Monday, February 23, 2009

Picks of the Week: February 22 - 28, 2009

Website of the Week -- Applied Research Center

The Applied Research Center (ARC) is a racial justice think tank and home for related media and activism. ARC is built on rigorous research and creative use of new technology. The ARC’s goal is to popularize the need for racial justice and prepare people to fight for it. Founded in 1981, ARC investigates the hidden racial consequences of public policy initiatives and develops new frameworks to resolve racially charged debates. With offices in New York, Chicago, and Oakland, ARC has three programs that serve these ends: Media and Journalism, Strategic Research and Policy Analysis, and the Racial Justice Leadership Action Network. Go to:

Publication of the Week -- The Board Member's Playbook: Using Policy Governance to Solve Problems, Make Decisions, and Build a Stronger Board by Miriam Carver and Bill Charney

From the publisher: The Board Member's Playbook--written for board members who are either familiar with or new to John Carver's Policy Governance model--offers real-world scenarios that address the challenges that confront boards of all types of organizations. Step by step, the authors walk readers through a proven problem-solving sequence that allows them to find solutions consistent with the values and policies of their organizations. Designed to be flexible, the book's problem-solving methods are applicable to any challenge boards may face. Click here to preview this book on

Trend of the Week -- Connections Between Annual and Bequest Giving

The Stelter Company has issued a new Donor Insight Report™ summarizing research from a national survey of Americans aged 40 and older concerning their views on bequest giving. Key findings include:

• Ninety percent of U.S. residents aged 40 and older reported making a contribution to at least one nonprofit in the past year or so. This included a majority (58 percent) who reported contributions to three or more charities, with about one in five (19 percent) giving to five or more organizations.
• Seven percent of Americans aged 40 and older name nonprofits in their wills. Another 5 percent have a will and say at some point they will definitely or probably include a bequest to a nonprofit organization. Still another 5 percent do not yet have a will in place, but say they will definitely or probably include a nonprofit when they create this document. Most of this group (73 percent) intend to create a will within the next five years.
• Prolific annual givers have a propensity for bequest giving. Bequest givers and good prospects who have a will in place are more likely than average to make annual gifts to five or more charities: 34 and 37 percent respectively, compared to 19 percent overall (a 15- to 18-point difference). Prospects who do not yet have a will in place differ, in that they give to fewer charities on average.

To download a copy of the report, go to:

Resource of the Week -- Communication Evaluation Tool

Track the impact of your communications strategies with a new evaluation -- Are We There Yet? A Communications Evaluation Guide produced by The Communications Network. This free tool gives nonprofits and foundations nine steps to create an evaluation plan that will assess the impact of their communications efforts. Go to:

Tech Tip of the Week -- Freeze a Formula into its Current Value

To freeze a formula into its current value:

• Select the formula
• Press F2 (Edit)
• Press F9 (Calc)
• Press Enter

Now you can copy or move the value anywhere you need it. This trick works in all versions of Excel, even 2007!

Monday, February 16, 2009

Picks of the Week: February 15 - 21, 2009

Website of the Week -- National Center for Children in Poverty

The National Center for Children in Poverty (NCCP) is the nation’s leading public policy center dedicated to promoting the economic security, health, and well-being of America’s low-income families and children. NCCP uses research to inform policy and practice with the goal of ensuring positive outcomes for the next generation. NCCP promotes family-oriented solutions at the state and national levels. Founded in 1989 as a division of the Mailman School of Public Health at Columbia University, NCCP is a nonpartisan, public interest research organization. The website includes state by state profiles of child poverty, data tools and a host of other resources. Go to:

Publication of the Week -- The New Form 990: Law, Policy, and Preparation by Bruce R. Hopkins et al

From the publisher: The New Form 990 covers the law, policy, and preparation of the new IRS Form 990. It includes summaries of the law underlying each of the parts and questions in the return, so that the preparer can understand the background law in formulating answers on the return. In December 2007, the IRS released the newly redesigned Form 990. Recognizing that far too many nonprofit organizations are unprepared for what is coming their way, The New Form 990 provides tax-exempt organizations and tax return preparers with the help they need to properly, effectively, and accurately prepare the new return. Professionals working to prepare this new labyrinthine form are guaranteed to encounter many unexpected hurdles. Authors Hopkins, Anning, Gross, and Schenkelberg provide readers with guidance and a road map to help maneuver through the revised Form 990, including summaries of the law underlying each of the parts and questions in the return, so that tax-exempt organizations and their advisors can understand the background law when formulating answers to the questions. Deftly covering both pre-existing and newly created laws as well as discussions of policy and preparation, The New Form 990 brims with line-by-line analyses as well as numerous checklists of steps to take to be in the best possible position to prepare the return. Click to preview this book on

Trend of the Week -- Long-Distance Volunteering in the United States

The first-ever national study of "Voluntourism" (long-distance volunteering) in the U.S. finds that in the Gulf area visiting volunteers significantly bolstered disaster recovery efforts, supplying one in four of the total volunteers in Mississippi in 2007 and one in five in Louisiana. Other findings include:

• In 2007, about 3.7 million volunteers – about 6 percent of all volunteers age 16 and over – reported doing at least some long-distance volunteering, traveling at least 120 miles to volunteer with an organization located within the U.S., but outside their communities.
• The ten most popular destinations for long-distance volunteering that occur outside one’s own state include several of the most populous states, plus the five states affected by the 2005 Gulf hurricanes, Katrina, Rita and Wilma: Texas, Florida, Mississippi, Alabama and Louisiana.
• Compared to all adult volunteers, a larger proportion of long-distance volunteers are single and do not have children. Adult volunteers in general are considerably more likely to be married or raising children.
• Compared to all adult volunteers, a larger proportion of long-distance volunteers are young adults, aged 16-24.
• The most committed volunteers are also the most likely to engage in long-distance volunteering. For example: individuals who volunteer more than 100 hours per year, serve more than 12 weeks per year with their main organization, or serve with more than one organization, are much more likely to serve as long-distance volunteers.

For a copy of the report prepared by the Corporation for National and Community Service, go to:

Resource of the Week -- Avoiding Common Hiring Pitfalls

There are a number of ways that recruiting and hiring processes can go wrong, and hiring the right people into the right positions is too important to leave to chance. Whether your organization has dedicated human resources professionals or not, there are a number of common hiring mistakes that can be easily avoided as outlined in this article prepared by GuideStar. Go to:

Tech Tip of the Week -- Creating Lines in Word 2007

One of my favorite shortcuts from previous versions of Word still works in Word 2007! To create lines across the page of a Word document:

• Type three consecutive hyphens and press Enter for a normal line
• Type three underscores and press Enter for a bold line
• Type three equal signs and press Enter for a double line

These lines extend from the left margin to the right margin and the size of these lines will change if you change the margins of your document or if you change the orientation from Portrait to Landscape.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Picks of the Week: February 8 - 14, 2009

Website of the Week -- Lodestar Center for Philanthropy and Nonprofit Innovation

In 1999, the Arizona Board of Regents approved the Arizona State University (ASU) Lodestar Center to become a comprehensive academic center to enhance the effectiveness of nonprofits-especially those involved in positive youth development and human services. The Center was created after an extensive and inclusive process involving faculty, staff, students, nonprofits, funders, and a major grant from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation's Building Bridges initiative. In March 2008, the Center changed its name from the Center for Nonprofit Leadership and Management to the Lodestar Center for Philanthropy and Nonprofit Innovation. The ASU Lodestar Center advances nonprofit leadership practice through the four interdisciplinary areas of focus:

• Research that Matters
• Nonprofit Leadership Education
• Assistance to Nonprofits
• Conferences and Convenings

Go to:

Publication of the Week -- Effective Donor Relations by Janet L. Hedrick

From the publisher: Donors are the heartbeat of your nonprofit, partners in your organization's work, and supporters in its mission to change the world. Keeping them is essential to your nonprofit's survival; losing them means major losses for your organization's annual giving program, capital campaign efforts, and major and planned gifts. Part of the AFP/Wiley Fund Development Series, Nonprofit Essentials: Effective Donor Relations guides in creating and implementing each aspect of a donor relation plan, providing recommended solutions to frequently encountered dilemmas and including sample documents, checklists, and other tools to help shape an effective program. The book covers:

• Why and how donor relations is vital to your nonprofit
• Why being recognized is important to your donors
• Making the most of the Internet for donor relations

Click here to preview this book on

Trend of the Week -- Foundation Giving Trends

Foundation support for eight of the 10 major giving areas rose in 2007, despite the first signs of an economic downturn in the latter half of the year, according to The Foundation Center’s Foundation Giving Trends (2009 Edition). Funding for the environment and animals rose fastest, up 28.5 percent from the prior year — more than double the 13.2 percent rise in overall grant dollars. Key findings include:

• Foundations awarded a record 188 grants of $10 million or more in 2007. Of the 10 largest, eight were made by the Gates Foundation, mainly for health-related activities and international development.
• International giving — which cuts across all areas and includes grants awarded directly to overseas recipients and to U.S.-based international programs — reached a record 23.4 percent of total grant dollars awarded.
• Among specific populations, the economically disadvantaged benefited from the largest share of grant dollars, rising to a record $5.3 billion.

Click here to download a free summary of the report highlights. Click here to order a copy of the full report.

Resource of the Week -- CensusScope

CensusScope is an easy-to-use tool for investigating U.S. demographic trends. This resource is provided by the Social Science Data Analysis Network (SSDAN) at the University of Michigan. With eye-catching graphics and exportable trend data, CensusScope is designed for both generalists and specialists. The site includes:

• Charts and trend data for States, Metro Areas, and Counties based on Census 2000 and Trend Data going back to 1990, 1980, and sometimes even further
• State and county-level rankings by population growth, race, educational attainment, language, and gender
• Segregation exposure and dissimilarity measures for 1246 individual US cities with population exceeding 25,000 and for all metropolitan areas, based on single and multiple race populations as identified in Census 2000.

Go to:

Tech Tip of the Week -- Create a Cent Sign in Word

To create a cent sign in Word using a keyboard shortcut:

• Hold down the Ctrl key and press /
• Type the letter c

This tip works in Word 2007 and in older versions as well.