Sunday, June 20, 2010

Picks of the Week: June 20 - July 10, 2010

Website of the Week – Web Site Provides Information on Federal Funds for Nonprofit Groups

A new feature of a Web site devoted to tracking government subsidies allows the public to search a database for detailed information about federal grants to -- and contracts with -- nonprofit organizations. The Web site, created by Subsidyscope, also provides information and analysis on federal loans and tax expenditures. Subsidyscope, a project of Pew Charitable Trusts and the Sunlight Foundation, says it aims to make government subsidies more transparent to the public and policymakers. By aggregating information across sectors of the economy, Subsidyscope hopes to inform the debate over the creation of new subsidies and the efficacy of existing ones in a nonpartisan manner, according to the project. The federal government gave $38-billion in grants to nonprofit organizations in 2008 and provided groups with $10-billion through "non-competed" contracts, according to Subsidyscope. For more information, go to:

Publication of the Week -- The Leadership Challenge, 4th Edition by James M. Kouzes and Barry Z. Posner

From the publisher: The most trusted resource on becoming a leader is now updated and revised for a new generation. This leadership classic continues to be a bestseller after three editions and twenty years in print. It is the gold standard for research-based leadership, and the premier resource on becoming a leader. This new edition, with streamlined text, more international and business examples, and a graphic redesign, is more readable and accessible than ever before. The Leadership Challenge, Fourth Edition, has been extensively updated with the latest research and case studies, and offers inspiring new stories of real people achieving extraordinary results. The authors' central theme remains the same and is more relevant today than ever: "Leadership is Everyone s Business." Their "five practices" and "ten commitments" have been proven by hundreds of thousands of dedicated, successful leaders. This edition, with almost one-third new material, emphasizes the global community and refocuses on business leaders. Click to preview this book on

Trend of the Week – Volunteerism Increases at Highest Rate in 6 Years

The number of Americans who volunteer grew last year at the fastest rate in six years, according to a new report released by the Corporation for National and Community Service. This challenges the popular notion that hard economic times suppress civic participation. The report says that 63.4 million adult Americans—nearly 27 percent of the population—volunteered to help charitable causes last year. That’s an increase from 2008 of roughly 1.6 million volunteers, the largest single-year jump since 2003. In total, 2009’s volunteers donated about 8.1 billion hours of service, valued at nearly $169-billion, says the report, which is based on annual and monthly surveys of roughly 100,000 Americans age 16 or older, conducted by the U.S. Census Bureau for the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Key findings include:

• An increase in volunteer rates among women ages 45 to 54 and among married women helped fuel the rise in volunteer numbers. Among black women, volunteer rates rose nearly two percentage points, to 22.8 percent.
• The organizations at which Americans chose to volunteer stayed fairly consistent between 2008 and 2009. As before, the largest percentage of Americans—more than one-third—volunteered at churches or with other religious groups. But the economic downturn may have stirred more people to donate their time to social-service organizations, which counted 8.8 million volunteers last year, up from 8.4 million in 2008.
• There appear to be links between the economy and the varying rates of volunteering across the country. Among large metropolitan areas, for example, four of the five cities with the highest foreclosure rates last year—Las Vegas; Riverside, Cal.; Miami; and Orlando, Fla.—ranked in the bottom ten in volunteer rates among large cities. And, the report found, states with higher rates of unemployment—such as Michigan and Nevada—had lower rates of volunteering.
• Even as the hardships of unemployment spread throughout the country, a slightly bigger share of jobless people donated their time last year than in 2008—22.9 percent, up from 22.3 percent, representing 1.3 million additional volunteers. What’s more, jobless men showed a larger increase in their volunteer rate (17 percent to 18.2 percent ) than men who were employed (25.4 percent to 25.8 percent).
• The most common volunteer activity was fund raising, with nearly 27 percent donating their time to raise money for charitable causes. Almost 24 percent of Americans collected and distributed food.
• The report also found that a growing number of Americans -- 20.7 million, up from 19.9 million in 2008 -- are volunteering in less-formal ways, such as by helping neighbors solve a problem.

To access the report, go to:

Resource of the Week -- Video: Ten Basic Responsibilities of Nonprofit Boards

Here is an excellent resource from BoardSource: Video: Ten Basic Responsibilities of Nonprofit Boards. These 11 videos will help board members, chief executives, and senior staff understand the fundamental elements of service common to most boards, including board member responsibilities, how to structure the board in the most efficient manner, and how to accomplish governance work in the spirit and mission of the organization. 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 in the upper left corner of the screen
• 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

Monday, June 14, 2010

Picks of the Week: June 13 - 19, 2010

Website of the Week – Lodestar Foundation

The Lodestar Foundation seeks to maximize the leverage of philanthropic dollars and engagement through the pursuit of two strategies: By supporting organizations, programs and projects that encourage philanthropy, public service and volunteerism; and, by encouraging and supporting long-term collaborations among nonprofits working in the same area in order to increase efficiency, reduce duplication of efforts and maximize impact through the application of sound business practices. The foundation sponsors the Collaboration Prize, a $250,000 national award designed to identify and showcase models of collaboration among nonprofit organizations. The foundation also hosts an extensive Nonprofit Collaboration Database. Go to:

Publication of the Week -- A Carver Policy Governance Guide, Volume 2, Ends and the Ownership, Revised and Updated by John Carver and Miriam Carver

From the publisher: Ends and the Ownership helps boards distinguish between what an organization is for and what it does (ends versus means)—a basic feature of the innovative Policy Governance model. This important guide also discusses the concept of ownership and includes sample policies that can help board members effectively prioritize and govern. The Policy Governance model is based on the functions rather than the structure of a governing board. It outlines commonsense principles about governing that fit together into an entire system. The practices of the Policy Governance board, which are consistent with the principles, allow it to control without meddling, focus on long-term organizational outputs, powerfully delegate to a CEO and staff, and discharge its fiduciary responsibility in a visionary, strategic manner. Click to preview this book on

Trend of the Week – Online Fundraising and Marketing Trends

Convio, Inc. has released the results of its annual Convio Online Marketing Nonprofit Benchmark Index Study. This year’s study shows that online giving is growing steadily, there has been an increase in the number of online gifts and nonprofits are continuing to grow their email files. The study is designed to help nonprofit professionals evaluate beneficial online marketing metrics, evaluate the effectiveness of their organization compared to similar organizations and determine strategies for future success. Key findings of the study include:

• Online giving grew 14 percent despite a difficult economy. Overall, 69 percent of organizations raised more in 2009 than 2008, while 31 percent saw declines in their online fundraising.
• An increase in gifts drove fundraising gains. Of those that grew fundraising in 2009, 92 percent saw an increase in the number of gifts in 2009 compared with just 43 percent of organizations seeing an increase in their average gift amount.
• Small organizations grew fastest. Organizations with fewer than 10,000 email addresses on file, many of which are participants in the Convio Go! program, grew online revenue by 26 percent, and gifts by 32 percent.
• Web traffic growth continued for most, but at a slower rate. 60 percent of organizations grew their website traffic from 2008 to 2009. Web traffic growth in 2009 was in the single digits at 6 percent compared with double digit growth seen in previous years.
• Web traffic was strongly correlated with email file growth. 38 percent of an organization’s success building large email files could be directly attributed to the amount of traffic to the organization’s website.

To download the full study, go to:

Resource of the Week – Guide to Board Voting By Email

Attorney Gene Takagi and Emily Nicole Chan discuss the topic of Board Voting By Email in a very thorough article appearing in the Blue Avocado newsletter article. 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, June 7, 2010

Picks of the Week: June 6 - 12, 2010

Website of the Week – CreateAthon

CreateAthon is a 24-hour, work-around the clock creative blitz during which local advertising agencies generate advertising services for local nonprofits that have little or no marketing budget. Since the program’s expansion from a single market to an international effort in 2001, 40 agencies have joined the CreateAthon network, holding CreateAthon events in their cities. This effort has benefited 833 nonprofit organizations with 1,809 projects valued at $7 million. Go to:

Publication of the Week – Silos, Politics and Turf Wars: A Leadership Fable About Destroying the Barriers That Turn Colleagues Into Competitors by Patrick M. Lencioni

From the publisher: In yet another page-turner, New York Times best-selling author and acclaimed management expert Patrick Lencioni addresses the costly and maddening issue of silos, the barriers that create organizational politics. Silos devastate organizations, kill productivity, push good people out the door, and jeopardize the achievement of corporate goals. As with his other books, Lencioni writes Silos, Politics, and Turf Wars as a fictional—but eerily realistic—story. The story is about Jude Cousins, an eager young management consultant struggling to launch his practice by solving one of the more universal and frustrating problems faced by his clients. Through trial and error, he develops a simple yet ground-breaking approach for helping them transform confusion and infighting into clarity and alignment. Click to preview this book on

Trend of the Week – Nonprofits Increase Use of Social Networks

NTEN, Common Knowledge, and ThePort Network have released the second annual installment of the Nonprofit Social Networking Benchmark Report. This report’s objective is to provide nonprofits with insights and trends surrounding social networking technology as part of nonprofit organizations’ marketing, communications, fundraising, and program services. Between February 3 and March 15, 2010, 1,173 nonprofit professionals responded to a survey about their organization’s use of online social networks. Nonprofits continued to increase their use of commercial social networks over 2009 and early 2010 with Facebook and Twitter proving to be the preferred networks. Key findings include:

• Facebook is still used by more nonprofits than any other commercial social network with 86% of nonprofits indicating that they have a presence on this network. This finding is a 16% increase from 2009, when 74% of respondents had a Facebook presence.
• Twitter grew as a commercial social networking outlet of choice for nonprofits with a year-over-year increase of 38%, moving from 43% in 2009 to 60% in 2010, as measured by nonprofits who affirmed that their organization had a presence on this rapidly growing micro-messaging platform.
• LinkedIn and YouTube usage remained steady over the last year. YouTube moved up only very slightly from 46.5% in 2009 to 48.1% in 2010, and LinkedIn stayed steady at 32.9% in 2009 and 33.1% this year.
• MySpace, the big loser, suffered a 45% drop in popularity. Use dropped from 26.1% in 2009 to 14.4% in 2010.

To download a copy of the full report, go to: Free registration is required.

Resource of the Week – Free Nonprofit Webinars for June 2010

Wild Apricot, a Canadian based software development company has compiled a list of webinars on a number of nonprofit management topics being offered this month at no charge – useful for fundraisers, board members, administrators, active volunteers and volunteer coordinators. Go to:

Tech Tip of the Week -- Run PowerPoint 2007 Slide Show in a Window

Have you ever wanted to be able to run a PowerPoint slideshow in a window? There is a simple way to do this by adding a button to the Quick Access Toolbar. Here’s how:

• Click the Microsoft Office button
• Click the PowerPoint Options button at the bottom
• Click Customize in the left pane
• Under Choose commands from, select Commands Not in the Ribbon
• Scroll down and select Slide Show in a Window
• Click Add to add this button to the Quick Access Toolbar
• Click OK

To run a slideshow in a window simply click this button on the Quick Access Toolbar. Use cursor arrow keys to move between slides.