8 Revelations from a SuperConference 2012 Participant

What a privilege to be able to attend the MNA CMF SuperConference!  I was inspired and energized, learned a great deal of information and met new people with whom we can build relationships.  That is everything you could ask and more from an intense two day experience.

Revelation 1 came from a workshop led by Kid’s Food Basket from Grand Rapids.  They call themselves a “porous” organization, one that someone can enter from any point and get involved.  Not only do they leverage volunteer time, they have involved their volunteers financially to use their myriad volunteers as an income source.  Arts & Scraps has many common elements in mechanics and volunteer involvement, but we have not to date formalized programs for financial as well as time contributions.

Revelation 2 came from the Prize Foundation session.  Remember to look for unlikely and unknown sources for ideas and expertise.  Don’t be afraid to tackle big issues and throw open the doors to seek help.

Revelation 3 came from the advocacy preconference session.  “Keep laser-like focus on long term goals”.  Involve people around their interests and look for commonalities.

Revelation 4 came from the Impact session.  Keep a “burning patience”, nurture the backbone of your organization with optimism and perseverance to reach the goal of a successful collective effort.  I’ve often thought the best attribute to have is just plain stubbornness.  This is a much more elegant statement.

Revelation 5 also came from the  Impact session.  There is no silver bullet, just silver buckshot.  Again, an elegant phrase.

Revelation 6 on a personal level, from the Investment session, I recognized that  I’m fortunate enough to have a savings account.  I could invest that in causes in which I believe and put that money to work for social good.

Revelation 7 from the Creativity session:  a couple of wonderful tidbits.  “Money never solved a money problem”—enough said.  Don’t save creativity for big problems, rely on group input and repeat priorities often.

Revelation 8 is back from Kid’s Food Basket.  Make your MISSION seem needy without making your ORGANIZATION seem needy.

Add to this list of big ideas 6 viable contacts for serious follow up and a list of 18 items in a to do list generated by ideas.

This was a very successful two days!  Thank you to the Ford Motor Company Fund for the sponsorship.  I was so excited about it that I probably told 20 people that’s how I was able to attend.  It was a good investment in our organization.  We’ve had the first staff meeting with another scheduled next week.

Submitted by Peg Upmeyer, Director of Arts & Scraps and Superconference 2012 Attendee

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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Read Books. Give Books.

“The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more you learn, the more places you’ll go.”
— Dr. Seuss, “I Can Read With My Eyes Shut!”

Crowe Horwath LLP and The LEAGUE Michigan, are once again partnering up for the month of March to promote National Reading Month through the Read n’ Give program. Read n’ Give was started in 2008 by Crowe Horwath with a mission to collect, share, read, donate and pass on books in a continuous cycle of giving. During the month of March, students in grades K-12 “pay it forward” in support of reading and raising awareness for community literacy programs by collecting books, sharing the literature amongst themselves and then donating the books to local organizations that focus on literacy. Crowe Horwath and The LEAGUE Michigan have a goal of collecting 50,000 books statewide this year.

Participating Schools as of February 22, 2011

West Michigan Schools
• Alpine Elementary, Appleview 3-5, Buchanan Elementary, Chandler Woods, Crossroads Middle School, Discovery Alternative High School, Godfrey-Lee Elementary, Grand River Preparatory High School, Harrison Park, Kelloggsville High School, North Park School, North Rockford Elementary, Pine Creek Elementary, Ridge Park, Ridgeview K-2, St. Stephens, St. Thomas the Apostle, Sparta Middle School, Sparta High SchoolWealthy Elementary, Tri-County High, Wealthy Elemenatry, Westwood Middle School
Battle Creek Schools
• Ann J Kellogg Elementary, Focus Academy, Kellogg Community College
Eastern Upper Peninsula Schools
• Malcolm High School, St. Mary’s Catholic School, Sault Middle School
Jackson Schools
• Cascades Elementary, Dibble Elementary, Frost Elementary, Hunt Elementary, Northeast Elementary, Northwest Elementary, Western Options
Pinckney Schools
• Country Elementary, Farley Elementary, Lakeland Elementary, Pathfinder School, Pinckney High School

Partnering Organizations as of February 22, 2011
• Crowe Horwath LLP • Custer Office Environments • Feyen Zylstra • Irwin Seating Company • Kellogg Company • Literary Life Book Store • RiverRun Press • Rockford Corner Bar • Schools of Hope • Schuler’s Book Store • Sparrows Coffee Shop • Michigan Nonprofit Association • Michigan Community Service Commission • Battle Creek Parks and Recreation • Boys And Girls Club of Battle Creek • Post Foods • River Oaks Apartments • Voces – Hispanic Women’s Group

For more information or to participate please contact Corinne Spencer at
616-331-9036 or leaguevista3@mnaonline.org.

Read n’ Give is also on Facebook!

Submitted by Julie Eisen, AmeriCorps Vista for The LEAGUE Michigan

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Giving Wisely: Helping Michigan Citizens Be Savvy Donors

This time of year, mailboxes and inboxes are filled with requests for charitable donations all saying the same thing – your support is needed now more than ever. Michigan citizens are generous, but the challenges facing many families make it more important than ever to make careful, wise choices about which charities to support and how best to support those organizations.

To assist donors in making these critical decisions, the Council of Michigan Foundations (CMF), Michigan Association of United Ways (MAUW), Michigan Nonprofit Association (MNA), and the Michigan Office of the Attorney General have developed the Giving Wisely: Helping Michigan Citizens Be Savvy Donors guide.

Photo by fsecart on Flickr

The Giving Wisely guide includes issues to consider when giving money, tips for making donations, important ways to give, and issues to consider when volunteering your time and talents.

Click here to read Giving Wisely: Helping Michigan Citizens Be Savvy Donors.

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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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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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How Can We Help?

We, like many other nonprofit organizations, are getting questions about “How can we help the relief efforts in Haiti?” Many ideas have been talked about. Volunteering. Collection drives for items such as different types of supplies, blankets and food. Financial donations. What is truly needed the most at this time?

A financial donation is the answer.
Yes I know my main job duty is to raise money but there are reasons why a financial donation is best at this time. Some of the reasons are:
• Financial donations allow professional disaster relief organizations to buy exactly what is needed most urgently.
• A financial gift allows the responding organizations the ability to purchase goods locally, thereby, helping to kick start the economy following a disaster. Even following a disaster, organizations are able to purchase needed supplies locally or from surrounding countries much closer than the United States.
• Financial gifts do not have transportation costs to them. What does this mean? If you are collecting items to donate to the efforts, those items then must be shipped to the affected area. There is an additional cost related to this activity.
• Financial donations are also used by relief organizations to hire local people, directly impacted by the disaster, to use their individual skills and talents to help rebuild the area. This again helps spur the local economy and help local residents get back on their feet sooner.

For additional information on why financial donations work best, you can read this recent blog posting on the Mercy Corp web site. You can also check the Center for International Disaster Information for even more reasons why financial donations are best.

For those who want to volunteer.
Do not worry. There will be plenty of time to volunteer and help the long-term rebuilding efforts in Haiti. This disaster will not fix itself in the next month. You will have abundant opportunities to volunteer if you should so desire. Contact organizations who are working there now and let them know you want to come and help and what your skills are. Different skills will be needed at different points in time. Then wait for your call and be ready to respond.

Many of you may also be wondering what organizations are providing assistance with the relief efforts in Haiti. CNN has put together a list of organizations you can contact to find out how you can best help them fulfill their most urgent needs to be able to respond most effectively and efficient.

Also, just as we saw following Hurricane Katrina, you may be contacted by nonregistered organizations saying they are helping to provide relief efforts in Haiti. Always be careful who you donate money to for these types of projects. For tips on being a savvy donor, check out the “Giving Wisely – Helping Michigan Citizens Be Savvy Donors” guide. Also remember, the best donor is an educated donor.

Finally, Haiti’s troubles did not start on Tuesday night when the earthquake first struck. Many in Haiti have been suffering in a continual state of poverty for years. This is the same as in many other areas of the world as well. Let this serve as your call to action. Spread the word and help ensure that long-term development efforts in Haiti and other countries begin today.

Submitted by Marc Melton, Director of Development for Michigan Nonprofit Association.

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