Friday, June 20, 2008

Hot Topic: Public Confidence of Nonprofit Organizations

Paul Light conducted several studies about the public confidence of US nonprofits. Recently, the San Diego Foundation and the Caster Family Center for Nonprofit Research wanted to find out about public confidence of San Diego nonprofits. Last week we released a report. The Appreciated Sector: Public Confidence in San Diego Nonprofits which is a study of over 1,000 San Diegans. This is important to assess because people's confidence in nonprofits influences their ability to donation and volunteer in the nonprofit sector.

Key things I do want to quote from the study, "San Diegans expressed more confidence in the ability of local nonprofit organizations to spend money wisely than the American public has expressed in national surveys of public confidence"

And, "Persons demonstrating higher levels of nonprofit awareness were nearly three times as likely to express higher levels of confidence in the ability of nonprofit organizations to effectively provide quality services."

To break it down a little more, this study is two fold, it first assessed people's awareness of nonprofits. The study asked people to identify three nonprofits. 71% of San Diegans have moderate to high awareness of nonprofits, 29% have low to no awareness of nonprofits. 60% named nationally affiliated nonprofits, and 40% named locally affiliated nonprofits.

As stated above, higher awareness leads to the higher confidence in nonprofits to provide quality services and spend money wisely. The fact that 25% of San Diegans had little to no confidence in nonprofits' ability to spend money wisely and 14% had little to no confidence in nonprofits' ability to provide quality services shows that the public may think that nonprofits are effective but not efficient.

The suggested solutions for changing the publics perception and confidence of nonprofits is:
  • Nonprofits need to try to educate the public about how we (nonprofits) operate as well as how we spend our funds.
  • This brings up my post about the nonprofit congress and why I think it is important that nonprofits work together to engage in a public awareness campaign.
If you are interested in getting involved in this public awareness campaign or want to find out more information please e-mail me heathercarpenter at nonprofitalternatives dot org.

Friday, June 6, 2008

Bad Presentations....Good Causes?

One of the professional development sessions I attended at the Nonprofit Congress was led by Andy Goodman who wrote the book, "Why Bad Presentations Happen to Good Causes." Now I had heard about this book when it first came out, but had never read it until now.

See I've presented at conferences for the past couple of years now, however it wasn't until recently that I was critiqued on my presentation skills. The Caster Family Center for Nonprofit Research started a great practice with the Doctoral Research Assistants to have us practice our presentations and be critiqued. This process has been very helpful for me...challenging too I might add. But overall I like to think my presentation skills are continuing to improve so it was timely that I attended Andy Goodman's presentation.

The shocking statistics for me were that people think that only 40% of presentations are interesting at conferences. How disappointing!! Also most people rate conference presentations as C-.

Here is the information Andy provided about the bad and good aspects of nonprofit presentations. Academics take note...I think we are the worst and do the most boring presentations. :)

1. Reading the Slides
2. Providing Too Much Info on the Slides
-Audience attention peaks at 15 minutes.
3. Lack of Audience Engagement
4. Lack of Energy
5. Room and Tech Problems

Why do we tend to do bad presentations?
1. We fail to prepare and practice
2. We are in denial
-Andy read off some funny statistics about how we tend to rate our presentation skills much higher than our colleagues.
3. We have low expectations

Good Presentations
1. Have Interaction
2. Audience Participation
3. Enthusiasm
4. Clarity
5. Relevant Visuals

Then Andy went on to talk about power point since this is the most popular medium for nonprofit presentations. He provided some great pointers on how to improve power point slides. The only challenge for me was that I wasn't sure that people in the room got that part of the presentation. We are all smart people but unless we have taken an intermediate or advanced class in power point we won't know how to make the changes he suggested until we are shown how to do so. I'm pretty vocal and I told him that. However, as I was flying home on the plane I was taking to my colleague Rob Hutsel, Executive Director of the San Diego River Park Foundation and he suggested that Andy create a power point template that includes helpful pointers on using images in power point, animation tips, amount of text to include on the slides, as well as general layout suggestions. That way even if we aren't that power point savvy we have a tool/template we can use.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Many missions, One Voice for Collective Change in the Nonprofit Sector

Over 500 nonprofit managers, staffers and representatives from np state associations gathered for the Nonprofit Congress national meeting this week. Nonprofits across the country discussed the most pressing issues in the nonprofit community right now--leadership in nonprofits, capacity building, and public awareness of nonprofit organizations.

It was an exciting time to be able to engage in intergenerational conversations about leadership issues within nonprofits and break down some of the common stereotypes and misconceptions across generations. The Nonprofit Congress leadership group released brand new mentoring curriculum titled Work with Me: Intergenerational Conversations in Nonprofit Leadership.

In addition, over 32 states lobbied on behalf of the National Council of Nonprofit Associations for a Capacity Building Initiative which "will build the capacity, effectiveness, and accountability of small nonprofits in every mission-area." It was awesome to be a part of a delegation from California and meet with a staff member from Diane Feinstein's office to talk about the Capacity issues that nonprofits face every day. We were able to get a picture with Barbara Boxer too! I especially enjoyed being able to share with the Senator's office my personal experiences working in nonprofits across California.

Furthermore, nonprofit leaders spoke about the importance of nonprofits engaging in public policy issues that relate to the missions of our organizations and to not be afraid to lobby on behalf of our causes. I also recently learned about The Center for Nonprofit Lobbing and the Public Interest which protects nonprofit lobbying and advocacy.

I am looking forward to seeing how the movement of the nonprofit congress progresses. I am taking a Community Organizing course this summer and I am hoping to use this new knowledge to look at the issue public awareness of nonprofits across California.

The first step in my organizing class is to see if there is consensus and momentum of the issue, so my question is do you personally think that public awareness of nonprofits is an important issue? What about capacity building for nonprofits? Which issue do you think is more important?