Monday, March 30, 2009

Picks of the Week: March 29 - April 4, 2009

Website of the Week -- Theory of Change

The Theory of Change website has been newly revised and updated. This website is devoted to the application, methodology, use and practice of Theory of Change methodology. For 2009, it has been revamped to include more information on how to best use TOC, lessons from the many areas in which TOC has been applied, and the role of TOC in organizational functioning and capacity. At this site you'll find:
• When in your work can TOC help you and how (planning, re-grouping, evaluation, Board meetings?
• How it is best applied. Should the scope of your engagement be a day, a month, or a year?
• How can TOC be the basis for a major organizational shift towards focusing on outcomes and accountability, while remaining participatory and transparent?
• How has TOC been used recently in key topic areas such as social justice, women’s movements, international justice, youth development, structural racism and more

Go to:

Publication of the Week -- Fundraising When Money Is Tight: A Strategic and Practical Guide to Surviving Tough Times and Thriving in the Future by Mal Warwick

From the publisher: Nobody can predict our economic future. But in tough times, whether driven by the economy or other factors, there are simple yet sometimes counterintuitive steps you can take to ensure that your organization will suffer the least possible damage in a down economy -- and emerge healthy and poised for renewed growth when the economic crisis has passed. This book will outline how the economy effects fundraising and then walk you through an effective strategy and practical steps you can take to survive and then thrive in the future. Topics include:

• What history teaches us
• A proven way to anticipate the future
• Three scenarios for economic recovery
• Three possible fundraising strategies
• Identify a winning strategy
• Strengthen your case for giving
• Cut costs with a scalpel, not an ax
• Fish where the big fish are
• Stay close and get personal with your donors
• Step up your efforts online

Click here to preview this book on

Trend of the Week -- Impact of the Economic Downturn on the Nonprofit Sector

According to "Quiet Crisis," a report recently issued by Bruce Reed and John Bridgeland, the human need for nonprofit help is skyrocketing as nonprofit resources shrink. Their research uncovered disturbing evidence of the nonprofit sector's growing troubles:

• Churches, many of which deliver social services to the poor and needy, were expected to raise $3 billion to $5 billion less than anticipated in the last quarter of 2008;
• United Way saw a 68 percent increase during the past year in the number of calls for basic needs such as securing food, shelter, and warm clothing, and is receiving 10,000 to 15,000 more calls every month compared to 2007;
• Chicago's Meals on Wheels is trimming its budget by 35 percent;
• The State of Arizona reports an increase of more than 100 percent in the number of people who sought social services from 2007 to 2008, and Goodwill of Central Arizona reported nearly twice the number of visits to its centers on December 23, 2008, compared to the same day in 2007; and
• Over the last year, more than 70 percent of Michigan nonprofits have seen increasing demand for their services, while 50 percent say their financial support has dropped.

This report makes several concrete recommendations on how our nation can spark a strong nonprofit recovery and permit more Americans to do good works in hard times:

• Put 250,000 Americans a year to work in national and community service by passing the bipartisan Serve America Act.
• Adopt targeted incentives to expand private giving and volunteering.
• Create a Social Innovation and Compassion Capital Fund.
• Give nonprofit housing and financial institutions a prominent role in solving the nation's massive mortgage and foreclosure problems.

To download a copy of the report, go to:

Resource of the Week -- Urban Institute Outcome Indicators Project

The Urban Institute has developed and applied an Outcome Framework to program areas (examples: Transitional Housing, Youth Tutoring and Mentoring, Emergency Shelter, Advocacy. For each program, there is a sample mission statement, an outcome sequence chart, a table of candidate program-specific outcomes, and data collection strategies with suggested data sources for each outcome indicator. Go to:

Tech Tip of the Week -- Open Access 2007 Objects in Design View

Here are 2 quick ways to open Access objects in Design View:

• Click the object to select and press Ctrl + Enter, or
• Right click the object and select Design View from the shortcut menu

Monday, March 23, 2009

Picks of the Week: March 22 - 28, 2009

Website of the Week -- BoardConnect

The mission of BoardConnect® is to strengthen communities by building the leadership skills of community members and connecting them with nonprofit boards, matching them with one another for maximum community impact. For individuals who want to serve a nonprofit in their community, BoardConnect® training addresses the roles and responsibilities of a board member, including board operations, strategic planning, resource development, oversight, and ambassadorship. The training also familiarizes participants with convenient online tools to match them with nonprofits seeking new members, and BoardConnect® staff members provide additional support connecting individuals with the nonprofits they are most interested in serving. BoardConnect® staff members also provide additional matching support, including candidate searches and contacts, for a modest annual fee. BoardConnect also offers some training via webinar. Go to:

Publication of the Week -- Nonprofit Law for Religious Organizations: Essential Questions & Answers by Bruce R. Hopkins and David Middlebrook

From the publisher: Nonprofit Law for Religious Organizations: Essential Questions & Answers is a hands-on guide to the most pertinent and critical legal issues facing those who lead and manage religious tax-exempt organizations with an emphasis on tax, employment, property and constitutional law. This timely book is a response to the need for guidance, direction, and clarification of legal and tax laws affecting churches and other religious organizations. Preview this book on

Trend of the Week -- Study Shows First-Time Online Donors Often Do Not Return

People who go online to donate to charity for the first time often do not return to the Internet to make later gifts, according to a new study by Target Analytics, a unit of Blackbaud, Inc. which provides software and services to nonprofit groups. The findings suggest that while the Internet can be a valuable fund-raising tool for charities, particularly in soliciting gifts after disasters like Hurricane Katrina, it is not a replacement for direct mail or other forms of fund-raising. Key findings from the 2008 donorCentrics Internet Giving Benchmarking Analysis include:

• Online giving still represents a relatively small portion of donors and revenue at most organizations, but it is growing rapidly and is becoming an important source for new donor acquisition.
• Online donors are younger and have higher incomes than traditional direct mail donors. These are important constituents that nonprofits very much want to attract and keep, given the older average donor age in many files.
• Online donors give larger gifts and, as a result, have a higher overall long-term value than donors to more traditional giving channels like direct mail, but they are less loyal in terms of repeat giving. Higher average gifts mask the lower retention rates of online donors, which may present an opportunity for improvement at many organizations.
• The online giving channel must be an integrated part of an entire direct marketing program because although offline donors do not generally migrate to online giving, online donors do migrate to offline channels in large numbers. In addition, online donors tend to downgrade when they move offline, further evidence that online donors are not cultivated to their full potential.

To download a copy of the report, go to:

Resource of the Week -- Systems Thinking Resources

Linda Booth Sweeney, a systems educator and writer, has developed a website that offers a number of excellent resources on systems thinking and its application to organizational and community problem solving. Linda translates the concepts of complex systems theory into accessible materials and seminars for innovation in organizations, schools and communities. She is also the author of several books and numerous articles. Go to:

Tech Tip of the Week -- Easily Create Access 2007 Tables from Excel

Here's a simple way to create an Access 2007 table from an Excel worksheet:

• Open the Excel worksheet
• Select the data you want in your Access table
• Copy the data to the clipboard and paste it into Access or you can even drag and drop it into Access

Monday, March 16, 2009

Picks of the Week: March 15 - 21, 2009

Website of the Week -- Youth on Board

Youth on Board prepares youth to be leaders and decision-makers in their communities Youth on Board offers consulting and coaching services to large and small institutions that believe in the power of youth voice and want to help young people move from the margins of their communities into the center. Using a collaborative approach that emphasizes strong relationships as the basis for meaningful change, Youth on Board provides trainings, design programs and curricula, develop policy, and publish resources that help organizations build youth voice into their operations and infrastructure. Go to:

Publication of the Week -- The Budget-Building Book for Nonprofits: A Step-by-Step Guide for Managers and Boards by Murray Dropkin

From the publisher: This best-selling nuts-and-bolts workbook, now in its second edition, has become the gold standard for nonprofit managers and boards who must work through the budget cycle. The book offers practical tools and guidance for completing each step of the budgeting process. Designed to be comprehensive and easy to use, The Budget-Building Book for Nonprofits provides everything budgeters and nonfinancial managers need to prepare, approve, and implement their own budgets. Includes new chapters on Zero-Based and Capital Budgeting as well as a CD with spreadsheets, worksheets and a new budget-building software, the CMS Nonprofit Budget Builder, designed to help you implement the concepts in the book. The software includes an expandable standard chart of accounts and will aid in building, organizing, tracking and planning budgets. Click here to preview the book on

Trend of the Week -- Nonprofit Theaters Cutting Back

U.S. nonprofit theaters are cutting staff and expanding discounts as they anticipate disappointing ticket sales and fundraising, according to a new survey by the Theatre Communications Group (TCG). In a recent survey of 210 member theaters, TCG found 77 percent are revising expense projections for the coming year. Theaters with a budget of at least $10 million are cutting spending by an average of $750,000. More than half of those who completed the survey online expect year-end deficits and “cash flow problems.” About 10 U.S. theater companies in the U.S. have shut down recently or announced they’re in dire straits. Most of the theaters predict that ticket sales and fundraising from individuals and corporations will fall short of initial projections. Nearly a third said they’ll substitute small-cast shows for larger ones. More than half plan new ticket discounting. For a copy of the survey results, go to:

Resource of the Week -- Focus on the Economic Crisis

The Foundation Center has collected the most recent data available on U.S. foundation support in response to the economic crisis, offering a picture of how foundations are aiding nonprofits as they struggle with the fallout from the downturn. The Center has made this information publicly available in an interactive map on its web site. The map displays the data by state, county, city, ZIP code, or congressional district. New grants will be added to the map on an ongoing basis to provide the most current picture of foundation giving for programs and issues relating to the downturn. This mapping resource is part of the Center's broader initiative to provide the latest information, news, and research to shed light on the potential impact of the economic climate on the field of philanthropy. Visit "Focus on the Economic Crisis" at

Tech Tip of the Week -- Add Totals to Datasheets in Access 2007

A new feature in Access 2007 makes it easy to add totals to datasheets. Here’s how:

• Open the Datasheet
• On the Home tab on the Ribbon, in the Records group, click the Totals button
• A Total row is created in your datasheet
• Click the field you want to total and select the type of summary

Monday, March 9, 2009

Picks of the Week: March 8 - 14, 2009

Website of the Week -- Alliance for Nonprofit Management

The Alliance for Nonprofit Management is the professional association of individuals and organizations devoted to improving the management and governance capacity of nonprofits. The Alliance is a learning community that promotes quality in nonprofit capacity building. The Alliance convenes a major annual conference, networks colleagues year-round online, and provides member discounts on books and other publications. The Alliance provides visibility to its members in the online “Find a Consultant or Service Provider” directory, the People of Color Roster, Alliance Insights eNewsletter, Member Spotlights and membership directory. Alliance members include management support organizations (MSOs), individual professionals, and a range of national/regional, umbrella, research and academic, publishing and philanthropic organizations that provide technical assistance (training and consulting) to nonprofits. Available to members and non-members alike, the Alliance Resource Center is a searchable database of resources for nonprofits. It includes information on organizations, websites, books, newsletters and other products and services for nonprofit organizations. Go to:

Publication of the Week -- Business Planning for Enduring Social Impact: A Social-Entrepreneurial Approach to Solving Social Problems by Andrew Wolk and Kelley Kreitz

From the publisher: Business Planning for Enduring Social Impact applies the strategic rigor and financial savvy of traditional private-sector business planning to social problem solving. This practical guide provides an introduction to business planning for enduring social impact and leads readers through a four-step process for creating an actionable business plan. Key features include a glossary of business planning terms, plus an outline, sample workplan, and sample business plan for enduring social impact. Business Planning for Enduring Social Impact draws on Root Cause's unique business planning methodology, developed through consulting engagements with dozens of organizations, and through the organization's experience with the Root Cause social enterprises that it has started and grown. The guide is the first in a series of Root Cause How-to Guides, which provide practical advice for organizations in the public, private, and nonprofit sectors dedicated to solving social problems. Click to preview this book on

Trend of the Week -- Nonprofit Mergers and Acquisitions

Mergers and acquisitions (M&A) are much more common in the nonprofit world than most would think, as a Bridgespan Group study of 3,300 deals across four states over 11 years shows. But nonprofit mergers often come about through default—due to financial distress or leadership vacuums. At the same time, relatively few nonprofits are using M&A strategically, as a way to strengthen organizations' effectiveness, spread best practices, expand reach, and to do all of this more cost-effectively. Yet the potential for M&A to create real value in the nonprofit sector exists, particularly if more philanthropists take on the mantle of matchmaker and help nonprofits explore and evaluate M&A opportunities. This report summariizes research conducted by the Bridgespan Group on nonprofit M&A; explores the Child and Family Services (CFS) field, where "market" conditions are especially favorable to combinations; and profiles two nonprofits making the most of acquisitions. It also issues a call to action to philanthropists to further strategic, social sector M&A. To download a copy of the study, go to:

Resource of the Week -- Grantstation Series: How to Increase Office Productivity Using Free Software

How to Increase Office Productivity Using Free Software from Grantstation is an eight-part series that covers everything nonprofits need to know about moving from costly desktop office software to Google's free online office tools suite. This series offers tutorials for getting started with Google – using and configuring Google Mail (Gmail); Google Calendar; and Google Docs, including the spreadsheet and presentation functions – as well as a host of other free applications that increase productivity and are fun to learn. This series will show you how your organization can easily make use of Google's tools to achieve organizational objectives for both novice and experienced computer users. "Introducing Google's Free Online Suite of Tools," the first article in this series, briefly outlines why nonprofit organizations might use free software and explores its benefits. Go to:

Tech Tip of the Week -- Add Commands to Quick Access Toolbar in Office 2007

• Right click on any command
• Select Add to the Quick Access Toolbar from the shortcut menu

This trick works in Microsoft 2007 Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and Access.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Picks of the Week: March 1 - 7, 2009

Website of the Week -- Grassroots Institute for Fundraising Training

The Grassroots Institute for Fundraising Training (GIFT) is a multiracial organization that promotes the connection between fundraising, social justice and movement-building. GIFT provides analysis, training, and resources to strengthen organizations, with an emphasis on those focused on social justice and based in communities of color. Programs include:

• Grassroots Fundraising Journal to provide organizations with affordable and practical information and ideas for fundraising
• Fundraising Internships to develop new fundraisers of color
• Training for Trainers to increase the number of progressive fundraising trainers of color
• Raising Change: A Social Justice Fundraising Conference
• Training and Consulting Services
• Print and Online Resources

Go to: To subscribe to their valuable newsletter, email

Publication of the Week -- Arts Marketing Insights: The Dynamics of Building and Retaining Performing Arts Audiences by Joanne Scheff Bernstein

From the publisher: Audience behavior began to shift dramatically in the mid 1990s. Since then, people have become more spontaneous in purchasing tickets and increasingly prefer selecting specific programs to attend rather than buying a subscription series. Arts patrons also expect more responsive customer service than ever before. Because of these and other factors, many audience development strategies that sustained nonprofit arts organizations in the past are no longer dependable and performing arts marketers face many new challenges in their efforts to build and retain their audiences. Arts organizations must learn how to be relevant to the changing lifestyles, needs, interests, and preferences of their current and potential audiences. Arts Marketing Insights offers managers, board members, professors, and students of arts management the ideas and information they need to market effectively and efficiently to customers today and into the future. In this book, Joanne Scheff Bernstein helps readers to understand performing arts audiences, conduct research, and provide excellent customer service. She demonstrates that arts organizations can benefit by expanding the meaning of "valuable customer" to include single-ticket buyers. She offers guidance on long-range marketing planning and helps readers understand how to leverage the Internet and e-mail as powerful marketing channels. Bernstein presents vivid case studies and examples that illustrate her strategic principles in action from organizations large and small in the United States, Great Britain, Australia, and other countries. Click here to preview the book on

Trend of the Week -- More Us Teens Volunteer Than Work Part Time

American teens are setting an example for their parents through their volunteer work, according to a new poll by Harris Interactive. The random national telephone survey released this week by the Federal Way-based charity World Vision found that more teens volunteer to support a charitable cause — 56 percent — than have a part-time job — 39 percent. Parents and guardians said 82 percent of the teens in their lives do something to support charitable causes, including volunteering, recruiting others to a cause, wearing a button or T-shirt or donating money. Forty-six percent of the adults surveyed said they volunteer their time, but they also take credit for inspiring their children to volunteer. The Harris Interactive poll was conducted in the United States between Jan. 29 and Feb. 2 among 2,003 adults.
Go to:

Resource of the Week -- HR Village

HR Village is an HR website covering a wide variety of HR issues. Created by a number of senior HR consultants and professionals from the US, it offers a good range of resources for the HR professional. It provides specific information and tools for each level of HR practitioner, from specialists within multinationals, to managers of smaller start-up ventures. The site provides helpful knowledge from experienced professionals. The hrToolkit includes sample job descriptions, administrative forms, an employee handbook and other HR documents, which can be customized to meet your needs. The site also hosts a considerable database of common and not-so-common FAQ to browse through on a wide range of HR-related disciplines, which are broken down into clearly defined sections. This and the toolkit are probably the most useful sections for nonprofits. Go to:

Tech Tip of the Week -- Change Default Location for Saving Files in Word 2007

In Microsoft Word 2007, to change the default location for opening and saving files:

• Click the Office button
• Click the Word Options button at the bottom of the window
• Click Save to display the “Customize how documents are saved.” information
• Click the Browse button next to Default File location
• Locate the folder that you would like to set as the default file location
• Click the folder to select it and click OK
• Click OK again to complete the change