Monday, May 12, 2008

Picks of the Week: May 11 - 17, 2008

Website of the Week -- Nonprofit Congress

The Nonprofit Congress, an initiative of the National Council of Nonprofit Associations and the state association network, empowers individuals and nonprofits to act collectively for positive change. Building on the fundamental belief that nonprofits are vital to society, the Nonprofit Congress is guided by shared values and priorities established by nonprofits in communities across the country. To find out more, go to:

Publication of the Week -- Life Entrepreneurs: Ordinary People Creating Extraordinary Lives by Christopher Gergen and Gregg Vanourek

From the publisher: Life Entrepreneurs is an inspirational and practical guide for anyone who wants to incorporate the dynamic skills of entrepreneurs into their own lives and work. A new generation of "life entrepreneurs" is emerging: people who apply their vision, talents, creativity, and energy not only to their work but to their entire lives, changing the world for themselves and those around them. In this book, successful entrepreneurs Christopher Gergen and Gregg Vanourek draw on numerous interviews with fifty-five leading entrepreneurs worldwide as well as the wisdom of multiple thought leaders to provide vivid examples, moving vignettes, concrete frameworks, and practical strategies for revving up our work and play through entrepreneurial leadership. This book starts by providing strategies for integrating life, work, and purpose and ends by capturing the implications of the current entrepreneurial boom for our workplaces, learning institutions, communities, and families. Christopher Gergen (Washington, D.C.) is a founding partner of New Mountain Ventures, co-founder and chairman of SMARTHINKING, Adjunct Professor and Director of the Entrepreneurial Leadership Initiative at Duke University, and a life-long entrepreneur, Gregg Vanourek (Thornton, CO) is a founding partner of New Mountain Ventures, former CEO of Vanourek Consulting Solutions, and former Senior Vice President of School Development for K12 Inc. Preview this book at

Trend of the Week -- Trends in Online Messaging, Fundraising and Advocacy Nonprofits

M+R, in partnership with several other organizations, published the first eNonprofit Benchmarks Study in 2006. Since that time, there have been significant changes in the online space, including the huge growth in social networks like MySpace and Facebook, and an overall decline in the performance of email. The 2008 eNonprofit Benchmarks Study, just published by M+R and the Nonprofit Technology Network (NTEN), covers two years of data, and, in combination with the original study, provides a 3-year landscape of nonprofit email, fundraising and advocacy metrics. Key findings include:

• The total amount raised online increased by 19 percent from 2006 to 2007.
• The average advocacy email response rate in 2007 was 7.5 percent. The average fundraising email response rate was 13 percent.
• While $1,000+ gifts made up just 1 percent of overall online donations in 2007, these gifts made up 20 percent of the amount raised online.
• A significant portion (almost 60 percent) of the participants’ subscribers did not take any online advocacy actions over the course of 2007.
• ‘Super activists,’ the subscribers taking 6 or more online actions in a year, made up just 5 percent of the total email list size but accounted for 42 percent of the organizations’ total actions.

To download a free copy of the full report, go to:

Resource of the Week -- Use of Due Diligence in Board Recruitment

Frank L. Kurre, national managing partner, in Grant Thornton’s Not-for-Profit industry practice Section, describes in the increasing use of due diligence by nonprofits when recruiting new board members. Some of the due-diligence procedures which nonprofits are using include the following:
• Require the candidate to complete and submit the organization’s conflict-of-interest statement and to disclose any potential conflicts or certify that no conflicts exist prior to election.
• Require the candidate to authorize the organization to perform a full background check. This background check typically includes a search of public documents for any legal judgments, IRS or state liens, negative media, publicity and a criminal check. This check would be especially important for youth serving nonprofits.
• Request that the candidate provide three references from individuals not affiliated with the organization.
• Request that the candidate briefly discuss (verbally or in writing) his or her approach to serving on the board. Topics to be addressed include commitment to the organization’s mission, willingness to participate in committee assignments and the expectation to attend a majority of board and committee meetings.
• Assess whether the candidate has any relationships with existing board members, management or other individuals which could lessen the candidate’s ability to be objective and independent.

Less we think that such a list of procedures is overdone, let’s remember that were talking about recruitment of the board of directors whose members wield considerable authority and influence. For the full list of procedures including additional guidance, go to:

Tech Tip of the Week -- Add Color to Worksheet Tabs in Excel 2007

It can be useful to color code the tabs of Excel worksheets:

• Select the tab of the sheet you want to re-color (to select more than one tab hold down the CTRL key and click each tab)
• Right click and select Tab Color from the short-cut menu
• Select color and click OK

This tip also works in previous versions of Excel.

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