Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Nonprofit Lists for the Holidays

Many of you know I love collecting nonprofit resources, so my holiday gift to you is linking to a few of my favorite nonprofit lists.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Nonprofit Management Seminars this Spring

I'm teaching three seminars this spring in the Bay Area at John F. Kennedy University. As you can probably tell from my blog I'm passionate about these subjects and looking forward to sharing resources and strategies I've learned from being a nonprofit manager.
Please e-mail me if you have any questions about the seminars.

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

The next generation of nonprofit professors are coming!

There was an interesting debate at the ARNOVA conference about pursuing a PhD specializing in nonprofit management vs. pursuing a traditional PhD and writing a nonprofit focused dissertation.

Historically professors who teach nonprofit education earned PhD degrees in Sociology, Education, Public Administration, Public Policy, Political Science, and other fields. Some of these professors advocate for the continuation this type of broad education for future nonprofit studies professors.

However, new programs are popping up across the country offering specialized doctoral programs in Nonprofit Management, Leadership and Philanthropy, and enrollment is on the rise. Obviously I am an advocate for specialized PhD programs in nonprofit management because I am in one of those programs. I want to study the nonprofit sector and be a professor of nonprofit management. I believe that my specialized field will help me be more effective at teaching the next generation of nonprofit leaders.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Read my fellow doctoral student's blog

My fellow doctoral student Lindsey McDougle started her own blog a couple of weeks ago. I encourage you all to read her blog Leadership as a Field of Study.

Research vs. Practice....The Great Debate

A few weeks ago I attended the Association for Research on Nonprofit Organizations and Voluntary Action (ARNOVA) annual conference. ARNOVA is a where place for researchers and practitioners gather to present and discuss research findings about the nonprofit sector.

This conference was especially exciting for me because I presented my first academic paper titled, "Professional Development for Nonprofit Managers, A Different Approach: Collaborative Learning Through a Wiki, Blog, and Hands on Discussion."

Coming from the practitioner world this was an exciting opportunity for me to present among the top researchers in the field. I actually was star struck to be presenting in the same session as Rosanne Mirabella whose work I've been following for years.

I was challenged throughout this conference because of two reasons.

1. There were discussions threaded throughout the conference about practitioners expressing a desire to have researchers translate their research into practice. One of the keynote speakers said that she believes that only 10% of research can be utilized by nonprofit managers--and she is saying this having just come from the research world to becoming CEO of a Nonprofit!! I don't necessarily agree with her, however I do believe nonprofit managers who make an effort to understand research, are better at their jobs and assessing the world around them. I want researchers, specifically those in academia to do research that is impactful to the sector and not do research for the sake of research.

2. There was also another discussion about researchers wanting practitioners to test the validity of their research. Along the lines of that discussion, I want nonprofit associations and practitioners to feel welcome at ARNOVA and be able to share their relevant research to the entire sector. However, as a practitioner I am struggling to learn how to figure out how to test the validity of research reports and sources. I generally read research reports and accept them as truth.

In response to these discussions, my suggestions are:

1. Academic researchers should put in their research budget money for a graphic designer, so the research will look compelling to read. Then they should distribute the research to the entire sector, not just to academic sources.

2. Nonprofit Associations and other practitioner based researchers in the field should be open to presenting research at ARNOVA and in the nonprofit research community--and ARNOVA should invite them to do so.

3. Nonprofit associations and Academic researchers need to work together to produce research that meets the academic rigor, however is also relevant to the field.

We all miss out if we don't work together.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

My Research Projects at the Caster Family Center for Nonprofit Research

I've been blogging a lot about my work as a nonprofit manager, however I wanted to share about the two new exciting research projects I am conducting here at the Caster Family Center for Nonprofit Research. These projects relate to both my passion for the field and my passion for nonprofit management education. In addition, since I am a new PhD student engaging in these projects, I am learning about qualitative and quantitative research methods in real time. I report to the Director of Assessment at the School of Leadership and Education Sciences, she is a great mentor to me on both of these projects.

1. Assessment of the Nonprofit Leadership and Management Program
We are currently in the process of conducting an assessment of the Nonprofit Leadership and Masters Program. In January 2008, will be sending a survey to all alumni. We plan to use the data along with past entrance and exit surveys to create a comprehensive assessment of the program.

2 Applied Projects Assessment
Each Masters student cohort completes an approximately 75 applied projects per year in local nonprofit organizations. We are developing a protocol to assess the impact of students' applied projects in these organizations. This assessment will help us to determine ways to improve the students' and organizations' overall experiences.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Outlook & Trends in the Sector

I recently attended the San Diego Association of Nonprofits (Sandan) 1st Annual Conference. This conference was different from most because it focused on reporting about trends in the nonprofit sector, with speakers representing each subsector-- Heath, Environment, Arts, Human Services ect.

It is easy for us as nonprofit managers to get wrapped up in our programs and operations and not look at the nonprofit sector as a whole. However, Sandan's conference provided nonprofit managers in San Diego a place to learn about other subsectors and establish new networks and collaborations to address sector wide issues in San Diego.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Be my Professor

Are you a nonprofit management professor?

Would you like to live in San Diego?

Then come and be my professor! We're hiring.

I am looking for a professor who is an expert about the nonprofit sector, someone who will challenge my thinking and who will take me under their wings for the next three years. Ok, I don't have a say in the hiring process, but I thought I'd put it out there what type of professor I'm looking for :)

Mentor me in my personal research: the nonprofit congress movement, nonprofit operations, emerging leaders in the nonprofit sector, technology related professional development for nonprofit managers.

Nonprofit Sector Workforce Coalition Meeting

Right before the fire I had the opportunity to represent the Caster Family Center for Nonprofit Research at the Nonprofit Sector Workforce Coalition meeting in Los Angeles during the Independent Sector Conference.

For months I have followed the work of the coalition and wanted to be a fly on the wall at these meetings, however it was so awesome to finally be able to attend and meet all the fabulous people in the coalition!!

The Nonprofit Sector Workforce Coalition was started by American Humanics as a way to promote working in the nonprofit sector. It is membership driven (any organization is welcome to join) and since its inception has created three initiatives.

1. National Campaign for Nonprofit Careers
2. Student Debt Initiative
3. Workforce Diversity Inclusion Initiative

Notes from our meeting can be found here. I found this meeting very beneficial to attend. The coalition has already achieved great strides from passing HR 2669 which forgives student debt for those who work in the nonprofit sector 10 years or longer.

I personally joined the national campaign for nonprofit careers which may break up into two initiatives--one of recruiting people to work in the sector and the other to retain people working in the sector. I think both issues are important, however I'm leaning towards the retention issue because--how can we recruit people into the sector if we can't even get them to stay?

Friday, November 9, 2007

Red Cross is not the only one helping with this disaster.

It is happening again, just like Katrina--people are donating tons of money to the Red Cross for San Diego fire relief, however fire victims will barely see a penny of that money.

In the meantime, very small charities like mine (The Jenna Druck Foundation) are working directly with the fire victims and will continue to do so long after the Red Cross leaves. So, if you want to help out please consider donating to us and the other small charities in San Diego. Even though the disaster is over, there is much more work to be done and these families have a long road ahead.

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

What will the Nonprofit Sector look like in 20 years?

A few weeks ago I had an amazing conversation with Susan Raymond of Changing our World, a Philanthropic consulting firm. My initial interaction came from hearing her speak at the Los Angeles Summit onPhilanthropy where she reported on her research about public perception of the US nonprofit sector and international philanthropy.

In our phone conversation, Susan encouraged me and the rest of the nonprofit sector to think outside the box and stop measuring the walls within the box (the sector). She urged us to stop asking uninteresting questions, and really think about how new philanthropic and venture capital efforts are redefining the sector.

For example, she told me about how Goldman Sachs issued bonds for vaccines and AIG insured the weather in Ethopia so when there is a drought, the insurance company pays farmers and less people starve. Companies are finding ways to capitalize on these social issues and aren't doing it through traditional charitable and philanthropic methods.

Although I know the nonprofit and philanthropic sector is constantly changing, this conversation made me realize how much more I need to be aware of what is happening outside our sector because it has a huge impact on how the sector will evolve. So, lets talk about social entrepreneurship, venture philanthropy, and many non-traditional income models nonprofits are choosing to stay alive. If these new revenue models don't affect us now, they certainly will in 20 years.

Susan is author of "Mapping the New World of American Philanthropy: Causes and Consequences of the Transfer of Wealth," and,"The Future of Philanthropy: Economics, Ethics, and Management."

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Next Steps after the Disaster

On Wednesday morning as the neighborhoods around me were able to return home, I started to feel more safe. I also found out that Dr. Ken Druck, the founder of my organization--The Jenna Druck Foundation was already helping families who had lost their home in the fire (even though his home was threatened too). I have an amazing awe and admiration and for him because of his ability to look beyond his individual crisis and help the community.

As the day went on and more and more areas were allowed back home, I started to function and look beyond the needs of my family and onto helping the community. I feel honored to share with you what Dr. Ken Druck, Founder of the Jenna Druck wrote about how to cope with this disaster. I am taking this to heart and I hope you will too:

Tips for Helping Yourself and Your Kids Cope with The Fires

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

What matters the most in an emergency.

Reporting from San Diego.

I'm in waiting mode. I'd like to think I'm out of the fire danger area being at the north eastern corner of Mira Mesa, however I can't ignore the fact that areas directly north and east of me have been evacuated. Everyone in San Diego is effected in some way by these fires because they are widespread around the county. Schools are closed, the freeways are practically deserted, and most residents who haven't had to evacuate are staying inside due to smoky air.

I've packed my car and I am ready to evacuate if need be. However, I've come to the realization the last thing on my mind right now is my nonprofit and what would happen if the fire reached my nonprofit's office. Thankful my office isn't located near any of the fires, however this natural disaster has been any eye opening experience for me.

I've come to realize that I need to actually practice what I preach and do the actual disaster preparedness steps at my nonprofit . So if both my nonprofit and my family are both effected by this disaster, I won't have to worry or even think about my nonprofit's important files or insurance policy information, and I can focus on what matters the most to me--my family.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Toolkits for Your Nonprofit

Here are some nonprofit management toolkits I created. They include all practical resources and tips I utilize while managing my nonprofit.


  • Starting a Nonprofit Toolkit: Are you are really passionate about an issue and thinking about starting your own nonprofit--but don’t know where to begin? This toolkit provides a simple overview as well as practical resources for starting your own nonprofit organization.

  • Setting up a Nonprofit Office Toolkit: Are your ready to move away from your cramped space or your founder’s dining room and find a new office for your nonprofit? This toolkit provides resources and steps to guide you during your nonprofit’s office move.

  • Nonprofit Operations Toolkit: This toolkit provides practical steps and resources for established nonprofit organizations to run more effectively. The toolkit is broken into eight key operational areas which are critical to running the day-to-day operations of any nonprofit organization.
I usually sell these on my website, however I don't have enough time to promote them. Please feel free to purchase one if you are feeling generous. All proceeds go to fund my education :).

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Why you should get involved with the Nonprofit Congress

I had a fabulous phone call with the Nonprofit Congress last week. I was asked to serve on the planning committee for the 2008 national meeting of the Nonprofit Congress.

The Nonprofit Congress is the most amazing convener of nonprofit managers to discuss sector wide topics and issues. They are listening to us, we have a say!

Our individual nonprofits are very important, however I would encourage us to look beyond our individual organizational needs and find ways that we can work together as sector.

I attended a Philanthropy conference a couple of weeks ago and the key note speaker spoke about the general public's perception of the nonprofit sector and unfortunately the news isn't good. Polls show the general public thinks negatively about the nonprofit sector. In addition, each year nonprofits are gaining more and more media attention and with this media comes increased public attention of the nonprofit sector as well as increased responsibility on our (the nonprofit managers) shoulders. However, we as a sector are still struggling to find our identity around the leadership crisis/deficit and capacity building issues.

It we able to carve out a little time to participate in important discussions about how we want the future of the nonprofit sector to look like, then we are more likely to see changes occur for the better! I hope!!

The nonprofit congress had a huge convening in 2006 and all the nonprofit leaders (like you and I) came up with the following three priorities to focus on.

1. Public Perception of the Nonprofit Sector
"A priority of the nonprofit sector is to increase public understanding and support so that nonprofits can continue to do their best work."

2. Nonprofit Leadership
"A priority of the nonprofit sector is to ensure that the sector has the resources it needs to serve communities and is effectively and efficiently managed, with an emphasis on effective and strong mission-driven leadership. "

Capacity Building
priority of the nonprofit sector is to ensure that the sector has the resources it needs to serve communities and is effectively and efficiently managed."

Descriptions taken from the nonprofit congress website.

As a fellow nonprofit manager, I encourage you to get involved. I know it sounds corny but our voices do matter. We have the opportunity to be a convener on the local level and also participate and represent our nonprofit communities on the national level. Furthermore, the nonprofit congress is convening working groups for each topic/priority. Furthermore, we have an opportunity to educate presidential candidates about the nonprofit sector and make smart decisions that will help our sector as a whole.

I know if we work together we can change this sector for the better.

Time Management and Some Nonprofit Studies

I was just notified by my fellow Doctoral student that my blog is pathetic. :) Yep, I've become the blogger that I never wanted to be. I am too darn busy.

I am trying to balance school, work, family and still manage to have a social life. Things I am learning about time management.

1. Create a schedule and stick to it.
2. It is ok to say no.
3. Delegate, Delegate, Delegate.
4. Make time for me time.

In addition, since I love nonprofit resources and research I will share about two studies that I learned about this week thanks to all the listservs I subscribe to. These studies I learned about from Philathropy News Digest (PND).

Foundation Leaders Inconsistent in Their Use of Strategy, Study Finds
PND states, "A disconnect exists between what foundation CEOs and program officers believe about the importance of strategy in making decisions and their actual use of it in their daily work, a new study from the Center for Effective Philanthropy finds."


Nonprofits Contribute Significantly to Gross Domestic Product, Study Finds
PND states, "The civil society sector contributes as much to the gross domestic product in a wide range of countries as the construction and finance industries, and twice as much as the utilities industry, a new report from Johns Hopkins University finds."

Sunday, September 23, 2007


Click Here to take survey

I want to do research during my PhD that is helpful and useful. However I can't do this research without you. My first conference paper is about using blogs and wikis as professional development tools for nonprofit managers.

A while ago I posted this entry:

"If you read the Nonprofit Management and Operations blog or participated in a brown bag lunch discussion--please take a few minutes to provide me your feedback and let me know whether or not these devices were beneficial to your professional development."

Click Here to take survey

Please....I need more people to complete this survey, so I can encourage the world of academia that blogs and wikis are tools that can be used for nonprofit managers professional development!

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Preparing to be a Professor

I started my PhD to become a professor and teach nonprofit management. So, I'm trying to get as much teaching experience as possible. The funny thing is the majority of PhD programs out there don't teach students how to teach--they teach them how to do research. Then when students graduate, they get into professor positions and teach without having any formal training. We need to change this system!

I'm thankful that I'm able to do research for the Caster Family Center for Nonprofit Research, however I really want to learn how to be a great teacher and professor too. And, there aren't any Nonprofit Teaching Assistantships at my school. So, I'm forging my own way.

I established a relationship with John F. Kennedy University in Pleasant Hill, CA's Continuing Education department and I already started teaching 1 day seminars for nonprofit managers. (The majority of these seminars are happening in spring '08, and some will be online courses--I'll post more information about these seminars when it becomes available.)

They are:
  1. Jumpstart Your Passion: How to Successfully Start and Run Your Own Nonprofit Organization.
  2. How to Improve Your Nonprofit Operations in Less Than Two Months.
  3. Advanced Topics in Fundraising: Annual Campaigns, Planned Giving, Event Planning, Cause Related Marketing, and Grant Writing Strategies.
  4. Succession Planning in Your Nonprofit: Preparing for the Next Generation of Leaders.
Next, I'll be approaching all the nonprofit professors at my school and ask them if I can either be a teaching assistant or co-teach a with them.

Monday, September 17, 2007

Belated: Things I learned in my first week as a PhD student

Last week was my first week of classes. I'm learning a lot about leadership problems from Ronald Heifetz's book, "Leadership without Easy Answers." He talks about technical or solvable problems--like an accounting error vs. adaptive problems-like the war on drugs, that cannot easily be solved. Adaptive problems often include a lot of anxiety, however anxiety to an extent is healthy and necessary in order to move things along. Adaptive problems are often figured out by bringing the power back to the people, this provides more anxiety but ultimately, people come up with a solution that works for them.

Heifetz also talks about a concept of getting on the balcony and being able to see how our own perspectives affect situations. Something we discussed in both classes is the concept of perspective and how our perspectives are shaped by everything around us and to be open to new perspectives of seeing things.

Thursday, September 6, 2007

Being Director

I feel like I am very lucky to come into a stable organization with great team to work with. I am excited to be able to provide strategic direction for the organization as well as utilize all my other skills like fundraising and operations. At one point I didn't want to be ED of any organization, however I feel like I am meant to be here at the Foundation and it is a wonderful role for me to be in. As my Executive coach would say, "I'm in the honeymoon stage of my job."

I do have more work than I can ever get done, and I am humbled like I thought I would be because I'm at the helm now and balancing the priorities of the organization. Already in my first week of classes, studying leadership has challenged me to think differently as the authority figure in my organization.

Dual Roles--Nonprofit Manager and Doctoral Student

I came to San Diego to pursue my PhD and do research in the Caster Center for Applied Nonprofit Research. However, after I arrived I couldn't help but get involved with a local nonprofit too. What can I say--I love what I do!! I was offered the opportunity to serve as part-time Director of the Jenna Druck Foundation, a wonderful nonprofit founded in 1996 to honor the legacy of Jenna who passed away at age 21. We have two wonderful programs--Families Helping Families, which provides grief support to parents who are grieving over the loss of their child. And the Young Women's Leadership program which provides leadership development opportunities for High School girls.

Now my schedule is jam packed with school and work and I am working really hard to manage my priorities so I can be a successful student, research assistant, and nonprofit manager. I am excited, nervous, confidant and determined in my dual roles and I am grateful for the opportunity to apply my leadership training and education in my work place.

I may not be blogging as much as I originally planned to due to my super busy schedule however I'll do my best to share what I'm learning in both roles--the good and the challenging.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Today was a hard day.

Today I am not writing about nonprofit leadership. Today was a particularly challenging day for me because I said goodby to my cat Prince--he was only 2 years old. Prince became sick about 3 months ago and although we tried to help him, the move was to much for him to handle and he became really sick when he stopped eating altogether. Today was a hard day. I miss him, and our other cat Alex misses him.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Blog Carnival of Nonprofit Consultants!

I am excited to be hosting the blog Carnival of Nonprofit Consultants for the first time on this blog! There were some great posts this week!

Here are some marketing and fundraising tips.

1. Jeff Brooks of the Donor Power blog writes in his post why most fundraising doesn't work.

2. Katya Andresen of the Nonprofit Marketing blog explains about using the "Puppy Factor" in nonprofit marketing and fundraising.

3. Paul Jones writes about offering exclusivity for cause related marketing sponsorships in his Cause-Related Marketing blog post.

4. In Kivi Miller's post, she explains the importance of obtaining a model release before using photographs in your nonprofit's newsletter.

5. Michael Stein (west coast) writes a post about how Mal Warwick a well known fundraising consultant, answers 500 fundraising questions on his (Mal's) website.

And the buzz continues about the leadership transition in the nonprofit sector.

6. Alvaro Fernandez of the Brain Fitness blog talks about the importance of, "Training the Aging Workforce."

7. And I wrote a post about how I think the leadership gap has to do with lack of succession planning in nonprofits.

Happy blogging this week! Michele Martin of the Bamboo Project blog hosts the next blog Carnival.

Blog Carnival Feed

Friday, August 10, 2007

Let's state the real problem--lack of succession planning

Unfortunately I wasn't able to attend NP2020 conference like I wanted to because I was moving to San Diego right during the conference, however I have been reading notes from the conference wiki and blog posts about the conference here, here, here, here, here and here. Ok, so I know there is a lot of research about the impending leadership gap, however I tend to take the position--I'll believe it when I see it. My opinion is the gap is inferred by some baby boomers in positions of power right now because they haven't conducted succession planning.

I've worked for some amazing Executive Directors, however not one of them has thought about succession planning or how to set the organization up so it can succeed and run without them. I guess that is why I am so adamant about preparing for and training my replacement. Also, it is important to think about succession planning not in terms of finding a replacement exactly like yourself, however finding someone who has different skills than you. This allows them to maintain the components that you built up in the organization, but also build up the areas of the organization that were your "weak" areas. Let's please be honest about who we are as leaders and put our egos aside (myself included) and prevent this leadership gap from turning into a reality.

Consequently, I noticed many notes from the NP2020 conference state they want more mentoring and professional development. This is great however as a note to Gen X and Gen Y, I've said in a previous post--I've had folks want to "mentor" me--but not in the ways that I wanted to be mentored. In other words, they wanted to turn me into them. My suggestions would be approach people you look up to and build an informal mentoring relationship with them. That has worked well for me. Also, many nonprofits don't have the money or put the money aside to offer professional development opportunities, and if they won't budge--my motto is, "forge your own way." I've been known to take vacation time to go to nonprofit conferences so I can get the professional development I want and network with new people.

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

I've Been Tagged- Here are my 8 Random Facts

I'm back in the Bay Area this week and training my replacement here at Aspiration.

I have been so busy I didn't notice I got "tagged" by Rosetta Thurman on August 1. Now I'm supposed to share 8 random facts about me. Here are the rules, these are taken straight from Rosetta's tag post.

"1) Post these rules before you give your facts
2) List 8 random facts about yourself
3) At the end of your post, choose (tag) 8 people and list their names, linking to them
4) Leave a comment on their blog, letting them know they've been tagged"

Here it goes.

1. I love to scrapbook.

2. I'm 8th generation Californian--my family was here before California was a state.

3. I'm an airline brat--my dad works for United and my husband is now an airline pilot so you can probably guess I love to travel.

4. I'm super close to both my family and my husband's family and we usually have joint holiday celebrations.

5. I love any sport that has to do with the water, and I would live in the water if I could.

6. My husband is a veteran and deployed twice to the middle east during the second Gulf War.

7. I am one of the few people who wishes she were older or at least look older. I guess its because I always get comments from people about how young I look.

8. I am going to change the world by helping nonprofits run more effectively!

It seems like all the blogs I read have already been tagged, so I am breaking the rules--oh no. I would like to see all bloggers write 8 ways they are going to change the world--for the better I hope :).

Did you read my Nonprofit Management and Operations Blog?

I recently got accepted to present at a nonprofit research conference about my previous blog the Nonprofit Management and Operations Blog, as well as the Nonprofit Operations Wiki and Nonprofit Operations Brown Bag Lunch discussions as being collaborative learning and professional development tools for nonprofit managers.

If you read the Nonprofit Management and Operations blog or participated in a brown bag lunch discussion--please take a few minutes to provide me your feedback and let me know whether or not these devices were beneficial to your professional development.

Click Here to take survey

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

Tips for Moving To A New City

I'm sitting in my new diggs in San Diego!! The movers delivered all our stuff yesterday and I am currently taking a break from unpacking. I am thinking about the ways that I am going to network and meet other nonprofit folks in this fabulous new city. For those of you who are also moving to a new city or trying to transition into the nonprofit sector in your area, here are some networking steps I am taking.

1. Before I moved here I contacted some large nonprofits and foundations in the area and asked them if there are any location specific nonprofit listservs I should join.

2. I checked to see if there is a Young Nonprofit Professionals Network (YNPN) chapter in my new city.

3. I contacted the local volunteer center to sign up for one-day or half-day volunteer opportunities to meet new people.

4. I am in the process of signing up for boardnet USA a free board matching service so I can serve on the board of a local nonprofit.

5. I'm planning to attend the local Association of Fundraising Professionals (AFP) chapter meeting, the local nonprofit association meeting and a Volunteer Managers meeting.

6. I'm going to sign up for a workshop at the local nonprofit training center.

7. I'm trying not to overdo it and making time for play like signing up for a scrapbooking class and joining a new bell choir.

Friday, July 20, 2007

My Personal and Professional Life Merge on Facebook

I haven't really understood the popularity of social networking tools until now. I did create profiles on Friendster, Linkedin, and My Space and I do like how I can see what my colleagues are up to on Linkedin and connect with all my High School friends on My Space, but aside from that I haven't make much effort to "add friends or colleagues" or use all the system features.

Recently I saw a demo of Facebook and all its capabilities. Wow!! Facebook is so different then these other tools because of all the awesome applications to choose from. I can bring my blog, my flickr photos, books I read, my delicious tags, the places I've traveled, and much more all into one page and easily move around each of those elements. Basically my personal life and my professional life merge on this one page.

I also really like how nonprofits can create applications in Facebook (see example) to get new supporters and raise awareness of their cause. This is a great tool for less web savvy folks or groups to have their own page on the web.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Choosing a Nonprofit Focused PhD Program

In the last 10 years nonprofit education programs have sprouted up across the country. When I started my Masters program I was planning to earn an MBA and a Certificate in Nonprofit Management, however that quickly changed when the Masters of Management in Nonprofit Administration (MMNA) degree was implemented at my University. I immediately switched programs and was the first person to earn that degree at my University in 2003! Due to its popularity, North Park now offers an online MMNA degree!

During my time at North Park University, I was inspired by so many of my professors who spoke about their real world experiences as nonprofit managers and consultants. At a certain point during my program, I determined I wanted emulate my professors and pursue a profession teaching nonprofit managers how to run effective nonprofit organizations.

Since the majority of nonprofit masters programs across the country were very new at the time I earned my Masters degree, I really didn't know what, or if any universities had nonprofit focused PhD programs. So, I started my search to find the right program for me.

After my husband and I moved back to California, I learned about the Academy of Management' Public and Nonprofit Division's Doctoral Student Consortium through the Association of Research of Nonprofit and Voluntary Action (ARNOVA) listserv. ARNOVA is the association for nonprofit professors and researchers. I was very nervous when I attended the Doctoral Student Consortium because this was my first nonprofit academic conference and I was meeting professors who I deeply admired from reading their published articles and books! However, the professors and students were all very nice to me and provided me helpful information about their individual programs. Many of the PhD students chose Public Administration doctoral programs or they developed their own sort of nonprofit focus in Public Policy, Sociology, Social Work or other PhD programs. I learned there are very few schools with a cohort of nonprofit focused PhD students.

I also learned about Dr. Roseanne M. Mirabella's list of nonprofit management education programs and I went to each school's website to learn about their programs. I received various advice from people throughout my search process, like, "pick a specific professor you want to study under," or "know what you want to research before you get into your program."

It's been a long road, but during that time I earned great deal of real world nonprofit management experience. Plus, every time I attend a nonprofit academic conference I got to know professors and students in individual programs which brought me one step closer to applying to a program. Last fall I had so much fun volunteering at the ARNOVA conference in Chicago and reconnecting with my former North Park professors and current North Park students.

I chose a PhD program that is right for me. I really connected with the students and professors at the University of San Diego. And I am excited that I will be studying and doing research with 5 other nonprofit focused doctoral students.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

No More Mediocrity--Lets Run Great Organizations!

I attended CompassPoint's annual conference last week--Nonprofit Day. The key note speaker was Jim Collins, author of, "Good to Great," and "Good to Great in the Social Sectors". He is so inspiring and he is an academic!! I aspire to be like him because he presents his research findings in relevant terms to nonprofit and businesses alike.

Jim challenged to strive for greatness in our organizations. He spoke about the difference between good and great organizations. He said great organizations have leaders who are disciplined, they focus on the who first and then the what. They have passionate ambition, and humility!! These leaders focus on building a great team of people around them and placing the right people on their bus.

I love the analogy Jim used about how we need to do clock building in our organizations so the clock will be able to run when we are no longer there. I've seen too many organizations struggle or almost fail because the founding Executive Director or a key leader left the organization. As a result, I am a strong advocate of putting systems and people in place so organizations can continue and be great without me. Turnover is so prevalent in the nonprofit sector!

Jim said that great leaders are able to reflect on how far they have come but also realize where they need to go. These leaders never unwaiver in their faith even with all the obstacles and time constraints they face. So, for all of us who love our to do lists, he encouraged us to create a stop doing list. This stop doing list will help us deal with our greatest issue of not having enough time.

One of the top companies that Jim writes about in his book, "Good to Great and the Social Sectors," is Southwest Airlines. In a time when the majority of airlines are struggling, Southwest shows amazing greatness which goes beyond the airline industry. On a personal note, My husband is currently a pilot at a commuter airline and his dream job is working for Southwest. I asked him the other day why he though Southwest was such a great company to work for. He told me Southwest is great because they put their employees first. By putting their employees first, Southwest has happy employees and as a result happy employees are great at their jobs!

As I reflect on Jim's talk, I realize many authors have written books about what the qualities are of great leaders, however unfortunately the majority of organizations and companies we come into contact with on a daily basis aren't great, they slide by with their mediocre work environments and bottom line numbers. We need to stop this mediocrity and create, as well as run great organizations. A leading expert in the nonprofit sector recently wrote on his blog, "We need less non-profits, not more." I would rather him say--we need less mediocre nonprofits and more great organizations, because great organizations have happier staff and are more effective at their work!!

Friday, July 13, 2007

Thanks Beth!

Beth Kanter--an amazing blogger just did a nice shout out about my new Nonprofit Leadership Blog. She wants me to keep blogging during my PhD and I will!! Beth, please keep blogging too, I learn so much from your blog!

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Craigslist Foundation Networking and Grant Proposal Tips

I just attended a great networking event last night organized by the Craigslist Foundation. The guest speaker at this event was Susan Fox author of Grant Proposal Makeover. Susan shared her "10 Flaws That Doom Most Proposals to Failure." These flaws are:
  1. Proposals that don't fit the funders priorities.
    Do thorough research about their grant requirements and show that your program is a good fit to one of their funding priorities.
  2. The proposal does not follow logical order.
    Example order:
    -Introduce organization
    -What you are doing to address the need
    -Methods to reach goals and objectives (include line item budget)
    -How you will evaluate your activities
  3. Does not show the need.
    Although foundations may know the need out there, they still want to see how much you know about the need.
  4. Overwhelms with too many statistics.
    Use statistics in moderation.
  5. Relies too much on client stories and testimonials.
    Use a couple of stories that can show impact.
  6. Poor objectives or evaluation process.
    Some funders want to see formal evaluations.
  7. Includes a bad budget
    Double check numbers!
  8. Proposals written by committee where specific sections contradict one another.
  9. Uses overblown language.
    Be descriptive but don't overdo it. All organizations are unique and innovative.
  10. Uses vague abstract language.
    Be specific in proposal
This is a great list, even for those of us who do a lot of grant writing!

Monday, July 9, 2007

My Brother and Sister-In-Law's Charity Sabbatical

My brother has been working as an Architect for the past 4 years and specializes in Green and Sustainable building. Recently he and his wife decided to quit their jobs and take a sabbatical and engage in some amazing service projects. They will be spending a month in Mexico providing assistance to a family that they previously built a house for during a church mission trip and then the next month they will be in Arizona participating in the Red Feather project making a straw-bale house on a Native American reservation.

I recently read Penelope Trunk's article in Time titled, "What Gen Y Really Wants," which really made me think about my brother and sister-in-law's new adventure--they are Gen Yers. Penelope writes about how Gen Y wants to and values volunteering. My favorite part of the article is when she writes, "Taking time off to travel used to be a résumé red flag; today it's a learning experience." This was funny to me because we were all a bit skeptical at first as to why my brother and sister-in-law would quit their perfectly comfortable jobs and give up their apartment to do this work (although I shouldn't be the one to judge for I am quitting my comfortable job to start my PhD), as well as some family members weren't sure how this experience would help their careers. However, on my brother's last day of work his firm gave him the book, "Design Like You Give a Dam," which talks about all these humanitarian architecture projects all over the world, including the Red Feather project. My brother's coworkers and managers were excited about what he is doing and I know this service experience will make him a better architect!

Friday, July 6, 2007

Age is a Touchy Subject with Everyone

I generally shy away from blogging about controversial subjects, however I can't help but bring up how age seems to be an issue for everyone. I have been following a series of posts on the San Francisco Bay Area Young Nonprofit Professionals Network listserv about age. The discussion started when someone posted that they wanted to have a networking event for young professionals and used poor language discluding older folks that was offensive by many on the list, including myself. This sparked numerous responses and then someone posted "the ONLY ages at which people do not face workplace discrimination are 35-40! 40+ -- what we've all heard. Below 35 -- "too young" for positions of responsibility and leadership, even when the skills and track record are there."

Then that sparked someone assuming that YNPN has an age limit. I piped in and attempted to rebuttal by quoting the YNPN website "YNPN outreaches to the next generation of leaders-led by and directly responsive to the needs of early career nonprofit professionals, "and I stated there are folks of many ages transitioning into the nonprofit sector who can be considered "early career nonprofit professionals."

It is amazing how one post can lead to such a variety of other posts about age discrimination. I don't have a solution to this issue, I wish I did. As much as we all try to avoid it, age discrimination exists. I've experienced it--we probably all have. We've also all heard the sayings, "you've had your time," or "your time will come." I like being a consultant because age doesn't seem to come up, people hire me based on my qualifications and my experience. However, as a senior manager and staff member in organizations, the majority of the organizational conflicts I have encountered all stemmed from the age issue. That is why the generational issue is such a hot topic of discussion--most nonprofits are facing this issue.

Here's a thought--what if we all could collaborate, accept our age differences and know that we each bring something great and unique to the table as a representative from each generation? Then maybe, just maybe, age wouldn't be such of an issue for all of us.

Thursday, July 5, 2007

Management and Supervision Workshop

I attended this amazing workshop last week about Management and Supervision put on by the San Francisco Bay Area Young Nonprofit Professionals Network. It was great to hear from my peers about how they manage and supervise their staff. This workshop provided me an opportunity to think about how I want to be a better manager. My favorite speaker at the workshop was Vini Bhansali, Program Director at Juma Ventures. She was so inspiring!!

She encouraged us to create an equitable culture, a culture where passionate people thrive. To hire talented individuals and create systems for individual growth and accountability; provide outlets for communications where staff can bring to the surface underlying conflicts and values and a culture where reflection is accepted. She is very successful at creating a team/collaborative working environment at Juma Ventures.

A couple of other great points I heard during the workshop.

  • Not everyone is cut out to be a supervisor. One must make an effort to be a good supervisor and truly enjoy supervising your staff.
  • Supervision takes self-awareness, knowing what you are good at.
  • Communicate with staff and pay attention to subtle changes in behavior.
  • Work to bridge the gaps between different nonprofit departments, finance working with HR, HR working with Development, Development working with Program etc.
  • Supervision is not about power over, it is about power with.
  • The leader's role is the facilitator.
  • Supervision is not about task mastery, it is about working with people!

As busy nonprofit managers, it is really easy for us to focus on the task at hand and on accomplishing the mission of our organizations. However, good leaders in successful organizations spend as much time, if not more on working with and encouraging their staff then they do on accomplishing their work. I learned from this workshop I need to spend more time listening to my staff and find out more about their personal and professional needs.

We are trying to provide equitable opportunities for our clients and constituents, however are we truly making an effort to provide an equitable environment to our staff? I know it sure isn't easy, but it is worth it!!

Monday, July 2, 2007

Be Prepared--Insurance and Risk Management are important!

Before each special event organized by my organization, I make sure the event is covered by our general liability insurance. It takes me a couple of minutes to fill out the form and then fax it to my insurance agent. Amazing how this one activity saves my organization a lot of money. I also take Risk Management precautions and do a walk through of the space before the event.

I just read a Nonprofit Times article about an organization Cars for Kids. Cars for Kids organized a special event--a car show for the past 18 years without insurance. Something went wrong with a car at their most recent event--killing 6 people and now Cars for Kids faces many law suites. What disturbs me is simple Risk Management procedures could have prevented this devastating accident. Also, I know insurance costs seem expensive to some organizations, but Cars for Kids earned almost $100k per year, certainly they could have afforded the $1k for liability insurance.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Nonprofit Operations Advocate

Many readers of my nonprofit management and operations blog on Aspiration's website know that I am very passionate about Nonprofit Operations. In my Nonprofit Operations vs. Programs post on Aspiration's site I describe Operations as "a broad term that I use to describe running the behind the scenes of a nonprofit. These duties include, Administration, Finance, Fundraising, Human Resources, Risk Management, Marketing and more." I'm not sure why I am so passionate about nonprofit operations; I feel these duties are important to the success of any nonprofit organization. I guess I am a nonprofit operations advocate and ask every nonprofit I come into contact with, how's your operations look? Have you completed a Risk Management plan? Do you organize your fundraising files?

Prioritize your Operations please!

During my PhD I'm planning to research how nonprofits that prioritize their operations are more effective at achieving their missions!! Sounds great, but in reality there are so many other priorities within nonprofits that push operations off the list. So, the majority of the time nonprofits tend to waste a lot of money fixing operational problems that could have been avoided. I'm not saying that operations should always be the first priority--I am simply saying it should be a priority. So, before you make another appointment in your very busy day think, what am I avoiding? Updating the personnel manual? Adding my special event to my insurance policy? Assessing my cash flow situation? Then complete that important operational task and avoid costing your organization more money.

Monday, June 25, 2007

Is There an Ideal Executive Director?

As I embark on my PhD in Leadership I have been thinking a lot about my experiences working as a staff member and senior manager in nonprofit organizations. I have had many instances where my priorities for the organization--many times operational don't line up with the ED's priorities until a crisis occurs and then they take on my priorities :) Right now it is really easy for me to judge the ED's I work for because I have never been an Executive Director. I also tend to work for people who are exact opposite of me. I am an Operations person, an organized planner; however I tend to work for amazing charismatic leaders who go from one crisis to another. So I wonder, is there such a thing as an ideal Executive Director?

An ideal Executive Director to me--is not a workaholic, is able to maintain a strong work ethic but knows how to manage his or her time and makes time for his or her family. He or she is supporting and spends quality time with his or her staff including responding to them in a timely manner. He or she is organized and a great leader, manager within and outside of the organization. He or she understands and balances the priorities of the entire organization, program, operational and strategic. He or she knows how to delegate and has confidence and believes in his or her staff to get the job done well.

What does your ideal Executive Director look like?