Monday, November 23, 2009

Picks of the Week: November 22 - December 5, 2009

Website of the Week -- GiveMN

GiveMN is a new way to donate and raise money online. Donors can give to any 501(c)3charity, church, or educational institution in the U.S in the U.S. and keep track of all of their charitable donations Fundraisers can run campaigns and special events to support their favorite charities They can set up charitable registries to celebrate special events, collect pledges, and raise funds for nonprofits. Nonprofits can reach new constituents online and activate their supporters to raise funds. They can connect with a huge audience of potential supporters through GiveMN's existing community and social networks like Facebook and Twitter. Go to:

Publication of the Week -- Harvard Business Review on Corporate Responsibility

From the publisher: What and whom is a business for? This collection of articles gathers the latest thinking on the strategic significance of corporate social responsibility. Readers will develop an understanding of why businesses should continue to give money away even while laying off workers, how companies play a leadership role in today's social problems by incorporating the best thinking of governments and nonprofit institutions, and how community needs are actually opportunities to develop ideas and demonstrate business technologies. Readers will see how corporate responsibility can lead to new markets and solutions to long-standing business problems. The Harvard Business Review Paperback Series is designed to bring today's managers and professionals the fundamental information they need to stay competitive in a fast-moving world. From the preeminent thinkers whose work has defined an entire field to the rising stars who will redefine the way we think about business, here are the leading minds and landmark ideas that have established the Harvard Business Review as required reading for ambitious businesspeople in organizations around the globe. Click to preview this book on

Trend of the Week -- Grantmaking in 2009 & 2010

Here are key findings regarding grant making trends from a recent survey conducted by the Regional Association of Washington Grantmakers:

• The recession has served as a crucible for many grantmakers, providing an impetus to reduce expenses, reevaluate priorities, and promote and engage in collaboration.
• A lower percentage of grantmakers reported a decrease in assets in 2009 (65%) than in 2008 (86%). Some saw a decline in 2009 as a result of increasing their payout rates.
• Grantmakers expect to give fewer grants in 2010 than in 2009.
• More respondents expect their grants budgets to decrease than increase in 2010. Nearly half expect a decline; roughly one in six expect a decline of 5% or less. Nearly one-third expect grants budgets to increase. Approximately one-quarter are not sure.

Go to:

Resource of the Week -- Board Governance Podcast Library

BoardStar is created a library of 100 podcasts on board governance topics. Through inspirational 8-10 minute interviews with nonprofit leaders, Board Directors can learn about their roles and responsibilities, as well as receive quick points to strengthen their nonprofit Boards. Perfect for introducing a topic for discussion, BoardStar invites you to share a podcast at your next Board meeting. The podcasts are accessible online at no charge. CD and DVD compendiums are available for purchase. You can also download a PDF podcast episode guide. Go to:

Tech Tip of the Week -- Clear All Formatting in Excel 2007

• Select the cell or range of cells to clear (or press Ctrl + A to select all)
• Click the Home tab on the Ribbon
• In the Editing group, click the Clear button
• Select Clear Formats

Monday, November 16, 2009

Picks of the Week: November 15 - 21, 2009

Website of the Week -- Our Shared Resources is a free service where those who work in the field of volunteer management are able to add useful resources and others in the field are able to access them. With many people contributing a little we all avoid re-inventing the wheel time and time again. Resources include:

• Downloadable, real-world examples of forms, manuals or position descriptions
• Templates & tools for creating resources
• Tips, ideas and how-to articles

Go to:

Publication of the Week -- The 21st Century Nonprofit, 2nd Edition by Paul Firstenberg

From the publisher: The second edition of this popular title explores the increasing emphasis on nonprofit governance, including accountability, transparency, and responsibility. Author Paul Firstenberg opens with an examination of the pivotal role of the board in organizational governance, particularly since the Sarbanes-Oxley statute was introduced in 2002. That bill, designed for public corporations, includes provisions that can be used to strengthen the integrity of financial reporting in the nonprofit sector. Special chapters focus on preparing board members for coming changes in governance, reducing costs while enhancing performance, and effective public relations. Go to

Trend of the Week -- Foundation Giving Trends 2009

To gauge how foundation thinking has evolved since the Foundation Center’s January 2009 giving forecast survey, the Center resurveyed leading funders in September 2009. Based on their responses, foundation giving will likely be down by more than 10 percent from 2008. Many funders expect that they will come out of the downturn being far more strategic than they were before the crisis, and a majority expect that the nonprofit sector will emerge stronger but that there will be fewer organizations. Key findings include:

• New survey of leading grantmakers suggests steeper than anticipated reduction in 2009 foundation giving.
• Indicators point to a continued reduction in foundation giving in 2010.
• More than two-thirds of respondents have reduced their operating expenses to shore up giving and for other purposes.
• Grantmakers expect that the field of philanthropy will become more strategic as a result of the economic crisis.
• Most funders expect the nonprofit community to emerge stronger from the economic crisis, although some express doubts.

To download a copy of the report, go to:

Resource of the Week -- Writing Effective Job Descriptions

A clear and comprehensive job description is key to attracting candidates who are well suited to the position you're trying to fill. Before embarking on the process of writing a job description, however, you'll need to have developed a clear sense of the role in question, its responsibilities, and the qualifications that an ideal candidate would possess. Once your team has clarified these dimensions, you can begin to craft the job description. Besides offering tips for writing the job description, this article from Bridgespan provides an Organization Overview Sample to start your descriptions off on the right foot, an Email Job Announcement Sample to help you spread the word of your open position, and several Nonprofit Job Description Samples for a number of senior management roles. 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
• Type three pound symbols ( ### ) and press Enter for a triple line
• Type three tildes ( ~~~ ) and press Enter for a wavy line
• Type three asterisks ( *** ) and press Enter for a dotted line

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

Monday, November 9, 2009

Picks of the Week: November 8 - 14, 2009

Website of the Week -- Economy Track

Economy Track provides the tools to track the recession and unemployment crisis, with the option of focusing specifically on trends by state, race/ethnic group, gender, occupation, and education level. Bringing together up-to-date and historic data, this site also provides important context by comparing the current economic downturn to past recessions. All of the data and methodology underlying Economy Track’s graphs are downloadable and fully sourced, with some data only available from this new Economic Policy Institute resource. Go to:

Publication of the Week -- Building a Performance Measurement System: Using Data to Accelerate Social Impact Andrew Wolk, Anand Dholakia and Kelley Kreitz

From the publisher: If your organization is dedicated to social impact, you know how challenging it can be to evaluate progress on achieving your mission. A performance measurement system can provide your organization with the internal knowledge necessary to help you accelerate your organization s social impact, in addition to generating performance data that is increasingly required by funders.
This practical guide provides an easy-to-follow, five-step process for developing a performance measurement system that will serve as an essential tool for any organization seeking to:

• Select what to measure in order to obtain a clear picture of the organization s progress in achieving its mission, goals, and vision
• Develop dashboards for internal reporting and learn how to analyze performance data to gain insights into the organization s strengths and identify opportunities for improvement
• Create a culture of learning and continuous improvement that involves management, board, and staff in making strategic, data-driven decisions and ultimately accelerates the organization s progress toward enduring social impact
• Develop report cards to communicate performance and impact to external stakeholders
• Use data-based evidence to aid in building funder confidence and securing new and returning investments

Building a Performance Measurement System draws on Root Cause s unique performance measurement methodology, which was developed through its work with social innovators throughout the United States, as well as a number of international organizations. Click to preview this book on

Trend of the Week -- Escalating Pension Costs Hurting Nonprofits

Most nonprofit organizations offering retirement benefits to their workers report that these plans are under stress, according to survey results released today by the Johns Hopkins Listening Post Project.
Nonprofits offering “defined benefit plans” (plans with a guaranteed benefit) have been particularly hard hit, with 76 percent reporting that their plans are currently under stress and 43 percent reporting severe or very severe stress. Even those offering “defined contribution plans” (plans with investments controlled by the employee and no guaranteed benefit) have been affected, however, with 58 percent reporting that their plans are under stress. As a result, organizations have been forced to reduce retirement benefits, scale back employer matches, end future benefit accruals, and deny pension coverage to new employees, or as a last resort, divert resources from program operations. Many smaller organizations have been prevented from offering pension benefits at all. Other findings from the Johns Hopkins survey include:

• More than two-thirds (67 percent) of all survey respondents reported offering some type of retirement benefit plan to their employees.
• More than half (58 percent) of responding organizations offer a defined contribution plan for workers and about 15 percent offer a defined benefit plan. Coverage of nonprofit workers is extensive: 69 percent of organizations offering defined benefit plans and 54 percent of those offering defined contribution plans indicated that at least half of their employees (including both fulltime and part-time workers) participate in the plans.

The full report "Escalating Pension Benefit Costs—Another Threat to Nonprofit Survival?" is available online at

Resource of the Week -- Principles for Good Governance and Ethical Practice

Since their release in 2007, the Principles for Good Governance and Ethical Practice have helped thousands of organizations across the nonprofit community strengthen their operations. Now, the Principles Workbook: Steering Your Board Toward Good Governance and Ethical Practice provides further support for nonprofits, foundations, and corporate giving programs committed to examining and improving their governance practices. The Principles Workbook will make it easier for boards of directors and staff leaders to assess the areas where their organizations are doing well and where there is room for improvement. It distills the core concepts in each of the 33 principles and suggests points for board and staff to discuss about their current practices. Progress worksheets accompanying each of the four sections assist nonprofits and foundations in making plans and recording their progress. Go to: Free registration is required to download the workbook.

Tech Tip of the Week -- Microsoft Access 2007 Online Tutorials

If you’re trying to learn Microsoft Access 2007 there are excellent online resources available. I recommend checking these out:

Microsoft Office Online offers several Access 2007 Courses

Access 2007 Tutorial developed by Florida Gulf Coast University

Monday, November 2, 2009

Picks of the Week: November 1 - 7, 2009

Website of the Week -- Institute on Race & Poverty

The Institute on Race & Poverty (IRP) investigates the ways that policies and practices disproportionately affect people of color and the disadvantaged. A core purpose for IRP’s work is to ensure that people have access to opportunity. Another is to help the places where people live develop in ways that both promote access to opportunity and help maintain regional stability. Go to:

Publication of the Week -- The Art of Giving: Where the Soul Meets a Business Plan by Charles Bronfman and Jeffrey R. Solomon

From the publisher: From world-renowned philanthropists Charles Bronfman and Jeffrey Solomon of the Andrea and Charles Bronfman Philanthropies comes a comprehensive guide on how to be a canny, street-smart, effective philanthropist, regardless of your income level. It is also a perfect companion for nonprofit program and development executives who would like to introduce donors to their work and their organizations. Despite their critical importance to philanthropy, donors have few resources for solid information about making their gifts-deciding what type of gift to give, how to structure it, the tax implications, what level of follow-up and transparency they should ask for and expect, and countless other complexities. This book fills that vacuum and helps you gain a special understanding of philanthropy as a business undertaking as well as a deeply personal, reflective process. Drawing on decades of experience, the authors offer a fresh, enlivening approach to the nonprofit enterprise that, too often, is undervalued and thought of as the province of the burnt-out and the overwhelmed. Along with its many candid insights and memorable anecdotes, The Art of Giving also offers instruction on how to create a business plan for giving that works for you. Click to preview this book on

Trend of the Week -- Trends in Foundation Giving

Rob Blizard, Director of Gift Planning at George Washington’s Mount Vernon has compiled a list of 14 trends in foundation giving recently appearing in the Mal Warwick Newsletter. Some of the trends include the following: a continuing reliance on personal relationships, little support for operating funds, a continuing focus on outcomes and results, process changes due to technology, reduced giving from corporate sources, and more. To access the first seven trends, go to To access the remaining trends, go to

Resource of the Week -- Nonprofit Social Media Primer

Having a social media strategy is not its own objective. Rather, social media strategies can support your existing objectives. Reflect on your organization’s current objectives: Do you want to cultivate supporter relationships, build cause awareness, do online fundraising, or connect with new supporters? Those are all goals social media can help support, and the Nonprofit Social Media Primer examines a multitude of ways to get started and how your organization can benefit. The Nonprofit Social Media Primer was authored by Frank Barry, Director of Professional Services, Blackbaud Internet Solutions. To download a free copy, go to:

Tech Tip of the Week -- Keep a file on the Office 2007 Recent Documents List

An excellent new feature in Office 2007 which works in Word, Excel, PowerPoint and Access, is the ability to keep or “pin” a file in the Recent Documents list, here’s how:

• Click the Microsoft Office Button
• Click the pin icon beside the document you want to keep on the list
• The pin button changes to a push pin viewed from the top