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

What is in a mission?

“What’s in a name? That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet.”
Shakespeare, Romeo & Juliet

What’s in a mission? That which we describe the work of a nonprofit by any other would “do good” just the same, right? Shakespeare might agree, but those in the sector know that a nonprofit’s mission is unique to the organization and the cause that it is designed to serve.

This is why strategic planning should always include a hard look at an organization’s mission and how that mission fits with the long-term outcome the work should accomplish.

The Michigan Nonprofit Association (MNA) invested more than 18 months exploring our mission, our vision, and our unique role in the nonprofit sector so that we might better understand ourselves, our community, and our future. Our journey included taking on a new way of thinking built around David LaPiana’s model of “Real-Time Strategic Planning” that forces an organization to continually understand and examine its identity, strategy, and advantages.

At MNA, we are proud of the work that we have accomplished in understanding ourselves and our work and invite others to explore our new vision, mission, and values and ask that you help us understand how we can better serve nonprofits to achieve their missions.


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

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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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2010 Compensation and Benefits Survey data can help avoid excise taxes

The IRS imposes intermediate sanctions primarily as a means to penalize nonprofits for excess benefit transactions. The most common type of excess benefit occurs in providing excessive compensation, fringe benefits, or other unearned benefits to directors or other disqualified persons. Sometimes the excess benefit arises through the sale of property for less than fair market value or a contract that confers excess benefit on the disqualified person. Disqualified persons are generally members of the board and officers of the organization but also include persons with significant influence over the organization, such as managers, large donors, or fundraisers providing significant services.

If the IRS finds a disqualified person has received an excess benefit, that person or entity is required to return the excess benefit to the organization. The organization must be returned to the state it was in, to the extent possible, before the excess benefit was given. In addition the individual or entity must pay an excise tax in the amount of 25% of the excess benefit to the IRS. If the return to the organization is not done in a timely manner, then the excise tax can increase to 200%, and the IRS may also levy a 10% tax on the organization manager who authorized the original transaction. The excise tax assessed against an organization manager is limited to $10,000 for any one excess benefit. With respect to any one excess benefit transaction, the maximum amount of the tax imposed cannot exceed $20,000.

Is your head spinning yet?

While these sanctions pose serious consequences for nonprofit organizations, compliance is fairly straightforward. Congress has created a procedure in which the board, or a committee given authority by the board, can create a rebuttable presumption that the transaction with a disqualified person is not excessive. Payments under a compensation arrangement or transfers of property between an applicable tax-exempt organization and a disqualified person are presumed reasonable at fair-market value if the following conditions are satisfied:

• The transaction is approved in advance by an authorized body of the organization composed of individuals who do not have a conflict of interest concerning the transaction. This means that the persons who will benefit should not participate in the decision making process.

• The authorized body must obtain and rely on comparable data to determine if the compensation or transaction is appropriate. (This is where studies like Michigan Nonprofit Association’s 2010 Compensation and Benefits Survey can be helpful.)

• The authorized body must adequately document the basis for their decision. The document should include:
o Terms of the transaction and date approved
o Members of the authorized body present and their votes
o Comparability data relied on by the authorized body and how it was obtained
o Any actions by a member of the authorized body who may have a conflict of interest
o Documentation of the basis of the determination before the next meeting of the authorized body or 60 days after the final action was taken, whichever is later; and approval of the records as reasonable, accurate, and complete within a reasonable time thereafter

These rules, along with transparency and accountability standards, dictate that a nonprofit must examine the marketplace and maintain clear records of processes used to determine compensation. In order to assist members in this effort, Michigan Nonprofit Association released the 2010 Compensation and Benefits Survey. Free for all members of the Association, this survey provides salary and benefit information for nearly 20 positions specific to Michigan’s nonprofit sector. The survey is intended to provide comparable data to be used to determine the appropriateness of compensation and to rebut charges that compensation is excessive or inappropriate. Nonprofit boards, authorized committees and executive level staff can use this data as a resource in their process of setting salaries, ensuring that their organization is competitive in the marketplace, and significantly reducing the risk of intermediate sanctions being imposed by the IRS.

Log on to MNA’s website today at www.MNAonline.org to download your free copy of the 2010 Compensation and Benefits Survey.

Marion Gorton


Brandon Seng

Submitted by Marion Gorton, Public Policy Specialist, and Brandon Seng, Director of Member Services, for the Michigan Nonprofit Association.

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Don’t Lose Your Tax Exempt Status!

Hourglass

Time is Running Out!

As a nonprofit organization, you know the importance of your tax-exempt status. Be sure not to risk losing that status by submitting your annual return by May 15, 2010!

Whether your organization has a budget in the millions or in the thousands, you are required to submit an annual 990 form to the IRS. Please note – nonprofits with annual revenue of less than $25,000 are now also required to file. This requirement has changed in order to help our government better understand how many 501(c)3 organizations exist.

Beware – this is the first year (2010) the IRS will automatically revoke the tax-exempt status of organizations that have failed for three consecutive years to file the required Form 990 with the IRS. These forms must be filed by May 15th, otherwise your organization may have to submit its application for tax-exemption with the IRS all over again.

The Urban Institute’s National Center for Charitable Statistics has developed a simple tool to find out if you need to file. Here’s how in 3 easy steps:

(1) Go to this website

(2) Select the name of your state and then enter your nonprofit’s name. If there is an alert “FILE NOW” by your nonprofit’s name,

(3) File a 990 or your nonprofit’s tax-exempt status will be revoked on May 16th.

Filing by May 15th will prevent your organization from having to pay $750 and submit an application for tax-exemption with the IRS all over again!

Smaller organizations can fill out the IRS Form 990-N, known as the ePostcard (http://www.irs.gov/charities/article/0,,id=169250,00.html). The ePostcard is easy to complete, and only takes a few minutes to answer eight simple questions. Larger nonprofits simply need to file their tax returns.

For more information about filing annual returns, please visit http://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-tege/filingrequirementsfactsheet_012010.pdf

Submitted by Kari Sederburg, director of public policy 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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How diverse and inclusive are Michigan’s nonprofits?

How diverse and inclusive are Michigan’s nonprofits? Unfortunately, not much data has been collected over the years to help us know the answer for our state. Who makes up the majority of nonprofit boards and staff?

Michigan Nonprofit Association and the Johnson Center at Grand Valley State University have developed a new survey designed to assess the trends of Michigan’s nonprofit sector around policies and practices related to diversity and inclusiveness. Responses will help inform and direct the activities of MNA and partner organizations, including to inform a series of focus groups to be co-convened by MNA and the Council of Michigan Foundations (CMF). The focus groups will develop an action plan for helping nonprofits become more diverse and inclusive.

If you haven’t done so already, we encourage nonprofit leaders to take 10 minutes and follow this link to take the survey. Click here to complete the survey.

The survey closes by Wednesday, November 25, 2009.

How do you think Michigan’s nonprofit sector will compare to the nation? Why is this a concern? Read the Chronicle of Philanthropy article, “Foundations Lack Board Diversity, Says Report.” Will our state appear the same?

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

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Are you a Best Managed Nonprofit?

Detroit-area nonprofits listen up! Crain’s Detroit Business is searching for the Best Managed Nonprofits. For all the details and an application, read Crain’s article about this year’s search: http://www.crainsdetroit.com/article/20090730/FREE/307309991/-1#

Crain’s states that this year’s search will focus on ways nonprofits are meeting the challenges of the economy. Applications are due August 10 so there’s still time to send yours in.

Requirements: Applicants for the award must be a 501(c)3 with headquarters in Wayne, Washtenaw, Oakland, Macomb or Livingston counties. Submit a complete entry form with a copy of the nonprofit’s most recent audited financial statements and a copy of the nonprofit’s most recent IRS Form 990

Submitted by Lisa Sommer

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Managing Transitions

“You should feel lucky to have a job in this current economy.” We hear this more and more recently as the unemployment rate jumps up to 14%. Yet we sometimes forget the nonprofit sector has, like many other industries, experienced significant turn over. Whether hiring for existing positions or creating new employment opportunities, managing transitions will be a part of our work lives.

MNA is experiencing a large change in our workforce with four key leadership positions changing. As we were examining our work to fill these important positions, the MNA Board pointed out some important issues we all might want to examine as we deal with the inevitable – people leaving our organizations:

1. Change happens. It’s how we structure our responses that make the difference between positive and negative change.

2. The current flood of talent due to layoffs in the for-profit sector makes this a buyer’s market.

3. Use vacancies as opportunities to shake up the organization’s structure.

For the person leaving a position, the change can obviously be disruptive and challenging. In a recent article in the Lansing State Journal, McCarthy and Blanchard offer great advice on managing your exit.

• Remain positive. Rather than wallow in self-pity or give in to the temptation to blame others, use the situation to position yourself for the future. Convey optimism that the right opportunity is ahead.

• Say good things about your employer. Focus on the positive aspects of the experience and communicate those to one and all.

When a close colleague left a blue-ribbon company to start her own consulting business and people wondered why, she said: “It was a great place to be and it’s a great place to be from.”

• Be thankful. Express gratitude for the chances you had and the lessons you learned. Thank the people who helped you along the way either in person or with a thank-you note.

http://www.mccarthyblanchard.com/home.html

Positioning our organizations and ourselves in this job market can be challenging, but great opportunities are available if we position ourselves and our organizations.

Submitted by Kyle Caldwell

 

 

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Responsible Organizations Increase the Power of the Network

Findings of a recent survey (pdf) conducted by Michigan Nonprofit Association in partnership with the Johnson Center at Grand Valley State University show a surge in demand for nonprofit services in the last 12 months. As you may expect, 94% of respondents said the poor economy was the primary reason behind this growth in demand. While the current economic climate is creating new challenges almost daily, connections to a strong network and resources are becoming increasingly vital for mission achievement.

As nonprofits, we constantly rethink, re-assess, retool where we are – both financially and in our missions. Continuing work that creates and renews relationships while increasing transparency and accountability is becoming more important than ever. Only together will the nonprofit sector be equipped to handle the increase in need we are seeing within our communities.

Difficult conversations are taking place in our capital, board rooms, and households. By taking active roles in these conversations, and by convening thinkers from across the sector, we are together able to re-frame our largest challenges as opportunities for change and innovation. Michigan has a large network of nonprofit organizations dedicated to this charge. While as a group they can leverage immediate costs savings to help in the short term, the network’s largest resource or benefit is the collaboration that it inspires in like-minded leaders. How has your organization used MNA and other statewide or regional networks to advance your mission in a troubled economy? We would love to hear from you.

Submitted by Brandon Seng

Photo credit: Flickr user Picture Perfect Pose

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