Thursday, June 20, 2013

Picks of the Week: June 9 - 22, 2013

Website of the Week --  Marguerite Casey Foundation
Marguerite Casey Foundation is dedicated to creating a movement of working families advocating on their own behalf for change. The work of the Foundation is guided by the firm belief that significant positive change is not only possible, but absolutely necessary. Within this framework, the Marguerite Casey Foundation seeks to do the following:
  • Support and nurture strong, vibrant activism within and among families, enabling them to advocate for their own interests and improve the public and private systems that impact their lives.
  • Examine, change and inform the advancement of social and economic policies and practices that promote the development of strong families and strong communities.
  • Encourage the development of a coherent knowledge base for advocates, families and the organizations that serve them.
  • Invest in system change and cross-system change in order to generate greater knowledge and provide effective working models for practice.
Go to:

Publication of the Week -- You and Your Nonprofit Board: Advice and Practical Tips from the Field's Top Practitioners, Researchers, and Provocateurs edited by Terrie Temkin
From the publisher: Terrie Temkin guides a star-studded cast of collaborators in creating a board volume that delivers the wisdom of the nonprofit world's leading practitioners, researchers, and provocateurs. This easily-digestible book is a must for board directors and anyone who is interested in effective nonprofit leadership. The focused, short-essay format makes it easy for the reader to absorb the authors' thinking on a variety of topics: some traditional—such as board member roles and responsibilities, recruitment, meeting management, and evaluation—and others not so much. For instance, you'll find articles on coaching for directors, the value of conversation, and several new structures for governance.  YOU and Your Nonprofit Board: Advice and Practical Tips from the Field’s Top Practitioners, Researchers, and Provocateurs is a book of how, not what. Eschewing a single perspective of governance, it is suggestive, not prescriptive. And it invites you to be part of the dialogue. It is the first governance book of its kind to:
  • Reexamine nonprofit governance at its essence
  • Challenge dogma about the board versus chief executive roles
  • Let YOU decide if you still agree with the old thinking on governance
  • Take aim at myths about governance that hold organizations back
  • Provide practical, in-the-trenches advice and tips you can use NOW
Whether you are new to the field or have been immersed in it for years, you will find new ideas to help you navigate today's fast-paced, information-saturated reality in which wise practice is rapidly evolving.

Click to preview this book on

Trend of the Week --  Over Emphasis on Overhead Costs Shown to Impede Potential of Global NGOs
Over the past quarter century, nongovernmental organizations have become increasingly essential players in solving global problems. However a fixation on restraining overhead is a funding trend that is affecting NGOs’ ability to solve global problems according to a new Bridgespan study. Generous private funders have fueled the spectacular  growth of global NGOs in recent years. But the money comes with strings that thwart these organizations’ ability to create the platforms for scale needed to solve global problems. This fixation on restraining overhead stems from recent funding trends:
  • Since the mid-1990s, governments, foundations, and high-net-worth individuals have dramatically increased global NGOs’ financial support but restricted this funding primarily to specific programs and projects, shrinking unrestricted funding that supports the organization as a whole.
  • Because they typically view overhead as money poorly spent, funders generally set—or expect—strict limits on how much can be allocated for this purpose.
  • Program- and project-based funding has spawned a patchwork of short-term engagements across countries and continents as NGOs chase donor dollars. This fragmentation further serves to divert attention from investing in essential administrative functions that would improve overall performance.
To download the study, go to:

Resource of the Week –  Operating Reserves Toolkit for Nonprofit Organizations
The Operating Reserves Toolkit for Nonprofit Organizations is a new resource to help nonprofits through the process of building a reserve policy. The toolkit is the result of a rigorous, multi-year research, writing and review process by the Nonprofit Operating Reserves Initiative Workgroup. In 2009, the workgroup – led by the Urban Institute’s National Center for Charitable Statistics and the United Way Worldwide – produced a whitepaper that called for organizations to make maintaining an adequate level of operating reserves their top priority. Go to:

Tech Tip of the Week -- Using Date Functions in Excel 2007/2010
There are many ways to use the Date functions in Excel.  Previous Tech Tips have included:  Calculate a Person's Age in Excel; Calculate Remaining Days in the Year; and Calculate the Days, Months or Years between Dates in Excel.

A lesser known date function is NETWORKDAYS, which returns the number of work days between two dates. For example:
The format for this function is: NETWORKDAYS(start_date,end_date,[holidays]).  Holidays is optional.

The following tutorials can help you learn to use of the Date functions in Excel:
Excel 2007 / 2010 Date Functions: Working with Dates in Excel from
Microsoft Excel 2007 to 2010: The Date Function in Excel from

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Picks of the Week: June 2 - 8, 2013

Website of the Week -- provides free access to a suite of materials, including articles, speeches, videos, guides, and other tools, which build on and augment Leap of Reason: Managing to Outcomes in an Era of Scarcity, a book written by Venture Philanthropy Partners Chairman Mario Morino in partnership with McKinsey & Company and a dozen other social-sector experts and practitioners. You can also download David Hunter’s new book, Working Hard—and Working Well. The website is created and hosted by Venture Philanthropy Partners (VPP), a philanthropic investment organization that helps leaders build strong, high-performing nonprofit institutions. Go to:

Publication of the Week -- Handbook of Practical Program Evaluation by Joseph S. Wholey, Harry P. Hatry and Kathryn E. Newcomer
From the publisher: The third edition of Handbook of Practical Program Evaluation offers managers, analysts, consultants, and educators in government, nonprofit, and private institutions a valuable resource that outlines efficient and economical methods for assessing program results and identifying ways to improve program performance. This latest edition has been thoroughly revised. It reflects the evolving nature of the field, while maintaining its value as a guide to the foundational skills needed for evaluation Many new chapters have been prepared for this edition, including chapters on logic modeling and on evaluation applications for small nonprofit organizations. The Handbook of Practical Program Evaluation is a comprehensive resource on evaluation, covering both in-depth program evaluations and performance monitoring.  It presents evaluation methods that will be useful at all levels of government and in nonprofit organizations.

Click to preview this book on

Trend of the Week -- Program-Related Investing Trends
Program-related investments (PRIs) are gaining attention from foundations for their potential to meet charitable purposes while generating financial returns, but their use remains limited, a new study by the Indiana University Lilly Family School of Philanthropy finds. The report, which was sponsored by Mission Throttle, analyzes key trends in foundations’ use of program-related investing between 2000 and 2010. Key findings include:
  • Housing, community development and education were the program areas that received both the highest total dollar amounts and the largest number of PRIs made by foundations between 2000 and 2010. Non-traditional program areas such as environment, health and arts and culture were also likely to receive PRI support during that period.
  • More than half of all PRIs were loans, but foundations have increased the use of equity investments and debt other than loans, such as loan guarantees or loan funds.
  • Measuring success is challenging. Foundations generally define success in two ways—programmatic or social success and financial or investment success—and some deem a PRI successful even if it did not produce a positive financial return on the investment so long as it produced the desired social outcome. Achieving success requires planning, new team structures, traditional financial investment skills and social metrics.
The full report, Leveraging the Power of Foundations: An Analysis of Program-Related Investments, and an executive summary are available on the Lilly Family School of Philanthropy website at

Resource of the Week –  Ten Nonprofit Funding Models
While the “for profit” world has many universally known business models, the nonprofit arena is lacking common plans.  In this study, Landes-Foster, Kim and Christiansen take a look at developing a series of ten funding models based on research of 144 large nonprofits with significant growth year over year.  The intent was not to help choose which model each organization should use, but to inform and educate. They discuss the important distinction between business models and funding models and posit that while business models are generally developed and understood, especially by the for-profit sector, funding models have never been clearly articulated. By using these three parameters: source of funds, type of decision makers and the motivation of the decision makers, the authors came up with ten funding models grouped into categories defined by dominant type of funder (single funder, many individuals, government, corporations and a mix).  They include a few questions with each model to help determine which is the best fit for an organization. Go to:

Tech Tip of the Week -- Keep a file on the Office 2007/2010 Recent Documents List
An excellent new feature in Office 2007/2010 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:
  • In 2007 click the Microsoft Office button  or in 2010 click the File Tab and then click Recent
  • 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