Calling all Colorado-based nonprofits!
Have you signed up yet? We're teaming up with the Aurora/ South Metro Small Business Development Center to offer a training series for nonprofit leaders, board members or anyone curious about nonprofit management.
o July 21st – How to Ask for Money
o August 18th – Individual and Corporate Donors
o September 15th – Grant Writing Part 1
o October 20th – Grant Writing Part 2
o November 17th – Volunteer Management
o December 15th – Evaluation Overview
o January TBD– Introduction to Fund Development Planning
To register visit the Small Business Development Center's website.
Reach out to us if you have any questions!
See you soon!
“Human Resources isn’t a thing we do. It’s the thing that runs our business.”
As a consultant, my favorite clients are small organizations that are well connected to their communities. These nonprofits are generally staffed by passionate people, who making a real difference in the world. However, when I start digging into employee satisfaction, I hear things like:
“The turnaround is killing me- I feel like we’re always hiring.”
“I’ve never had a review. I really don’t know if I’m doing a good job or not.”
“I love my work, but I don’t think I can keep up this pace forever.”
At the heart of it, these issues boil down to human resources. While smaller nonprofits may have basic HR practices in place- payroll andbenefit administration- very few pay attention to other human aspects of human resources.
HR is much more than administrative tasks. Solid HR practices encourage retention, build strong teams, and help organizations achieve their missions. Don’t worry- you don’t have to create an entire HR department to put some basic practices in place. Here are some tips to get you going:
1. Start an employee-training program
Nonprofit employees want more professional development. Organizations benefit from a skilled force. How to do this on the cheap?
2. Provide regular feedback
You don’t have to develop a cumbersome performance management process with annual (often awkward) performance appraisals. Rather, schedule performance conversations quarterly to provide feedback, discuss personal and professional goals, and open the door to conversation.
3. Find out what your people want- and help them get it.
The 2015 Nonprofit Employment Practices Survey found that retention of nonprofit staff continues to be a problem. What will make your staff stay? Figure out what your people want and help them get it. Do they want a telecommuting option? How about longer days Monday-Thursday with a half-day on Friday? Can they bring their dogs to work? Retention strategies are most effective when they are tailored to individual needs.
In small nonprofits, staff must wear many hats. Human resources, just like leadership, is all about relationships. Spend time each day ensuring effective communication, transparency, and equity, and you will be on your way to building a great place to work.
For help on staff development, facilitation, and talent management, contact Kerri Drumm at Purpose Aligned Consulting
images courtesy of freedigitalimages.com
In the nonprofit world, it seems like everyone is talking about collaboration. Partnerships save money, close gaps in services, and spark innovation. Good collaborations allow organizations to reach wider audiences, build internal capacity, and develop new solutions. Collaborations deepen impact.
Yet, despite the buzz around collaboration, forming a mutually beneficial partnership is difficult. Here are some tips to help:
1. Focus on relational skills
Building collaborations can be frustrating, time-consuming and difficult. ‘Soft skills’ like empathy, flexibility, and conflict management are critical to creating lasting partnerships. Non-profit collaborations often run into problems because they rush too fast into the work. Instead, spend some time building relationships. Share a professional development opportunity, invite each other to your fundraisers, get together for a meal. Check out this great read on these skills.
2. Pay attention to the 3 Ts- Time, Trust and Turf
The success of a partnership depends largely on the interaction between three factors: time, trust and turf. Some questions to ask yourself when considering a collaboration:
3. Communicate. A lot.
When two agencies work together, information can slip through the cracks. Decide on clear communication channels. Avoid jargon. Ensure that everyone knows how communication is accomplished. Regularly solicit input. Many partnership pitfalls can be avoided with strong communication practices.
4. Write it all down
Define your shared goals. Figure out frameworks you will use to accomplish those goals. Identify roles and responsibilities. Determine how you will evaluate effectiveness. Decide how you will deal with unforeseen conflicts. Develop a shared work plan, with detailed roles and responsibilities. Ensure that Memorandums of Understanding (MOU) and work plans are clearly communicated and understood by all.
5. Show progress
Create metrics to measure the success of the collaboration- not just the program. How are both parties improved by working together? Clear, effective evaluation plans will help partners, as well as funders and community stakeholders, understand the benefits of partnerships.
Effective collaborations are the best way for nonprofits to make substantial impacts. By leveraging the experience around us, nonprofits can learn, improve services, and grow. Break out of the nonprofit silo. Start examining at how you can enlarge your impact with a partnership.
Purpose Aligned Consulting helps nonprofit organizations build effective, mutually beneficial collaborations. Contact Kerri Drumm today for a free assessment on how you can strengthen your organization with partnerships.
I once worked a nonprofit that poured lots of resources into ‘visioning’ activities. The staff spent hours taking personality assessment, writing about their values, and crafting statements about their teams. The idea was to create a vision for the strategic plan. Leadership took this info, disappeared into months of meetings and emerged with a plan.
But the plan it was flawed from the beginning. Getting staff buy-in became a herculean effort. Clients did not understand or agree with the goals. People quit or cried or both. Finally, after two rough years of lost dollars and talent, the board voted to scrap the plan and start again.
And why? Well, asking staff to write down their vision is just the first layer of this work. Many staff members have deep understanding into operational aspects of an organization. Instead of simply offering ‘vision’, they should be important players in developing implementation strategies.
Furthermore, for the majority of organizations, a 'team' is larger than the folks who work in the same office. Plans fail because important voices of clients, community members, volunteers and other agencies, are absent from the planning process.
I understand. True stakeholder engagement is hard work.
Yet if nonprofits don’t engage all of their stakeholders, plans become one-sided, rooted in the values of leadership and not the values of the community it is serves.
Stakeholder engagement is risk management. Any project is more likely to succeed if all of the variables are taken into consideration.
But how to begin this important work? There are many terrific resources such as toolkits that can help you design your process. Here’s a few quick tips to get you started:
1. Be uncomfortable.
When you invite people to participate, stretch yourself. Don’t just ask the volunteer who shows up to every event, seek out the client who called to complain.
2. Open the table.
Invite people who aren’t even on your radar. Use your staff, volunteers and other constituents to figure out who your stakeholders really are.
3. Offer multiple engagement points. Then offer them again.
Not everyone can come to a 10 am meeting on a Tuesday. Figure out ways to meet your stakeholders where they are. Continue to seek them out. Let them know how important they are to the process.
This might be obvious. However, sometimes organizations play lip service to community engagement, really just wanting to move their agendas forward. Keep your mouth closed and listen. This can be difficult, especially if you are committed to a particular outcome. Consider hiring a consultant or inviting someone from outside to help with the process.
5. Take action.
Engagement is an active, so if you are collecting feedback, do something with the results. Inform participants what will happen with their ideas. Make sure you deliver. Follow up often and consistently to share outcomes.
6. Involve stakeholders throughout the process
A major mistake busy nonprofits make is only engaging at stakeholders at the beginning. Use your community to test new ideas, to check progress, to help celebrate successes. Real engagement is an ongoing process.
For help designing effective stakeholder engagement plans connect with Kerri Drumm.
image courtesy of freedigitalphotos.net
It's the beginning of a new year. Start your 2015 out right by building a well-researched and organized grant calendar.
Building a grant calendar takes time upfront, but will save you countless hours of panic and last minute stress. Year by year, a well-developed grant calendar is the key to any successful grant fundraising strategy. After helping various organizations get their calendars organized, I wanted to share some of my knowledge.
I am so pleased to share my first guest blog post on about.com, 9 Steps to Creating a Grant Calendar. Read this step by step guide to developing your grant calendar.
Let me know if you find the guide helpful, or if you have other tips. I have also included a sample spreadsheet to get you started. Check out my brand new resources page. While you're there, share some resources of your own.
Happy 2015! Make good on your resolution to stay organized by creating your own grant calendar today.
Kerri Drumm loves helping organizations with grant fundraising!
‘Tis the season for giving! With so much pressure to shop, to buy, to bake, to cram in fun, the holidays can leave us wanting. While dropping coins in a red bucket is meaningful, consider sharing a little more love this season.
Here’s some tips to help with your holiday volunteering:
Kerri Drumm from Purpose Aligned Consulting can help your nonprofit engage volunteers during the holidays and beyond!
Photo from http://www.freedigitalphotos.net
In my role at Purpose Aligned Consulting, start-up nonprofits seek my help. I love the energy of new organizations, the passion, the desire and the willingness to work. However, I am often saddened by the state that many of them are in when they come to see me.
I understand. I once was part of a start-up nonprofit. We were passionate. We created amazing programs. Threw fundraisers. Served the kids who needed us. We provided a great program and enriched the community. However, despite our love, our energy and our skilled program development, after five years were forced to close the doors. Here are a few reasons nonprofits fail- and how to avoid these common pitfalls.
1. No long term financial planning
So, you’re going to throw events? Waiting on that grant funding? Have a wealthy benefactor? These are all great ideas, but are they one-time tactics, or strategic plans? Running a nonprofit is running a business. If you don’t have a solid, diverse plan for generating income, you will fail. Period.
If you haven’t done so already, make a business plan. Then use it! For useful resources check out the Grant’s Space list of templates, articles, and links.
2. Weak leadership
A strong nonprofit CEO or ED must have head for business, know how to manage money and raise funds. If you don’t like spending your days doing business development, accounting, and fundraising, you might not be best suited to running a non-profit.
But there’s hope! Weak leadership can be improved through capacity building and a robust team. Take classes. Recruit a kick ass board. Hire a consultant or business management employee. Consider a shared leadership model and release these tasks to others who are best suited to this work.
I live in a city that has thousands of great, effective nonprofits. Yet everyday, it seems like I meet someone who wants to start his or her own organization. If you have not already completed a competitor analysis, do it today. Be honest. Be brutal. And consider that you may need to shift, change, or merge your organization based on the results. I’ll say it again, running a nonprofit is running a business, and competition matters. Here’s a worksheet to help!
4. Trying to do everything.
I recently met with a tutoring agency. Well, they said they were a tutoring agency. They also taught soccer, did sex education, provided mentoring, did college prep work, offered mental health services, had weekend activities, provided basic needs, and much more. At the same time, their volunteers were burned out, high school students had stopped attending, and they had no impact data for the services they were offering. Eeek!
Instead of trying to do everything, develop solid data collections methods and use the information to find out more about your impact. Trimming an organization may be difficult, but organizations that do everything, end up doing nothing well. Find your sweet spot and work to improve it.
What other reasons have you seen for nonprofit failure?
Kerri Drumm, from Purpose Aligned Consulting loves helping start-up nonprofits stick around! Connect with her today for your free initial conversation and needs assessment.
Images courtesy of freedigitalphotos.net
Most fundraising activities target older donors. This makes sense; they have supported organizations for years and continue to be the sector’s greatest source of donations. However, as this segment of the population shrinks, nonprofits need to create effective donor pipelines. Here are some quick tips to ensure your organization is cultivating donors for generations to come:
It’s a family affair
Large donors are often the bread and butter of nonprofits. It is critical that organizations steward these donors well. These practices should extend to the whole family. Look for opportunities to invite the children of donors to events, for tours, or to take on roles inside the organization. Asking the child of a major donor to join a Young Professionals board, or attend a site visit, could ensure philanthropic support for years to come.
Target your strategy
Yesterday, there was yet another article on my LinkedIn feed about generations in the work place. While the corporate sector is a buzz with this, many nonprofits are still using a one-size fits all approach to their cultivation efforts. Different generations have preferences for how and when they give. Millennials, for example, might not attend a high priced gala. Save your stamps and throw a trivia night or create a crowd funding campaign for them. Take some time to understand the needs and preferences of your donors. It’ll pay off.
Beef Up Bequests
This can be a sensitive topic for some fundraisers. I get it; people don’t like to talk about death. But the reality is Boomers are growing older, and often want to continue to support the organizations they care about. Here's a great, quick outline on legacy giving.
All generations want to give, to engage in their community and to support work that is meaningful to them. Be nimble in your fundraising efforts. Stop asking and Listen. Be creative. These extra efforts will ensure diverse funding streams for years to come.
How do you engage different generations in philanthropy?
Kerri Drumm from Purpose Aligned Consulting, LLC can help!
Desired qualifications of entry-level nonprofit professionals?
Dedication to a mission. Communication skills. Team work.
The ability to work for free.
Is this really what’s happening in the sector? A recent article discussed frustrations of young nonprofit professionals. Many work for free, sometimes for years, trying to get a foot in the door. In terms of unpaid internships, nonprofits are the worst. According to Intern Bridge- 57 percent of internships at nonprofits are unpaid, compared with 48 percent in government and 34 percent at for-profit businesses.
Jobs in the nonprofit world continue to be attractive to students. However, the reality of unpaid internships, a lack of internal career ladders, and high levels of student debt, prices young people out of the sector.
At the same time staffing and talent management is a problem. Much has been made about the dearth of leadership in nonprofits, and an upcoming 'leadership vacuum' as boomers retire. Furthermore, many nonprofits consistently struggle with attracting and retaining minority candidates.
Susan Tomlinson Schmidt, Vice President of the Nonprofit Leadership Alliance, recently stated that unpaid internships were a significant barrier for nonwhite students. By creating a sector that requires people to work for free, nonprofits are replicating some of the very issues they are trying to tackle- racial and class based inequality, poverty eradication, and lack of community leadership.
Like most of my peers, I built my resume through a long series of unpaid volunteer jobs. In order to pay the bills and gain experience, I worked 2-3 part time and volunteer jobs in addition to my full time gig as a case manager. The unpaid work provided invaluable learning, as well as tons of burnout. I, however, was privileged to make this happen. I didn’t have children or family members to support. I didn’t live in an expensive city. I had very little college debt.
I know nonprofits have to make due with less. I know that money is an issue. I know that interns work for free. However, what happens when we only hire unpaid interns? The best talent flees to other sectors. And important people are priced out of careers where they can make critical impacts in their own communities.
What Can Nonprofits Do?
If you can’t do any of these things, make sure interns get real experience. I have seen many nonprofit interns spending summers stuffing envelops. Don’t let this happen. Allow them to develop a grant, write articles for newsletters, help run community groups- tangible skills that they can use on their resume.
Nonprofits should be examples of how businesses treat employees- including interns. Get those fiery, diverse, bright interns in your door. Do it well- they are the future of the sector.
Kerri Drumm at Purpose Aligned Consulting is passionate about talent management and recruiting the best and brightest to mission-driven work.
I get it- you probably don’t want to read one more thing about the ice bucket challenge. But you can’t deny that it’s an amazing study of human behavior, not to mention a widely effective fundraising strategy. To date, it’s almost raised 100 million for ASL research.
I don’t know about you, but my Facebook page and happy hour conversations have been filled with little darts and even some real rage from the nonprofit community about what’s wrong with the challenge.
There are lots of conversations of armchair activism (“those people don’t even donate”).
Others talk about what it’s doing to nonprofits- “fundraising cannibalism”- arguing that the challenge is hijacking dollars that would have gone to other causes.
There’s the fundraising skeptics who talk about how ALS will never be able to engage those donors in a long-term, meaningful way.
Of course there’s the very real argument about wasted water. No one can deny that one!
While I don’t really want to see another celebrity dump water on themselves, I am more than a little excited about the ice bucket challenge. Here’s why:
1. Kids and Activism.
The first place I saw the ice bucket challenge was on my 12-year-old cousin’s Facebook page. She covered herself in water, screeched, nominated some friends and donated $10. Why is this important? Usually her Facebook is full of middle school gossip, abbreviations I don’t understand, and photos of celebrities. The ice bucket challenge is engaging thousands of young people in philanthropy. That is exciting to me, and it should be exciting to others who care about the future of the nonprofit sector.
2. Lessons to Learn.
The ice bucket challenge has spawned some very interesting ideas from some super smart people about why and how it has worked. All of you fundraisers out there, it’s time to start looking at this as a great learning opportunity. I loved this article by Beth Kanter. I’m excited to see what lessons about nonprofit engagement will come out of this!
3. Call to Action!
The ice bucket challenge should give all of us in the nonprofit world pause. Fundraising is changing. Golf tournaments and endless grant cycles fulfill some of the need but there are clearly other ways to give.
This is your call for a new, awesome social media strategy! If the ice bucket challenge has shown us anything, it’s that photos of cute kids are not enough. As nonprofit professionals we need to ask ourselves if we have an authentic social media strategy- or are we just sharing photos?
There are tons of terrific books to help you align your social media work. I recently read Social Media for Social Good: A How-To Guide for Nonprofits, and found it to be chockfull of useful, easy to apply tidbits and advice for creating an intentional strategy.
This is your call for creativity! Have you been doing the same event for 20 years with few changes except the type of chicken your caterer serves?
Nonprofits are busy places. Sometimes creativity gets buried in the “To Do” list. Purpose Aligned Consulting can help you to facilitate meaningful information gathering sessions with your staff and stakeholders, and get their thoughts about how to shake things up. We also provide targeted coaching to help you discover creative new ideas.
This is your call for a little silliness. The ice bucket challenge isn’t something new. Remember dunking your high school teacher at the school carnival (aka fundraiser)? The ice bucket challenge reminds us that people love to laugh. Did your last ‘ask’ do that? Through facilitated conversations, workgroups, consulting and coaching Purpose Aligned Consulting can help you come up with plans to get donors giggling- and giving!