Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Alliance Conference: Nonprofit Next & Conference Wrap Up

I had a fantastic time attending the Alliance for Nonprofit Management conference last week. The main themes of the conference were capacity building, nonprofit sustainability and the future of the nonprofit sector.

LaPiana and Associates, through their initative, Nonprofit Next, are exploring what nonprofits will look like in the future. Their research coincides nicely with the NP2020 report by Grand Valley State University.

The LaPiana team interviewed nonprofit staff and thought leaders accross the US and asked:

  1. What trends will have the biggest impact on the nonprofit sector's future?
  2. How is your nonprofit adapting to these trends in innovative ways?
  3. What will characterize successful nonprofits in the future?
The common themes that emerged were:
  • Rise of Virtual Workspaces
  • Blurring of Sector Boundaries
  • Organizing work via networks as well as organizations
  • Rising interest in civic engagement/volunteerism
  • Growing diversity
  • Generational Shifts
  • Technological advances
The nonprofits that will survive are the ones that "can think creatively about: partnerships, networks, organizational structure, business models, alternative financing, crowdsourcing, mobalizing, decentralized action, transparency, diversity and inclusion."

In order for nonprofits to truly sustain themselves into the future, they need to:
  • Embrace adaptive leadership;
  • Put people first and build human-friendly culture;
  • Think and plan on a systematic level;
  • View technology as an accelerator;
  • Move away from traditional power structures, and;
  • Move beyond the culture of scarcity.
Stay tuned, La Piana will soon be releasing a full report about this research on their website.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Alliance Conference: Performance Management remixed

I have a confession to make. I'm not a fan of performance management. Reason being, performance management (in general) has to do with producing numerical outcomes and does not take into consideration measuring the performance of an entire organization.

Given my dislike of a performance management, I was hesitant to attend a session by Ingvild Bjornvold of Social Solutions Software and Andrew Niklaus of First Place for Youth about performance measurement. However, I was pleasantly surprised by this workshop.

First Place Youth
explained how they engaged in organizational change process to plan and implement a new database and performance management software system within their organization.

They created a theory of change and involved their ENTIRE staff and board in the process. Before implementing this new system, they couldn't explain what factors made their clients successful. Now with the new system, they know and have proof about how are affecting change and know what their clients need to succeed. They can also tell what is or what isn't going well in the program. They are now more effective in their work and they are data driven!

For example, last year they were able to produce a variety of reports about how they located 239 youth and 97 children into housing. They showed that 92% of their clients maintain safe affordable housing and their caseworkers spend X number of hours with their clients. First Place Youth now knows at what level their clients are working, going to school, and staying in affordable and safe housing.

Ok, so this story doesn't sound that exciting in this brief blog post, but it is a really amazing story to me!! So many organizations just implement a new pience of software without taking into consideration the strategic and change implications within the organization. It is A LOT of work but so IMPORTANT to involve the entire organization in the performance management change process.

Alliance Conference: Capacity Building

It's the final day of the Alliance for Nonprofit Management Conference and I'm excited to be in the presence of some amazing bloggers. Check out their posts about the conference here, here and here.

Paul Connolly from the TCC group, an expert in the nonprofit capacity building arena is leading a breakout session this morning titled, "Partnering with funders to develop capacity building programs." Paul Connolly and his business partner Peter York have written numerous articles about nonprofit capacity building. These articles are available (for free) on their website.

He and his co-presenter explain there are four types of capacities nonprofit organizations have:
  • Leadership Capacity: Advancing the mission of the organization;
  • Adaptive Capacity: Monitoring what is going on inside and outside of the organization;
  • Management Capacity: Understanding organizational system, and;
  • Technical Capacity: Day-to-day work of the organization.
Unfortunately many nonprofits want to address technical capacity issues (e.g. building a database, implementing an accounting system) and do not focus on leadership and adaptive capacity issues.

The goal of capacity building should be to improve all four capacities!

Funders generally help nonprofits with a variety of capacity building issues, but generally this funding and support is very specific and only addresses one of the four capacities areas listed above.

This session explains how funders can plan and implement a comprehensive capacity building program for their grantees. This comprehensive program can then ripple beyond the nonprofit organizations themselves into the community, sector, and beyond.

The goal is to purposefully plan what the capacity building program will look like:
  • program length
  • level of support provided to nonprofits
  • those involved in the process (e.g. consultants, trainers)
  • how nonprofits are selected to participate in capacity building program
  • level of support provided to the nonprofits
  • measuring program success
  • follow up after the program is concluded.
In sucessful comprehensive capacity building programs funders provide grants, consulting, coaching, peer exchange, training and convenings to nonprofits.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Alliance Conference: Build Your Business or Your Brand

I'm a huge fan of Laura Gassner Otting of the Nonprofit Professionals Advisory Group. Laura wrote the book Changing Your Career: Transitioning to the Nonprofit Sector and runs the nonprofit executive search firm Nonprofit Professionals Advisory Group.

Laura and Todd Owens from Dewey & Kaye are presenting the workshop: Growing your practice in tough times. I'm not trying to build my business, however I'm really enjoying this workshop because Laura and Todd are providing really helpful tips to build your business &


1. Identify what are you great at

What's your reputation?
What's holding you back?

2. Assess and re-assess your business model

What's working, what's not?
What do you want to spend your time on?

3. Increase your visibility

Do research.
Seek out writing, speaking, presening opportunities
Get published!
Be the convener.

4. Create and Utilize referrals

Utilize your network -- LinkedIn
Spend time building relationships.
Share your abilities with national vendors/statewide associations.
Get connected with the decision-makers.
Recognize and reward referrals.

5. Look bigger than you are

Web & collateral prescence
Cross post
You decide what you want to say, how you want to say it

6. Make Technology work for you
Google Alerts -- sends you e-mail alerts on any topic (e.g. your name), a subject (e.g. nonprofit management, fundraising).
Social Media
LinkedIn Groups (there are groups for everything like Alliance for Nonprofit Management,
Twitter check out tweets from the Alliance Conference #allianceconf

Alliance Conference: Nonprofit Sustainability Planning

Nonprofit sustainability is a hot topic right now! Recently the TCC group recently released the report:

The Sustainability Formula: How Nonprofit Organizations Can Thrive in the Emerging Economy.

This report states, sustainable nonprofits have:
  • "clearly articulated and effectively communicated mission and vision statements;
  • strong financial management systems;
  • development and active maintenance of long-term relationships with funders, and;
  • a willingness to revise strategic plans and upgrade programs and services."
If you're like me, you're probably wondering, how do I get my nonprofit on the sustainability path?

Brian Talcott from the Center for Civic Partnerships workshop provided 10 steps any nonprofit can take to become sustainable.

I really like these ten sustainability steps because they incorporate EVERYONE in the sustainability process (e.g. staff, board, funders, clients, and community members).

The ten steps include:

1. Create Shared Understanding
Is there goal alignment about the future of our organization?

2. Position Your Effort
Who are your marketing and program champions?
What does our organization do well?

3. Plan to Plan
What will the planning process look like?
Whose involved in the planning process?
How long will the planning process take?

4. Review current picture.
This reminds me of the strategic planning SWOT analysis (strenghts, weaknesses, opportunities, threats).
How are we doing in our current programs?
Does our income meet our expenses?

5. Develop criteria to help determine what to continue
Create a criteria in which to evaluate our organization
(e.g. level of impact, resources/capacities, need in the community, support by the community)

6. Decide what to continue and what to prioritize
Make program and operations adjustments.
Shut down a program or combining programs with another organization.
Share back office operations with another organization.

7. Create options for maintaining priority efforts
What logic models do we need to create?
Funding models, and ways to continue programs.

8. Develop a sustainability plan
This plan involves Executive Summary, Situational Analysis, Criterial to Determine Value-Added Benefits, Sustainability Goals, Sustainability Strategies, Action Plans, Evaluation

9. Implement your sustainability plan
This involves getting the word out and celebrating successes.

10. Evaluate your outcomes & revise as needed

These steps involve extensive planning and anticipating what is to come and help get your nonprofit on the sustainability path.

Alliance for Nonprofit Management Conference - Amazing Resource

I finally made it to the Alliance for Nonprofit Management Conference! I've wanted to attend this conference since I started working in the nonprofit sector. There are so many amazing organizations in the room, I am eager to meet everyone!!

As a recap: The Alliance for Nonprofit Management is the professional association of individuals and organizations devoted to improving the management and governance capacity of nonprofits - to assist nonprofits in fulfilling their mission.

The attendees at this conference consist of national Management Support Organizations (MSO) like CompassPoint, TransitionGuides, LaPiana & Associates to local management consultants.

This morning was the Alliance's annual membership meeting followed by a yummy networking lunch. At lunch the Alliance presented their annual Community Impact award to the Hawaii Community Foundation for their innovative work with Hawaii community organizations. I just started following HCF on twitter, awesome updates!! HCF is going strong even during this economic downturn.

This afternoon I'll post notes from the break-out/professional development workshops I attend. In the meantime check out Virginia of Volunteer Vancouver post about yesterday's Management Support Organization (MSO) workshop day.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Blogging the Alliance for Nonprofit Management Conference

This week I'll be blogging at the Alliance for Nonprofit Management Conference July 15-17th in Palm Springs, CA. I'll be joined by fellow bloggers:
Stay tuned for our posts about the conference. Also, follow our updates on twitter #allianceconf.

Scott Bechler-Levin @IdeaEncore will also be tweeting the conference.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

American Express NGen Fellows Program

From the Independent Sector:

Are you an accomplished young professional already serving as a nonprofit leader?

Are you ready to magnify your impact through dynamic collaboration with your peers?

Recognizing that the leaders we need tomorrow are poised to contribute today, Independent Sector is pleased to introduce the American Express NGen Fellows Program. This exciting new program will offer 12 young professionals from IS member organizations a rare opportunity to magnify their impact and accelerate their careers. The program, which includes complementary registration and lodging for the 2009 Annual Conference, will build the capacity of these emerging leaders through tailored online and in-person programming and special networking opportunities.

American Express NGen Fellows will be a diverse and talented group selected from under-40 staff at IS member organizations. Visit the IS website to learn more about the benefits of participation in the fellows program, the selection process, and how to apply. Applications are due August 14, 2009.

The American Express NGen Fellows Program enhances IS’s NGen: Moving Nonprofit Leaders from Next to Now program, which is designed to expand and improve the nonprofit talent pool by developing the leadership skills and networks of emerging leaders. Free to all under-40 conference attendees, NGen offers targeted workshop sessions addressing topics important to emerging leaders and opportunities for rising young professionals to connect with leaders of all ages. Register for the IS Annual Conference today!


Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Thursday, July 2, 2009

New to Running a Nonprofit: Here's an Overabundance of Resources

As many of you know I've run a few nonprofits over the course of my career. While running these organizations, I collected best practice resources that were very useful to my organization. The problem is I haven't known how to share these useful links with other nonprofits...until now.

In the past:
  • I posted resources about starting and running a nonprofit on my website.
  • I tagged nonprofit management, nonprofit education, nonprofit workforce and nonprofit technology resources on my delicious account.
But now I can post and share ALL the resources, templates and reports in one place on IdeaEncore!!

I learned about Idea Encore a few weeks ago when the founder and CEO (Scott Bechtler-Levin) attended a workshop I presented at. IdeaEncore allows people to share best practice nonprofit templates, links and resources. I love it!! Also, since I don't get a lot of traffic on my website or on delicious, I can share on IdeaEncore ALL the best practice nonprofit resources, templates, and reports I've used over the years, including all the resources listed below.

I hope that you will join with me in sharing the best practice resources, templates and reports on IdeaEncore.

Planning Resources
Annual Planning Tips for your Nonprofit from Hildy Gottlieb
Sample Business plans
Basic steps to a Strategic Plan
Strategic Planning for Nonprofit Organizations: A Practical Guide and Handbook
Developing Your Strategic Plan
Finding a strategic planning consultant through

Governance Resouces
BoardSource - Building Effective Nonprofit Boards
Board Member Job Descriptions
Free Complete Toolkit for Boards
Sample of a Board of Directors Committee Work Plan
Developing and Supporting a Board of Directors
Board Café
Nonprofit Board Matching Website

Human Resource Management Resources
Human Resource Policies and Procedures for Nonprofit Organizations by Carol Barbeito
HR Management Toolkit
Nonprofit Human Resource Management Center
Society for Human Resource Management
Salary Management for Nonprofits by Jerry Jensen
How to conduct a Salary Survey by Jerry Jensen
Innovative Compensation Practices in Nonprofit Organizations
ADP Payroll ADP’s HR/Benefit Solution
Wells Fargo Payroll
Paychex Payroll
Intuit Payroll
Human Resources AppExchange on
Behind Closed Web Sites: A Look at Three Nonprofit Intranets by Laura Quinn
• Social Source Commons HR and Volunteer Management Software Tools

Risk Management Resources
Nonprofit Risk Management Center
Nonprofit Law, Tax Exempt Organizations Law Advice
Nonprofit Law Blog
What Basic Insurance Coverage Should a Nonprofit Consider?
Free Computer Based Risk Assessment Tool for Nonprofits
My Risk Management Plan
Disaster Preparedness Today
NPower Disaster Preparedness Guide
Exit Interviews
Sample Exit Interview Form
Taming Turnover: Strategies for Recruiting and Retaining Nonprofit Employees by Lee Mizell
Independent Sector Checklist for Accountability
Better Business Bureau Standards for Charitable Accountability
Charity Navigator

Finance and Accounting Resources
Nonprofit Unified Chart of Accounts
Financial Leadership for Nonprofit Executives
Internal Accounting Control System
How do we interpret our financial statements?
The Cash Flow Management Book for Nonprofits: A Step-by-Step Guide for Managers and Boards by Murray Dropkin and Allyson Hayden
GSA - Privately Owned Vehicle (POV) Mileage Reimbursement Rates
GSA - Domestic Per Diem Rates
A Few Good Accounting Packages by Laura Quinn
• Social Source Commons Accounting Software Tools
Small Business Accounting Software Review - 2004 ( Publication Archives)
Accounting and Bookkeeping Links Page — American Institute of Professional Bookkeepers
Sarbanes Oxley Information from the Independent Sector

Other Nonprofit Operations Resources
Organizational Systems Checklist for Nonprofits
Free Nonprofit Management Library
• Nonprofit Capacity Building Links
Nonprofit Genie
Nonprofit FAQ

As a caveat--IdeaEncore is not paying me to write wonderful things about their site. I just like it and think its useful. :)

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Hosting Nonprofit Blog Carnival this month!

This month I'll be hosting the Nonprofit Blog Carnival which is a monthly round up of blog posts on a certain topic. My topic is nonprofit leadership. I am looking for best practices, research reports, and theories about nonprofit leadership. Get your thinking caps on, tag these items in delicious, and submit them to me by Monday, July 27th.

You can submit posts in two ways: (1) Go to and use the form or (2) send an email to Include your name, your blog’s name and the URL of the post (not your blog homepage).

In the meantime check out the Nonprofit Blog Carnival - Nonprofit Technology Edition, hosted by Wild Apricot.