Sunday, January 4, 2009

Charitable Advisors and the Not-for-Profit News in the New Year!

Bryan Orander, President – Charitable Advisors and Not-for-Profit News (Jan 6 and 8, 2009)

We are excited about the possibilities that come with the dawning of a new year, yet cautious as we also face uncertainty – a key source of revenue, job advertising, is down by more than 50% from this time last year and we are hopeful that it will rebound in the months ahead.

New Opportunities and Needs

In recent articles, I have shared my perspective on what nonprofits can be doing to prepare and respond to current situations and we are constantly looking for trends where we can respond within our arena of service:
• Not-for-profits will have increasing needs to build their capacity and strengthen their organizations, but fewer dollars for consultants or outside assistance.
• Being connected and informed will become even more important to nonprofits and staff.
• More job seekers will be pursuing fewer full-time openings.
• More organizations will be considering part-time staffers and contractors in place of full-time.
• Many funders, associations, and nonprofit support organizations will be seeking ways to make their capacity-building funds go farther.

Our Response - Reviewing and Tweaking

Every year we review our work, look at the most recent reader and client surveys and match those to the current and emerging needs we perceive in the communities we support. We gauge this with the need to be financially self-supporting. Our approach has most recently been labeled a “Social-Purpose Business”.
• The newsletter format has been refreshed and rearranged. The ability to “Jump to” the segment of the news you want to read is more clearly emphasized.
• The weekly article has been moved to the top and linked to our blog to increase interaction.
• We will occasionally link to our newly created Discussion Board.
• All three of our websites are being rearranged and linked to each other.
• Dropping our Nonprofit Calendar – due to low traffic and other internet community calendars.

Bigger Responses/Changes

We can either downscale and conserve resources or jump in and build on our strengths to make a difference to our communities and, hopefully, repay the investments when the economy improves.

Not-for-Profit News Responses –

1) Seeking Collaboration or Merger Partners - We are combining the free Swap Meet and Volunteer Opps into a broader posting forum to include requests for agency partnerships. Not sure if you want the whole world to know? – we offer a blind e-mail address for a small fee.
2) We are adding a new section to the newsletter to allow part-time job seekers and contractors to post their skills and availability for a small fee. This will help organizations seeking niche personnel solutions to make a quick connection and, if successful, supplement our revenue.
3) We are researching the financial feasibility of “Job Board” software to allow job seekers to post their information and employers to post their full job descriptions and search resumes.
4) We are exploring partnerships to quickly build opt-in subscriber lists for the NFP News to launch editions for Southern Indiana and Northern Indiana this spring or early summer.

Strengths of Charitable Advisors consulting – we feel we have developed a good reputation for our work in Executive Transition, Succession Planning, and Capacity Building plus putting the interests of clients and communities above our own.

Our Responses –
1) We are translating more of our consulting services and expertise into “fixed-price engagements” and workshop formats.
2) We are assembling more “Do-it-yourself” capacity building tools to support organizations that cannot afford a consultant. More info below.

Strengths of training materials and on-line assessments – People regularly express their appreciation for how we put important information into short and understandable language. In the coming months we will surpass 25,000 of our “Too Rushed to Read” board booklets sold to nonprofits all across the country – probably in all 50 states. Since 2007, we’ve processed dozens of on-line Board Self-Assessments at 1/3 the cost of BoardSource.

Our Responses –
1) Executive Director/CEO Development Survey - In our trainings, we continue to find that less than half of the Executive Directors of smaller nonprofits receive any type of performance review or evaluation.
2) Strategic Planning Survey –Great for kicking off the New Year or preparing for a planning retreat or process. Two alternatives – 1) standard and 2) customer-defined questions.
3) Staff Survey –This survey focuses on the mission and how the work of the organization can be strengthened. Two alternatives – 1) standard and 2) customer-defined questions.

We are excited about these changes and hope you are as well. We welcome your feedback.

Bryan Orander, President
Charitable Advisors

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