Thursday, July 22, 2010

Aren't we all working to solve social challenges?

I was awed and amazed by the philanthropists and nonprofit managers came together for the social innovation fund. The corporation for national and community service's website states,

"The Social Innovation Fund is an illustration of the Corporation’s “all hands on deck” approach to solving social challenges by bringing the public, nonprofit, philanthropic and private sectors together to support community solutions"

Unfortunately this group of people and organizations appear to be a minority in our sector.

Many people who designate themselves as philanthropists and many people who designate themselves as nonprofit managers maintain separate platforms and separate issues and do not collaborate. Yet, aren't we all working to solve social challenges? Don't we all want to create a better society whether it be by investing in social causes monetarily or by creating social change through improved nonprofit operations?

I would like to see us all operate like the organizations and individuals that came together for the social innovation fund. We (myself included) need to work together (philanthropists and nonprofit managers) to create social change. For example, more philanthropists can invest in organizational capacity (like Social Venture Partners) in addition to supporting specific social issues. Also, nonprofit managers can learn a lot from philanthropists in how to invest in, and solve social issues.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Nonprofit Master's Degree Programs are Here to Stay!

On the Chronicle of Philanthropy chat today Nancy Lublin CEO of Do Something told an MPA grad student to transfer to a MBA program. She said and I quote,

"If we (as NGOs) want to be respected and want things to change, instead of creating more programs of our own, we should attend b-school, sit in the front row, and be the curve breakers we know we are actually think this separate degree programs and courses just allows those business people to continue to think that we're "that other thing" or "that other sector"

REALLY NANCY? PLEASE CHECK YOUR SOURCES. As much as NANCY wants nonprofits and businesses to be the same -- they can't be. Nonprofits run differently than businesses. Nonprofit finance and accounting, fundraising, and board management are different than for-profits. Do B-schools teach these topics? NO, the majority of them don't.

There are over 260 colleges and universities that offer SPECIFIC courses for running a nonprofit organization. In the last ten years these programs have nearly quadrupled in size. This year alone, the Nonprofit Leadership and Management program at USD had to turn away over 70% of its applicants due to demand for this SPECIFIC type of training.

I do want to emphasize there are some b-schools that offer nonprofit specializations. I personally attended North Park University and my graduate degree in was in a School of Business and Nonprofit management. I took some of the same courses as MBA students, however I also took other courses like Nonprofit Accounting, Nonprofit Fundraising, Capital Campaign Development and Planning, Board Leadership and Management, and the list continues.

I agree with Nancy in the fact that nonprofits can teach businesses about how to run more effectively, however I think Nancy seriously needs to check her sources before she recommends people to transfer from a nonprofit focused graduate degree program into an MBA program. Last time I checked, the news media was slamming MBA programs saying how unprepared MBA grads are. Where many MBA students are analyzing cases, nonprofit master's degree students are working in real nonprofit organizations and doing real projects for these organizations. See my research, where alumni of nonprofit programs said they were better prepared because they receive hands on experiential learning in their program.

Nonprofit degree programs are here to stay!!

Yes, I can truly say I am biased because I work in a nonprofit master's degree program and I am doing my dissertation on experiential education in nonprofit master's degree programs. I can also speak all day long about how my Masters degree in Nonprofit Administration prepared me to be more effective in my nonprofit job and the nonprofit workplace.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Take 10 Minutes a Day for Nonprofit Operations - technology inventory

It is important that nonprofits keep an inventory of technology products and a log of
what goes wrong with each product as well as what is done to fix the problem. This inventory is helpful for the technology consultants or volunteers who come in a fix your computers and this inventory is important for insurance purposes if your equipment was ever stolen or lost in fire, flood or other disaster.

The technology inventory should include: Vendor/manufacture name, Model Name, Type of Operating system, Processor, RAM, Hard disk, Monitor, Network type, User Name, Date of purchase, and Item function. Tech Atlas provides a free technology inventory worksheet.

This and other helpful tips available in my Free Toolkit -- Setting up a Nonprofit Office

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Qualities of a Great Boss - Part 2

Often people are thrown into supervisory roles without realizing how much work and interpersonal skills are really needed to manage people!

Most employees want a boss who will be responsive, understand different working styles, and provide feedback on a regular basis (e.g. tell employees how they are doing and how they should improve). Employees also want a positive working environment and a place where they can feel safe.

I think everyone has the potential to become a great boss. It just takes a shift from focusing on the work itself to focusing on the employees who are doing the work. Being a great boss also requires the knowledge and understanding that each person within an organization is at a different developmental, emotional, and expertise stage. A great boss needs to be able to meet each employee where they are at. This is not easy.

The same is true for employees. In order to recognize a great boss, employees need to be able to receive feedback and be willing to take the next step in their job or go to the next developmental, emotional, or expertise stage.

My boss is busy, she runs a research center, she meets with funders, and she supervises six doctoral students. She could just focus on the work, but instead she takes the time to meet with us individually and also meet with us as a group.

Last week she sat down with me to go over my work plan for the coming school year. This meeting meant a lot to me because she told me about her plan for me in my new role. Now that I am Research Associate she wants me to supervise other doctoral students in certain research projects. She also wants me to improve my flexibility skills in the workplace (e.g. be willing to work on other projects at a moments notice). This meeting and feedback where very meaningful to me. My boss took the time to encourage me to go to the next stage of my research and my supervision skills.

Hopefully this post will inspire you to become a great boss, because the everyday encounters and meetings that you have with your employees can improve the overall morale and productivity of your organization.