Monday, July 25, 2011

Picks of the Week: July 24 - 30, 2011

Website of the Week – The Communications Network

Formed nearly 20 years ago as a membership association, the Communications Network today is a stand-alone nonprofit organization that promotes the use of consistent, strategic communications as an integral part of effective philanthropy. The Network connects communications professionals working in philanthropy and the nonprofit sector to each other for guidance and mentoring and regularly sponsors learning and networking opportunities through webinars and the annual conference. Today, the Network’s membership represents a wide range of foundation communications leaders and consultants who work to advance communications strategies and practices in all mediums. For more information, go to:

Publication of the Week -- Leap of Reason: Managing to Outcomes In an Era of Scarcity by Mario Morino

From the publisher: Leap of Reason is the product of decades of hard-won insights from philanthropist Mario Morino, McKinsey & Company, and top social-sector innovators. It is intended to spark the critically important conversations that every nonprofit board and leadership team should have in this new era of austerity. The authors make a convincing case that the nation’s growing fiscal crisis will force all of us in the social sector to be clearer about our aspirations, more intentional in defining our approaches, more rigorous in gauging our progress, more willing to admit mistakes, more capable of quickly adapting and improving—all with an unrelenting focus on improving lives.

Click to preview this book on

Trend of the Week – Use of Social Media by Foundation Communicators

93 percent of foundation communicators use social networks in their jobs, according to a new survey of the people who handle communications for 155 private and community foundations. As reported by the Chronicle of Philanthropy, forty-four percent of communications staff members said they spend up to 10 percent of their time “posting content, interacting with audiences through interactive media, adapting content, producing media, and developing new-media campaigns.” About 45 percent of foundation communication officials said they devoted 11 to 50 percent of their time to social media, and 3 percent said they spent more than half of their time on social media. The survey was conducted by the Communications Network, a group that represents grant makers. Other key findings include:

• Web sites and electronic communications accounted for 24 percent of the communications budgets of those surveyed, more than any other category.
• About 29 percent of foundation communications staffs said Twitter was the most effective social-media tool, followed by Facebook (27 percent) and YouTube (10 percent).
• About 18 percent said no social-media tool had been useful.
• Foundation officials believed that the best way to reach current grantees is through group e-mails or newsletters (78 percent), followed by a Web site or blog (77 percent), direct e-mail or phone calls (59 percent), or social media (53 percent).
• More than three-quarters of staff members (76 percent) said their organization was using online video.

To access the full report, go to: (large file).

Resource of the Week – Succession Planning for Nonprofits: Free Tools, Templates and Guides

The transition of a nonprofit’s executive director can have enormous impact on an organization’s sustainability. CompassPoint’s Executive Transitions Program has produced a number of free downloadable resources that will provide your organization some practical guidance to use in succession planning. To access templates, surveys, guides and checklists, 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, including 2007 and 2010!

Monday, July 18, 2011

Picks of the Week: July 17 - 23, 2011

Website of the Week – Brandeis University Civic Practices Network

The Civic Practices Network is a project led by Brandeis University's Center for Human Resources at the Heller School for Advanced Studies in Social Welfare. The project provides online information with case studies, stories, and other materials about civic education, responsible community action, and democratic policy-making. Go to:

Publication of the Week -- Coaching Skills for Nonprofit Managers and Leaders: Developing People to Achieve Your Mission by Judith Wilson and Michelle Gislason

From the publisher: Coaching Skills for Nonprofit Leaders offers practical steps for coaching leaders to greatness and complements the academic and theoretical work in nonprofit leadership theory. The book can be used by the coaching novice as a thorough topical overview or by those more experienced with coaching as a quick reference or refresher. Based on the Inquiry Based Coaching approach, Coaching Skills will strengthen and expand the reader's ability to drive organization mission, while retaining the intrinsic values of the nonprofit culture and working towards outcomes that create a culture of discipline and accountability and empower others to be even more responsible, accountable, and self-motivated. This book uses accessible language, examples, case studies, key questions, and exercises to help:

• Promote better relationships
• Know when to delegate, direct and coach.
• Balance directive and supportive styles of leadership for productive partnerships
• Overcome fears and deal head-on with difficult situations and conflict.
• Use coaching for performance improvement and on-the-job development.
• Support independent thinking and personal reflection
• Gain commitment and accountability from others and build teams

Click to preview this book on

Trend of the Week – Perceptions of Diversity in the Nonprofit Workforce

The Voice of Nonprofit Talent: Perceptions of Diversity in the Workplace is a new study produced by Commongood Careers and Level Playing Field Institute that focuses on ethnic and racial diversity in the nonprofit workplace. The study examines the repercussions of what happens when organizations do nothing to change this reality. Key findings include:

• While almost 9 out of 10 employees believe their organization values diversity, more than 7 out of 10 believe their employer does not do enough to create a diverse and inclusive work environment.
• Among employees who believe their employers value diversity, only one-fourth (25%) believe that their organization has actively demonstrated their commitment to creating a racially diverse environment. This disconnect was particularly evident among employees of color, who were more likely than were white employees to hold negative views of their organizations’ actions towards creating a racially diverse environment (25% compared to 16%).

Two common themes emerged from the responses of employees who believed their organizations were not doing enough to create racially diverse environments: (1) reliance on “empty talk” but not action, and (2) the lack of staff diversity itself. To download a copy of the report, go to: Also see commentary on the study by Rosetta Thurman at

Resource of the Week – Organizing Toolbox

The New Organizing Institute is offering their Organizing Toolbox online at no charge. The extensive collection of training materials, first written by Marshall Ganz of Harvard’s Leading Change Project, and refined by thousands of organizers in the field, provide the basic tools for effective organizing that can result in concrete change. Under each lesson you’ll find a video of a trainer leading that session, a participant guide to walk you through key teachings and small group practice sessions. If you want to train others you’ll also find the PowerPoint and trainer’s notes to help you out. Go to:

Tech Tip of the Week -- Add Text to Displayed Numbers in Excel 2007 or 2010

To add text to a number in a cell:

• Select the cells you want to add text to
• From the Home tab on the Ribbon, in the Cells group, click "Format"
• Select Format Cells from the drop-down menu
• Select Custom from the Category list
• In the Type box, select the default value General
• After the word General, enter a space and a quote, next enter the word you want to display and another quote. For example, General "Pounds" or "Inches"
• Click on OK

The format you create will put the word after any number you enter into the cell, but Excel will still treat the value as a number, not text.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Picks of the Week: July 10-16, 2011

Website of the Week – Sargent Shriver National Center on Poverty Law

The Shriver Center on Poverty Law develops its advocacy agenda in accordance with the needs of the low-income communities that it serves. Through policy, advocacy, and legal resources, the organization "identifies, develops, and supports creative and collaborative approaches to help achieve social and economic justice." The major clearinghouse on poverty law, the center's Web site provides access to an enormous collection of publications and case studies. The site also has information about advocacy, news, and an advanced search function. Go to:

Publication of the Week -- Market Rebels: How Activists Make or Break Radical Innovations by Hayagreeva Rao

From the publisher: Rao, professor of organizational behavior and human resources at Stanford University, explores the role of collective action in promoting or hindering business innovation. Drawing heavily on theories of social movements, the author posits a cycle of hot causes, unexpected events or innovations, and cool mobilization, activities that channel emotional responses into popular mass actions that anchor new identities embracing or rejecting the hot cause. Rao presents several case studies in which activist behavior either encouraged or impeded the creation and expansion of new markets, technologies or new organizational structures. For example, early 20th-century automobile enthusiasts were able to placate fears about car safety (the hot cause) by staging hundreds of reliability contests that demonstrated the car's safety and practicality to a wide audience (the cool mobilization). Though dryly written and repetitive, the case studies themselves are fascinating and challenge traditional economic models that privilege individual consumer choice while ignoring broader social mobilizations. A final chapter offers advice and strategies for would-be market rebels looking to harness collective action, making this book a useful resource for both citizen activists and corporate leaders and marketers seeking popular support for their products

Click to preview this book on

Trend of the Week – Involvement in Causes Can Trigger Individual Behavior Changes

Americans who donate, volunteer or otherwise support a cause may be looking to impact the world around them, but new research shows that they may find that the experience of being involved in a cause actually impacts their own behavior as well. According to new findings from the Dynamics of Cause Engagement study, conducted jointly by Georgetown University’s Center for Social Impact Communication and Ogilvy Public Relations Worldwide, more than half of Americans (52%) say they have changed their actions or behavior because of their involvement in a cause. The study examined trends in cause involvement among American adults age 18 and over, as well as the role of a variety of activities in fostering engagement with social issues. Nearly half of Americans (48%) report changing their voting behavior as a result of being involved in a cause, making it the most common type of behavior change. Changing recycling habits (40%), becoming more energy efficient (34%) and becoming more tolerant of differing opinions (25%) also neared the top of the list. Health-related behaviors, such as changing one’s physical activity (12%), visiting a medical professional (9%) or requesting a specific medical test or screen (8%), fall lower on the list. For more information, go to:

Resource of the Week –The Online Fundraiser's Checklist 2.0

Network for Good has put together a collection of 10 checklists that cover essential basics of online fundraising: your website home page, donation form, writing style, email lists, email campaigns, thank-you programs, and creating and marketing your next event. Check the boxes on these worksheets, and if you don’t score well, use the helpful (and free!) resources listed on the bottom of the page to improve your online fundraising practices. To download this resource, go to:

Tech Tip of the Week - Presenting with PowerPoint

Trying to improve your PowerPoint-driven presentations? Check out Presenting with PowerPoint: 10 dos and don'ts, published on the website. This article discusses the following tips for improving your presentations:

• Hold up your end with compelling material
• Keep it simple
• Minimize numbers in slides
• Don't parrot PowerPoint
• Time your remarks
• Give it a rest
• Use vibrant colors
• Import other images and graphics
• Distribute handouts at the end — not during the presentation
• Edit ruthlessly before presenting

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Picks of the Week: July 3-9, 2011

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 -- Enterprise 2.0: New Collaborative Tools for Your Organization's Toughest Challenges by Andrew McAfee

From the publisher: "Web 2.0" is the portion of the Internet that's interactively produced by many people; it includes Wikipedia, Facebook, Twitter, Delicious, and prediction markets. In just a few years, Web 2.0 communities have demonstrated astonishing levels of innovation, knowledge accumulation, collaboration, and collective intelligence. Now, leading organizations are bringing the Web's novel tools and philosophies inside, creating Enterprise 2.0. In this book, Andrew McAfee shows how they're doing this, and why it's benefiting them. Enterprise 2.0 makes clear that the new technologies are good for much more than just socializing-when properly applied, they help businesses solve pressing problems, capture dispersed and fast-changing knowledge, highlight and leverage expertise, generate and refine ideas, and harness the wisdom of crowds. Most organizations, however, don't find it easy or natural to use these new tools initially. McAfee brings together case studies and examples with key concepts from economics, sociology, computer science, consumer psychology, and management studies and presents them all in a clear, accessible, and entertaining style. Enterprise 2.0 is a must-have resource for all C-suite executives seeking to make technology decisions that are simultaneously powerful, popular, and pragmatic.

Click to preview this book on

Trend of the Week – Donor Preference Trends

An in-depth study commissioned by Russ Reid Company shows only a minority of religious donors support specifically religious work through non-profit organizations. The study also shows Black donors are twice as likely as White donors to support higher education. And the causes people choose to support are often quite dependent on their political views. These findings are from Heart of the Donor conducted by Grey Matter Research & Consulting of Phoenix, Arizona. The study explores how Americans interact with nonprofit organizations. “Donors” refers to people who had made a financial contribution to a nonprofit organization other than a church or place of worship in the 12 months prior to the study. Key findings include:

• One of the myths that proved to be untrue is that religious people only support specifically religious causes. Among donors who attend religious worship services on a regular basis, just 41% supported a cause they described as “religious,” other than any contributions they made to a place of worship. In fact, donors who attend religious services are more likely to have given toward disaster relief (68%), domestic hunger or poverty relief (66%), helping people with disabilities (56%), health care or medical research (54%), and veterans’ causes (52%) than they are to have supported specifically religious work.
• The study also demonstrates that there are substantial differences in the kinds of charitable work different types of donors support. Political liberals are more likely than conservatives to put their donor dollars toward animal welfare, the environment, human rights, education, cultural, and public policy causes, while political conservatives are more likely to give toward veterans and religious causes.
• Younger donors favor human rights, child development, childhood education, and cultural causes more than do older donors, while older donors are more likely than younger ones to support domestic hunger and poverty, religious, disabilities, and particularly veterans’ causes.

Additional detail and data can be found at

Resource of the Week – Daring to Lead 2011 — National Study on Executive Leadership

CompassPoint has just released Daring to Lead 2011–a national study of more than 3,000 nonprofit executives. Two out of three leaders anticipate leaving within 5 years, though some have delayed transition because of the recession. Indeed the recession has raised executive anxiety levels and forced one in four leaders to shrink their organizations. To download the complete report and access an interactive website where you can search all of the findings on compensation, turnover, and more, go to:

Tech Tip of the Week -- AutoFill with Week Days

Hopefully you are already familiar with the Excel AutoFill feature for filling ranges with the months or days of the week. But what if you need to fill an Excel range with just weekdays? Here’s how:

• Enter the starting day into a cell
• Place the pointer over the lower right corner of the cell until you see the copy/fill handle (a thin black plus)
• Right click the handle and drag to select the range you want to fill with weekdays
• When you let up on the mouse button a menu will appear
• Select Fill Weekdays

This tip works in Excel 2007 and 2010, as well as earlier versions.