Monday, February 27, 2012

Picks of the Week: February 26 - March 3, 2012

Website of the Week -- National Council of Nonprofits

The National Council of Nonprofits, the nation’s largest nonprofit network, works through its member State Associations to amplify the voices of America’s local community-based nonprofit organizations, help them engage in critical policy issues affecting the sector, manage and lead more effectively, collaborate and exchange solutions, and achieve greater impact in their communities. The NCNA website housed one of the most extensive collections of resources for nonprofits of all types. To access this collection, click on "resources" on the opening webpage. If your nonprofit is not already a member of a state council affiliated with the National Council of Nonprofits, it's time to consider joining. For membership information and much more, go to:

Publication of the Week -- Smart Stewardship for Nonprofits: Making the Right Decision in Good Times and Bad by Peter C. Brinckerhoff

From the publisher: A practical guide to effective decision-making frameworks and tools for nonprofits that ensure successful stewardship. The basic tenets of decision making for nonprofits are similar, whether you're growing, shrinking, or trying to think your way out of a box. Smart Stewardship for Nonprofits provides the tools to make the best stewardship decisions in these varied, but common, situations. Coverage includes the keys to smart stewardship for your nonprofit, the smart stewardship decision tree, understanding capability and capacity, making innovation the norm, understanding the true cost of growth, going to scale, and smart stewardship in bad times.

• Features tools to make the best stewardship decisions in every kind of situation
• Written for executive directors of nonprofit organizations, nonprofit board members, CPAs, and other financial counsel for nonprofits, development directors
• Provides a website hosting a variety of online tools and materials
• Also by Peter Brinckerhoff: Mission-Based Marketing, Mission-Based Management, Social Entrepreneurship, and Faith-Based Management

With innovative organizational change initiatives to foster new growth and effectiveness, Smart Stewardship for Nonprofits offers your nonprofit the critical guidance it needs to get there.

Click to preview this book on

Trend of the Week – Consumer Attitudes Around Social Purpose

The GoodPurpose study is an annual global research published by Edelman, the world’s largest independent public relations firm. The study explores consumer attitudes around social purpose, including their commitment to specific social issues and their expectations of brands and corporations. The survey was conducted in 13 countries among more than 7,000 adults. It is the only global study of its kind. According to the latest study results, while consumers in emerging markets now outrank their peers on several measures of commitment to social purpose, citizens around the world maintain a high level of interest and engagement in cause. For the fourth year running, in all European and North American countries surveyed, purpose is more important than design/innovation or brand loyalty as a purchase trigger. when quality and price are the same. Despite the prolonged recession, two-thirds (66 percent) of global consumers report that they are likely to buy and recommend products and services from companies that support a good cause. Additional Key Findings Include:

• Sixty-nine percent of consumers globally believe corporations are in a uniquely powerful position to make a positive impact on good causes—as high as 80 percent in the U.S. and 82 percent in Mexico.
• Nearly two-thirds of global respondents (64 percent) believe it is no longer enough for corporations to give money; they must integrate good causes into their everyday business
• Seventy percent of global consumers say that a company with fair prices that gives back is more likely to get their business than a company that offers deep discounts and doesn’t give back.
• Globally, food and beverage tops the list of industries considered the most involved in good causes, virtually tied with media and healthcare providers.
• “Protecting the environment” ranks as the no. 1 cause that global consumers care about, followed by “improving the quality of healthcare”.
• Globally, 71 percent of consumers believe that projects that protect and sustain the environment can help grow the economy—with even higher numbers for China, Mexico, India, Brazil, and the U.S (87, 81, 81, 79, and 75 percent, respectively

To access the study report, go to:

Resource of the Week -- Beckner Research Digests

The University of Wisconsin Center for Nonprofits has published a new series of online resources that bridge the gap between scholarly research and the real world of community organizations. The Beckner Research Digests synthesize research on topics useful to nonprofit organizations, public agencies, and other organizations. The first round of 10 Digests present research conducted by faculty in different disciplines across UW-Madison—for example, Principles for Effective Family and Youth Prevention Programs by Stephen Small, professor of human development and family studies; Talking About Race by Katherine Cramer Walsh, associate professor of political science; A New Approach to Labor – Environment Coalitions by Laura Senier, assistant professor of community and environmental sociology, and Social Support for Academic Success of African American Boys by Jeffrey Lewis, UW-Extension, and Amy Hilgendorf, Kansas State University. One Digest, Tips on Building a Broad Base of Engaged and Empowered Volunteers, features Christens’ own research. He describes key implications for community organizations from the findings he recently published in several journal articles on community participation and psychological empowerment. Dr. Christens developed the Digests concept in collaboration with Jeanan Yasiri, executive director of the Center for Nonprofits. The Beckner Research Digests are available online at the UW Center for Nonprofits website at

Tech Tip of the Week -- Calculate the Days, Months or Years between Dates in Excel

Use the DatedIf function to calculate the interval between dates in Excel. Here's how:

• Enter the function into a cell

=DATEDIF ( start_date , end_date, unit )

• For example, to calculate the number of months between two dates, if the start date is in cell D2 and the end date is in cell E2 you could enter this formula into cell F2:

To learn more about this function, go to to the Microsoft website or watch a YouTube video. This tip works in Excel 2007 and 2010, as well as earlier versions.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Picks of the Week: February 19 - 25, 2012

Website of the Week -- Data Without Borders

Data Without Borders seeks to match non-profits in need of data analysis with freelance and pro bono data scientists who can work to help them with data collection, analysis, visualization, or decision support. Big companies like Google and Amazon recognize the importance of dedicated data science teams and can support fulltime analysts, but non-profits, though they may have rich and interesting datasets, don’t have the resources to capitalize on their data or may not even know the value of the data they already collect. Data Without Borders aims to close that gap through a data scientist exchange, bringing exciting new problems to the data community and helping to solve social, environmental, and community problems alongside nonprofits and NGOs. If you’re a non-profit who could use some data analysis or a data junkie who wants to pitch in and help, Data Without Borders encourages you to make contact. Go to:

Publication of the Week -- Before Onboarding: How to Integrate New Leaders for Quick and Sustained Results by Michael K. Burroughs

From the publisher: Recent studies show that the attrition rates for outside hired executives is high. Some say between 30 and 50%, and many of these failures will occur within the first two years. The statistics are not much better for internally promoted leaders. The first 90 days of a new leader's tenure will often determine ultimate success or failure. Onboarding programs are prolific and helpful, but they are not designed to prepare new leaders to secure early successes while avoiding costly mistakes. Something else has to be done to reduce this alarming attrition rate. The author is a veteran executive recruiter and coach. He has placed leaders from CEO to director level in the US, Asia and Europe. While an organization development executive in the Fortune 500, he developed and refined a New Leader Integration "pre-boarding" process that significantly compresses the time it takes for new leaders to be effective. The new leader arrives on the first day with a "blueprint for success" in hand and has been thoroughly briefed regarding the expectations of the boss, peers and direct reports. The outcome is a new leader who gets the right results quickly and sustains them over the long term. This book provides a template that clearly defines how to implement a New leader Integration program in a variety of organizations. The process is appropriate for leaders at all levels.

Click to preview this book on

Trend of the Week – Engagement Levels of Nonprofit Employees is Dangerously Low

Opportunity Knocks (OK) has released their a report, Engaging the Nonprofit Workforce: Mission, Management and Emotion, and it indicates that the current engagement level of nonprofit employees is dangerously low. According to OK, "55% of respondents plan to continue working for their current employer. Of those planning on leaving their current organization (45%), more than half plan on leaving within the next two years." OK does not consider these low percentages to be surprising. According to their report, nearly half of the respondents of their survey felt that "fulfilling all of their job responsibilities did not improve their chances of being promoted and only one third are satisfied with their pay level." The goal of their report is to better understand the ways in which nonprofit employees are engaged and the impact of employee engagement and disengagement upon employees, nonprofit organizations and communities. To access the complete report, go to:

Resource of the Week – Building Future Leaders" Diagnostic Survey

According to a Bridgespan Group survey of more than 150 nonprofit leadership teams, leadership development and succession planning for senior leader positions is the single greatest organizational weakness nonprofits face. To help address this challenge, Bridgespan has developed a free diagnostic survey to help leaders understand where their organizations are strong – and what can be improved. You can take the survey, see how your organization compares to others, and jumpstart your thinking on what successful leadership development could look like in your organization. Go to:

Tech Tip of the Week -- Quickly Change Font Size in Word

To quickly increase or decrease the font size of selected text by 1 point, do this:

• Select Text
• Ctrl + ] to increase by 1 point
• Ctrl + [ to decrease by 1 point

This trick seems to works in all versions, including 2007 and 2010.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Picks of the Week: February 12 - 18, 2012

Website of the Week -- WhatWorks

The mission of WhatWorks is to guide philanthropy, nonprofits, and communities to higher results, moving the needle on social issues. WhatWorks operates as a network of nonprofit organizations, grant-makers, researchers, and consultants who are interested in investing in what works to achieve what matters. Available resources include: Access to a variety of online resources such as Outcomes Portal, Archived Webcasts, Case Studies, Best Practices, Articles; quarterly Learn What Works e-Newsletter; information about new ways to define, track, achieve, improve, communicate and manage to higher results; webinars and conferences; and much more. Go to: Becoming a member of The Center for What Works is currently free and open to individuals as well as organizations. For more information, go to:

Publication of the Week -- Forging Nonprofit Alliances: A Comprehensive Guide to Enhancing Your Mission Through Joint Ventures & Partnerships, Management Service Organizations by Jane Arsenault

From the publisher: One of the first books published on the subject and it remains among the best. In Forging Nonprofit Alliances, Jane Arsenault draws on her years of experience helping nonprofits join forces to show how nonprofits can use consolidation as a strategic tool to enhance rather than undermine mission. By forging alliances, nonprofits of all sizes can ensure the survival of key programs that may be threatened by shifts in funding and can attain necessary resources to pursue new opportunities. In addition, strategic alliances offer the potential to expand the reach and impact of organizations that already have substantial resources. Whether your nonprofit is ready to embark on an alliance, is considering the possibility, or is trying to evaluate your options, this practical, detailed guide gives you the tools needed to understand and simplify this often contentious and intimidating process-and the means to work through it step by step. In this comprehensive guide to enhancing mission, Arsenault explores the various options for consolidation-including joint ventures and partnerships, management service organizations, parent corporations, and mergers. She also details the negotiation process and demonstrates how to design and frame the consolidation process in a positive and constructive way for staff, donors, and constituents. Written for nonprofit managers and boards, Forging Nonprofit Alliances determines which options are right for an organization and clearly defines the roles and responsibilities of all members of nonprofit board and staff in planning and implementing an alliance. Arsenault's practical advice, along with worksheets, examples, and sample documents, makes Forging Nonprofit Alliances an invaluable hands-on guide to one of the most difficult challenges facing nonprofits today.

Click to preview this book on

Trend of the Week – State of the Nonprofit Industry

Blackbaud has conducted its State of the Nonprofit Industry survey annually for seven of the past eight years. The study asked nonprofit leaders to report on some of the management strategies they’re using, and the degree to which they anticipate changes in their organizations this year and next. According to the latest survey, although the global economic climate remains uncertain, there is once again a growing sense of optimism in the nonprofit sector regarding growth in staffing and earned and charitable income, especially when looking forward to 2012. At the same time, organizations anticipate an increased demand for services and increased expenditures. The majority of organizations expect to see an increased demand for their services in 2011 and 2012, similar to last year’s study. To meet the projected increase in demand for services, organizations are primarily anticipating either constant or growing staffing levels in 2011 and are slightly more optimistic about increased staffing in 2012. The percentage expecting overall staffing increases coincides with the percentage expecting fundraising staff growth. Similar to overall staffing, organizations expect to maintain or increase fundraising staffing levels in 2011 and 2012. For almost all countries, the percentage expecting fundraising staffing to increase is higher in 2012 than 2011. This reconfirms the finding from last year’s survey that fundraising is emerging as a widely-recognized profession around the globe. It is clear that fundraising is no longer someone’s “part-time” responsibility. For more information, go to:

Resource of the Week – Sample Personnel Policies

The Minnesota Council of Nonprofits website includes resources and templates, including sample personnel policies. Go to:

Tech Tip of the Week -- Choosing Between Excel and Access for your Database

A question I hear frequently is how to choose between Excel or Access for a database. The following resources should help you answer this important question:

• Microsoft has a free online tutorial Choose between Access and Excel that will help you understand the terminology and make this decision by asking the right questions up front.
Using Access or Excel to manage your data compares the benefits of each program, discusses when to use Access, when to use Excel, and when to use Access and Excel together, also on
• Another Microsoft article Top 10 reasons to use Access with Excel demonstrates how often the best solution is to use the 2 programs together.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Picks of the Week: February 5 - 11, 2012

Website of the Week -- Best Practices Library for Nonprofits

The Best Practices Library for Nonprofits is housed at the University of San Diego's Institute for Nonprofit Education and Research. The Best Practice Library consists of applied projects that were completed by students in the masters program for, and in collaboration with, a variety of nonprofit organizations. As of June 2011, over 600 projects have been completed for 260 nonprofit organizations. The online library is expected to continue to grow as students create or revise corporate by-laws, personnel policies, volunteer manuals, board manuals, fundraising plans, financial management systems plans and information technology plans. Go to:

Publication of the Week -- Evaluation Techniques for Difficult to Measure Programs: For Education, Nonprofit, Grant Funded, Business and Human Service Programs by Javan B. Ridge

From the publisher: Evaluation Techniques for Difficult to Measure Programs demonstrates the weaknesses of poorly crafted outcome measures and provides the reader with techniques to strengthen programs and provide clients with the quality services they deserve. Programs with difficult to measure outcomes provide inviting environments for weak evaluations and this book illustrates why typical evaluation methods result in less than stellar results. Examples from difficult to measure programs are used to present techniques that can make any evaluation more rigorous. This book will guide the reader in overcoming inappropriate measures, false perceptions and misconceptions that plague many evaluations. This book provides a new perspective on program evaluation that engages difficult to measure programs, and the aspects of developing an evaluation plan that usually result in a less than stellar result. Agencies settle for “Good enough” because people are not knowledge able enough of evaluation processes to develop something that is more robust. Unfortunately, it is easy to sell a weak evaluation to people who do not know the difference. This modern day Emperor’s New Clothes behavior does little to strengthen the program.

Click to preview this book on

Trend of the Week – Poverty Spike Very Likely to Worsen

Between 2006 and 2010, poverty increased by 27 percent to include 47.2 million Americans—or 15 percent of the U.S. population. Now, a study released on Wednesday by Indiana University predicts that poverty will continue to worsen in the wake of the recession. The report is based on 2010 poverty statistics, but a combination of factors led the authors to this conclusion. The United States now has the largest number of unemployed people since records started being kept in 1948, and four million of these Americans report being out of work for more than a year. The longer they are out of work, of course, the harder it will be for them to re-enter the workforce. If unemployment insurance benefits are cut before new jobs appear in the market, the numbers of “new poor” will likely swell accordingly. Key findings include:

• The Great Recession has left behind the largest number of long-term unemployed people since records were first kept in 1948.
• Large numbers of Americans are already poor. The official federal measure of poverty and a new “Supplemental Measure,” which accounts for several shortcomings in the official measure, both reveal a sobering fact: poverty in America is remarkably widespread. In 2010, about 46.2 million Americans were living in poverty according to the official measure, or about 15.1% of the U.S. population.
• The adverse effects of the Great Recession would have been much worse had recent policy initiatives not been enacted by Congress.
• The Federal government’s large yearly deficits are creating pressures for spending control that are likely to result in cutbacks of the safety net.
• Due to fiscal pressures, states are already making cuts to the safety net, and more are likely in the next several years.

To download a copy of the report, go to:

Resource of the Week – CompassPoints of View! Blog

Compasspoint Nonprofit Services has just launched a new blog CompassPoints of View! Through this blog, CompassPoint staff will share reflections on the sector, learnings from client work, and big ideas on nonprofit management, leadership, and strategy. The intent is to thoughtfully explore critical nonprofit topics and bring in the voices and perspectives of staff experts, partners in capacity-building work, and clients to help link leaders and fields, influence the sector dialogue, and guide nonprofits to become better managed, more adaptive, and achieve higher impact. Go to:

Tech Tip of the Week -- Using VLOOKUP in Excel

VLOOKUP is a powerful Excel function which allows you to look up a value in an Excel list or table. For example, you could use this function to look up grades based on a percentage value. To learn more about this function, check out the free online training from Microsoft VLOOKUP: What it is, and when to use it.