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.

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