Nonprofit Management

November 12, 2018

Notes from my dorm room

Thinking about my SMUMN…where I teach every summer. And yes, live in a dorm. Students and faculty are colleagues. We talk and disagree and agree and learn together. Just check out these comments from Cohort 28 final projects….

Some very good CRQs (cage-rattling questions). Thank you, members of Cohort 28!

  1. Without passion, purpose, or predictability – what’s keeping me here?
  2. How can we embrace both stability and creativity?
  3. What are we – and only we – in the ideal position to achieve?
  4. Questions to ask donors: How has this organization transformed your life? Out of all the gifts you’ve given, which one is most memorable to you – and why? How do your core values impact your philanthropy?
  5. To what extent does status affect a person’s ability to make impact on a large philanthropic scale?

 

 

 

November 6, 2018

Say thank you better. It’s even more important than you think!!!

New research PROVES how massively important saying thank-you really is!!

Yes, I know that you know that saying thanks is important. Your mom told you so, right? Or maybe your grandma? At least someone told you so.

But now we have actual academic research carried out by the amazing team at the Philanthropy  Centre and a team of philanthropic psychologists at Plymouth University, U.K. (Make sure you subscribe to the Philanthropy Centre!!!!!)

Hey, people out there. This is real and valuable and applicable to any organization no matter the size. Imagine what the findings will do for your fundraising!

  • The summary: Even subtle changes to communications have the ability to profoundly influence how good donors feel as a result of reading that communication. AND! There’s evidence that the recommended practices have the potential to increase average donation amount, response rate, and how good the donor feels and….
  • A few specifics: How/when to use an email thanks. Thanking donors who give most frequently. And……………….Download the research! Apply it!

Report authors: Professor Jen Shang. Professor Adrian Sargeant. Kathryn Carpenter. Harriet Day.

Sponsors…YES!!! Donors… The marvelously wonderful organizations that made this possible. In alpha order: Bloomerang Inc,  Institute for Conversational Fundraising, and Pursuant Inc.

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So now I’m going to play around with thank yous.

Hello research sponsors Bloomerang, Institute for Conversational Fundraising, and Pursuant. WOW! OH MY GOSH!! So absolutely marvelously wonderfully important for the nonprofit sector and world of philanthropy…

Without your leadership support, Pursuant, my clients wouldn’t know how massively important thank you is. Sure my clients know it’s important. But there’s so much else to do and…. So thank you Pursuant for your ongoing support of the Philanthropy Centre’s research.

Gracias, Kent. We haven’t talked or seen each other in ages. How wonderful to see your support of critical research for fundraising. We’ve got a long way to go to strengthen fundraising – and your support helps us all move forward. Thank you so much.

Hey Bloomie peeps… You know I love you. And again, you’re sponsoring critical research about donor retention. Thank you et merci!! With donors like you, we can help nonprofits around the world. Thank you again.

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And here’s just a bit of what our sponsors – our exceptional donors – say about the research findings. Their testimony reminds us of what great research can do.

“If charities were as studious and deliberate about thanking as they are about asking for philanthropic support what a difference it would make!” Kent Stroman, Principal and Founder, Institute for Conversational Fundraising

“…The time and effort used for proper acknowledgements is easily justified based upon the results of this study where significant increases in funding were realized!” So says Jay Love, Chief Relationship Officer and Co-founder of Bloomerang

“…Cultivation and acknowledgement is vital to building strong, long lasting and authentic relationships with donors.” Rebecca Gregory Segovia, Executive Vice President, Pursuant 

 

November 1, 2018

This organization pushes several of my buttons !

[This is a long blog. More like an article. But there are good resources and cool ideas and – as usual – my various musings…. insightful, I hope. So I hope you’ll stick with it – or print it for future reading.]

I recently learned about the California Green Academy. I’d previously met the Founder/Chief Sustainability Officer, Greg Justice, through a masters program at the University of San Francisco.

So off I went to the internet to learn about CalGreenLots of stuff pushed my buttons! Here goes…

  • Mission: Promoting systems thinking and the Triple Bottom Line in business, energy, and transport.
  • Vision: Becoming a premier educational source for sustainability and systems thinking.

I fell in love with systems thinking back in the 1990s. I wrote about systems thinking in the first edition of my first book, Strategic Fund Development: Building Profitable Relationships That Last. And systems thinking is alive and well in each subsequent edition of this book, now up to the 3rdedition.

I’ve never fallen out of this love. Systems thinking is a permanent love. And that an organization actually includes systems thinking in its mission and vision? Wow!!

A few years ago I developed an entire workshop on nonprofit sustainability. My sustainability was definitely NOT just financial. Visit my Free Download Library for my handout.

How about that triple bottom line? Adding  social and environmental values to good old economic measures. Social values like fundamental rights, respect for human dignity, democracy, respect, honesty, and…

By the way, when I think “business,” I think for-profit mostly. Or rather, I think that the world thinks for-profit.

For me, life focuses on 3 sectors: Nonprofit sector. For-profit sector. Government. Businesses are for-profit and nonprofit. (Of course, we can also think of the government as business. But I don’t so much.)

I wish the world better understood the nonprofit sector – called the social sectors by Jim Collins in his marvelous monograph Good to Great and the Social Sectors; and, read about civil society in Mike Edwardsbook of the same title. By the way, here’s a must-read book for anyone who works in the nonprofit sector, also by Mike – Small Change: Why Business Won’t Change the World.

I’m pleased to say that the CaliforniaGreenAcademy just added Nonprofit Studies to its Programs. Hey, CalGreen, consider the book suggestions above for your library in Nonprofit Studies – and for those for-profit businesses, too.

More Simone buttons pushed by CalGreen peeps….

Anyone who knows me or reads anything of mine or hears me speak knows how important diversity-equity-social justice are to me. I contacted Greg about the dominance of men within the organization. Greg explained the impressive detailed efforts taken to-date in this 1-year old organization. He talked about the board member search firm CalGreen has just retained.

Now check out these blogs – and the impressive actions described.

When I’m talking governance, I always talk about board composition and diversity and equity and… But I’m now thinking about following the lead of CalGreen and talking about adopting these UN policies.

Okay. That’s it. Farewell for now, Simone

P.S. I’m increasingly pissed about energy and transport and the not- so-good job we do in the US about these 2 items.

P.P.S. I think “chief sustainability officer” is a really good name for the chief executive officer. Of course, we’ve encountered so many CEOs who did/do a damn awfully terrible job of making sure their corporations are sustainable. Remember these corporations: Lehmann Brothers, Enron, Wells Fargo Bank…And on and on still today and over and over…

Okay. This is really farewell!

October 1, 2018

Management. Government. Society. Community. LIFE!!!

Some favorite YouTube videos.

I use them in my classes at SMUMN – where I teach in the masters program in Philanthropy and Development.

If I were on staff at an institution (instead of being a consultant) – I’d insist all staff watch these together….And then talk.

HEY! What a great way to start a board meeting…periodically watching something like this and talking about the implications for your clients, your donors, your organization, the community, and on and on and on…

EVERY SINGLE ONE OF THESE MARVELOUS VIDEOS is about the work that you and I do. The work that pretty much any human being does.

EVERY SINGLE ONE OF THESE INSIGHTFUL VIDEOS is about life…your life and mine, and the beneficiaries of our work and the volunteers helping in our organizations, serving on boards.

AND EVERY SINGLE ONE OF THESE HUMAN AND HUMANE VIDEOS is about our donors.

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Watch these. Share these. Explore the implications. Learn. Make change. Do and be better.

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Ahmen, “Batman of Social Impact.” Nonprofit leader by day and hip-hop artist by night. His marvelous opening for IFC 2017. I was there. I took the knee with my hand in a fist.[ https://twitter.com/TheResAlliance?lang=en]

#likeagirl “What does it mean to do something like a girl.” [https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XjJQBjWYDTs]

Ash Beckham: We’re all hiding something – coming out of the closet. [https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kSR4xuU07sc]

Brené Brown and vulnerability. [https://www.ted.com/talks/brene_brown_on_vulnerability]

“What is Privilege?” The privilege walk is one of the most insightful, saddening things I’ve ever seen or experienced. Better than watching it, you can actually do it. [https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hD5f8GuNuGQ]

 

May 7, 2018

Knowing what we don’t know…

How does your organization identify that which it doesn’t know – and learn about all that? Here are some of my ideas…

  • Diversity of life experience within staff and board: Gender identity. Sexual orientation. Socioeconomic status. Faith. Race/ethnicity. Profession. What else?
  • Intentional conversations about knowing what we don’t know – and learning about it.
  • Exploring cage-rattling questions to stimulate meaningful conversation.
  • Regular monitoring of the external environment, your organization’s internal environment, your organization’s specific field of endeavor, the nonprofit sector itself.
  • Reading across various disciplines.

What else?

April 23, 2018

How do we know what we don’t know?

I know that I don’t know much about sports (of any kind). And I don’t care that I don’t know much. I can make fun of myself. I can ask others. And there’s no substantive impact on my life or my friendships or my business or….

There’s lots of stuff I do know. And I know how to fill in the gaps of lots of my not knowing.

But what about the important stuff that I don’t know and don’t know that I don’t know it? I think that matters.

Not knowing what I don’t know…That’s worrisome. For me and my life. For my business. For my clients and my community and my society and my world.

How do we know what we don’t know? By reading lots. By connecting with diverse people. By exposing ourselves to unfamiliar things. By venturing beyond where we’re comfortable.

It’s the same for our organizations. First, decide it’s important to monitor what we don’t know and figure out how to know what we don’t know. Build this into your organizational culture. Establish systems and procedures to do this. Engage regularly in conversation at both staff and board levels.

Knowing what we don’t know… And knowing what we don’t know that we don’t know… Both are super important!

April 6, 2018

One of my most favorite things!!!

Saint Mary’s University of Minnesota…. Masters Degree in Philanthropy and Development….

Why? The STUDENTS!!! All ages and life experiences and types of nonprofits and different countries and… All committed to challenging assumptions, and exploring, and lifelong learning.

Faculty like Audrey and Gary and now Tom Ahern has joined the faculty!! And we have other new faculty members, too.

Constantly modifying and strengthening the curriculum. (For example: I’m going to spend more time on social justice in the first course students have.)

  • Fundraising of course… planning and major gifts and a really marvelous real life solicitation with a real person!!!
  • Fundraising communications
  • Strategic planning
  • Leadership: Legal and ethical issues in nonprofit organizations
  • Governance (That’s me!)
  • Philanthropy and development: frameworks for thinking and learning. (That’s me, too!)

Part of the program is online. A masters degree in ONE YEAR only. Just 4 semesters. WOW!!!. Students begin with summer 1 residency…Fall and spring online. And then you return to campus once more for summer 2 residency. AND YOU’RE DONE!!

AND THEN!!!!!!!! THE RESIDENCY. Those weeks on campus each summer. Oh wow. I LOVE the residency. Face-to-face. Talking and arguing and applying learnings and experience. Intense. Fun. And building relationships that stick with you on and on.

Contact Cheryl Pray (cpray@smumn.edu) our marvelous Executive Director. Contact me and I’ll tell you all about the program.

Join us! We learn and have fun and create enduring relationships.

 

 

 

April 2, 2018

From my archives. I have archives?

Every summer I head to Saint Mary’s university of Minnesota. I’m on faculty in the Masters Program in Philanthropy and Development. One of the greatest experiences of my life!

And I’m working on new stuff for summer 2018. Are you going to enroll? Check it out! Marvelous and rigorous program for those who want to focus on leadership and scholarship to build stronger organizations, stronger communities, and a stronger world.

This summer we will welcome Cohort 28.

Here’s a blog I wrote back in summer 2010. When I was on campus with Cohort 20. Our great conversation produced some cage-rattling questions for professionals, the profession, charitable organizations, and society itself. Questions like:

1. What does trust mean? Why does it matter?

2. Who is the nonprofit accountable to?

3. How comfortable are you being lost?

4. What makes someone part of a community? What does being part of a community entitle us to, obligate us for?

5. Why does society seem to feel that nonprofits should operate in “poverty-like” ways?

6. Why does a willingness to accept lower wages (than for-profits) seem to be an indicator or qualification for working in the nonprofit sector?

And here’s more from Cohort 20…bumper stickers!

1. Is lost actually found?

2. Don’t mistake leadership for strong talking.

3. Perhaps it’s called development because we find the answer – only questions that lead to more questions.

4. Rise up!

5. Mutiny!

March 26, 2018

Rationalization is pretty much crap…

Neuroscience tells us so. So does psychology. Yes, indeed. Rationalization is pretty much crap.

Charles Green inspired me today, as I write this blog.

I keep recommending Green’s newsletter, TrustedAdvice. Check out the issue “Smarts, Selfies, Shuttles – and Trust.” Read about the explosion of the space shuttle Challenger. Read about all the mistakes in decision-making.

YES! MISTAKES! You and I and our organizations make those same kinds of mistakes. Unfortunately, we keep talking about how wise we are and how smart we are and how rational we are. As Green notes, “our over-estimation of our rational behavior” and our “confirmation bias” can cause disasters big and small.

Green’s newsletter inspired me to  go to the original sources — and share with you. The original sources like Daniel Kahneman and Amos Tversky. These two – along with others – established the cognitive bias for our human errors. Biases. Heuristics.

Kahneman won the Nobel Prize in Economic Sciences for his seminal work in psychology, challenging the rational model of judgment and decision-making. (And he said it was a joint prize with his partner of so many years, Tversky, who had died previously.)

I have Kahneman’s book Thinking Fast and Slow on my business book shelf. I need to get off my butt and read it!!!!!

Or maybe I should read Michael Lewis’ book The Undoing Project, all about Kahneman and Tversky and their years of research and discovery. Lewis is the author of Moneyball, The Blind Side, and more.

I’m wandering. I get to do that in my own blog!!!!

Back to my beginning. Rationalization is pretty much crap. We aren’t rational. But we justify our decision-making by saying we’re rational. 

Imagine talking about neuroscience and psychology — and NON-rationalization — at a board meeting. Just enough to get everyone on board that we have to be very very very very careful. Imagine talking about NON-rationalization with staff … and carefully figuring out how we avoid the human error that lives in us all.

Maybe by confronting the crap, we’ll reduce the mess. Just maybe.

 

 

 

March 19, 2018

Answers to the Savvy Fundraiser’s Quiz Show

My March newsyletter introduced the Savvy Fundraiser’s Quiz Show. As promised in the newsyletter, here are the answers!!

Question #1: What’s the most important thing a board member does?

  • Attend board meetings.  X
  • Give an annual financial contribution.
  • Help raise money.

Answer: To be a board member, you must participate in the process of governance. Corporate governance only happens at board meetings because governance is a group activity. Yes, the other two choices are obligations of board members, too. But the single most important thing is attending and participating in board meetings because that’s where/when governance happens. Visit the Free Download Library on my website and read all the materials about governance/boards/board members.

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Question #2: What’s the one thing a board chair should NOT do?

  • Serve as spokesperson for the organization   X
  • Get to know the various staff people.   X
  • Provide regular advice and counsel to the CEO/ED.   X

Answer: This is a trick question. The board chair should NOT do any of these!

  • The CEO/ED serves as the spokesperson for the organization. The CEO/ED can assign someone else to serve as chief spokesperson for a particular issue or moment in time. That could be the board chair or the fundraiser or or and and and and. It’s the CEO/ED’s decision.
  • Of course, the board chair may meet any number of the staff – same holds true for other board members. However, the board chair does not “get to know” staff. Like about families and friends and life and the job and… That can jeopardize the separation of management and governance.
  • So what does “regularly” mean? Of course, the CEO/ED and Board Chair prepare board meeting agendas together. Talk with each other about issues that come before the board. And the CEO/ED can certainly ask the board chair for advice and counsel, or vice versa. But be very very careful. Regularly? Ok. Once/month if the board meets monthly. Periodically an email about something . But if the board chair and CEO/ED talk/meet weekly? On no! Biweekly updates or something? Be careful!!! Sounds like the board chair is acting as CEO/ED. And the actual CEO/ED is just the chief operating officer. Be very very very very careful!!!!!!

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Question #3: Who needs to be the governance expert in your organization?

  • Board Chair
  • Executive Committee
  • Chief executive (CEO/ED or whatever title your organization uses)   X

Answer: The one person we can count on is the CEO/ED. Hired. Paid. Professional! S/he is obligated to learn this stuff and lots of other stuff, too. Read! Workshops! Experience. Etc. And just because a board member has served on many boards does NOT NOT NOT mean s/he knows the governance body of knowledge, etc. etc. In my experience, most boards are mediocre at best. And far too many are dysfunctional. I hold the CEO/ED accountable for both mediocrity and dysfunction. By virtue of position, the CEO/ED is required to be highly knowledge about governance – and also be a darn good enabler to help the board chair facilitate good governance. (And if your board doesn’t listen and allow you to enable — then work diligently to change the board members. Or find another job. You deserve better.)

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The Savvy Fundraiser’s Quiz Show has many more questions and answers. If you want me to publish more in my newsyletter, just let me know.

Simone Joyaux, ACFRE, Adv Dip, is an internationally recognized expert in fund development, board and organizational development, strategic planning, and management.

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