Saturday, December 14, 2013

Picks of the Week: December 8, 2013 - January 4, 2014

Website of the Week -- Nonprofits Talking Taxes
Nonprofits Talking Taxes is a resource website that features a workshop and curriculum designed help people have meaningful and fun conversations about nonprofits and the common good, and the role of fair and just tax policy in making our work more mission-effective. On this website you will find a number of tools to help you think more clearly and deeply about what taxes should be used for and why nonprofit leaders need to be a stronger voice for the “common good” and help staff, volunteers, and board members understand what the common good can mean for our communities.   Using these tools will help you and your group discover how engaging people in conversations about the common good may be one of the most powerful strategies we have to shape public policy which most promotes the public benefits that we believe in. To access the website and toolkit, go to:

Publication of the Week --  The Non-Profit Narrative: How Telling Stories Can Change the World by Dan Portnoy  and Brian Morykon
From the publisher: The Non-Profit Narrative is designed to help non-profits apply storytelling principles to their day-to-day operations and communications for maximum impact. Applying the idea that all organizations have great stories to tell, Dan Portnoy encourages non-profits to interpret fundraising and engagement through the perspective of storytelling. This proven process has helped non-profits raise millions of dollars, attract donors and make a profound impact for their cause.

Trend of the Week --  Government Contracting and Payment Practices: Lingering Problems for Nonprofits
Governments at all levels traditionally enter into agreements with nonprofit organizations to provide services to constituents. In 2011, one-third of revenue for 501(c)(3) public charities came from the government through formal contracts and grants (Pettijohn 2013a). Through a national survey of public charity nonprofits, The Urban Institute has assessed the size and scope of government financing, administration of contracts and grants, and nonprofit perceptions of problems and improvements in these processes. The Urban Institute also reports on the financial status of nonprofits at the end of the Great Recession. Key findings include:
  • Nearly half of organizations surveyed reported that they experienced limitations on the percentage of government funds that could be used for program and organization administration costs.
  • Approximately one-quarter of organizations with a contract indicated that they had to share in the cost of the contract and one-half of grantees said they had a matching requirement associated with a grant.
  • During the examined period, government agencies at all levels were cutting funding as a result of the weak economy. Nearly 40 percent of organizations reported a decline in local and state government funding, while almost 50 percent experienced a decrease in federal government funds.
  • With decreasing revenues, nonprofits had to make tough decisions to balance their budgets. More than 40 percent of respondents turned to their reserves to make ends meet and about 25 percent of nonprofits reduced the number of employees on their payroll. About 14 percent of organizations reduced the number of clients served and almost 11 percent cut programs.

Resource of the Week –  Harvard Business School Working Knowledge Newsletter
The Harvard Business School publishes HBS Working Knowledge, a weekly newsletter available at no charge. The newsletter offers information from the Harvard Business School to help you run your organization better, announcements of special programs offered by the School, the latest in management-related books and Web sites, and an ongoing provocative dialogue with Professor Jim Heskett. Articles specific to nonprofit organizations are frequently included. If you would like to receive this e-mail newsletter, go to: and click on the newsletter signup link. Once your subscription begins, be sure to click on "Social Enterprise & Nonprofit" in the left column for past articles on nonprofit topics.

Tech Tip of the Week -- Using the Data Analysis ToolPak in Excel 2007/2010

Most people are not aware of the Data Analysis ToolPak in Excel. This feature is disabled by default. To use the Data Analysis ToolPak you need to be familiar with Engineering and Statistical terminology. To enable it:
  • Click the File tab (2010) or Office Button (2007)
  • Click the Options button at the bottom of the menu
  • Click Add-Ins in the left pane
  • Click Go
  • Select Analysis ToolPak
  • Click OK

You can now access the ToolPak from the Data tab in the Analysis group.

Saturday, November 30, 2013

Picks of the Week: November 24 - December 7, 2013

Website of the Week -- Coalition for Evidence Based Policy
A nonprofit, nonpartisan organization, the Coalition seeks to increase government effectiveness through the use of rigorous evidence about what works. In the field of medicine, public policies based on scientifically-rigorous evidence have produced extraordinary advances in health over the past 50 years. By contrast, in most areas of social policy – such as education, poverty reduction, and crime prevention – government programs often are implemented with little regard to evidence, costing billions of dollars yet failing to address critical social problems. However, rigorous studies have identified a few highly-effective program models and strategies (“interventions”), suggesting that a concerted government effort to build the number of these proven interventions, and spur their widespread use, could bring rapid progress to social policy similar to that which transformed medicine. The Coalition advocates many types of research to identify the most promising social interventions. For more information, go to:

Publication of the Week --  7 Measures of Success: What Remarkable Associations Do That Others Don't by American Society of Association Executives

From the publisher: This update of ASAE's all-time bestseller retains the original book's focus on the disciplines that define remarkable associations and provides some insights on how those remarkable organizations fared in light of the economic challenges in the intervening years since the original publication was published. Based on 15 years of data and original, objective research tailored to the association community's needs, 7 Measures of Success provides empirical data and seven success factors common among visionary nonprofits.

Trend of the Week --  Foundation Support for Media

Foundation support for media is growing at nearly four times the rate of domestic giving in other areas, with $1.86 billion invested between 2009-2011, according to a the report, Growth in Foundation Support for Media in the United States, a collaboration among the Foundation Center, Media Impact Funders, and the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation. The report provides the most comprehensive view to date of philanthropy’s role in the media funding landscape. The report reveals that 1,012 foundations made 12,040 media-related grants totaling $1.86 billion from 2009-2011. Funding is examined across five areas — journalism, news, and information; media access and policy; media applications and tools; media platforms; and telecommunications infrastructure — uncovering insightful trends:

  • Foundations are increasingly focused on media funding: Media-related grantmaking grew at a higher rate than overall domestic grantmaking from 2009-2011 (21% increase vs. 5.8%, respectively).
  • Funders are reacting to the changing landscape of media in the digital age: New media investments (web-based and mobile) vastly outpaced that of traditional media (print, television, and radio), by a factor of four (116.5% vs. 29.4%).
  • Media-related funding is diverse: Four of the five major areas of media-related grantmaking experienced growth from 2009 to 2011. Media applications and tools led the way in growth (107.8%), while funding for telecommunications infrastructure experienced the only decrease (48.4%).
  • While funding for public broadcasting increased over time, it fell behind the increase in funding for media-related activities overall (17.6% vs. 21%, respectively).

The rise in media funding by foundations comes against the backdrop of drastic declines in revenue at traditional news outlets, declines that have raised questions about how communities will acquire the information that fuels civic life. To download the report, go to:

Resource of the Week –  Board Leader Succession Planning Resource

While much has been written about executive leadership succession in nonprofits, there are not as many resources available to help with board succession planning. The Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) has compiled some useful resources in the article “Succession Planning with Your Board”. There are links to a number of excellent worksheets and tools. Go to:

Tech Tip of the Week -- Using Section Breaks in a Word 2007/2010 Document

Section breaks are used to:

  • Change the layout from a single-column to two columns
  • Change the orientation from portrait to landscape
  • Separate chapters/sections of a document to control page numbering
  • Create a different header or footer for a section of your document

To insert a section break:

  • Click where you want to insert a Section Break or select a portion of the document around which to insert a pair of section breaks
  • Click the Page Layout tab on the Ribbon
  • In the Page Setup group, click Breaks

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Picks of the Week: November 17-23, 2013

Website of the Week -- FrameWorks Institute
The mission of the FrameWorks Institute is to advance the nonprofit sector's communications capacity by identifying, translating and modeling relevant scholarly research for framing the public discourse about social problems. FrameWorks designs, commissions, manages and publishes communications research to prepare nonprofit organizations to expand their constituency base, to build public will, and to further public understanding of specific social issues. In addition to working closely with social policy experts familiar with the specific issue, its work is informed by a team of communications scholars and practitioners who are convened to discuss the research problem, and to work together in outlining potential strategies for advancing remedial policies. FrameWorks also critiques, designs, conducts and evaluates communications campaigns on social issues. Its work is based on an approach called "strategic frame analysis," which has been developed in partnership with UCLA's Center for Communications and Community. Go to:

Publication of the Week --  The Nonprofit Policy Sampler, Third Edition by Barbara Lawrence and Outi Flynn
From the publisher: For nonprofit organizations, policies are tools for setting priorities, making decisions, and defining and delegating responsibilities. Too often, policies are created to ensure a bad decision made during a crisis is never repeated. But policy-making need not be reactive. Boards that practice proactive policy-making can save themselves a great deal of anguish in a crisis situation that demands an immediate response. The Nonprofit Policy Sampler is designed to help. This exhaustive resource provides key elements and practical tips for 70 policy topic areas, along with more than 300 sample policies, job descriptions, committee charters, codes of ethics, board member agreements, mission and vision statements, and more. Each topic includes a choice of sample documents so you can select an appropriate sample from which to start drafting or revising your own policy. All samples, which have been professionally and legally reviewed, are included in the accompanying downloadable content.

Trend of the Week --  Chief Financial Officer Study
This survey of 906 nonprofit finance professionals reveals some surprises about these crucial-but-often-overlooked staff, looking at questions ranging from educational backgrounds, workload, board and CEO understanding of finance, and CEO compensation. This study was conducted by CalNonprofits' CEO Jan Masaoka and Spectrum Nonprofit's Steve Zimmerman under the auspices of American Nonprofits with data analysis assistance from Kristen Wolslegel. More than 900 individuals responded to survey notifications through Blue Avocado and American Nonprofits.  For the report and key findings, go to:

Resource of the Week –  Learning Circle Basics
A Learning Circle is a series of discussions, demonstrations, reports on readings and presentations through which the members of the Learning Circle share their knowledge and experience, learn new information and apply and test new skills. Learning Circles can be a powerful tool for capacity building. This website covers the following topics: why use a learning circle; how do learning circles work; the schedule of learning circle meetings; types of learning circle meetings, roles in the learning circle meeting, and general tips. Go to:

Picks of the Week: November 10-16, 2013

Website of the Week -- Center for Collaborative Planning
The Center for Collaborative Planning (CCP) promotes health and social justice by providing training and technical assistance and by connecting people and resources. CCP supports diverse communities in key areas, such as: Asset-based Community Development (ABCD), Leadership Development, Working Collaboratively, Community Assessment and Strategic Planning. The site contains an extensive resource library organized into 14 categories. Go to:

Publication of the Week --  Guerrilla Marketing for Nonprofits by Jay Levinson 
From the publisher: The Father of Guerrilla Marketing, Jay Conrad Levinson delivers the first book to adapt the profit-producing principles of Guerrilla Marketing to the world of nonprofits. The nonprofit sector has increased by 65%--a flood of new organizations are vying for donations, competing for volunteers, and carving out their share of the marketplace. Joined by co-authors Frank Adkins and Chris Forbes, Levinson shows nonprofit marketers how to gain the competitive edge they need by replacing their lack of money with the power of time, energy, imagination, and information—allowing them to maximize their impact and raise more money! Armed with time-tested principles, 200 proven weapons of Guerrilla Marketing, and relevant tactics and tools, nonprofit marketers learn how to boost public awareness, increase effectiveness in recruiting volunteers, mobilize advocates, and raise more money—no matter the state of their finances.

Trend of the Week --  Latest US Foundation Trends
Even through a period of unpredictability in the national and global economic and political environment, domestic foundation giving has continued to grow at a moderate pace. According to Key Facts on U.S. Foundations, the Foundation Center's new annual research study, in 2011 the country's 81,777 foundations held $622 billion in assets and distributed $49 billion, an amount estimated to have reached $50.9 billion in 2012. The outlook for 2013 is for continued modest growth overall. Key Facts on U.S. Foundations is the primary publication in which the Foundation Center documents the overall size of the U.S. foundation community and provides perspective on the giving priorities of the nation's largest foundations. key findings in the report include:
  • Health and education are the top priorities of the country’s largest foundations, accounting for almost half of all grant dollars.
  • More than one third (35%) of all grant dollars awarded by the nation's largest foundations were specifically intended to benefit the economically disadvantaged.
  • In 2011, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation made the single largest grant: $967 million over five years to the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunization.

Resource of the Week –  Using Social Media Platforms to Amplify Public Health Messages
In partnership with Ogilvy PR, Alexandra Hughes of the Georgetown University's Center for Social Impact Communication researched and developed a white paper that examines how to leverage the opportunities social media provides by identifying tenets and best practices for public health-driven social media, as well as provides insights into how to reach and engage key consumer and provider audiences. Using Social Media Platforms to Amplify Public Health Messages was informed by a review of the publicly-available public health and social marketing literature, strategies and tactics employed by public health campaigns that have successfully utilized social media to affect audience attitudes, behaviors and/or awareness of an issue, and one-on-one interviews with public health, social marketing and social media subject-matter experts across the country. To download the resource, go to

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Picks of the Week: October 27 - November 9, 2013

Website of the Week -- Youth Service America
Youth Service America (YSA) improves communities by increasing the number and the diversity of young people, ages 5-25, serving in substantive roles. YSA fulfills its mission through four key strategies and program areas:

  • Large-scale public mobilization campaigns such as Global Youth Service Day, Semester of Service and Service Vote;
  • YSA Grants of more than $1 million annually, available to youth, schools & organizations around the world for youth-led service projects;
  • Resources and trainings that equip youth and adult mentors to lead high-quality, high-impact service and service-learning programs;
  • Recognition programs such as Everyday Young Heroes and the Harris Wofford Awards, which recognize exceptional youth and adult mentors who are champions of youth voice.

Publication of the Week --  Finding Allies, Building Alliances: 8 Elements that Bring and Keep People Together by Mike Leavitt and Rich McKeown

From the publisher: Your business challenges extend far beyond you and your firm, to the competitors within your industry and the regulators outside it. Finding solutions to larger issues requires cooperation between diverse stakeholders, and in this rapidly changing world, only those able to adapt and network successfully will produce fast, competitive solutions. How can leaders successfully bridge divides and turn competitors into collaborators? Leavitt and McKeown explain how a well-chosen network can become a powerful alliance. Whether you're launching a new partnership, or rehabilitating one already in progress, Finding Allies, Building Alliances will help you find workable solutions to the most complex problems.

  • Written by Mike Leavitt, former Governor of Utah who brought the 2002 Winter Olympics to Salt Lake City, former US Secretary of Health and human services, and former head of the EPA; with his former Chief of Staff and business partner Rich McKeown.
  • Includes a framework of 8 elements that will help any leader foster and maintain an effective, productive collaborative venture
  • Shows how better collaboration can not only solve problems, but boost the competitiveness and resilience in all sectors

Finding Allies, Building Alliances is essential reading for any business leader looking for transformative solutions and a sustainable future.

Trend of the Week --  Board Governance Trends

According to results from the eighth edition of Grant Thornton's National Board Governance Survey for Not-for-Profit Organizations, approximately half of respondents are confident with their programs and brand. The 2012 edition of the survey is based on responses received via an online questionnaire from 706 board members and senior management of higher education institutions; trade and professional associations; social and human service organizations; religious organizations; cultural organizations; health care organizations; and foundations. Not-for-profit organizations are emerging from the recent economic downturn stronger than ever. Over the past four years, significant numbers of not-for-profit organizations have implemented new strategic plans, restructured their organizations and made their programs more efficient as they weathered the difficult economy. According to the results from this survey, approximately half of respondents are confident with their programs and brand. Fewer still are convinced they have achieved the right expense structure or that revenue is being maximized. Confidence in staffing, structure and communication is even lower. There are a number of possible explanations for lagging confidence, including continued fallout from the nation’s financial meltdown, and recent staff reductions and structural changes that may need more time to settle in. In some organizations, further work is necessary to distinguish themselves in the new competitive landscape. To download a copy of the survey report, go to:

Resource of the Week –  Giving Circles

Giving circles are one of the fastest growing and most varied of giving models.  Giving circles can range from extremely informal settings such as four or five donors seated around a kitchen table deciding how to allocate their “coupon money” to extremely sophisticated, structured and formal programs. The concept behind giving circles, no matter what the composition or disposition, is that pooled giving has greater impact on making a difference in the community.  New Ventures in Philanthropy, a program of the Forum of Regional Associations of Grantmakers, has developed a comprehensive web site on initiating and managing a giving circle. For more information about giving circles, go to:

Tech Tip of the Week -- Automatically Tab from Cell to Cell In Excel 2007/2010

If you have a spreadsheet with several data input cells and would like to automatically jump from cell to cell using your tab key, you can use the Protect feature to accomplish this.  In a previous tip we explain how to Protect Cells in Excel 2007/2010. After you have:

  • Unlocked the cells that can be changed and
  • Protected the worksheet

You can simply use your tab key to automatically move from cell to cell.  This can greatly simplify some types of data input and you'll learn about worksheet protection in the process!

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Picks of the Week: October 20 - 26, 2013

Website of the Week -- The Goodman Center
The Goodman Center was launched in 1998 as a company with a singular mission: to help good causes reach more people with more impact. Over time, The Goodman Center became known for its workshops in storytelling, presenting, strategic communications and more. In 2008 The Goodman Center partnered with Lipman Hearne, one of the nation’s leading marketing and communications firms, to develop online versions of workshops and create a virtual school “where do-gooders learn to do better.” Today all of The Goodman Center activities are consolidated under one name and can be found on its website. Go to:

Publication of the Week --  Managing Leadership Transition for Nonprofits: Passing the Torch to Sustain Organizational Excellence by Barry Dym, Susan Egmont and Laura Watkins
From the publisher: For nonprofits leadership transitions are a time of exceptionally high risk. Here, three internationally-respected experts show how to systematically identify, introduce, support, and monitor leaders in ways that enhance rather than undermine their performance. They explain why leadership transitions are so challenging for nonprofits, and show how to replace chaos and crisis with proven, sustainable leadership transition plans. Writing for all nonprofit board members, leaders, aspiring leaders, and stakeholders, the authors demonstrate how to:

  • Maintain organizational momentum, continuity, and credibility through the transition
  • Find leaders who align well with your organizational values and its evolving culture
  • Avoid fighting, rumors, accusations, and the common mistakes that derail nonprofit leadership transitions
  • Build a sturdy bridge between departing and incoming leaders
  • Set appropriate expectations for both boards and leaders, and guide them to complement each other successfully
  • Plan succession and continuity for the long-term
  • Use transitions to advance the organization’s mission

Trend of the Week --  Donor Retention a Growing Problem for Small Organizations
From The Urban Institute, an examination of anonymous records of donations by 1.8 million people shows that many organizations that rely on public donations to achieve their missions experience very high turnover rates in their donor rolls. According to the survey of 2342 nonprofits, only 43% of donors who gave to an organization in 2009 gave to the same organization in 2010. This doesn't mean that donors stopped giving but that many of them gave to other organizations. This pattern leads to high costs of fundraising for some organizations. Other groups, though, see much higher rates of retention year after year, suggesting that it is possible for more organizations to trim costly acquisition campaigns and the loss of potential long-term supporters. Donor Retention Matters reports on some key findings from the Fundraising Effectiveness Project. Continuing research will explore in more detail the underlying trends and patterns that affect this measure of nonprofits' connections with the communities they serve. For more information, and to download the report, go to:

Resource of the Week –  Social Enterprise Alliance Toolkit
This guide is a toolkit for those involved in state policy, such as governors, legislators, legislative
aides, and state government officials, as well as advocates, nonprofit organizations, foundations, lobbyists, and others. It is designed to provide the best available and current information, including policy suggestions, successes to date, policy trends, and resources to anyone interested in promoting social innovation, social entrepreneurship, social enterprise, and cross-sector collaboration in their state. The guide will prove particularly useful for those who want to:
  • Propose or further develop state social innovation, social entrepreneurship, and social enterprise initiatives;
  • Encourage state agencies or entities to support and fund innovative social solutions, including social enterprise;
  • Remove barriers to social innovation, social entrepreneurship, and social enterprise; and/or
  • Simply learn more about social innovation, social entrepreneurship, social enterprise, and cross-sector collaboration.
This Social Enterprise Alliance toolkit was developed in collaboration with Root Cause. To download a copy of the toolkit, go to:

Tech Tip of the Week -- Run PowerPoint 2010 Slide Show in a Window
Have you ever wanted to be able to run a PowerPoint slideshow in a window?  This can be done by adding a button to the Quick Access Toolbar.  Here’s how:
  • Click the File tab on the Ribbon
  • Click the Options button at the bottom
  • Click Quick Access Toolbar 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