Archive for November, 2012

Kanter and Paine share their favorite book passages

Creating social change is everyone’s goal within a nonprofit organization. Authors Kanter and Paine argue you can’t get there without a map. “Measurement is your map and metrics are your signposts.” Furthermore, they claim connecting people, deepening their engagement and inspiring donations are relatively easy to measure.

While nonprofits realize social media is a cost-effective tool for growing their base of friends and supporters, they must set goals and strategically network online just like they would with in-person donor cultivation. In my interview with Kanter and Paine about Measuring the Nonprofit Network, I asked them about their favorite chapters in the book as well as what was left on the editing floor. You’ll appreciate their insights and surprising answers to the questions below.

CausePlanet: In your opinion, what’s the most important chapter in the book?

Kanter: I think my favorite chapter is the chapter on becoming data-informed. My big “aha” moment was when I spent several days interviewing the staff at DoSomething.org and speaking with some of the board members (http://www.bethkanter.org/switch-data-driven/). They are the poster children for being data-informed. That led to contemplating the practices of what being data-informed looks like at different levels. The other important chapter is chapter five where we talk about defining the value of using networked approaches and social media–understanding the difference between activity and results.

Paine: From a writing perspective, I loved pulling together the chapters on influence and transparency because we were really pushing the envelope there, suggesting measures no one is really using yet. In terms of the reader, it’s chapter nine–getting to that “aha” moment–which to me is the greatest seductress of measurement.

CausePlanet: What ideas were left on the editing floor and perhaps we’ll see in your next book?

Kanter: I’m not sure I’ll write another book–just joking. My next book will not come from the stuff we edited out of this book, but it will come from ideas that have been percolating with me since I turned in the manuscript! I am most interested in the notion of learning from failure and how nonprofits can embrace innovation by adapting more creative ways to plan, manage and adapt their programs.

Paine: Beth’s contacts exposed me to so many wonderful measurement case studies. The next book will be something about “Tales from the Measurement Trenches,” telling more of the stories that didn’t fit into the book.

CausePlanet members: Register for our live interview on Monday, December 17 with Kanter and Paine. You can purchase this book at www.josseybass.com or download our summary and interview at the summary store or subscribe to our library of recommended titles.

More book titles about social media

Illustration credit: Rob Cottingham

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Kanter and Paine share their favorite social media insights

Creating social change is everyone’s goal within a nonprofit organization. Authors Kanter and Paine argue you can’t get there without a map. “Measurement is your map and metrics are your signposts.” Furthermore, they claim connecting people, deepening their engagement and inspiring donations are relatively easy to measure. While nonprofits realize social media is a cost-effective tool for growing their base of friends and supporters, they must set goals and strategically network online just like they would with in-person donor cultivation. In my interview with Kanter and Paine about Measuring the Nonprofit Network, I asked them about their favorite chapters in the book as well as what was left on the editing floor. You’ll appreciate their insights and surprising answers to the questions below.

CausePlanet: In your opinion, what’s the most important chapter in the book?

Kanter: I think my favorite chapter is the chapter on becoming data-informed. My big “aha” moment was when I spent several days interviewing the staff at DoSomething.org and speaking with some of the board members. They are the poster children for being data-informed. That led to contemplating the practices of what being data-informed looks like at different levels. The other important chapter is chapter five where we talk about defining the value of using networked approaches and social media–understanding the difference between activity and results.

Paine: From a writing perspective, I loved pulling together the chapters on influence and transparency because we were really pushing the envelope there, suggesting measures no one is really using yet. In terms of the reader, it’s chapter nine–getting to that “aha” moment–which to me is the greatest seductress of measurement.

CausePlanet: What ideas were left on the editing floor and perhaps we’ll see in your next book?

Kanter: I’m not sure I’ll write another book–just joking. My next book will not come from the stuff we edited out of this book, but it will come from ideas that have been percolating with me since I turned in the manuscript! I am most interested in the notion of learning from failure and how nonprofits can embrace innovation by adapting more creative ways to plan, manage and adapt their programs.

Paine: Beth’s contacts exposed me to so many wonderful measurement case studies. The next book will be something about “Tales from the Measurement Trenches,” telling more of the stories that didn’t fit into the book.

We’re obviously in store for more great things from Kanter and Paine. CausePlanet members, register for the live interview with these measurement experts on Monday, December 17. You can purchase their book at www.josseybass.com or download our Page to Practice summary and interview at the summary store or subscribe to our library of recommended titles. Watch for our next installment of our Page to Practice interview with Kanter and Paine in our blog.

See also:

More book titles about social media
Illustration credit: Rob Cottingham

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Advisory boards Part II: getting clear before you fill the chair

Picking up where we left off with advisory boards, we’ll continue our discussion of what the nonprofit needs to consider before bringing on any members. To reiterate, all the decisions the nonprofit makes with regard to the role and function of an advisory board should be concisely articulated in the chartering document. The charter creates internal clarity and also serves to inform the prospective advisory board members when the time comes to recruit. As always, setting expectations from the outset makes for a good match between board member (no matter what type of board) and the nonprofit.

Let’s move on to question #3 in our list (see Part I for the list) of questions nonprofits should address prior to starting an advisory board:

How should the advisory board operate and with what expectations?

First, a key issue to define is if the advisory board will meet. Depending on the type of people on the advisory board and where they’re located, meetings may not be indicated. For example, a symphony that has international musicians and conductors on its advisory board is unlikely to require meetings. However, if your nonprofit is starting out and has local bank presidents, government representatives and CEOs from peer organizations on its advisory board, then a meeting or two per year may be useful and even welcomed by the members. But remember, the primary function of an advisory board is to advise–-this can be done with a simple phone call or brief one-on-one meeting now and then.

Next is the question of contributions: Should advisory boards be expected to make them? While this is a decision for the particular nonprofit, it’s generally a good assumption that if a potential advisory board member is willing and able to give a major contribution then s/he probably should be considered for the governing board. This is because the nonprofit wants individuals on the governing board who are highly committed and able to lead in raising money, qualities that can result in major contributions. So in most cases, advisory board members are not expected to donate funds to the organization since what is wanted from them is their advice and stature, and a huge stake in the nonprofit is not necessary.

One case where a financial contribution may be merited is for advisory board members who have been outstanding board members, and the advisory board position is used as an honorary position. In such a case, the individual will likely continue his/her charitable giving and may set an example for other advisory board members. However, this practice is more of a blurring of advisory and honorary boards or emeritus positions, which may or may not be a beneficial strategy.

In addition to defining what is expected of advisory board members, the nonprofit will also want to answer question #4:

What should advisory board members expect from the nonprofit in return?

Nonprofit-Know How by Rebecca Reynolds

In most cases, the limited nature of the advisory board role–-occasional advice and name endorsement–-usually results in minimal expectations on the part of advisory board members. That’s one distinct advantage of advisory boards.

However, since the advisory board member’s role is to give advice, the nonprofit should avail itself of this expertise periodically. This may seem obvious, but remember that if the advisory board member is never called, the individual may forget about the relationship or even take offense at not being asked to fulfill the role. Conversely, if called too often, the individual may find the position an annoyance. (Calling too often is likely a sign that the nonprofit really needs that individual’s expertise on the governing board.) Finding the sweet spot of how often to contact advisory board members is up to the nonprofit, but a good rule of thumb is between one and four times per year.

Regarding the use of the advisory board member’s name and affiliation, it should go without saying there is no margin for error for the nonprofit in correctly spelling the name and labeling the affiliation title–-and keeping both up to date. Beyond this, communicating periodically with the advisory board members about the nonprofit’s efforts and achievements makes good sense.

Any other kindnesses and/or acknowledgments for advisory board members are at the discretion of the nonprofit and could require some creativity. It’s wise to carefully consider the type of individual desired and then develop a range of possible appropriate acknowledgements, just as is done for any donor. Some research into what other similar organizations are doing is always a good starting point.

Finally, question #5:

Who and how many should be on the advisory board and for how long?

The nonprofit will want to develop a list of prospects. The primary criteria are:

    mission and/or mission support expertise needed by the nonprofit and the willingness to advise

    position and standing in the community and/or industry of the nonprofit

    willingness to have his/her name used in the nonprofit’s marketing materials (letterhead/website, etc.)

    accessible to supply expertise, advice and contacts as needed by the nonprofit

    not suitable for the governing board (i.e., no interest, not enough time, not an appropriate match to other governing board members, etc.).

      As to the number of advisory board members, this is also a matter of choice, but a good guideline is too few (less than five) may appear thin and not enough to constitute a board. (If the nonprofit has a few individuals who would make great advisory members, they can be recognized simply as special advisors, rather than a board.). Conversely, too many members (more than a dozen) may be difficult to keep track of and to find space for in marketing materials. However, some large institutions have advisory boards numbering many more, as well as a host of other special entities and groups, to create layers and breadth of organizational support. This is an excellent practice, as long as the nonprofit has the capacity to maintain each group and to be sufficiently clear about its role, purpose and function.

      Terms are another issue the advisory board charter should address. Since advisory board members’ duties are fairly limited, the terms maybe indefinite. This may best suit the nonprofit anyway since this type of individual is not easily replaced. Imagine if your organization was able to secure one of the leaders in its field as an advisory board member. Would the organization want that individual to rotate off? Likely not. So, as long as the person is willing and his/her name and position are in good standing, the nonprofit should have no reason to want to rotate him/her off the advisory board.

      All told, advisory boards can be tremendous assets to nonprofits. One great contact can catapult the nonprofit ahead, and one piece of timely advice can save hours of trial and error. However, like all boards, advisory boards are more valuable to nonprofits that have done the work up front to define and articulate roles and expectations. This time investment is entirely worthwhile since the long-term benefits of advice and credibility are incalculable.

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      Social media measurement: art, science or both?

      It’s not very often when we recommend a book that we get double the enjoyment of recommending its sequel. In the case of Measuring the Networked Nonprofit, more is actually better. Its forerunner, The Networked Nonprofit, is an exceptional resource for nonprofits that are breaking ground in social media and expanding their circles of influence on various social platforms.

      We’re delighted to bring you highlights of Beth Kanter and Katie Delahaye Paine’s fresh views on measuring your social media to further mission impact. Today I give you some insightful interview highlights on the art and science of measurement as well as their most important take away:

      CausePlanet: Can you talk about the art versus science of measurement?

      Kanter: As we say in the book, measurement is a formal discipline, governed by rules and processes established by academics and researchers. You don’t need a Ph.D. from MIT and pocket protector to measure your nonprofit’s social media and networked approaches. Far from it. But casual approaches are a waste of time. You have to use the formal approach or “KD Paine’s Seven Steps of Measurement.” I think the art part is the interpretation and understanding of your data to improve your program’s results.

      There is a tension between the formal process of measurement and the innovation required for networked approaches. Measurement is definitely a left-brained activity: very linear, very structured, very disciplined. On the other hand, networked approaches can be very organic, creative and right-brained. So that’s another way to look at the art and science–I think you need both ways of doing and thinking in a nonprofit to be successful, which requires new ideas, reflection and improvement of what you do.

      Paine: For me, the art is definitely in the interpretation: figuring out what the data really means. I’m a creative type locked in a quant body, and I have the most fun looking at data and finding that “aha” moment, so it doesn’t just come from number crunching. It comes from understanding the projects and the mission as well as the metrics.

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

      Kanter: That nonprofits, no matter whether they are small or large, can get started with doing measurement themselves! And to start with baby steps so it becomes an organizational habit. The “Crawl, Walk, Run, Fly” framework we describe in chapter two is something I have used in my  nonprofit technology work for the past 20 years. If nonprofits want to embrace a new technology or embed a new way of working, whether it be becoming a networked nonprofit or using measurement and data to learn how to improve what they’re doing- they have to do it with small, incremental steps.

      Paine: Do NOT worry about the tools. Focus on finding a clear definition of your SMART objectives and defining the really meaningful metrics. Tools and platforms are the last thing you should consider but only after you’ve defined the goals, the metrics, the stakeholders and the benchmarks.

      Watch for details about our live interview in January with Kanter and Paine. You can purchase this book at www.josseybass.com or download our summary and interview at the summary store or subscribe to our library of recommended titles.

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      In the board room with Walker and Grace: Part II

      Last week we provided you with the first installment of blended observations about what makes an effective board in light of two recent Page to Practice™ book features.

      This week, we continue with compiling advice from two expert authors, Julia Walker (A Fundraising Guide for Nonprofit Board Members) and Kay Sprinkel Grace (The Ultimate Board Member’s Book).

      Fundraising with boards

      Both acknowledge the longstanding difficulty in engaging board members in fundraising. For most members, like all people, asking for money does not come naturally, but the authors both stress the necessity for all board members to be integrally involved because of their shared fiduciary responsibilities.

      Board members have too much valuable information and can preach the mission better than anyone. So, even if you only have a few who can make the actual ask, the others have a variety of ways to get involved.

      Walker gives an extensive chart on these tasks, including cultivating prospects, leading efforts in stewardship, communicating, etc. Grace addresses Walker’s chart of tasks in three categories of involvement (3 A’s): ambassador, advocate and asker. Both authors agree the most effective way to train board members in fundraising is to pair them up with staff and experienced askers.

      Two studies on donor motivation—the importance of boards

      In Walker’s book, she references a study that found high-end donors’ motivations for giving lie in their feelings (making a difference and feeling financially secure) and the efficiency of the organization.

      In Grace’s book, she references a study that found high-end donors must respect the organization’s leadership to donate.

      If the studies reference leadership and efficiency, the board should epitomize both to donors. The board is the only entity within the organization that can ensure these qualities.

      The message from both experts is explicit—the board is the leadership in the organization and as such, must be the body that adheres to the mission in every way financially. The authors challenge boards to a higher calling and a serious, comprehensive understanding of fiduciary responsibility. No small task, but one that can make or break your organization’s mission impact.

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      In the board room with Walker and Grace

      Since we’ve been talking about effective boards so much recently, I thought it would be helpful to compile some advice from two of our Page to Practice™ expert authors on boards. They complement each other well, reinforcing the main points and going deeper in different areas. With two lifetimes of experience, Julia Ingraham Walker in A Fundraising Guide for Nonprofit Board Members and Kay Sprinkel Grace in The Ultimate Board Member’s Book give it to us straight.

      Primary function

      Walker insists the board members are leaders and role models who carry the mission forward through communication, giving, fundraising, advocating.

      Grace calls board members “keepers of the mission,” like Walker. She emphasizes board members should not be managing daily operations, but ensure all resources are used effectively. She also asserts, “Development, or relationship building, is the most important role for a board member…If all board members were committed to developing relationships, fundraising would not be a challenge.”

      Role of board members vs. staff

      Walker states, “Boards are reflective of their leadership. The best boards have active, involved leaders who encourage board engagement in the nonprofit’s fundraising activities but stop short of micro-managing the development operation. Open communication, sharing of goals and mutual respect between the board and staff are also big factors in forming strong board relationships.”

      Walker gives a clear distinction between the board and staff:

      The board members are the leaders who represent and communicate the mission and vision of the organization.
      The staff supports the board’s directives and implements the programs.
      The board with its fiduciary responsibility needs to ensure all activities feed into the mission and vision, are transparent and accountable, and have no conflicts of interest.

      Grace focuses on a positive relationship between the board and staff as well:

      Communication between the CEO and board is critical to set clear expectations. The CEO runs everything but has to report to the board, so an honest relationship is critical.
      The board should not get involved with the staff too intimately or there will be a feeling of “too many bosses” and it will strain the relationship with the CEO.

      Watch for next week’s blog when we’ll compare and contrast the two authors’ views on recruitment, fundraising and donor motivation. You can download either of these book summaries at the Summary Store or subscribe to CausePlanet for access to the entire library of titles and live author interviews. For Grace’s book, visit www.emersonandchurch.com and for Walker’s book, visit www.wiley.com.

       

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      The message is trust: how to build loyalty with your donors

      This post first appeared in Tom Ahern’s newsletter, Ahern Communications Ink.

      Donors have no idea what you do with their money. And frankly? They suspect the worst!!! How loyal is the average donor? Not very, it seems. “In many large national programs fueled by direct mail,” Mal Warwick observed in 2005, “no more than 25-35% of newly acquired donors ever give so much as a second gift.” And that was then. These numbers never go up; they always get worse. A 2012 report from the Direct Marketing Association found that response rates to direct mail had dropped “nearly 25%”over the past nine years. It’s relatively easy to get a first gift. It’s consistently hard to get a second gift, especially during a worldwide economic downturn that leaves everyone feeling poorer.

      There’s more bad news.

      “Public confidence in charitable organizations … continues to stagnate and shows no signs of recovering [from a 2001 decline], according to the Brookings Institution,” the Chronicle of Philanthropy reported in September 2004. Only 11% of Americans thought charities did a “very good” job of spending money, said Brookings. The other 89% had their doubts. In fact, more than one-quarter of Americans in 2004 believed charities were inept at managing money, according to the report. And that was before the Great Recession made everyone grumpy. As I said, these numbers never get better.

      Be aware: charities are guilty until proven innocent. Part of the problem is the name, I suppose. We call ourselves “nonprofits.” And what does that label say subliminally to the lay person? That we really don’t care about money.

      UK researchers once asked donors to guess, “What percentage of your gift does your favorite charity spend on its fundraising activities, rather than on programs?” Prepare yourself. Donors–yes, donors–believed that most of their gift–fully 65%–never went into the field. It was instead plowed back into fundraising and related overhead, leaving only a small share–a mere 35%–for changing the world. And yet they still gave. Imagine how much more they might have given had they only known the truth.

      Prime messaging opportunity

      Of course you’re protesting: “That’s so unfair! We pour almost everything we’re given directly into programs. We spend as little as possible on fundraising.” You know that. I know that. But your donors don’t know that. You have to remind them of your organization’s dedication to transparency, accountability, and financial health frequently on your website, in your direct mail, in your face-to-face solicitations and in every issue of your newsletter.

      Go ahead, check right now. I’ll wait.

      Bruce Campbell, a pioneering researcher into donor attitudes and behavior, found that “information regarding how finances are used” was among donors’ top concerns. They wonder: “Did you spend my money on paper clips and business lunches? Or did you really use my gift to change the world?” Don’t leave your donors guessing on this point. They will guess wrong…and not in your favor. One real reason renewal rates, retention rates and long-term loyalty stubbornly remain so abysmally low is because donor skepticism has been left to fester.

      What an opportunity….

      How you can win

      I teach that “the charities with the best ‘thank-you’s’ win.” But it’s the same with trust: the charities that establish amongst their donors a strong sense of trustworthiness will win in the long run.

      See also:

      Seeing Through A Donor’s Eyes

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