Just the other day I was researching how best to promote our upcoming workshop on calculating indirect rates (you can check it out here). Like all good marketers, I was googling stuff. I came across this online “dictionary” definition of what indirect costs are:
Overhead costs are an unavoidable part of running a nonprofit. These expenses are necessary to operate your nonprofit, even if they don't specifically relate to your cause. It is important to address your overhead spending; every dollar spent on operating costs is a dollar not being used for your mission.
Now, right off the bat two things bothered me about this definition. (Well, a lot did but for your reading’s sake I’ll narrow it down to two.)
I have no problem with indirect costs and the reporting of them. My eyes only started to roll while I was reading that “definition” because society as a whole insists on perpetuating the myth that these costs are evil and must be watched with suspicion because if they become too high the nonprofit must be chastised back into submission.
I believe wholeheartedly in the need for nonprofits to track, monitor and report indirect costs to the public, to their funders…to anyone who wants to know what they are. It is important that they know this information. A good business needs to know what it truly takes to get the job done. And, honestly, if we are thinking of investing in them or working for them, we should be asking them what those numbers are.
But, in my eyes, I’d rather work or invest in a nonprofit that invests in itself. One that knows that in order to provide a quality, world-changing service…you need to put the resources where they are needed.
I’ve worked within the nonprofit field for close to twenty years and, from the inside looking out, the view hasn’t changed much in how a nonprofit is expected to present themselves. Years ago, there was an amazing TEDx presentation done by Dan Pelotta called “The Way We Think About Charity Is Dead Wrong.” It is an amazing presentation and I strongly encourage you to watch it. It challenges us to view nonprofits just like we would any other business and lights a fire under you to help be an instrument of change in how the world views the way a nonprofit should run.
Oh, yeah…and don’t forget to register for our Negotiating and Calculating Indirect Rates for Grant Applications workshop coming up on January 7.
Volunteer Center McHenry County was lucky enough to have Anthony Engle, now a senior at Jacobs High School, as our 2019 volunteer summer intern. Anthony's incredible work ethic, engaging personality and wise-beyond-his-years smarts made him an incredibly valuable asset to our team. As he finished his internship, he shared just one more piece of wisdom for our nonprofit readers on reaching student volunteers. Check out his blog post below!
By Anthony Engle
As summer ends and the thought of school looms over me, I'm not sad or disappointed, rather happy and excited. I go back to high school to enter my senior year on August 13th, and I will greatly remember this summer and everything I did – whether it was going on vacations, hanging out with friends, or my first internship at the Volunteer Center McHenry County.
This summer I decided I wanted to get some practical job experience and see what it would be like to work at a nonprofit. I contacted the Volunteer Center having heard about them online and seen their social media marketing on Instagram. I set up an interview and was able to learn more about the nonprofit and how they work I would do would transfer into valuable skills for me in the future.
I would've never thought I'd have learned so many preprofessional skills in such a short amount of time. It wasn’t anything that a class at my school would be able to teach me. I was able to learn how to make connections and professionally talk to others, whether it was through email, a phone call or face-to-face interaction. I learned about office programs and clerical work. I've helped design leadership programs and held discussions. I've learned how to find grant funding and how to create sustainable growth. All of this I hope to implement into service clubs at my school so we can have a larger impact on our community.
But the biggest takeaway was the importance of nonprofits, not just the big, international ones, but the small, local ones that create huge positive impacts in my own community. It's truly an enriching experience to be able to work with and intern for a nonprofit.
Believe it or not, many high school students want to get out there and do the same thing. One of the best ways to reach high school students is to create a social media presence on Instagram and Twitter – and use hashtags. We love them!
Lastly, feel free to contact schools. A lot of students are incredibly close with their teachers and counselors. If a counselor or teacher learns about a program or opportunity, they'll know students to contact that would have a genuine interest.
I'm so thankful for having the opportunity to intern this summer with a nonprofit. I'm so happy to have gained valuable skills and learned more about nonprofits in my community.
Volunteer Center McHenry County wants to extend a heartfelt thank you to Anthony for spending his summer with us! He made a huge impact on the community and our organization.
Being a nonprofit board member is a big job. There are a lot of roles and responsibilities to understand before you even attend your first meeting.
To help educate both new and experienced board members, we posed a number of important and frequently asked questions to Dr. Alicia Schatteman, the Acting Director at Northern Illinois University's Center for Nonprofit and NGO Studies and one of the wonderful facilitators for our Board Excellence Program on August 24.
Q: What is the top thing I need to understand before I commit to being part of a nonprofit board?
A: Do your skills, interests, and availability match what the organization needs right now? The board president and most senior staff person should be able to articulate this to you before you join the board. Organizations needs different board members at different times and for different reasons. A good match makes all the difference.
Q: How do we recruit new board members?
A: Start with a profile of what kind of board member the organization needs, for example experience with capital campaigns or hiring the first executive director, then ask for recommendations in your community of people who match that profile. Think outside of traditional networks of your existing board members, keeping in mind that you are looking for a board that is representative of your community’s demographics and commitment to the mission. Identify prospective board members and then find people who are connected to them to make the introduction.
Q: Is it okay if the Executive Director is also part of the board?
A: Typically it is best if the Executive Director is not part of the board since there are obvious conflicts of interest, such as performance evaluations and salary decisions. Some nonprofit boards have the Executive Director as an ex-officio (non-voting) member. Since there is not really a strong reason to have the ED on the board, I would suggest don’t do it.
Q: How much do I need to know about the day-to-day activities of the organization as a board member?
A: If the organization has paid staff, the day-to-day operations are left up to the most senior staff person of the organization. Where it gets tricky is if the organization is all volunteer, and therefore the board may be more involved in the day-to-day operations. Otherwise, hire the right executive director and then get out of his/her way to run the organization you hired him/her to run.
Q: What should I do to prepare for each board meeting?
A: You need to have sufficient time and information to offer advice or make informed decisions during a board meeting. Therefore, the agenda should clearly state what discussions and decisions are under consideration and provide the necessary information. Ideally, board members should receive this information several days in advance to be fully prepared.
Q: Should I be connecting with all staff members of the organization or just the E.D.?
A: The board (collectively) is responsible for hiring, evaluating, firing the ED but certainly board members can engage in conversations with other staff members, to get to know them, to understand their roles, but they are only directed by the ED.
Q: I don’t like asking people for money. Do I have to participate in fundraising?
A: Asking for money is only one step in the fundraising process, so volunteer to get involved in the other four steps! Every board member should be engaged in at least one step in the process to grow a culture of philanthropy.
Q: If our nonprofit organization dissolves, am I responsible for debts?
A: The board collectively has the legal and fiduciary responsibility for the organization while they serve as board members. If the nonprofit cannot pay its creditors, the organization would first dissolve all assets (cash and physical assets) to pay any creditors. If there is still remaining debt, the nonprofit could declare bankruptcy as well.
A special thank you to Dr. Alicia Schatteman for sharing her wisdom with us.
To learn more about becoming a valuable board member for your nonprofit organization, register now for our Board Excellence Program on August 24!
...And You’re Live!
I’m sure you have heard the old saying “a picture is worth a thousand words.” Well if that’s true, using video to share your organization’s message and mission is priceless! The impact of using live streaming as part of your social media marketing strategy should not be discounted.
What exactly does social media live streaming mean? Live streaming lets you choose a platform to share what’s happening in real time with your audience, allowing you to engage and interact with them. Maybe it’s a coat drive, an educational workshop or bowling fundraiser. Whatever it is live streaming lets you get that message out while the event is occurring.
A great example of this was the use of live streaming during the McHenry County Human Race. Agencies shared their teams and promoted their brand while they were at the event on race day.
Why should you use video streaming? Consider this: 65% of the population are visual learners. They use resources like video to better understand what is being taught. If you want folks to learn about your agency’s mission, programs, events, success stories and needs, what better way to do it than to show them via video!
It’s a simple concept. Select a streaming platform and go live. But before you do, Christian Brink with AddThis Academy offers these tips for effective streaming:
1. Know and understand your streaming platform options.
2. Live Your Brand. Your brand defines who you are. When going live, think of how what you show, or where you’re broadcasting from, and how it relates back to your core marketing mission.
3. Make it Interactive. Being live is all about being live. Interact with your audience in-the-moment, whether it’s handing out promos on the street, running a quick Q&A session, or just chatting.
You’re almost ready…here are a few tricks to make your live streaming successful:
For more video streaming tips and tricks, check out these resources:
AddThis.com: 6 Tips for Live Streaming on Social Media
SocialMediaExaminer.com: 5 Tips for Better Facebook Live Broadcasts
GuideStar.org: 8 Ways Your Nonprofit Can Use Live-Streaming Video for Better Storytelling
The hustle and bustle of everyday life can be overwhelming. Today’s families are challenged with work, school, sports, music lessons, dance lessons, and the list goes on. Some days it can be a challenge to share a meal together. So, with the craziness of day-to-day living, where does helping others and giving back to your community fit in? How can you spend time together as a family unit, while still passing on the compassion of community service to your family?
Two words….family volunteering.
Family volunteering provides you with a unique opportunity to strengthen family bonds while at the same time helping in your community. There are dozens of benefits to volunteering, including reducing stress, promoting a sense of gratitude, creating new relationships, and providing purpose. These are all great things to share with family. But stop and consider the additional benefits family volunteering brings:
Don’t let the thought of volunteering as a family overwhelm you. First, start with identifying what you want the family to experience. Is your goal to volunteer at a nonprofit’s special event or are you considering volunteering on a monthly basis?
Next, as a family discuss what causes are important to everyone and decide where your abilities and skills are best suited. Be realistic on your skill sets. You want the family experience to be a positive one.
Lastly, be honest about the time commitment your family can provide. If two hours is the maximum amount of time your family has available, be sure you select a volunteering opportunity to fit that need.
There are hundreds of ways to volunteer. Here are a few to consider:
Consider kicking off family volunteering with Albums of Hope. This nonprofit works to lift the spirits of cancer patients during difficult times through the gift of completed photo albums filled with uplifting quotes and beautiful scenery photos. Albums of Hope will be holding a family volunteering event on Wednesday, July 10th. All materials will be supplied for families to make a pocket-sized album for an adult and a child to be donated to one of the many organizations they collaborate with. To learn more or to register for this event visit Family Fun Volunteering.
Still looking for something else to fit your family’s needs. The Volunteer Center can help. The Volunteer Center has relationships already built with nonprofits and can help find the right opportunity for you.
Don’t think of volunteering as something else to cross off your to-do list. Consider the value of sharing precious time with family and contributing to the well-being of your community.
Time to talk about your nonprofit’s board of directors. Why are boards a necessary component of a nonprofit organization? Who are the members that sit on the board? How does an organization find and recruit members? Let’s take a look at why board members are such an integral part of your nonprofit.
To start with, any registered 501(c)(3) organization must have a board of directors. Because this is a tax-exempt status, the IRS legally requires a board of directors. The board is responsible to ensure the nonprofit adheres to the legal, ethical, financial and practical guidelines established for the organization.
Board members should represent your nonprofit and do what’s needed to carry out your mission. This includes recruiting new members, promoting the organization, advocating for your cause and fundraising.
Finding the right board members can be challenging. It requires a hard look at what your organization’s needs are and how best to fill those roles. BoardSource suggests recruiting board members with expertise in the following areas:
Understanding why you need a board of directors and identifying specific needs are only part of the process. Now to find them! That’s a huge undertaking. Here are a few options to consider for recruiting potential members:
Don’t let board member recruiting intimidate you. A carefully developed recruiting plan will serve you well.
Still needing additional guidance. Check out these excellent online resources.
· National Council of Nonprofits
What do the words Human Race make you think about? Do they evoke visions of all living human inhabitants on the earth? Or do you visualize a competition between runners and walkers with a common goal of crossing a finish line? What about the words McHenry County? Do they cause you to consider the over 300,000 people that live here, making it one of the ten most populous counties in Illinois?
In the nonprofit world, we survive on the generosity of our donors, volunteers, staff, and everyone else who contributes to our organization. Without the time and money they give, we wouldn’t be able to create change and better our community.
But as we dive passionately into mission-based work each day, sometimes those pesky little tasks–like saying thanks–fall to the wayside.
It’s time to move gratitude to the top of your to-do list! Here are the top seven people you need to show appreciation to regularly and why:
Volunteers are the backbone of nearly every nonprofit organization. They keep things running and do so for free. Did you know that just one volunteer hour is valued at $24.69 according to Independent Sector? So for every 20 hours a volunteer commits to your organization, you’re saving nearly $500. If that’s not worth saying thank you, we’re not sure what is.
Betty Stallings, the professional who set the standard for volunteer management best practices (which we teach in our annual Volunteer Management Certification workshops) says, “Recognition needs to be considered an integral part of a total management philosophy that continually seeks to notice and value individual contributions.” What she’s saying here is that it’s not optional. Gratitude is a required part of volunteer management.
Stallings also explains that you don’t need to spend a lot of money on gifts or annual dinners. She believes “meaningful recognition is the myriad ways we formally and informally say ‘I noticed’ and ‘thank you.’”
2. Individual Donors
Saying thank you is an incredible relationship builder. Forbes noted a study indicating that “thanking a new acquaintance makes them more likely to seek an ongoing relationship.” When building your donor base, taking the extra time to say thank you (and not just when you get a check in the mail) will help to develop deeper relationships.
Donor researcher Penelope Burk found through her survey of donors that “24% of respondents who have received what they would term as an ‘exceptional’ thank you letter made a more generous gift the next time.” Taking the time to create a personalized and meaningful thank you is certainly worth the ROI.
Plus, according to the book New Horizons in Arts, Heritage, Nonprofit and Social Marketing, “a 10% improvement in attrition can yield up to a 200% increase in projected value.” That’s right, folks. If you can change 10% of your one-time donors into repeat givers, you could make up to 200% more money through things like planned gifts, recommendations to friends and family, and increases in donation amounts.
Like individual donors, funders’ contributions are vital in keeping a nonprofit organization running smoothly. Some funders may prefer their contribution remains anonymous to the public while others don’t mind if you share. It’s important to ask their preference and acknowledge their gift in whatever way they prefer. Recognizing their funding properly shows helps build credibility and trust between your organization and the funder.
In our recent NIU-partnered workshop, Grant Compliance: Following the Directions featuring grant writer Bob Marovich, the class was encouraged to think of thanking funders as part of the compliance process. It’s a must-be-done, not a nice-to-do. Marovich said to remember that funders have goals, too. You are helping them reach their goals by doing your mission-based work. Go beyond the initial thank you letter and truly celebrate the funder and their gift by showing them the impact their funding has had on your cause and your clients. They might thank you right back.
Developing and maintaining beneficial partnerships is so important in the nonprofit industry. And a bit of gratitude can go a long way in helping preserve those relationships. The previously mentioned article from Forbes also stated that “acknowledging other people’s contributions can lead to new opportunities.”
Showcasing how your organization’s partners have helped drive your mission will give them a reason to stay connected. Prove that you value their collaboration and that together you make a great team.
Obviously thanking a client during a call or visit is a pretty standard form of customer service, but it’s also okay to go above and beyond when expressing gratitude to the people you serve.
In a study published in Psychological Science, researchers had students (“expressers”) write thank you notes to peers who had an impact on their lives (“recipients”). They found that “although expressers predicted that the recipients would feel positively about the letter, recipients reported even more surprise and delight than what the senders expected. Moreover, expressers overestimated the awkwardness that the recipient would feel.” It’s not awkward, it’s appreciated.
6. Staff Members
In doing research based on Gallup statistics for their book How Full is Your Bucket, Tom Rath and Donald O. Clifton, PhD found that “the number-one reason most Americans leave their jobs is that they don’t feel appreciated. In fact, 65% of people surveyed said they got no recognition for good work last year.”
We all know that in the nonprofit industry, every person wears multiple hats and pitches in to make the magic happen. It takes a special kind of employee to have that dedication to your organization and cause. Make sure your staff knows how important they are to your agency and how much you appreciate their hard work.
Yes, you! You work hard to change the world. Take time to show yourself some appreciation. Slow down, unplug, and maybe use some of that vacation time. You deserve it.
27 Great Ways to Say Thanks
We’ve talked about who we need to thank, so now let’s dive into the how. Here are some ideas to get you started, but be creative! Do something fun and unexpected.
What are some of your favorite ways to say thank you? Let us know in the comments!
I have written about podcasts in the past, but these worthwhile resources are something to revisit. New podcasts with new perspectives and new ideas are released every day. Here are ten for you to consider tapping into during 2019.
1. Video Marketing for Non-Profit Organizations
Host Don Gangnagel shares his knowledge, experience and opinions to help nonprofit organizations, educational institutions and governmental agencies create compelling videos with a purpose.
2. Power Purpose & Profit
Purpose Power and Profit is a deeper look at how to start, fund and grow a successful nonprofit business. Sherry Watson is one of the foremost experts in the world on nonprofits, having been one of the authors of the Americans With Disabilities Act, owner of six successful nonprofit corporations and consultant to thousands of nonprofit businesses.
3. Fundraising Secrets Show
Fundraising Secrets brings together the best in the nonprofit sector. Fundraising Secrets will share ideas, teach best practices, learn and listen to the fundraising needs of the nonprofit markets.
4. Nonprofit Startup Podcast
The Nonprofit Startup Podcast is a new podcast that documents the success and setbacks of launching a nonprofit. Chronicling Nerdy Media’s founder and executive, La Toia’s journey to become a social entrepreneur. There are many podcasts that explore the stories of technology, clothing or products startup, but what does it take to launch a nonprofit organization in the 21st century?
5. Tech & Tactics for Social Impact: Using the Whole Whale
We interview leading experts working in the field of technology and marketing that are working on using tech for social impact. The podcast explores what tech is working to create impact and how data is being used effectively within elite organizations. Past guests have included Google Analytics Chief Evangelist Avinash Kaushik, and digital experts from DoSomething.org, Kiva, The Environmental Defense Fund, The Michael J. Fox Foundation, Donor's Choose and many others.
6. The Nonprofit Ally Podcast
Steve Vick from NonprofitAlly.com talks with nonprofit experts, board members and executive directors about social media strategies, capacity building, board of director development, fundraising and budgeting. This nonprofit podcast also includes tips on Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin, newsletters, website development, storytelling, blogging, fundraising, crowd funding and more.
7. Next in Nonprofits
Next in Nonprofits interviews nonprofit leaders and service providers to keep you up to date with the best ideas in social good.
8. The Cause Marketing Podcast
Stay up to date on all things cause marketing and corporate-nonprofit partnerships, including trends, tactics and need-to-know news. Join Joe Waters of SelfishGiving.com and Megan Strand of Engage For Good in this lively, educational weekly podcast!
9. Talking Talent
The official podcast of the Center for Workforce Innovation. The Center for Workforce Innovation is a mission-driven, nonprofit organization that provides cost-effective solutions to meet the workforce-related needs of their customers. Solutions range from building and maintaining broad-based partnerships to assisting individual organizations in creating targeted talent recruitment and retention strategies.
10. Nonprofit Leadership Podcast
The Nonprofit Leadership Podcast: Making Your World Better features discussions covering the most critical issues, trends and opportunities facing nonprofit leaders and those engaged in social innovation. Hosted by Dr. Rob Harter, in this podcast you will hear real stories from experienced leaders about what strategies and practices have made them successful. It is our hope that through this audio series, people can learn not only what it takes to be an effective nonprofit leader but to hear inspiring stories about people and organizations that are successfully making a positive impact in their communities.
What other nonprofit podcasts do you enjoy? Share them in the comments!
Happy New Year! 2019 is here and what better way to get it started than with putting together a list of 20 unique FUNdraising ideas.
There’s more to do than selling candy bars and popcorn. Fundraising can be a daunting task for a nonprofit. Keeping donors interested and giving takes creativity! Here are a few fun ideas to get you started.
Fundraisers are the catalysts of change. – Unknown
Program & Outreach Director for VCMC