Friday, October 14, 2011

The October 15th Issue Of The NonProfit Times Is Out

We have just posted the October 15th edition of The NonProfit Times on our website.  Here are the stories you can expect to see in this issue:


  • "Video Star"-First as a client and now an employee of Goodwill Industries International, Anthony Cornell has seen all perspectives of the organization. As winner of a contest from CBS’s Undercover Boss, though, Cornell has been recognized as someone who was able to realize his own potential while helping others find their purpose.
  • "Celebrity Buzz"-The Farrah Fawcett Foundation is trying to get ahead of reports that a fraud investigation is under way by posting denials on its Facebook page.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

All About Volunteer Management

Volunteers can be some of the driving forces behind a nonprofit's success, but they can only reach that level with proper training and support.  That's where volunteer management comes in handy.  This technique is more than just making sure volunteers are supervised.  The process starts before they are hired to work, by making sure the individuals know exactly the kind of work they will be doing.  Here's a quick definition that will explain this topic further:

Volunteer management is the process of organizing and training nonprofit volunteers. More than any other institution, nonprofits rely on the help of unpaid volunteers to keep the organization running. Without the proper support, however, these individuals won’t be able to effectively do their work. This kind of support includes making instruction sheets, creating volunteer orientation programs, and assigning staff members to keep track of their work. The description for the volunteer position should be clearly written so that applicants know exactly what is expected of them. It’s also important to make sure all volunteers feel welcome and appreciated.
The NonProfit Times organizes all of its articles by categories, and one of these is volunteer management.  Have you been wanting to learn more about how to get the most of your organization's volunteers?  Head on over to our "Search Articles" page to read more about it, as well as the others topics we have posted.

Ways To Increase Revenue

Finding consistent streams of revenue can be a challenging task for a nonprofit. Donors come and go, and sometimes special events don't go as planned. Organizations must constantly find new ways to increase their revenue if they are going to survive in this competitive market. Here are some tips that were gathered at the 2011 Bridge Conference:

-Find creative ways to increase operating dollars. For example, the National World War II Museum offers free admission to vets. It is able to do this because it launched an online "$10 For Them" campaign, which resulted in more than $100,000 in one fiscal year.

-Go beyond Recency Frequency Monetary Value (RFM). Make sure you are getting donors who have responded in the past.

-Know what you have in your database(s). Run a quarterly merge/purge so that your messaging is reaching the biggest and best targets.

-Review your past results. What can you learn from your previous successes and failures?

-Don't try to beat your previous efforts. Instead, improve on them.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Retro Article Of The Week: Proxies Aim To Have Their Say At BP’s Annual Meeting

The United States experienced one of the worst oil spills in the country's history on April 20th, 2010 when British Petroleum's (BP) Deepwater Horizon rig exploded in the Gulf of Mexico.  Gallons of oil flooded into the waters, causing damage to wildlife and the way of life of countless local fisherman.  It wasn't until September 19th that the oil well was sealed and by then, the damage had already been done.

BP held its annual meeting in London in April of 2011, and a fourth-generation fisherman named Diane Wilson and five others came along.  Wilson and the others were hoping to display the human cost of the disaster.  The NonProfit Times wrote an article on their efforts on April 14, 2011:

“People in the media like to ask us why we are so upset,” Wilson said in an interview last week. “I am coming to the annual general meeting (AGM) to call BP to account for its actions in the Gulf — for the oil spill, the lies, the cover-ups, the skimping on safety, the deaths, the nonexistent documents and the ‘swinging door’ with regulators.”

Part of a five-person delegation funded by the New Orleans, La.-based Gulf Coast Fund, Wilson and her cohorts planned to appear at the BP annual meeting as proxies to directly engage BP leadership and its board of directors about the corporation’s response to the Gulf oil spill. The Gulf Coast Fund does not own shares of BP stock but through a partnership with the UK Tar Sands Network, based in London, England, was to appear as a proxy on behalf of the nonprofit organization.

The AGM is “an opportunity for shareholders to question the company and raise any matters of concern,” said BP spokesman Robert Wine, declining further comment.

Having activists or affected residents appear as proxies on behalf of other nonprofits is not something new and has been a useful in engaging the leadership of major corporations.

At the BP annual meeting, the group will have the option to vote for or against the annual report submitted by BP. Although the group has issues with items in the report, they had not yet decided how to vote, choosing once they were to meet in London, Bryan Parras, board member for Houston’s Texas Environmental Justice Advocacy Services (T.E.J.A.S), said last week.

Besides a discussion with leadership, there is not much more the group can accomplish in terms of getting BP to enact change, said Mark Regier, director of stewardship investing at Everance Financial, based in Goshen, Ind. “If you want to be involved in filing a resolution in the United States — rather than just voting or attending an annual meeting, it requires ownership of more than $2,500 in stock for a continuous period of one year,” he said.

If you are interested in reading the rest of this article, please visit our website.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Nonprofit Leaders Talk Change At United Front

Three years ago, nonprofits in Minnesota came to a realization: Government funding was disappearing as a result of the recession, and they were going to have to make significant changes.  The Greater Twin Cities United Way brought together nonprofit leaders from the state to come up with an answer.  What came out of that meeting was the United Front campaign.  It encouraged Minnesota nonprofits to work together so they could adequately address the problems facing their communities.  The annual meeting of this campaign took place last week in St. Paul, Minn.

According to the Star Tribune, the ultimate goal of these annual meetings is to create coordination among the agencies involved so they can help residents of the Twin Cities who have been affected by growing poverty and the economic downturn.  To help this effort, the Twin Cities United Way created a nonprofit merger fund.  This has helped support the mergers of more than 20 nonprofits over the last three years.  The organization has also funded programs like the Twin Cities Hunger Initiative and the Minnesota Coalition to End Violence.

You can read the full piece from The Star Tribune by visiting their website.  You can also visit The NonProfit Times to read an article about how Minnesota nonprofits were affected by their state's recent government shutdown.

All About Online Payment Systems

Here's how fundraising used to work: Your organization would get a pledge and wait for the donation to arrive in the mail as a check.  Today, there’s an entirely new front in the battle for donations that didn’t even exist 15 or 20 years ago. In addition to those checks you might still get from donors, you have to think about processing payments online.  This topic was covered in-depth by an article in the latest edition of The NonProfit Times:

Like any endeavor, nonprofits have to consider what it is they’re trying to accomplish when they consider online processing vendors. Whether it’s a small nonprofit being able to accept online transactions or a more nuanced organization aiming to improve the conversion rates of its online donation form, these are questions your charity must ask.

Credit card processing online is a commodity, said Jim Barney, vice president of sales and marketing at Blacksburg, Va.-based Click & Pledge. “You can go to 500 different places and someone will open a merchant account for you. It’s easy to find the lowest price, just shop around. The key to getting value is, what do you get with it,” he said. For a nonprofit, it’s not always about getting the cheapest price on credit card processing fees, he said, but about the software and tools to help make it more successful.

Every payment processor in the industry has core competencies and different features for clients, said Nim Patel, CEO of Mobile Accord in Denver. But when examining mobile payment processing, things to consider include services, the reliability of the system and its overall strength. Large nonprofits have to remember that they have some sway, which could help them get a better rate. “The nonprofit market is not completely ignored by these guys (credit card companies). For larger organizations, the thing they need to realize is they do have some purchasing power. They shouldn’t take what’s offered at face value, try to negotiate,” said Hayden Stewart, vice president of information technology at online fundraising firm Convio in Austin, Texas.

Nonprofits can use PayPal as a donation method within their other providers. “We plug in to your existing solution, and work with the partner you use to power your donation form,” said Clam Lorez, director, nonprofit engagement, at PayPal. “There are a lot of small nonprofits that use PayPal donate buttons as an off-the-shelf solution for their really basic needs,” he said. Other nonprofits use a suite of PayPal products, handling all different types of transactions. PayPal has more than 200,000 nonprofit accounts and handled almost $1.8 billion in transactions for nonprofits last year.

Make sure to check out the full article by visiting our website.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Management Tip: 4 Ideas For Spotlighting Your Mission

Every nonprofit has a mission for which it advocates.  Think back to when you first joined your current nonprofit.  Aside from the usual reasons for taking a job, you most likely had a passion for the mission of the organization.  Unfortunately, it can be easy to lose sight of that goal during the day-to-day grind of running an organization.  That's why it's so important to constantly spotlight your mission to your donors and supporters:

  • Highlight the strength of your mission, not your organization.  It's a key way to associate your brand with the cause.  Ways to accomplish this include explaining what is innovative about your approach to the mission, and showing how you play an essential role in your field.
  • Show your donors how they create an ongoing story for accomplishing your mission.  This will help them feel more connected.
  • Explain how your work represents your guiding principles.  Back away from practical specifics and take a bit of a philosophical approach. Ask yourself what fundamental values or concerns lead your readers to your organization and its mission.
  • Describe your vision of what the community (or world, depending on your ambitions) will look like when you accomplish your mission.  It is important to remember that your long-term vision is just as important as short-term goals.