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Who calls the shots at your nonprofit?

Who calls the shots at your nonprofit?

Sometimes the multitude of decisions that need to be made can be overwhelming. If you are a nonprofit leader you know that the need to make decisions is never ending. But how do you make decisions? Better yet, how does the organization make decisions? Some organizations find they aren’t able to advance as they desire. If you are in this position, consider looking at how decisions are made, and who manages the decision making process. Things may not be as clear as they seem. Sometimes the executive is not really making the decisions, even though she is technically empowered to do so. Consider these  examples. By committee. A number of options and opinions are put on the table by various individuals within and outside the organization. These are collectively discussed. […]

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How to develop a world class fundraising volunteer

How to develop a world class fundraising volunteer

Are you struggling to develop and manage fundraising volunteers? Do you think it is “easier” for you to do the fundraising yourself? Do you secretly feel it is a waste of time to work with volunteers? We believe that a successful fundraising campaign should be volunteer driven with staff providing guidance and support. To accomplish this, nonprofit management and staff need to put the same energy into developing a volunteer pool that they invest in developing major donors. Here are 14 suggestions to help you develop your volunteer team into what we consider “world class volunteers.” “Make the case” to potential fundraising volunteers about the impact they can make through giving of their time, money, and connections. Tell your organization’s story with the same level of professionalism you apply when […]

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Are you an honorary board member or a real one?

Are you an honorary board member or a real one?

Are you really an active participant as a board member, or are you there in name only? Some may not be aware, but there actually are different “classes” of board members. It is rare for someone to tell you which class you are a part of, but you can assess your behavior and learn for yourself. We believe there are two primary classes: honorary board members, and “real” or participating members. There are a few behaviors that can be tell-tale signs of an honorary member. These include not rocking the boat; going with the crowd; and not putting ideas on the table. Here’s what we know: Serving as a “yes” person can be deadly for an organization. Your involvement, support, and ideas add value and help create a functioning board. […]

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Restoring sanity to your nonprofit - anger

Restoring sanity to your nonprofit

Within nonprofits there is always someone who is known as the “sane one” and another known as the “insane one.” It is often the CEO who is seen as the source of “organizational insanity.” These leaders are constantly keeping multiple balls in the air, juggling as fast as they can. Their charge is to keep the organization alive, relevant, connected, financially solvent, and the list goes on and on!!! That is a lot to manage!!! And it can be crazy making, both for the leader and all members of the organization. But it doesn’t have to be. Here’s our suggestion: make sure your nonprofit has an administrator to run the shop. This person can become the “sanity” in the organization. He or she is the balance to the CEO, and […]

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Back to FUNdraising School Special

You cannot say thank you enough! As students head back to school, its time for nonprofit professionals to return to FUNdraising School. Receiving a gift – especially a major gift – is an important milestone for any organization. Gifts and grants are the financial backbone of so many nonprofits, and they cannot be taken for granted. Yet sometimes they are. And that can have a negative impact now and in the future. Here’s what we have learned. In the nonprofit sector professionals and volunteers “wear many hats.” There is a lot of work to be done, and people are busy. Sometimes the function known formally as “gift processing” gets neglected, or set aside until the end of the month or another arbitrary time. While this allows other priorities to receive […]

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How to raise our children to become philanthropists

How to raise our children to become philanthropists

Part two of a two part series This column is offered in honor of Black Philanthropy Month. Giving is one aspect of philanthropy. Deciding how, where, and when to give is another aspect. You can support the young people in your life – and in your community – as they become philanthropists. You can help them grow from giving of their time, talent, and treasure and into thinking of themselves as strategic philanthropists. There is much a child can learn and accomplish by starting their own philanthropy with a dollar, 100 dollars, or more. Their giving can go even further when they add their passion, time, creativity, smarts, and relationships to the mix. Developing a revenue-generating business or a fundraising campaign can turbo charge their philanthropy by providing a stream […]

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What is your brand? An interview with Christopher E. Lee

We hear a lot about “brand” – it is the secret sauce of marketing. It’s what differentiates your nonprofit from another. But what exactly is a brand? How does a nonprofit create a brand, and how does it live into the promise of its brand? For answers to these questions and more we reached out to  Christopher Lee, CEO of Think Inspired. In answering the question, What exactly is a “brand?” Lee turned to Google, an obviously well-established brand. “According to the Google definition, branding is the promotion of a particular product or company by means of advertising and distinctive design. Therefore, any nonprofit organization needs to be able to effectively tout its core objectives in a way that appeals to their various stakeholders.” Most of us can recognize brands […]

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HBCU leadership – let’s move beyond the blame game

HBCU leadership – let’s move beyond the blame game

Running an institution of higher education is like running a multi-million dollar business. There are negotiations for property, talent, capital, innovation, partnerships, and oh – student recruitment, retention, graduation, and curriculum specialization. Both business and education have to focus on ethics, equity, brand, competition, financing, changes in the marketplace, the “customer experience”… The responsibilities and expectations can seem dizzying and overwhelming to those of us who don’t sit in such executive roles. These responsibilities, challenges, and opportunities are magnified when an institution of higher education is an historically Black college or university. These presidents are often asked to do the impossible; to pull “a rabbit out of a hat;” and to resolve the results of historical inequities and underinvestment in the blink of an eye. “We expect you to hit […]

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How to raise our children to become philanthropists

How to raise our children to become philanthropists

 Part one of a two part series         This column is offered in honor of Black Philanthropy Month. We are forever pushing our children to become entrepreneurs, to start and run their own businesses. We encourage this because we believe it is good for our children as individuals, and good for the Black community. Entrepreneurism is all about becoming financially independent, and building wealth and assets. What we don’t always remember is the value of teaching our children to be philanthropists. In fact, very few of us use this word. We speak instead of giving back, being a blessing to others, and caring for our neighbors. Philanthropists do all those things: they give their time, talent, and treasure (including money). As individuals they can be catalysts, and collectively their work can […]

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Hiring an HBCU president: questions for presidents and trustees.

Hiring an HBCU president: questions for presidents and trustees

Part three of a three part series No matter how successful an HBCU president is there will always be people who want them to do more and to do it better and faster. Sometimes it feels like a “no win” situation. With this column we offer food for thought for those who seek a presidential role, and those who are charged with recruiting and hiring the president. Questions to ask yourself if you are considering a presidential position: Are the expectations of the hiring board clear and achievable? Will I have access to the resources I need to meet those expectations? Do I have – and I am willing to recruit or expand – a circle of advisors with the skill sets, experience, and relationships required to support my presidency? […]

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