MNA Job Center

Back in 2008 I graduated from college and took a position as an AmeriCorps*VISTA in Lansing, Michigan. In my grand five-year plan (which somehow never turns out the way I expect…), I would stay in my VISTA position for a year and then find a job working with a nonprofit. I was so tired of using websites like Monster.com and Careerbuilder.com to find work – the results were never the types of jobs for which I was searching! No matter how many times I refined my search, I couldn’t seem to get the listings I wanted.

A friend happened to pass along a fax she had gotten at her office – a nonprofit job center. WHAT?!?! This was exactly what I wanted! I quickly followed the link on the page to Michigan Nonprofit Association’s Job Center, and proceeded to check the listings every few days.

As luck would have it, I ended up working with the U.S. Census for six months and then spending some time abroad. However, I returned in November of 2010 to begin the job search yet again, and headed straight for the MNA Job Center. While many of the positions were for executive directors (something that I aspire to, but for which I am not quite ready), I also found quite a few that were right up my alley and with nonprofits in my dear ol’ hand state.

Now to the part where my story takes a crazy turn – hold onto your hats! After checking everyday for new posts and applying for everything that I felt half-qualified for, I received a call…from MNA. I had applied for a job with them, went through two rounds of interviews and now…I’m the one updating the Job Center! I’ve since learned that you can actually receive Job Center updates to your email so you don’t have to check every day. I myself am no longer looking for positions, as I am now happily employed at updating the job page I once so regularly checked. If you are out there searching for work, or if you are an employer looking to hire individuals passionate about the nonprofit sector, check out MNA’s Job Center. You won’t be disappointed.

Submitted by Jessica Swisher, Administrative Assistant, Membership and Advocacy for the Michigan Nonprofit Association.

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Rising Health Insurance Premiums

If you are a MNA member taking advantage of insurance options through Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan or Priority Health, you’ll want to pay attention to this blog. Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan (BCBS) and Priority Health have both introduced new products to help employers deal with rising health insurance premiums. If BCBS is your provider, you may have recently received a renewal rate notice with premium increased of 20 – 37%. Now is a good time for your organization to take a look at the new products that are being offered.

Simply Blue is the new platform for BCBS. They have PPO, HRA and HSA options. All options have a variety of copays and deductibles.

Priority Health recently updated their Rx copays to deal with costly specialty drugs. Their platform offers PPO, POS and HMO products along with HSA qualified plans and an option for HRAs.

With all the changes to health insurance, it is important to make sure you are investigating the latest products and cost saving strategies. If you are a MNA member interested in our Healthy Nonprofits benefit, please contact me at bgesaman@mnaonline.org.

Submitted by Bill Gesaman, Membership Manager for Michigan Nonprofit Association.

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Top Ten Questions to Ask a Potential Contractor, Consultant or Fundraiser

We all face this scenario: too many ideas and not enough hours in the day to accomplish everything. Should you utilize a consultant or contractor? Here are the top ten questions to be answered before you begin working with them.

1. What is the individual’s experience in this area?
2. Can they provide references from other clients?
3. Do they understand and have a passion for the mission of the organization?
4. If a professional fundraiser, are they licensed with the Attorney General and are the people that work for them registered as professional solicitors? You can view the list of licensed professional fundraisers at www.michigan.gov/ag
5. Are they able to complete the work on your schedule?
6. What services will they provide and how? If possible, ask for a written proposal
7. Are there any conflicts of interest in working with your organization? It is good practice for nonprofits to have a conflict of interest policy for board members, staff, volunteers and contractors. The IRS has developed a sample conflict of interest statement available at http://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-pdf/i1023.pdf
8. If fundraising, how will they handle the flow of the money?
9. If fundraising, how will they protect the privacy of donors? Check out the American Association of Fundraising Professionals Donor Bill of Rights: http://www.afpnet.org/Ethics/EnforcementDetail.cfm?ItemNumber=3359
10. How will they maintain confidentiality and are they willing to sign a confidentiality agreement?

Want more? We have developed a quick reference called the Do’s and Don’ts of Working with Independent Contractors, Consultants, and Fundraisers. It’s packed with helpful information including warning signs, tips for written contracts and breaking down the difference between an employee and an independent contractor.

Did you know that MNA has an online Consultant and Resource Directory that you can use to connect with our consultant and business members? Need help with strategic planning? A new auditor? A grant writer? You can find them all here. Select a category of services and a region and we’ll match you up!

Submitted by Allison Treppa, director of marketing and communications for Michigan Nonprofit Association.

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Resource Friday: Michigan Nonprofit Management Manual

New MNA Nonprofit Management Manual Now Available

The 5th edition of the Michigan Nonprofit Management Manual builds on the informative chapters found in previous editions, with many new features and updates, including: a new chapter on Risk Management, alignment with MNA’s Principles and Practices for Nonprofit Excellence in Michigan, updates on laws, regulations and filing requirements, expanded chapters on the use of technology, connections to other resources with many website references and a revised format to help locate information quickly. MNA members can take advantage of the reduced member price of $75.00. The non-member price is $95.00. Order your copy today at MNA’s online bookstore: www.mnaonline.org/bookstore.asp.

Submitted by Kelley Kuhn, Director of Management Support and Capacity Building Services for Michigan Nonprofit Association.

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Resource Friday: New benefit to save MNA members money

I am excited to announce the availability of a new benefit for MNA members in the area of Workers Compensation Insurance.

Michigan nonprofit employers are required to cover workers with workers’ compensation insurance if they regularly employ three or more workers at one time; or during the preceding 52 weeks, they have regularly employed at least one worker for 35 hours or more per week for 13 weeks or longer. MNA members can now save money on their workers’ compensation insurance through our newly endorsed workers comp program.

Members looking to receive a quote, and begin saving can do so quickly by filling out an online form available HERE.

To assist our members in accessing affordable workers’ compensation insurance, MNA has developed this program through a partnership with two of our members, the Michigan Retailers Association and Lyman and Sheets Agency.

For additional information about MNA’s member benefit programs, visit www.MNAonline.org/benefits.asp. For more about state requirements for workers’ compensation insurance, see the online Workers’ Compensation Guide, a publication of Michigan Economic Development Corporation.

Submitted by Brandon Seng, Director of Member Services for Michigan Nonprofit Association.

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Diversity and Inclusion – What’s Now and What’s Next

Examining the current state of diversity and inclusion among Michigan nonprofits is a first step in strengthening our organizations through diverse ideas and people (including board members, donors, staff and volunteers). The report from MNA’s latest quarterly survey, Nonprofit Diversity and Inclusion, is now available on our Web site at www.MNAonline.org/mnrp.asp. 230 nonprofits participated in the study and highlights include: 59% of responding nonprofits have a formal policy regarding diversity and/or inclusion; 95% of responding organizations believed that being more diverse and inclusive would benefit their organization; and nearly half of nonprofits reported needing help recruiting and retaining diverse board members. This study was conducted in partnership with the Johnson Center at Grand Valley State University.

Not only is it important to examine our current commitment to diversity, but to be prepared for the future. The Chronicle of Philanthropy recently published a report called The Future Starts Now. Ian Wilhelm predicts that five major trends will reshape philanthropy in the next ten years:
-A Grayer America, an increasing number of Americans over 65;
-Technology advances, a new way to raise funds and serve people in need;
-Growing influence of Hispanic Americans, challenging our recruitment of Hispanic volunteers and donors;
-Global philanthropy, increasing international donors and “citizens of the world”;
-Charitable business, increasing business as an engine for social change.

Each of these shifts will dramatically alter the existing state of philanthropy and nonprofit organizations, bringing not only new challenges but new opportunities to adapt to the changing needs of our environment. Agile and flexible organizations are needed, are you ready? Does your organization need an iPhone app? Are you ready for multiple-generation issues? Is there a need for bi-lingual advertisements and materials? It’s best to begin preparations now.

Submitted by Allison Treppa, director of marketing and communications for Michigan Nonprofit Association.

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Generational Differences

This fall we shared a blog introducing MNA’s office book club, which has been a great opportunity for staff to come together and discuss everything from trends in the nonprofit sector to work styles among colleagues. So far we’ve read Who Moved My Cheese by Spencer Johnson, Generations: The Challenge of Lifetime for Your Nonprofit by Peter Brinckerhoff, and Momentum: Igniting Social Change in the Connected Age by Allison Fine.

I wanted to share my thoughts on Generations since MNA has been focusing on diversity in the nonprofit sector. We’ve polled our members, examined our own board and staff and looked at a variety of issues including race, gender, geography, background and of course, age. Until recently I thought the last point, when you were born, was just a matter of time and relative maturity. That was until I read Generations. Among Peter’s many revelations is the blazing fact that we have to realize our generational categories, focus on the perspectives of the various generations, and have a game plan for both dealing with the growing number of Boomers retiring and the near equal number of Gen@’s coming into the leadership of our workforce.

For a “tween” generation like myself (someone born in 1964, just past the end of the Boomers and at the beginning of the GenX), I find myself to be a product of television and the personal computer. Yet, I still don’t really get full value of Facebook and Twitter, but yet still haven’t found a new technology that I wouldn’t want to own. In my work life, I am suppose to have the desire for informality (GenX), but the optimism and career focus of the Boomer Generation. As I am sure is the case with many others, I don’t fit in one nice category. On the other hand, the framework of Generations gives everyone a way of examining diversity in the workplace in a very different way.

Brinkerhoff’s “Six Big Actions” provide a work plan for organizations to use as they seek to not only diversify their talent pool, but also deal with the demographic forces we all will be faced with as we look to both retain and attract talent for our staff and boards. For my own organization, we’ve been wrestling with the challenge of internal work styles, communicating with our members, mentoring new leaders to the sector, and managing board diversity in recent years. I have been struggling with how to deal with the overall issue of talent in very crude terms (race, gender, age) and I should be looking much deeper—looking at generational issues, communication styles in a wired age, marketing to audiences in the ways they take in information, accommodating technology preferences (what Brinkerhoff calls, “Techspectations”).

Sample page - Technology and Generations

Sample page - Technology and Generations


Diversity is a sensitive and complicated issue. It’s made even more complicated by the generational issues identified by Brinckerhoff. Fortunately, Generations provides a framework to have the conversation that is non-threatening and far-reaching. I encourage every nonprofit leader to check it out, and check out the various assessment tools to see how you and your organization can engage the various generations at their levels. It will change your thinking.

Next up for the book club: Good to Great by Jim Collins and Uncharitable by Dan Pallotta.

Kyle CaldwellSubmitted by Kyle Caldwell, president and CEO for Michigan Nonprofit Association.

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Tough Times, Tough Choices

While the overall economy may not (yet) be at the same level of crisis as it was during the Great Depression, one thing is for sure—nonprofit organizations have never faced more precarious economic conditions. Whether we want them to or not, tough economic conditions lead to tough choices in how we operate our organizations. While there is no single ideal course of action to get through times as difficult as these, here are three suggestions for struggling nonprofits:

1. Put everything on the table. This means that there are no “sacred cows.” Everything should be considered for elimination, scaling back, or postponing. The more clearly this message is conveyed to staff, the easier it will be to convince them that tough choices aren’t being made arbitrarily.
2. Manage the fear of layoffs. This falls into the “easier said than done” category. Thanks to Blackberry devices, the rumor mill starts the minute that word is given that cuts will likely be made. Executives can alleviate the fear by being frank with staff about the possibility of staff cuts, and by being quick and decisive about which employees are cut. A work environment that is dragged down by the constant fear of “getting axed” will be unproductive—and will ultimately add to the financial challenges.
3. Look for creative ways to cut expenses. You might be surprised at how quickly cost savings add up when you implement reductions in the areas of travel (consider mandatory ride-sharing to appointments), office supplies (institute a paperless office environment), and staff training (limit multiple attendees at out-of-state conferences and consider using Internet-based training).

Has your organization been affected by the economy? What have you found to be the most effective strategies in dealing with the current economic struggles?

danNote: This post is authored by guest blogger Dan Thompson. Dan has more than 17 years of experience serving a variety of capacities in nonprofit organizations in Lansing, Grand Rapids and Jackson. Most recently, he was Vice President of Annual Giving at Spectrum Health Foundation in Grand Rapids, where he was also responsible for grant seeking and management. Prior to his time with Spectrum Health Foundation, Thompson served as Chief Operating Officer at the Michigan Primary Care Association in Lansing, and in several program development and leadership roles at the Michigan Health & Hospital Association. He has a bachelor’s degree from the University of Michigan and a master’s degree from Michigan State University.

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Michigan’s Young Professionals

We’ve been having conversations over the past few years about the changing nature of nonprofit leadership, having to adapt our sector to the next generation of leadership. This conversation goes beyond the nonprofit sector, but to the role and place for young professional leadership in Michigan and its economic impact.

We all know young professionals are seeking employment in vibrant cities like Chicago and we think Michigan can’t compete with that. But what about Madison, WI or Minneapolis, MN? Michigan Future, Inc. has released a new report: Young Talent in the Great Lakes: How Michigan is Faring. It’s a really interesting examination of Grand Rapids, Lansing and Detroit compared to other Midwest cities, and what’s attracting and keeping young professionals. Check out the quote from it below –

“The pattern is that high prosperity states (including Minnesota and Illinois in the Great Lakes) have big metropolitan areas with even higher per capita income. That means metropolitan Detroit and metropolitan Grand Rapids and, to a lesser degree, metropolitan Lansing must become the main drivers of a prosperous Michigan. In fact, it is hard to imagine a high prosperity Michigan without an even higher prosperity metropolitan Detroit.”

Submitted by Allison Treppa

Want to Make This Blog Better?

Are you a regular reader and think you can do a better job with this blog? You’re hired! MNA is looking to fill a variety of newly created positions including Social Media Manager who will work to direct MNA’s social media efforts and create online communities for our members and other nonprofits.

If we’re not cutting edge, bring on your experience and tell us what you’d like to see. Check out www.mnaonline.org/MNAjobs.asp to see all of the open positions at MNA, including the Social Media Manager opportunity. We’re excited about our future and can’t wait for you to get on board.

Fair warning…you’ll have to work with me :)

Submitted by Allison Treppa

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