Tuesday, May 31, 2011

What's the Trend - Can We Govern Without Knowing?

One of my foundation clients contracted with a well-known national nonprofit to work with a number of their grantees last year to review their financial situations and provide the leadership of each organization with some insights into their efforts.

The smaller organizations, in particular, found the most benefit from consultant's approach of showing five years of information for all of the expenses and revenues, in various types of groupings. They could see where they were consistently strong or consistently weak and what impact various changes in people, programs, or the economy had on their work.

From my experience, too few nonprofits look at their work through the lens of multiple year trends, in finances or anything else. I hear common concerns of our nonprofit boards micro-managing or making important decisions without key information or not being strategic in their thinking.

It would seem ideal to spend more time in board meetings looking at trending information and less at isolated snapshots of how much money we have in the bank today or how many clients we served this month. I find that using trend data pushes the dialogue to a higher, more strategic perspective - just what we want for most of our boards.

Does your organization look at trends or settle for snapshots of today? If you use trend data, tell us how you use it and offer your thoughts on how other organizations can improve their own efforts with this strategy.


Tuesday, May 24, 2011

10 Nonprofits That Act Like For-Profits

BOSTON (TheStreet) -- The line between for-profit companies and nonprofit charities continues to blur. The organizational creep of nonprofits into areas that seem more in keeping with the for-profit world is nothing new. In an effort to boost their bottom line, many charities have branched out into other investments -- real estate holdings, property management, paid endorsements and retail sales among them. And the organizational structure of some nonprofits has evolved in new directions.

In 2007, Google(GOOG) launched Google.org, an effort defined as a for-profit charity. Seeded with 3 million shares of company stock, it has primarily funded alternative-energy projects. Other nonprofits are looking closer at "hybrid" models to combine profit-driven strategies with charity-minded outcomes.

"For many years nonprofits have often used for-profit subsidiaries or a fee-for-service approach," says Ken Berger, president and CEO of Charity Navigator, a service that evaluates the financial health of more than 5,500 American charities. "In fact, the biggest piece of income for nonprofits is not individual contributions or government money -- it comes from fee-for-service income. This notion of hybrid, or the 'for-profit nonprofit,' is nothing new at all."

The impact of "this notion that for-profits have a social mission, the notion of doing well while you do good," remain to be seen, says Ken Berger, president and CEO of Charity Navigator, a service that evaluates the financial health of more than 5,500 American charities.

Berger laments the fact that some nonprofits are formed with charity as a secondary intent. "There are occasions where businesses consciously choose to be a nonprofit because it gives them a strategic advantage over for-profit competitors," he says. "They get a tax exemption and therefore they get a leg up. We are clocking in now at about 2 million nonprofits, the largest nonprofit sector in the history of the world. For the past 20 years, we had more nonprofits formed than in the whole 200 years before that. Even in a down economy it is still explosive."

The nonprofits cited as working more like businesses include: 

-The College Board
-Mozilla Foundation
-The National Geographic Society
-American Cancer Society and Susan G. Komen for the Cure
-The PGA Tour
-Corporation for Public Broadcasting
-Higher Ed such as Harvard, Columbia, and Yale
-Hospitals and Blue Cross/Blue Shield

Read the full article at: http://www.thestreet.com/print/story/11121065.html

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Does ‘One Size Fit All’ in Interacting with our Supporters?

I had a conversation with a commercial banker last week who shared how his bank is trying to adapt their paradigm of customer relationships. Traditionally, bankers view spending more face to face time with a client, and in their workplace, as something special that shows how much the bank values the client relationship. Increasingly, customers are rejecting these offers of banker’s time and insight. Customers just want to know what is needed and to have their questions answered – some even requesting it by text. This puts the bank and banker in the new and difficult position of determining how to differentiate themselves and create or maintain a customer relationship with limited face to face interaction.

What might this type of thinking mean to your nonprofit? One thought is to find a way to let your supporters tell you how they want to interact. Most smaller nonprofits haven’t gotten to the point of doing much relational fund raising - so don't use this thinking to avoid relational fund raising, but to be more strategic is determining how you make it matter.

One resource to get you thinking might be the virtual 2011 Millennial Donor Summit, a national event co-hosted by Indy-area fund development firms Achieve and Johnson Grossnickle. http://expos2stage.com/demo/mds11/index.php

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

2011 Indiana Achievement Awards - A CALL FOR NOMINATIONS

The IUPUI Solution Center is honored to host the Indiana Achievement Awards (IAA), recognizing and rewarding Indiana's nonprofits for exemplary practices and demonstrated effectiveness. You are invited to nominate an outstanding Indiana nonprofit for a 2011 Indiana Achievement Award.

IAA Winners will be recognized at a celebratory luncheon held as the crowning event of the Indiana Nonprofit Capacity Building Conference on Wednesday, September 28, 2011, at the IUPUI Campus Center in Indianapolis. IAA Winners will each receive a cash award, statewide recognition, and a
professionally produced organizational video.

The Michael A. Carroll Award will also be presented during the luncheon, by the Indianapolis Business Journal to a nominee who demonstrates determination, humility, and devotion to the Indianapolis community. For more information visit Michael A. Carroll Award.

To begin your nomination IAA NOMINATION FORM - IAA Nomination Deadline: June 3, 2011 by 5:00 p.m. EST

Visit Indiana Achievement Awards for complete information.

IAA information is also available by contacting the IUPUI Solution Center at
317-278-9170 or emailing:solution@iupui.edu


Tuesday, May 3, 2011

NEW - Resource Center for Good Governance and Ethical Practice

(WASHINGTON, April 28, 2011) - Independent Sector launches today the new online Resource Center for Good Governance and Ethical Practice, a comprehensive collection of tools for nonprofit and philanthropic organizations to enhance the accountability and transparency of their operations and ensure they operate in ethical ways.

At the heart of the Resource Center is the Principles for Good Governance and Ethical Practice: A Guide for Charities and Foundations, which has been called "the most significant industry-based effort to promote self-regulation by the sector to date." The Resource Center showcases, through downloads or links, over 250 model policies, research papers, templates and other tools. Most are available free of charge.

At a time when the nonprofit sector faces increasing scrutiny from government and the public - such as the case with the allegations surrounding inaccuracy behind Greg Mortenson's book, "Three Cups of Tea," and questions about the finances of his nonprofit Central Asia Institute - these resources provide an invaluable asset to organizations seeking to ensure that they are operating in accordance to the highest standards of ethics and accountability. They will be especially valuable to smaller organizations, which often lack and cannot afford to hire the expertise to address these aspects of their operations in a comprehensive way. Read More.