Tuesday, September 30, 2008

If I were a Foundation Officer

I was speaking to a recent graduate of the University of San Diego who wants to land a job in the Foundation world -- the challenge is she hasn't had much luck landing her first job. She's super talented, already has interned in a nonprofit along with earning her Certificate in Nonprofit Leadership from American Humanics...the only problem is, few foundations are hiring entry level positions.

It was great to see her excitement in wanting to change the world. Then I thought back to the 7 long years I have been working in the nonprofit sector :) and what would I do if took a different route in my career. What would I do if I worked in foundations and what I would do if I were a Foundation officer?

If I were a Foundation officer I (and my staff) would do needs assessments within nonprofits to identify which capacity issues were present to maintain the nonprofits' current programs. Then I would fund each nonprofit for 5 years (at least $100k or more per year) in order for them to hire, train, and support staff to maintain their current programs. I would also fund operations and any other administrative and support needs to run the current programs. Then I (and my staff) would do more consulting within the organizations on management and leadership issues along with overseeing the strategic planning process. Furthermore, after 5 years the nonprofits may be eligible for additional funding for program expansion based on the results of the strategic plan and the progress made during the previous 5 years they spent building their capacity to do their current programs. If the organization received additional money for program expansion, I would also fund program evaluations.

So I'm not a program officer -- However, I have completed numerous grant applications and proposals to keep organizations running as well as I consult start up nonprofits on setting up their operations, so I'm quite biased on building capacity within nonprofits, but I'm curious...what would you do if you were a Foundation officer?

For more information on general operating support and capacity building funding. Check out Grantmakers for Effective Organizations.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Can we strive to create learning organizations?

One of the courses I am taking this semester is Organizational Theory. We are looking at organizations through the lenses of various metaphors. One of these metaphors is learning organizations. This fitting because one of the themes of Nonprofit day this year was learning organizations.

The key note speakers of the conference Leslie and Heather, authors of Forces for Good: Six practices of High Impact Nonprofits, stipulate in their book that high impact does not correlate with budget size, however the 12 nonprofits they selected for their book are ginormous compared to the majority of nonprofits out there that have budgets less than $1mil.

These 12 nonprofits can be classified as learning organizations, among the other 5 high impact practices they describe in their book, in articles, on their speaking tour (they are amazing at marketing book and are clearly on a whirlwind book tour). However, I laugh because the 12 organizations they describe are the few elite that have achieved success the majority of nonprofits can only dream of.

So, what's so special about learning organizations? How can we strive to create learning organizations? Here are a few strategies of learning organizations that I "learned" from one of the seminars I attended at nonprofit day.
  • Organizations ask questions about their own work
  • People throughout the organization feel like they are in control--they are empowered
  • Leadership reinforces learning
  • Learning systems and practices are in place
  • Organizational culture supports learning
  • Differences are welcomed
  • People can speak up
  • The organization shares information with others
  • Learning goes beyond the organization
  • Leaders listen and invite feedback
  • Learning is built into the job description
  • Evaluation is a priority
  • Organization looks at impact over outcomes
  • Shared leadership

Wow, sounds wonderful, I'd definitely would like to work in a learning organization -- wouldn't you? But is it really possible? I'm being cynical again, playing devil's advocate. Show me a list of 100 normal size (with budgets under $1mil) nonprofits that are learning organizations and I'll stop this tirade.

Let's change the system and create a place for nonprofits to strive, thrive, and create learning organizations!

Annual Planning for Nonprofits

Fall is here -- and so is the annual planning process for nonprofits whose fiscal year ends in December. Attached is my latest free resource -- an annual planning calendar for operations -- thanks to the students in my nonprofit finance course whose suggestions made this annual calendar more complete.

Monday, September 8, 2008

My Theory on Nonprofit Leadership

Now that I have been studying nonprofit leadership for the past year -- can I claim to be an expert in the subject? Well no -- but I do have a theory.

The system of the Nonprofit Sector does not allow for collaborative leadership to occur, unless the Executive Director is strong enough to challenge the system.

Here's an excerpt from a paper I wrote this summer:
Some researchers argue that traditional models of leadership are not working within nonprofit organizations. They found younger leaders want participatory models of leadership and leadership sharing to occur (Keunrether & Corvington, 2007). A potential new model of leadership, relational leadership, has the potential to meet the participatory desires of younger leaders and nonprofit researchers alike. Relational leadership involves “a relational and ethical process of people working together attempting to accomplish positive change [or make a different to benefit the common good]” (Komives, Lucas & McMahon, p 74, 2007). However, is the system nonprofit sector ready for relational leadership?

Most nonprofit organizations are charities, and are required by law to be in business for the public benefit. Funders, donors, and the general public require nonprofits to do good at the lowest possible cost. This puts a strain on the internal cultures of many nonprofit organizations, so at times the culture does not provide adequate space for staff development, or time to make collaborative decisions, creating a crisis mode. Many organizations work from one funding source to another and focus solely on programs and may ignore staff and operations. In addition, many staff members in nonprofit organizations do not understand the complexities that are involved in running a nonprofit organization, so they may question or challenge why their organizations are run in a certain way. This is when the Executive Director must step in and decide how they are going to exercise leadership with their staff.

As stated above, the relational leadership model involves people working together to accomplish common good (Komives, Lucas & McMahon, 2007). Originally the relational leadership model was developed for college students; however it can be used in nonprofit organizations under specific circumstances. Also mentioned above, scholars and practitioners alike are advocating for a more collaborative style of leadership, like relational leadership, and, most nonprofits are in the business to benefit the common good which fits with the definition of relational leadership. Yet, because of a variety of factors, including the system of the nonprofit sector, it is challenging for people in organizations to actually agree on the “common good.”

Successful relational leadership allows for five components:

1. Inclusive of people and diverse points of view;
2. Empowering of others who are involved;
3. Purposeful—individual committee and common purpose;
4. Ethical—driven by moral leadership, and;
5. Process-Oriented—how the organization goes about being a group and accomplishing the group’s purpose (Komives, Lucas & McMahon, p 74, 2007).

If all five steps are met, then a group can agree on the common good. Unfortunately, the system is set up so that many nonprofit organizations do not have the time to follow these steps and the Executive Director ends up dictating the common good which creates further disagreement among staff. However, under the right circumstances if staff are ready, and the Executive Director is strong enough, the Executive Director can challenge the system and provide a space for relational leadership to occur.

Kunreuther, F., & Corvington, P.A. (2007). Next shift: Beyond the nonprofit leadership crisis. Baltimore, MD: Annie E. Casey Foundation.

Komives, S.R., Lucas N., & McMahon, T.R. (2007). Exploring leadership: For college students who want to make a difference. San Francisco, CA: John Wiley & Sons, Inc.

What do you think? Do you agree or disagree with my theory?

For further theories on nonprofit leadership check out:

Improving Leadership in Nonprofit Organizations by Kravis Leadership Institute (Author), Jack Shakely (Foreword), Ronald E. Riggio (Editor), Sarah Smith Orr (Editor) -
My review: This book is specifically written by Leadership Studies scholars, heavily focused on the transformational leadership theory.

The Jossey-Bass Handbook of Nonprofit Leadership and Management, 2nd Edition Robert D. Herman, & Associates
My review: This book is more management versus leadership and when it talks about leadership it discusses more trait based view of leadership which seems to be a very popular theory amoung scholars studying leadership in the nonprofit sector.
We can debate about this later...

The Nature of Leadership by John Antonakis (Editor), Anna T. Cianciolo (Editor), Robert J. Sternberg (Editor)
My review: This book provides a great overview of leadership theories (not nonprofit specific, but relevant).

Also, my colleague Emily Davis has compiled a list of the latest nonprofit leadership and emerging leadership research studies published in the sector.

Saturday, September 6, 2008

My NP Times Top 50: The Next Generation of Nonprofit Leaders You Should Know

About a month ago the Nonprofit Times came out with its top 50 most powerful and influential people in the nonprofit sector. I was thankful that the CEO of the American Red Cross was not included in this year's list--after what happen with Mark Everson last year. I was also happy to see some familiar faces of CEO's like Marnie Webb of Tech Soup, Melanie Herman of the Nonprofit Risk Management Center, Gavin Clabaugh of the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation and more!

However I do kind of cringe every year when I see the list because it is made up of CEOs and leaders of very large and very well known nonprofits. Don't get me wrong, these large nonprofits are great and help many people across the US, however the majority of nonprofits in the sector have budgets under $1mil.
Let me reiterate the 2008 Nonprofit Almanac states that 77% of all nonprofits have under $1mil in expenditures. So my question is -- Where's the list with the other 77% of nonprofit leaders?

I really like to connect people together in the nonprofit sector, so I decided to create my own Top 50+ list--the next tier of leaders in the sector. Here is list of people and organizations in my
network I think you should know in the nonprofit sector. They are all amazing individuals with a passion for what they do and a desire to create a sustainable nonprofit sector.

The Next Generation of Nonprofit Leaders You Should Know
(There are a few people on this list that may not consider themselves the next generation, however I decided to include them because they haven't made it on the NP Times Top 50 List yet.

Alan Strand, Interim CEO, California Association of Nonprofits
Allen Gunn, Executive Director, Aspiration
Alexis Terry, Client Manager Business Development, BoardSource
Amanda Hickman, Director of Technology at Gotham Gazette and Citizens

Ariana Speigler, CEO, Nonprofit Suite
Bao Vang, Leadership Program Coordinator ,Minnesota Council on
Beth Kanter, Nonprofit Blogger and Social Media Expert
Brit Bravo, Blogger and Consultant
Caroline McAndrews, Director of Leadership and Communications, Building
Movement Project
Darian Rodriguez Heymen, Executive Director, Craigslist Foundation
Deborah Elizabeth Finn, Consultant and Blogger
Elissa Perry, Leadership Consultant
Eliza Ortiz, Coordinator of Outreach and Special Initiatives, NCNA
Emily Davis, President, EDA Consulting and Blogger
Emily Weinberg, Creator of Nonprofit Blog Exchange
Eric Leland, Consultant
Erica Greely, Director of Strategic Initiatives, Independent Sector
Erin Nemenoff, Doctoral Student and Nonprofit Researcher
Gene Takagi, Nonprofit Lawyer
Heather Carpenter, Doctoral Student and Blogger (added per request
of other members of this list)
Holly Ross, Executive Director, Nonprofit Technology Enterprise Network
James Segal, Vice President of Nonprofit Programs, Independent Sector
James Weinberg, CEO, CommonGood Careers
Jeanne Bell, CEO, CompassPoint
Jeff Brooks, Donor Power Blog
Jennifer Crystal Chien, Change Consultant
John Kenyon, Nonprofit Technology Strategist
Joseph Mouzon, Executive Director of Nonprofit Services, Network for
Josh Solomon, Managing Director of Alumni Engagement, Teach for

Kala Stroup, President, American Humanics
Kathleen Enright, Executive Director, Grantmakers for Effective
Katya Andresen, Vice President Marketing, Network for Good
Kivi Miller, President, EcoScribe Communications & Creator of the
Nonprofit Blog Carnival of Consultants

Lindsey McDougle, Doctoral Student and Blogger
Laura Gassner Otting, CEO, Nonprofit Professionals Advisory Group
Laura Quinn, Founder and Director, Idealware
Leonor Alfonso, Program Associate, Independent Sector
Lisa Morton, CEO, Nonprofit HR
Lynne Norton, Director of Marketing, Opportunity Knocks
Maria Gajewski, Author, NP2020, Issues and Answers from the
Next Generation
Marion Conway, Consultant and Blogger
Marla Cornelius, Projects Director, CompassPoint
Meg Busse, Director, Nonprofit Career Transitions Program
and Author of Idealist's Guide to Nonprofit Sector Careers, Idealist
Michelle Martin, Consultant and Blogger
Nancy Schwartz, CEO, Nancy Schwartz and Company
Pamela Hawley, CEO, Universal Giving
Peter Brinkerhoff, Consultant and Author of Generations: The
Challenge of a Lifetime for Your Nonprofit
Richard Cohen, Membership and Technology Specialist, NCNA
Robert Weiner, Database Expert
Rosetta Thurman, Blogger and Development Director, DC
Russ Finkelstein, Associate Director, Idealist
Rusty Stahl, Executive Director, Emerging Practitioners in
Ryan Ozimek, CEO, PicNet
Sean Stannard Stockton, Blogger and Director of Tactical
Philanthropy, Ensemble Capital Management
Shelly Cryer, Consultant and Author of the Nonprofit Career Guide
Stephanie Roth, Editor, Grassroots Fundraising Journal (I am
really surprised that Kim Klein has not made the NP Times Top
50 list yet)
Steve Bauer, Director, Nonprofit Sector Workforce Coalition at
American Humanics
Steve Lew, Senior Projects Director, CompassPoint
Tera Wozinak, Blogger and Program Assistant, Johnson Center
for Philanthropy and Nonprofit Leadership at Grand Valley
State University
Trish Tschume, Director of Civic Engagement, Building Movement
Trista Harris, Executive Director, Headwaters Foundation for Justice
Vini Bhansali, Chief Operating Officer, Juma Ventures
Yarrow Sandahl, Operations Manager, Bridgespan Group

Several caveats to this list. I created this list from memory and I don't have my business cards binder in front of me so I know I have left off some amazing people from this list. Second, this is my opinion so you are free to agree or disagree about who is listed here. So, my apologizes to these folks I left out, please comment if there are people you think should be included on this list.

Who would be on your top 50 np times list?

For those of you who ae wondering why there are only a few academics on this list -- I am planning to create a separate list -- the top 50 Nonprofit Academics I think you should know and read their research if you are planning a career a nonprofit academia.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Gaining Momentum as a National Nonprofit Sector

As many of you know I am on many national nonprofit committees--too many in fact. I care deeply about the nonprofit sector as well as recruiting new people to work in the nonprofit sector and retain the current employees in the nonprofit sector.

There are a lot of ideas going on in these committees and excitement around nonprofit leadership, nonprofit careers and nonprofit awareness.

In my effort to scale back on my commitments I am trying to step down from some of my committee involvement. I've also noticed a lot of the committees I'm involved with include the same people. I really like these people and we have amazing ideas :), however I really wish that more peoples voices were heard in the nonprofit sector and there was greater representation of the nonprofit sector on these committees. I know people who work for and run nonprofits are super busy and that is why many cannot serve on committees that don't relate to their own nonprofit's mission. However, it is still frustrating to me because I believe the system of the nonprofit sector does not allow staff development in many nonprofits and it does not allow for people to try to address sector wide issues that are so important!! Also another issue I am struggling with is not having our committees do duplicated efforts. We are all passionate about the nonprofit sector and we are all desperately seeking funding, however we are doing very similar efforts. If we come together as a sector and reach out to the American public we can improve the overall image of the nonprofit sector!!

So my question is, do you want your voice to be heard?

Do you want to serve on a national nonprofit committee?

If you are interested in getting involved in any of these committees and will commit to one conference call per month and several hours of follow up work please e-mail me heathercarpenter at nonprofitalternatives dot org

Here are descriptions of the national committees:

National Campaign to Promote Nonprofit Sector Careers
The Nonprofit Workforce Coalition is comprised of over 50 national nonprofit organizations, associations, foundations and academic centers focused on identifying and addressing issues facing the nonprofit sector workforce. More specifically, the Coalition exists to connect talented, skilled, and diverse young people to nonprofit sector careers, and to help nonprofit organizations recruit, retain, and cultivate the diverse leadership they will need in the decades ahead. The National Campaign to Promote Nonprofit Sector Careers, a committee of the Workforce Coalition, was created in 2007 to create a campaign to promote the availability and diversity of nonprofit sector career opportunities at the national level.

National Careers Month Committee
Let’s work together to dedicate a single month in 2009 as ‘Nonprofit Career Recruitment Month’. The campaign will coordinate the efforts of organizations within various states. By carrying out activities in states within the same month, we will raise awareness to national attention. There are a dozen or more organizations that have national reach and a vested interested in training or recruiting new leaders for the sector. There are also institutions in every state that carry out activities such as career fairs. Our goal is to help organize and support recruitment activities and media attention, on a state-by-state basis, within the context of a national nonprofit career recruiting campaign. The outcome should be increased local interest and activities at campuses and within HR departments for nonprofits, state and national media attention for this issue, and ‘buzz’ on campuses and among nonprofits debating careers for the common good.

Next Generational Leadership Forum
Was created by the Craigslist Foundation. The committee is culling nonprofit leadership resources and programs in an effort to find out what is missing in the nonprofit sector for nonprofit leadership development. The committee is also trying to create a repository or central website to house all nonprofit leadership resources and links.

Leadership Working Group Nonprofit Congress

The goal of the Leadership Initiative is to strengthen the nonprofit sector’s workforce and leadership by supporting emerging leaders and capturing experience from established leaders. The Leadership working group has produced the following workbook and report.
Public Awareness Committee Nonprofit Congress
The public awareness committee is led by Flo Green formerly CEO of California Association of Nonprofits is working to create public understanding and support so that nonprofits can continue to do their best work.