scope of work.

As nonprofits seek to develop solutions that are repeatable and scalable, business planning becomes the centerpiece of these patterns because you don’t want to replicate or scale up mediocre programs—you want to be sure you’re expanding your reach and your return.

I asked coauthor, Lester Olmstead-Rose about the most important take-away from the book. His answer builds on the reasoning above and challenges you to know why you want a business plan.

CausePlanet: What’s the most important idea you want readers to take away from your book?

Olmstead-Rose: One of the most frustrating things we come up against is nonprofits (and actually, just as often, their funders) saying, “We need a business plan,” but really using the phrase as a kind of catch-all description of a strategy that includes numbers or a program implementation plan or a way to balance the budget. In other words, it has come to mean vaguely, “more.” As in: “I need something more than I’ve been able to describe about planning, growth, how I operate, where I go next, or how to implement.” This book is about demystifying what that more could be around planning, decision making and implementation–and making it accessible.

Olmstead-Rose’s answer reminds me of Veruca Salt in Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory. She wants the golden goose (and everything else she sees!) but doesn’t have a reason. Rather than asking for more, figure out what you need so the business planning process has a chance to succeed.

You can read the complete author interview and learn more about what’s inside The Nonprofit Business Plan: A Leader’s Guide to Creating a Successful Business Model by downloading a Page to Practice™ book summary at CausePlanet.org.

For those of you new to CausePlanet, we aim to satisfy professional curiosity in busy nonprofit leaders through Page to Practice™ book summaries, author interviews and relevant discussion by peer contributors. Download this book or dozens of other titles by visiting our summary store or subscribing to summary library. Or try us out by printing a free sample.

Watch for next week’s Page to Practice™ feature of Chris Zook and James Allen’s new book, “Repeatability,” which builds on what the La Piana Consulting team explores about solutions that are scalable and repeatable.

Image credit, Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory

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Don’t make cold calls; make tepid calls instead

In our recent live interview with “Insider’s Guide to Winning Foundation Grants,” author, Marty Teitel, we asked all of you on the webinar, “How many of you have received a grant?” A surprising 30 percent had never been a grantee. I would have confidently guessed 90 percent or more of you had earned the support of a foundation.

It’s a good reminder there are many organizations still in their founding years or perhaps securing a mix of earned income and other funds that makes cultivating foundations less critical. For the rest of you aspiring to be among the 70 percent who call foundations their friends, author Marty Teitel is anxious to share his perspectives as a former foundation CEO.

In our Page to Practice™ summary of “Winning Foundation Grants” by Martin Teitel, we promised you some excerpts of Part Four: “Administering the truth-detector test to America’s charitable foundations.” Teitel offers his best and most truthful answers to some of the questions his readers wanted to know. In the passage below, Teitel addresses the challenge with cold calls.

Readers: Generally speaking, foundations loathe cold calls from grant seekers.

Teitel: Please listen carefully, as our menu options have changed: this is true! Whenever my kids leave the house, I’m unable to resist telling them to drive safely, even through it’s a ritualistic mantra of the painfully obvious.  Similarly, I’ve written articles and given talks admonishing grant seekers to review the rules before applying to any foundation, but I think I’ve had little effect.

Cold calls have consequences.

One is foundations hire more people to answer the phones. The salaries and fringe benefits of these functionaries are counted as charitable expenditures that could have been grants. Lazy cold callers not only diminish their chances of getting a grant, they also make it more difficult for everyone else to secure funding.

Second, people like me built elaborate moats. In my time as a funder, I was practically impossible to reach. This is because the majority of the calls that came in for me were an irredeemably total waste of my time.

Does my behavior run the risk of throwing the baby out with the bathwater? Yes – I know I might have missed a call from someone with a fabulous brainstorm. I can only hope those with good ideas read the rules and got to me via the established channels.

If you nevertheless feel a need to pitch an idea to a program officer over the phone, first send an email explaining what you want to talk about and why there’s value for both parties to talk. This approach has worked with me, although since the call was preceded by a letter, it’s not really cold – more kind of tepid.

If you enjoyed our live author interview with Marty Teitel, don’t forget to register for our next interview about winning nonprofit business models with coauthor, Lester Olmstead-Rose, who is a senior strategist with La Piana Consulting.

See also:

The Foundation: A Great American Secret; How Private Wealth is Changing the World
Leap of Reason: Managing to Outcomes in an Era of Scarcity

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Ecology of grant seeking: Are you the lion or the house cat?

In our Page to Practice™ summary of “Winning Foundation Grants” by Martin Teitel, we promised you some excerpts of Part Four: “Administering the truth-detector test to America’s charitable foundations.” Teitel offers his best and most truthful answers to some of the questions his readers wanted to know.  In the passages below, Teitel addresses scope and summary statements in the grant proposal process.

Readers: “The chance of a local nonprofit securing funding from a major foundation is slim to none.”

Teitel: True, and a good thing this is. In the ecology of grant seekers and grant makers, appropriateness of scale matters. This is why house cats don’t run down wildebeests on the Serengeti—lions do that job; house cats chase mice. I don’t see much downside to the question of scale. Local funders know their communities, the players and the problems and the strategies that work in their areas—they’re the ones best equipped to help local groups. Even so, national foundations I worked for regularly received inquiries and proposals from locally focused nonprofits. Such mismatches waste resources. These groups would often claim their work was potentially national in scope because someone could replicate it (they planned to write a report and post it on the Web, after all). But just as the photos I snapped in Melbourne don’t make me an Australian, a posted report doesn’t make the project national or global. A national strategy is just that – a strategy for creating change that occurs at a scale and scope you can explain in detail. In thirty-five years as a funder, I never once saw the claim of being a model work out. Everyone is a model for the rest of the world, just as my kids are model children.

Readers: “With the mountain of proposals foundations receive, if the summary doesn’t immediately capture attention, your proposal is doomed.

Teitel: True. If you’re in a bookstore, do you buy a book without looking at the blurb on the back? If you’re on Amazon, don’t you usually scan the reviews? It’s not realistic to think that foundation staff diligently read every word of every submission. So although obsessiveness is usually a hindrance in life, it may not be possible to over-fixate about the quality of your summary. That’s what dictates whether your proposal itself will be read or not.

For more perspectives on grant seeking and Teitel’s book, watch for our second installment of administering the truth-detector test in our Page to Practice™ blog next week. You can also read Cindy Willard’s response to Teitel’s book . For Teitel’s book, visit www.emersonandchurch.com

See also:

The Foundation: A Great American Secret; How Private Wealth is Changing the World
Leap of Reason: Managing to Outcomes in an Era of Scarcity
Level Best: How Small and Grassroots Nonprofits Can Tackle Evaluation and Talk Results

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Doom and gloomers need not apply

On our CausePlanet Facebook page last week, I couldn’t help but ask if you could guess author Martin Teitel’s pithy one-word answer to my interview question, “What is the most common mistake grant seekers make when hosting a site visit?” I left you hanging over the weekend to think about it before I answered on Monday. Read carefully for his answer below—otherwise you might miss it. I’ve also included Martin’s response to his favorite interview question about compelling grant proposals.

CausePlanet: In your experience, what consistent ingredient contributes to the most compelling grant proposals?

Martin Teitel: I love this question. Great proposals say, “We’re doing this wonderful work; here’s an opportunity for you to join us in making it even better.” These sparkling proposals are invitations to share success, not threats or forecasts of doom. The reader of one of these compelling proposals becomes infected with optimism and hope. This is not Pollyannaism: thorny issues aren’t avoided, but neither are they used as a club to smash the possibility of things getting better. In the end, the funder puts the proposal down on her desk and thinks, “I want to be part of this.”

CausePlanet: What is the most common mistake grant seekers make when hosting a site visit?

Martin Teitel: Groveling.

Read the full interview and highlighted passages in our Page to Practice™ book summary of  Teitel’s new book “The Ultimate Insider’s Guide to Winning Foundation Grants.”

See also:

The Foundation: A Great American Secret; How Private Wealth is Changing the World

Leap of Reason: Managing to Outcomes in an Era of Scarcity

Level Best: How Small and Grassroots Nonprofits Can Tackle Evaluation and Talk Results

 

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Look at “what and why” instead of “how”

Leap of Reason is a bold and wise look at a persistent problem in the nonprofit sector by one of our leading philanthropists. Managing to outcomes requires nonprofit leaders to take a candid look at what and why they measure instead of how. No one is left out of the equation in Morino’s analysis. Whether you represent government, business, or nonprofit, you’ll find Morino’s insights deeply provocative. While it’s impossible to predict how dismantled our economy will be in the coming years, we can ensure nonprofits are more durable than ever by making our outcomes indispensible through purposeful and enlightening measurement.

In our CausePlanet interview, I asked Mario Morino about the set of conditions organizations must possess before they can successfully manage to outcomes. Here’s what he had to say:

CausePlanet: You explain the real challenge in managing to outcomes is that organizations need a set of prerequisites: an engaged board, leadership with conviction, clarity of purpose and a supportive performance culture. These conditions appear to be best tackled at the top. Have you seen boards and CEOs successfully self-diagnose their level of engagement or conviction?

Mario Morino: I agree with your premise. The top of the organization must value high performance and lead the way on the changes required to get there. That’s not to say you can’t get an initial spark from elsewhere in the organization. I’ve seen that happen a number of times. But if the top leadership doesn’t help to kindle that spark, leading by its own example, then the fire for performance will die out quickly.

And yes, I have seen boards and CEOs self-diagnose their challenges and make the leap of reason! I’ve seen it up close quite a few times. For example, I saw this at the Lawrence School in Northeast Ohio, where I serve on the board and as an advisor, and some know me as “the parent from hell.” Lou Salza, a brilliant, passionate new headmaster and a highly committed board chair, Susan Karas, led a fundamental rethink and reinvention. I describe Lou’s role in Lawrence’s transformation in my recent speech, “Relentless: Investing in Leaders Who Stop at Nothing in Pursuit of Greater Social Impact” What I should have also pointed out was the important role Susan played and what happens when you have this kind of passionate, focused leadership leading the charge.

I’ve also seen rethinking and reinvention in organizations that did not have an infusion of new leadership, such as:

Camden Coalition of Healthcare Providers
Friendship Public Charter School
Maya Angelou Public Charter School
Roca
Saint Luke’s Foundation
Share Our Strength
Year Up
Youth Villages
The SEED School and others.

Watch for more highlights of our interview with author and philanthropist, Mario Morino, next week.

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What qualities do leading changemakers possess?

If your nonprofit business model is unsustainable, outdated or simply not making the difference you projected, gather inspiration and ideas from this author’s numerous examples gleaned from all over the world.

Find out why they all point to five consistent principles:

restructure industry norms
change market dynamics
use market forces to create social value
advance full citizenship
cultivate empathy

Beverly Schwartz’s new book, Rippling: How Social Entrepreneurs Spread Innovation Throughout the World, reads like a compelling story in each chapter while arming you with a roadmap for creating your own path to systemic change. Few books motivate you to step back and rethink your business model. Schwartz’s featured “changemakers” embody a new call to action: think differently and act accordingly.

I asked Schwartz about the qualities of these social entrepreneurs and here’s what she said in an excerpt of our interview:

CausePlanet: It’s remarkable how many of the social entrepreneurs possess little or no expertise in areas we as nonprofit leaders would deem essential. Instead, they demonstrate an even more critical set of skills, such as the inability to accept things the way they are or a predisposition for reframing old thinking or defying convention. What have you found to be the most consistent among these vital traits in changemakers?

Schwartz: Hands down, it is the ability of social entrepreneurs to have faith in themselves and to always see problems in terms of creative and new solutions. They recognize a problem and understand its nuances intimately, but don’t get caught in its intricacies. They are laser focused on not only working with, but being a part of the community they are serving, and persistence (with a dash or two of stubbornness) can always be found in abundance.

CausePlanet subscribers: Register for our author interview with Schwartz on July 11 at 11 a.m. CST.

See also:

The Search for Social Entrepreneurship

Philanthrocapitalism: How Giving Can Save the World

The Search for Social Entrepreneurship

 

 

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Join us for a “next gen” interview with Emily Davis

CausePlanet subscribers: Join us for our CausePlanet author interview series with Emily Davis on June 14 at 1 p.m. CST.  “Fundraising and the Next Generation: Tools for Engaging the Next Generation of Philanthropists” is Davis’ new book that will have you re-examining your prospect profiles.

Generation Y (a.k.a. Millennials) represent the largest population since Boomers. Cultivating these young prospects now and long term as they mature and have more to give is a revenue game changer for fundraisers. What are you doing to address this burgeoning donor constituency? Bring your questions for Davis to the interview or submit them when you register.

We look forward to touching on the book’s highlights through your questions:

• Explore how your organization can better use the next generation of volunteers to support your mission.
• Gain insight into the motivations and opinions of “next-gen” donors to help expand your fundraising focus.
• Ask hard questions and integrate strategies that better serve your organization’s mission for long-term sustainability.
• Find out how to engage your staff and volunteers in conversations about fundraising across generations.

How do CausePlanet subscribers register? Log in at the CausePlanet home page and click on the red link in the subscriber announcements page. If you have a question for Davis, don’t forget to submit one in the registration form. Subscribers can also download our new Page to Practice summary of her book beforehand. Posting soon!

Emily Davis has been working in the nonprofit sector as an executive director, staff member, consultant, founder, board member, and volunteer for over 15 years. She currently serves as the President of EDA Consulting in addition to many board and advisory roles in Colorado as well as nationally. She trains and consults on a number of different areas including board development, online communications, multigenerational philanthropy, and fundraising. Her passion for effective leadership has garnered numerous awards and nominations. Emily received her master’s degree in nonprofit management from Regis University.

Here’s what a recent author interview attendee had to say:

“Another outstanding presentation! CausePlanet has done an excellent job bringing together the experts and the audience for a genuinely interactive event packed with useful information. The opportunity to present questions beforehand and also to pose them live during the webinar is a unique feature that would enliven any topic. Absolutely recommended.

Matt Mullenix, Vice President of Public Relations, LANO

See also:

Liquid Leadership

Working Across Generations

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Using Facebook as an advocacy tool

While it’s natural to assume that social media has permeated all aspects of business, nothing rivals face-to-face meetings in grassroots advocacy, says The One-Hour Activist author and Soapbox Consulting CEO, Christopher Kush. I caught up with Kush in our interview and asked about the popularity of email and other social media. He cited one client in particular that used Facebook to generate interest in face-to-face advocacy events. Here’s the excerpt:

CausePlanet: In Part Two, you present several helpful sections on writing an effective letter or email to your legislator so it gets read and circulated versus simply counted. Additionally, you cover skillful phone calls. Since the book was published, have communication preferences changed at all with the growing prevalence of email? And, are faxes still viable? (All coming in second to face-to-face, of course.)

Kush: It is fascinating how face-to-face interactions with lawmakers have remained powerful despite the social media explosion. Candidates for office love the prospect of clever video appeals “going viral,” but after the elections, the legislative process has proven difficult for social media to manipulate. I think one reason is that some core aspects of social media are a mismatch with legislative influence. Things like anonymity, speed of communication, depth of understanding and lack of geographic awareness all mitigate against social media’s effectiveness in the Capitol.

And now for some praise: This year, I saw several of my clients use Facebook to generate interest in face-to-face advocacy events. The Fragile X Foundation in particular was able to double the number of families who attended their 2012 Washington, DC, conference by providing a place where people could post their excitement about returning to the conference, seeing other folks they had met the year before, and following up in person with their legislators. Now, that was an example of social media making a strategic contribution by complementing more traditional approaches to influence (like face-to-face interaction).

See also:

Charity Case

The One-Hour Activist

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