Monday, September 28, 2009

Picks of the Week: September 27 - October 3, 2009

Website of the Week – Future Lab

FutureLab, an initiative of Independent Sector, is an online forum where members of the nonprofit and philanthropic community can help envision a more dynamic and powerful future. The goal is to generate, share, and develop ideas that have the potential to strengthen the sector at large and increase individual and collective impact. FutureLab is a place to leverage the nonprofit sector’s collective intelligence and mobilize its best energies towards a brighter future. You can participate by joining the conversation and share and get feedback on your ideas and contribute to the sector’s collective thinking. The information will be used in the following way: This conversation can be useful to all organizations -- leaders across the sector can provide and find insights that can inform planning and decision making within all types of organizations. It is hoped that the ideas generated through FutureLab will present new opportunities and inspiration for future work. Current discussion threads include: Civic engagement, diversity, global engagement, impact, integration with religious groups, leadership, responsibilities of government and nonprofits, technology, responsibilities of government and nonprofits, and the 21st century economy. Go to:

Publication of the Week -- Community: The Structure of Belonging by Peter Block

From the publisher: Modern society is plagued by fragmentation. The various sectors of our communities--businesses, schools, social service organizations, churches, government--do not work together. They exist in their own worlds. As do so many individual citizens, who long for connection but end up marginalized, their gifts overlooked, their potential contributions lost. This disconnection and detachment makes it hard if not impossible to envision a common future and work towards it together. We know what healthy communities look like--there are many success stories out there, and they've been described in detail. What Block provides in this inspiring new book is an exploration of the exact way community can emerge from fragmentation: How is community built? How does the transformation occur? What fundamental shifts are involved? He explores a way of thinking about our places that creates an opening for authentic communities to exist and details what each of us can do to make that happen. Click to preview this book on

Trend of the Week -- Corporate Support in the Recession

According to a new report by The Hitachi Foundation and the Boston College Center for Corporate Citizenship, the recession has not spelled the end for corporate citizenship, but it has forced corporations to rethink—both good and bad—their approach. The report findings reveal that large companies are responding to the recession much differently than small companies. For example, large companies significantly increased their investments and involvement in citizenship activities—but they were also more likely to lay people off. Small firms kept true to their emphasis on treating employees well by minimizing layoffs. But they significantly decreased attention to other aspects of citizenship, such as volunteering or philanthropy. And one of the most interesting findings relates directly to this country's ability to help low-income individuals participate in the coming economic recovery. Half of the businesses are supporting skill development for employees making less than $40,000 annually. These businesses report that they directly connect these efforts to boosting productivity. Other key findings include:

• Some 54 percent of U.S. senior executives believe corporate citizenship is even more important in a recession.
• Companies in 2009 increased internal and external communication about corporate citizenship, with 54 percent now communicating with employees about it and 39 percent talking with stakeholders.
• The top three areas of corporate citizenship rated most important continue to be: operating with ethical business practices; (91 percent), treating employees well (81percent) and managing and reporting company finances accurately (76 percent).
• Despite the tough economy, only 38 percent of companies said they reduced their philanthropy and giving. Support for employee volunteering also remained strong with 83 percent of large companies stating their companies support employee volunteering in the community.

To access the full report, go to:

Resource of the Week -- 30 Second MBA

The 30 Second MBA is a feature of Fast Company Magazine. A wide array of organizational and industry experts provide answers to questions in the form of 30 second video clips. Recent topics have included: What Is the Single Most Important Task for a Leader? What Do You Do When You Don't Know What to Do? How Do You Retain and Nurture Talent? What Did You Learn From Your Last Business "Near Death" Experience? How can teams make better decisions? And more. Go to:

Tech Tip of the Week -- Excel Status Bar Sums

• Select the cells you want to sum
• Check the Status Bar in the lower right

All versions will display a Sum. By default, in Excel 2007, the Count, Average and Sum will be displayed. But this default can be changed by right clicking on the Status Bar to display the Customize Status Bar menu.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Picks of the Week: September 20 - 26, 2009

Website of the Week -- Sustainable Measures

Sustainable Measures develops indicators that measure progress toward a sustainable economy, society and environment. The organization works with communities, companies, regional organizations and government agencies at all levels. The website offers:

• Free training materials
• A searchable database of indicators
• Explanations of indicators and sustainability
• A list of online, print, and other resources, and
• Answers to frequently asked questions about indicators and sustainability.

Go to:

Publication of the Week -- No Risk No Reward: Mergers of Membership Associations and Nonprofits by Louise C. Dickmeyer

From the publisher: No Risk - No Reward: Mergers of Membership Associations and Nonprofits is a straightforward discussion on the process of merging two nonprofits or membership associations. It provides a practical guide to merging nonprofit organizations a topic of interest to a growing number of nonprofit leaders as they seek to continue to provide services in an era of reduced resources. The book aims to provide general direction to staffs and board members involved in mergers to help prepare for the complexity of the process and avoid the inherent pitfalls. The book by Minnesota-based nonprofit consultant, Louise Dickmeyer, writes from personal experience. As president and chief executive officer of Minneapolis Regional Chamber of Commerce, she learned first-hand the difficulties and complexities of merging nonprofits in 2001 when her organization merged with the Bloomington (Minn.) Chamber of Commerce. In the book, Dickmeyer uses the merger as a case study and shares insights gained through years of consulting to nonprofit and membership organizations. No Risk- No Reward: Mergers of Membership Associations and Nonprofits addresses the increasing need for mergers as a strategy for coping with shrinking financial and leadership resources. The book also provides helpful how-to information on key aspects of mergers, including finances, governance, legal considerations, the integration of cultures and the role of communications in merger success. Click to preview this book on

Trend of the Week -- Milwaukee Area Nonprofits Under Stress

Local nonprofit organizations are cutting budgets and staff in an effort to keep up with increased demand for services and falling donations, according to a new and expanded survey of local agencies commissioned by the Greater Milwaukee Foundation and conducted by the Public Policy Forum.
Sixty-eight percent of the nonprofits surveyed for the 13th Annual Report Card on Charitable Giving say the economic downturn has caused a drop in giving. Sixty-three percent of the agencies feel the state of philanthropy is getting worse. Of the organizations providing direct services to clients, 62 percent say demand for assistance is increasing. Other key findings of the Report Card include:

• More than 80 percent of organizations have cut costs due to budget constraints, and one in four has laid off staff.
• Only one in four organizations describe themselves as financially healthy and not currently vulnerable.
• Over half of organizations have six months or less operating reserve. Thirty-one percent say they are running an operating deficit in the current fiscal year.
• Half the nonprofits responding to the survey have considered collaborating with another nonprofit within the past year. Nearly one in three has explored merging with another nonprofit. Five organizations have considered closing.

To download a copy of the report, go to:

Resource of the Week -- Nonprofit Resource Library

The Non-Profit Sector Leadership Program at the Dalhouse University College of Continuing Studies has developed an online resource library for nonprofits. The library offers program resource materials as well as selected links to other websites that also offer useful information on leadership and management topics. Under all three headings one will find links to a number of the most active organizations, in North America and beyond, working on behalf of the nonprofit sector in advocacy, research and education. Go to:

Tech Tip of the Week -- Nudging Objects on PowerPoint 2007 Slides

Have you ever tried to move an object on a slide just a little? Try this:

• Select the object
• Press Ctrl + an arrow key

This tip also works in earlier versions.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Picks of the Week: September 13 - 19, 2009

Website of the Week -- The Charities File: On Board

The Community Services Council in partnership with the Centre for Voluntary Sector Research and Development at Carleton University has just launched The Charities File: On Board, an online resource for small and rural charities. The website offers resources in four key areas:

• The Treasurer’s Chest: Tools and templates for treasurers, bookkeepers, and finance committees
• The Fundraiser’s Receipt Book: Information, tips, and the latest CRA fundraising guidelines
• Agenda Gems: A year-round calendar of seasonal agenda items for boards and annual meetings, and
• The Shoe Box: Contains the lists and rationale for storing and transferring key organizational documents

The Charities File: On Board is made possible with funding from the Government of Canada. Go to:

Publication of the Week -- Reliable Fundraising: What Good Causes Need to Know to Survive and Thrive by Kim Klein

From the publisher: Reliable Fundraising in Unreliable Times is the much anticipated follow-up to fundraising expert Kim Klein's bestselling Fundraising for Social Change. This important book offers social justice nonprofits a road map for meeting the challenges of fundraising in a climate of economic uncertainty. Klein outlines the steps an organization needs to take to create a disciplined, systematic fundraising program that is both flexible and durable in order to survive almost any challenge. Reliable Fundraising in Unreliable Times tackles the big issues head-on, including the fact that the current economic turmoil has no end in sight. Klein shows how to build fundraising programs that thrive on this kind of economic roller-coaster ride and reveals how to identify and make the most of opportunities as they come along. She explores fundraising from the point of view of organizational development and examines myriad issues such as working across generational lines and in multicultural communities, collaborating effectively with other nonprofits, and surviving scandals and crises. The book also examines challenging questions such as how boards can fulfill their fundraising responsibilities without feeling overly burdened, how organizations can adapt to generational leadership changes, how to practice good time-management habits, and how the sector—and the context for fundraising—will continue to change. Written in Kim Klein's conversational, reader-friendly style, Reliable Fundraising in Unreliable Times discusses the current fundraising landscape, provides an overview of the past, and offers hope for the future. Click to preview this book on

Trend of the Week -- Corporate Philanthropy Shifts From Cash Giving To Volunteerism

According to a new report "Making the Most of What We Have: Corporate Giving in the New Economy", published by LBG Research Institute of Stamford Connecticut, corporations and their foundations are showing their support for their communities by marshalling other, non-cash resources. Key findings include:

• More than 84% of corporations surveyed say they are encouraging more employee volunteerism to offset a decline in cash giving.
• More than 48% have increased the number of volunteer events this year.
• Almost 45% report increased participation rates in their employee volunteer programs.
• Besides giving their employees’ time, some companies are stepping up product and in-kind donations.
• 15% report they are increasing their in-kind donations (such as meeting space, office equipment, etc.).
• 12% are increasing their product donations (products they manufacture, such as pharmaceuticals, apparel, etc.).
• Almost half the corporations in the survey report that they are emphasizing partnerships with nonprofits over straight cash donations.
• Half are also paying more attention to measurability and nonprofit accountability.
• One-third of the survey respondents say they are actively seeking new nonprofit partners to better match strategic goals.

For more information about the report, go to:

Resource of the Week -- Models of Collaboration

“Models of Collaboration” is a publication of the ASU Lodestar Center, an academic center that seeks to advance nonprofit leadership practice. The brief was authored by Marc Hager and Tyler Curry. This outstanding publication describes eight models of collaboration: fully integrated merger, partially integrated merger, joint program office, joint partnership with affiliated programming, joint partnership for issue advocacy, joint partnership with the birth of a new formal organization, joint administrative office and back office operations, and confederation. Each of the eight models is defined along with a listing of conditions that can be addressed by the selected model, as well as challenges and benefits of the model. There are brief capsule studies of collaborations that reflect each model. This publication is based in part on an analysis of nonprofits competing for the Collaboration Prize created by the Lodestar Foundation. To download a copy, go to:

Tech Tip of the Week -- Tracking Revisions in Excel 2007

Excel 2007 tracks worksheet revisions so you can see what has changed on each sheet. To use this feature, do the following:

1. Click the sheet to make it active
2. Click the Review tab on the Ribbon
3. Click Track Changes in the Changes group
4. Choose Highlight Changes
5. Click in the "Track changes while editing" box and then set the types of changes you want to highlight.

You can choose to have the changes highlighted on screen or listed on a new sheet.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Picks of the Week: September 6 - 12, 2009

Website of the Week -- The Nonprofit Portal

The Nonprofit Portal seeks to strengthen the knowledge and skills of nonprofit organizations in the Greater Milwaukee region through the collaborative development and use of on-line technologies. The Nonprofit Portal connects nonprofit leaders to online information resources, training and learning events, news, and local organizations with a focus on nonprofit management. Many of the listed resources will be of use to all nonprofits regardless of geographic location. Go to:

Publication of the Week -- Billions of Drops in Millions of Buckets: Why Philanthropy Doesn't Advance Social Progress by Steven H. Goldberg

From the publisher: In Billions of Drops in Millions of Buckets, Steven Goldberg explores the debilitating financial constraints that prevent so many nonprofit organizations from producing substantially greater social impact, and sheds new light on how the nonprofit capital market should be structured to best allocate funds in support of high-performing organizations that deserve additional resources to achieve optimal scale. He presents sweeping historical evidence, rigorous economic analysis, and extensive case studies of social enterprises, venture philanthropies, independent researchers, and the emerging array of "prediction markets" to show that the time has come to develop new financial institutions and tools that can consolidate much larger sums of money with much less effort, time, and cost, and distribute it in ways that dramatically magnify its impact. Goldberg makes a compelling case for an intelligent capital allocation system—a virtual nonprofit stock market—based on the "wisdom of crowds" to help highly engaged social investors efficiently find and fund the best nonprofits, instead of forcing nonprofits to spend so much unproductive time looking for too little money with too many strings attached. His petition for financial intermediation challenges accepted orthodoxies of nonprofit fundraising and offers an informed pathway toward performance-driven philanthropy. Click to preview this book on

Trend of the Week -- Impact of Health Care Crisis on Nonprofits

"Health Care and Nonprofits: The Hidden Dimension of America's Health Care Crisis", a new study by the Johns Hopkins Nonprofit Listening Post Project, reveals that health care costs are producing a so-far hidden crisis for America's nonprofit organizations and the nearly 13 million workers they employ. Virtually all (98 percent) of the responding nonprofits offering health benefits indicated that they are concerned about their organization's health care costs, and a striking 59 percent ranked health care costs as one of their organization's top challenges. Other findings from the Johns Hopkins health benefits survey include:

• A striking 80 percent of the nonprofit respondents reported offering health insurance coverage for their employees. Nevertheless, the proportion not offering such coverage rose by 62 percent compared to the results from a comparable survey in 2004.
• Virtually all (99 percent) of the large nonprofits responding reported offering health benefits to employees but less than half (46 percent) of the smallest organizations did, and cost was a major factor at work.
• Nearly three out of every four nonprofits offering health benefits reported that their organization's total direct health insurance costs increased during the past year, and for over a third of the respondents the increase was over 10 percent—well above the national average of 5 percent per year.
• These recent increases come on top of increases in previous years: based on an earlier Listening Post survey of a comparable set of organizations, average health benefit costs for these organizations grew by nearly 40 percent between 2004 and 2009• In the process, health benefits as a share of total employee compensation grew by over 12 percent, suggesting that health benefit costs are squeezing out pay increases and other aspects of employee compensation.
• The vast majority of nonprofit executives (80 percent of respondents) expect such increases to continue in the future, and about a third expect the increases to exceed 10 percent.

To download the report, go to:

Resource of the Week -- Comparison of Board Governance Models

Ruth L. Johnson has prepared a monograph entitled Stewardship to Leadership in which she compares and contrasts 13 approaches to board governance. The descriptions of each governance model, accompanied by graphics are especially helpful in seeing the differences and similarities among the various governance approaches. Johnson has served as a three term Board member for the Clark County School District, one of the largest school districts in the nation. She was repeatedly elected by her peers to serve as president of her Board and also served in other officer positions including president of the Nevada Association of School Boards and Vice-president of the Pacific Region of the National School Boards Association. To download the monograph, go to:

Tech Tip of the Week -- Using a Startup Form in Access 2007

Make it easy to use an Access database by automatically displaying a form when the database is opened. Access 2007 has made this process easier than ever before. Here’s how:

• Open the database and click the Office Button
• Click the Access Options button at the bottom of the menu
• Click Current Database on the left pane
• Under Application Options click the Display Form drop-down and choose the form you want users to see when they open the database
• Click OK

You may also want to clear the checkbox next to Display Navigation Pane to further simplify the environment for users.