Posts Tagged ‘Page to Practice’

Management Café Virtual Book Club returns April 3

You have another chance! You can build your knowledge about best practices and recommended books through discussions with other professionals. All from your desk via webcast! The Nonprofit Cultivation Center, teaming up with our Page to Practice™ book summaries, is offering its next virtual monthly book club. It’s a unique professional development opportunity to explore nonprofit management topics with other nonprofit managers in facilitated discussions.

The first session starts Thursday, April 3, discussing The Power of Collaborative Solutions by Tom Wolff.

Don’t miss this innovative opportunity!

Learn more and register here.

For more information about Page to Practice™ book summaries, visit our summary store or subscribe to our library of recommended reading.

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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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Every board member has a place at the fundraising table

Raising more money in an extremely competitive environment means tapping every resource you have, beginning with your board members.

A Fundraising Guide for Nonprofit Board Members is the most comprehensive guide for best practices in fundraising and the involvement of board members we’ve recommended to date. Author Julia Walker covers all levels of fundraising, real world examples, tips and techniques for the browser and the engagement of board members throughout the giving cycle.

Walker takes the “give or get” mantra and replaces it with a description of a more active and productive role board members can play in achieving modest or lofty development goals. This book aims to help you transform your passive board into a lively cadre of volunteers who’re ready to cultivate and close all kinds of gifts.

Four compelling reasons why a board must take an active leadership role in fundraising include:

The board holds fiduciary responsibility for resources to fuel the mission, which involves transparency, accountability and no conflicts of interest.

The board oversees all fundraising programs and opportunities. It approves all projects and assures all fundraising is ethical and money goes toward the mission.

The board sets the pace through its own giving.

The board sets the tone for the community’s view of the nonprofit.

Even with advancement staff to provide structure, expertise and support, the board needs to lead and inspire with fundraising. To achieve maximum fundraising performance and avoid burnout, every board member must be involved in some capacity.

The leadership in the organization needs to implement the following to ensure all board members will be involved:

Recruit diverse members with fundraising experience or connections to donors.

Write a job description that includes fundraising for new board members.

Recruit in a manner where expectations are clear and not perceived as orders.

Provide fundraising training for board members.

For an in-depth look at Walker’s book and an author interview, download the full Page to Practice™ summary by visiting our store or subscribing to the library. You can purchase the book at www.wiley.com and view Walker’s other books on fundraising.

 

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Lifelong giving begins in the 30s

I just had the pleasure of co-hosting our latest virtual book club, Management Cafe, and wanted to remind you of three take-aways that came up in our conversation about working with the next generation. Author Emily Davis and her book, “Fundraising and the Next Generation” was featured. Emily reminded everyone on the call that:

Lifelong giving begins in the 30s. Because Gen Y or Millennials view volunteering as an additional form of philanthropy, this is a great entry point for organizations. Consider how you’ll engage your 20- and 30-somethings now so you have them connected to your cause throughout their lifetime. If you don’t have services that naturally translate to volunteer work, recruit a committee of Millennials plan a social event in support of your cause and build from there.

Nonprofits make the mistake of launching their presence on social media channels as a way of connecting with the younger set and calling it good. While social media is a natural tool to consider for engaging Gen Y or Milliennials, Davis reminds us that social media is a tool, not the tool. Be sure to blend your social media activity with other forms of communication and engagement.

This is the first time we’ve had all four generations in the nonprofit space (Traditionalists, Boomers, Gen X and Gen Y). Look around your office and consider who you have in-house to offer feedback about what each generation prefers with supporting causes they care about. When creating your plan, remember Traditionalists, for example, prefer a well-written letter while Boomers were influenced by the onset of television.

Read more about Emily’s fundraising recommendations in her book by visiting www.wiley.com or downloading our Page to Practice summary at the store or through a subscription. If you’re interested in learning more about Management Cafe, visit the Nonprofit Cultivation Center.

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More articles about generational issues and nonprofits

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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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Foundation relationships: neighbors, not friends

Rarely do I come across a book where the author, who’s been on the inside of a foundation, is sharing the grant maker’s perspective like Martin Teitel does. His sense of humor and quick wit make The Ultimate Insider’s Guide to Winning Foundation Grants a fast and informative read. New and seasoned nonprofit leaders alike will find the author’s insights immensely practical.

This book contains insider information no one before has revealed and Teitel does it with complete transparency. Teitel wrote this book with the goal of leveling the playing field. Enjoy this interview excerpt with Teitel about the best partnerships he’s observed and the single most important idea he wants you to take away from his book.

CausePlanet: Will you characterize the best grantor/grantee relationships you’ve been part of or have observed?

Martin Teitel: This might be where I’m supposed to say “partnership,” but that’s not true. A foundation is making a largely unaccountable, barely transparent decision according to its own standards. I can’t see that as leading to a real partnership. So I’d say the best–meaning the healthiest and most successful relationships between grant seekers and makers–are frank and business-like. I think of grantees not as friends, but more like neighbors. My neighbors and I have clear boundaries, we try to keep everything pleasant and we don’t look to neighborly interactions for deep personal gratification. I choose my friends but I don’t choose my neighbors, nor the people I work with.

CausePlanet: What is the single most important idea you want readers to take away?

Martin Teitel: Foundation funding has to be put in its place. When foundation grants are a limited portion of a diverse mix that supports your work, your organization will be more independent and more stable. Far too often I see hard-pressed staffers casting about wildly in the foundation world after they’ve done an especially hard-nosed cash flow projection, wasting time trying for funds that could only arrive when it’s too late. They could have been using that energy to build support with smaller but faster and more reliable increments from other sources.

Read more author interview excerpts in next week’s post or insider highlights about winning grants in this month’s Page to Practice™ feature of Winning Foundation Grants by Martin Teitel.

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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