Say No to One Kind of Best Practices

While I love the idea of best practices, its time we got away from using this terminology in nonprofits.

First, the words “best practice” have become lingo, according to Laura Mikuska with the Mikuska Group. Best practice no longer represents a researched, proven solution to a challenge.

Second, the term implies that only one excellent way exists to do things. Find it and you’re golden. Fail to find it and you’re doomed to a second rate existence.  Not true, especially …

view article

How to Obtain Resources and Income By Working With Your Chamber

You know, at least theoretically, that attending your chamber or other civic meetings is a good idea. You will meet other leaders, potential board members, catch-up with acquaintances, and often learn something from the program. Yet, with the press of other priorities, it’s hard to invest the time and energy in civic groups. How can you participate and maximize your investment in these meetings? Here is a plan that offers you the opportunity to attend, meet new people, and maintain …

view article

How To Get Value Out of Donor Rejection

They say, no, or even worse, they are silent. In either case, you, your nonprofit, and your idea are rejected. Rejection, while difficult in all occupations, is especially bitter in the nonprofit arena. Your intentions were noble, your hopes high, and your cause important.

Rejection is part of the nonprofit experience. When you encounter it, take these three steps to create value.

1. Grieve.

Allow yourself time to respond to the blow. Its nice if you have a padded room …

view article

Creating an Event With Staying Power

One of my clients asked how to create a signature event…. that question lead to this article. It first appeared in the August 2013 edition of Added Value.

Create A Signature Event With Board Help

A Signature Event is Conceived

Erin McLeod, Chief Operating Officer of the Senior Friendship Centers, told me, “Our seniors have the most amazing stories.” We were having coffee, and mused about ways to help the Centers. While the Centers are most renowned for helping …

view article

Create Extraordinary Impact: Fund Your Most Difficult Challenge

Your Ingenious Nonprofit
Karen Eber Davis
July 2013

“If we used government money,” said Joe Carbone, CEO of The Workplace in Bridgeport, Connecticut, “some businesses wouldn’t have been interested. They fear the potential interference.” Three years ago The Workplace successfully launched a new program:  Platform to Employment (P2E). To pilot P2E, The Workplace raised $600,000, over half from corporations. Supporters sponsored individuals at $6,000 each.

Born in the Great Recession, P2E provides those who have been unemployed longer than two …

view article

Create Board Diversity for the Long Haul

In a stack of thirty grant applications, one stood out. It was well written, brief, and contained a mix of clarifying facts and stories. The nonprofit’s answer to the board composition was exceptional. It included a small table showing that the board had representatives from every demographic group. At the review meeting, a panelist praised the board’s makeup. “Your board diversity is outstanding. Do the numbers still look like this?”

“Yes, well about that . . .” said the CEO, …

view article

Give Your Strategic Plan a Work Out

Several years ago, I worked with a nonprofit that proudly showed me their current strategic plan. It was filled with engaging pictures, handsome graphics, and charts. A remarkable amount of work had gone into it. It was meticulous, detailed, and cleverly laid out. It was a great document–but unfortunately, it was useless. The proof? They literally blew the dust off it as they handed it to me.

A great strategic plan gathers no dust. Instead it becomes ratty at the …

view article

Four Steps to Corporate Dollars

Your Ingenious Nonprofit

June 2013

Extend a Government-funded Program with Corporate Dollars

What is the key to obtaining corporate support for your work? “It’s all about the leverage,” said Pam Nabors, President of Workforce Central Florida. Ms. Nabors was explaining that her former employer, Capital Workforce Partners in Hartford, used corporate dollars to fund services for more than 500 summer youth. Each youth was supported by a business scholarship of $1,000 to $1,600. In turn, Capital Workforce transformed this investment …

view article

Increase Your Success With Bequests 

Increase Your Success With Bequests 

Olivia Thomas, Executive Director of the Safe Place and Rape Crisis Center (SPARCC) opens a thick legal envelope. The return address lists the name of a law firm. Inside the letter states that SPARCC has been named in the will of deceased women. After sharing the good news with other SPARCC’s supporters, Olivia finds that no one knows her. When SPARCC researches its records, it learns that long ago the woman bought one five-dollar T-shirt. …

view article

Become a Volunteer Magnet to Reduce Your Expenses

Your Ingenious Nonprofit

May 2013

“Beating the mouse,” is the goal of volunteer experiences at the Houston Food Bank according to Brian Greene, President and CEO. “The mouse” is a day at a Disney theme park. Almost all nonprofits offer volunteer experiences. Few nonprofits design operations, buildings, and processes with the goal of offering better-than-vacation-day ones.

The value of creating extraordinary volunteer experiences includes tremendous community branding, and something critical to the Food Bank: reduced labor costs. Envision organizing 70 …

view article