New Year, New Language

Going through my Twitter timeline after Christmas and before New Year’s Day, I found every single list imaginable for “year-in-review” or “what-to-expect in the coming year.” One that I actually read was #nonprofitresolutions that the Chronicles of Philanthropy was running, here is the link ow.ly/8e3O4.

Two things struck me about this list: 1) the nonprofit resolution from the executive director of the The Evergreen Group, Howard Kucher. He believes that nonprofits should call themselves “social benefit organizations,” instead of by their tax status. 2) That out of the 20 nonprofit leaders that were quoted, only three called for more advocacy and organizing! I kind of feel like these two things are somehow related.

My professional background (nonprofit lobbying and advocacy, and electoral campaigns) really identified with what Mr. Kucher was getting at! A change of language can change perception, both by those who adopt the label and by those hearing it. Maybe if organizations start calling themselves “social benefit” orgs, then it will force us to think of the things we CAN and SHOULD do, i.e advocacy and lobbying, instead of the things we can’t do based on the regulations we have to follow.

By changing the labels, it also allows organizations to think beyond their charitable missions, to ones that include the economic value and contribution of the organization beyond the direct benefit to their constituents and clients. Nonprofts Social benefit organizations need to show more than how many people go through their programs; they need to also show their greater value to society. Yes, I know you fed 200K families last year, but what does that mean? How does that impact the community that I live in?

Maybe by changing the language we use, the sector will finally start advocating and lobbying. It is a new year, so a girl can dream…

Submitted by Christina Kuo, Senior Director of Public Policy and Public Affairs for Michigan Nonprofit Association

SuperConference 2011, Not Your Ordinary Workshops

This year the SuperConference planning committee has hand selected presenters for the 30+ workshops that will be taking place at SuperConference on May 10th and 11th. Presenters include speakers from our plenary sessions as well as speakers from across the U.S. Not only that, workshops are divided into six topic-based tracks that appeal to those at both an intermediate and advanced level.

Below, is a sneak peek at some of the workshops and presenters from each track that are being featured this year.

Planned Giving Strategies to Meet Donor Expectations and Current Funding Goals
Advanced Fund Development Course
Facilitated By: Christopher L. Kelly, Vice President/Senior Philanthropic Advisor – Comerica Charitable Services Group

“Opportunities and Options” are the requirement of today’s donor. Our donors would like to see multiple ways to meet current gifting goals for their beloved organization, as well as paths toward leaving a lasting legacy. In this workshop we will discuss various planned giving vehicles; how they function traditionally, but more importantly, how they can function to meet the challenges presented by today’s sophisticated donor base. The result will provide opportunities for donors to gift from their accumulated wealth, rather than their disposable income, which translates into potentially larger and concrete financial commitments, and the opportunity to generate new relationships with the next generations of your current donor base.

The Game Plan
Intermediate Public Policy and Advocacy Course
Facilitated By: Abby Levine, Legal Director of Advocacy Programs – Alliance for Justice.

This interactive session helps organizations strategize how best to employ the advocacy tools at their disposal. It includes a discussion of advocacy fundamentals that help participants define their goals and objectives, appropriate targets, and effective advocacy tools, as well as assessing advocacy capacity and evaluating advocacy activities and planning for future campaigns.

Communications & Collaborations
Cross Track Communication Course
Facilitated By: David Stillman and Debra (Fiterman) Arbit, BridgeWorks

Join our Keynote Speakers, David & Debra, as they take you on a deeper dive of working through generational issues to keep your organization relevant in today’s changing world!

Five Crazy Habits
Intermediate Governance/Professional Development Course
Facilitated By: Robin Lynn Grinnell, Program Officer – Cook Family Foundation

Is your board agenda chock full of lengthy (ugh) program reports? Are you stuck in a perpetual cycle of fundraising events that are “just fine”? Do you sometimes sit at your desk and wonder if your board and/or staff will ever really get it together? If you answered ‘yes’ to any (or all) of these questions, don’t dismay… Many nonprofits have adopted Five Crazy Habits that simply trip us up. None of them are blatantly obvious and they’re certainly not illegal – they just make our work harder. Join us for a fast-paced session in which we’ll laugh (and groan) at our collective goofs and we’ll share some simple fixes that – with a little dedication – will get you back on the right path!

Google Grant & Apps!
Cross Track Planning Course
Facilitated By: Elyse Guilfoyle, AdWords Account Strategist – Google, Mary Elizabeth Ulliman, AdWords Account Manager – Google, and Jon Fraiser, Google

You are changing the world, and we want to help! Google employees from the Ann Arbor office will introduce you to Google’s free product offerings for nonprofits. They will touch on a wide variety of products that can help you: Reach and engage your supporters, improve your organization’s operations, Raise awareness for your cause .This session will focus specifically on the Google Grants program and Google Apps for Nonprofits. The Google Grants program empowers select nonprofit organizations to achieve their goals by helping them promote their websites via advertising on Google.com. As a Google Grants recipient, your organization can solicit donations, recruit volunteers, promote events and programs, and much more through Google Grants ads.

Catch the Spirit of Service
Intermediate Civic Engagement Course
Facilitated By: Jeanine Yard, Program Officer – Michigan Community Service Commission and Evan Albert, State Program Director – Corporation for National & Community Service

Is your organization interested in making connections with National Service programs such as AmeriCorps, Senior Corps, and Learn and Serve? Do you wonder what a strong national service program looks like and how you might become that strong program effectively utilizing national service members. Join us for this interactive workshop and get answers to all your National Service questions. Learn how to ready your organization to apply for a grant or to host a member, identify opportunities for collaboration with other service programs, and find out how national service can add value to your organization.

For more information on SuperConference 2011, the workshops, keynote speakers, and other conference features, visit www.MNAonline.org/superconference.aspx .

Submitted by Ashley Branoff, Communications Coordinator for Michigan Nonprofit Association.

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Email Service Provider Comparison

While researching a couple of email marketing options for an organization I was working with recently, I came upon a new report produced by the nonprofit consulting firm Groundwire (formerly ONE/Northwest) that did an excellent job breaking down ten email service providers.

These ten providers represent the top options for nonprofits when considering an email communication service. The report breaks down each provider by features, integration with other platforms (such as Salesforce), and pricing. After you have mapped out your email marketing requirements (email volume, frequency, budget, integration needs, scheduled delivery, etc.) the report makes it wicked easy to narrow down your options. Some of the service providers profiled in the report are MailChimp, VerticalResponse, and CampaignMonitor.

The full report can be downloaded for free at: http://groundwire.org/support/articles/email-service-provider-comparison-report-2010

Submitted by Adam King, consultant with Highway T 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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Same Old Story?

When you sit down to write a grant proposal or talk to a potential donor, do you use the same old tired examples? Are your stories living on the pages of old annual reports or deep inside your website? We have been missing the heart of our stories for too long – the people. Storytelling is one of the most powerful tools we have to compel others to action – whether it’s to donate, volunteer or engage them in your issue.

It’s because of this, that I am so excited that Andy Goodman of The Goodman Center will be the opening speaker at this year’s Michigan Nonprofit SuperConference. So my colleagues have called me an Andy Goodman “groupie”, that’s okay, I am proud of it. When his e-newsletter, Free-Range Thinking hits my inbox, I read it immediately. (and I don’t say that about too many newsletters). His book Storytelling as Best Practice is frequently referenced in my office and I have the dog-eared pages to prove it.

Andy will be giving our opening keynote address on the topic of “Storytelling: the First Big Thing” and we are very fortunate to have him also lead a subsequent workshop on the topic of his book Why Bad Presentations Happen to Good Causes. Won’t you join me at the SuperConference this year? You’ll find me in the front row.

Registration is open now for the 2010 Michigan Nonprofit SuperConference. Check out the Web site at www.MNAonline.org/conf2010 to see more about Andy Goodman and the workshops on Fund Development, Marketing/Communications, Management/Governance, and Professional Development/Leadership. Register today to secure the early-bird rate.

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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Advantages of YouTube for Nonprofits

If you’re a nonprofit producing videos on a regular basis and you’re not already utilizing the YouTube Nonprofit Program…it’s time you start. The program is currently only available for nonprofit in the United States and United Kingdom and does have specific requirements (learn about the program here).

If your organization successfully applies for the Nonprofit Program and is accepted, your organization can take advantage of features like:
* Premium branding capabilities and increased uploading capacity
* The option to drive fundraising through a Google Checkout “Donate” button
* Listing on the Nonprofit channels and the Nonprofit videos pages
* Ability to add a Call-to-action overlay on your videos to drive campaigns using the overlay advertising feature
* Posting a video opportunity on the YouTube Video Volunteers platform to find a skilled YouTube user to create a video for your cause.

But the biggest addition to the YouTube Nonprofit Program came this fall. Organizations can now link to external sites from the annotation features. Not quite sure what this means? Check out this blog from See3 Communication on “How to Use New YouTube Annotations for Nonprofits.”

Charity: water raised $10,000 in one day utilizing the Call-to-Action overlay. Check out the video here.

Did your organization successfully apply for the YouTube Nonprofit program? How was the experience? Any tips to share with other nonprofits hoping to apply?

Submitted by Lisa Sommer, public relations manager for Michigan Nonprofit Association.

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Summer Reading List

Generations
Remember those infamous summer reading lists? Why didn’t that fun seem to continue past high school? Oh yeah, I still have a reading list, it’s just now a giant pile on my table (and spilling onto the floor) of work-related books, articles, as well as personal guilty pleasures like (gasp) Ayn Rand. I was recently inspired by Andy Goodman’s annual Summer Reading List in his newsletter, Free-Range Thinking. I am determined to finish these publications as well as Atlas Shrugged by the end of September. (so maybe this will turn into a fall reading list).

Who Moved My Cheese?

Who Moved My Cheese?

Here at MNA we have started our own office book club, meeting bi-monthly, which enables us to really talk about these great publications in the field. We are currently reading Who Moved My Cheese by Spencer Johnson and in September we are reading Generations: The Challenge of a Lifetime for Your Nonprofit by Peter Brinckerhoff. I am excited to delve into conversations with my colleagues about organizational change and generational differences.

But what are you reading? Is there a great publication that has changed the way that you’re working, delivering services, managing your nonprofit or communicating with your staff? What has been on your summer reading list? Are you in your own book club, what are you reading? MNA’s online bookstore is always full of great resources on nonprofit management, grant writing, advocacy and more, but is there something we’re missing?

Submitted by Allison Treppa

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Storytelling in a Visual Medium

Earlier this week I participated in a video training to learn the techniques of messaging with video, video production and storytelling in a visual medium. Leading this training was Jen Caltrider, executive producer at ProgressNow and former CNN producer.

Lesson 1:
We learned that producing a video for a campaign or your organization is like a game of Mouse Trap. The video is the cheese that leads the mouse to the “trap” or your goal of the campaign. Now, I’m confident none of us are trying to “trap” our volunteers, donors, members, etc. but you get the idea. Video should be used as an element to lead the viewer to the action you want them to take. (Jen – thanks for the great analogy!)

Lesson 2:
Any nonprofit can make a video, even if you don’t have a video camera or a large budget to purchase a camera. Most cell phones have video camera features and most digital cameras have video capability. If your organization does have a small budget to purchase a video camera, we shared a blog earlier this year about the Flip Video Spotlight program, which is an inexpensive option for eligible nonprofits. Or you can produce a video that utilizes photos, graphics and voiceovers and never leave your office!

Lesson 3:
Before jumping to the filming or editing process,the most important element to any video campaign is determining your goal. Before developing a video, you want to sit down and decide the goal you are trying to achieve, who your audience is, and the time you have available to produce the video.

After Jen enlightened us with her video expertise, she let us loose to produce a video. The three groups each had their own goal, target audience and campaign strategy. Here is what my group was challenged to do. The goal: Shorten summer break by two weeks. The strategy: Develop a video for a Facebook and/or Twitter campaign to shorten summer break. The target audience: Males ages 25 – 44.

Although my two teammate and I had never produced a video before, we jumped into the process and are proud of what could be accomplished in just 5 short hours! The great thing is you don’t have to be an expert to produce a video, and there’s a great chance your computer already has video editing software (Apple – iMovie and PCs – Windows Movie Maker). This was our first time using iMovie and were happy to learn it is very user-friendly.

To find tips, case studies and best practices for video, See 3 is an excellent resource for nonprofits and foundations. Also Kivi’s Nonprofit Communication Blog did a great blog post in March about video production tips.

Has your nonprofit experimented with video? How was the experience developing the video? What tips and tricks do you have to share?

Submitted by Lisa Sommer

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Resource Friday: Utilizing Research to Support Your Work

A couple months ago MNA with the Council of Michigan Foundations, and the Johnson Center at Grand Valley State University released the 2009 Economic Benefits of Michigan’s Nonprofit Sector report. This report, released every three to four years, helps demonstrate the strength and size of Michigan’s nonprofit sector and should be used by nonprofits when advocating for funding, considering partnerships or mergers, or leading conversations in your community.

As we shared in an earlier blog, new to the report this year is the ability dig into detailed regional tables. Regions are searchable by type of nonprofit (public charities, private foundations and noncharitable nonprofits) and geography of interest (i.e. county, metropolitan, etc.) This allows you to take an up close look of how nonprofit organizations are fairing in your community. Understanding the detailed regional tables can seem overwhelming at first look, MNA hosted a webinar with Jeff Williams of Public Sector Consultants where we discussed the scope of the nonprofit sector in Michigan, the content of the study and how the data was compiled, and how to find and download reports specific to your region.

View the Economic Benefits of Michigan’s Nonprofit Sector webinar here.

Other research to be aware of and use when discussing your nonprofit’s work in the community, are the quarterly reports by the Michigan Nonprofit Research Program. In April. MNRP surveyed over 175 nonprofits in Michigan to assess the trends of government funding in Michigan’s nonprofit sector. The survey found 33% of organizations reported delays at the local level. 26% reported delays at the State level, and 16% reported delays at the Federal level.

MNRP is a program of Michigan Nonprofit Association and the Johnson Center at Grand Valley State University. The quarterly reports are completed to evaluate how certain trends and economic issues are affecting the nonprofit community. Use the reports to get a pulse of how nonprofits across the state compare to your organization. You can find the latest quarterly report here.

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