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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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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Reflections on SuperConference 2011


SuperConference 2011 has come to a close and I am still reeling from the energy of everyone who attended. I don’t think I can described in my own words what happened at the Lansing Center over the last two days, but I feel people walked away refreshed, enlightened, and inspired.

I am also humbled by the selfless participants we had this year. It started on day one when many noticed a new feel at SuperConference. We had MessageMakers pumping things up, David and Debra discussing relevant generational issues, and Detroit’s Invincible getting the crowd going. Governor Snyder also paid a visit, while Harron Atkins performed before Steve Tobocman of Global Detroit addressed SuperConference participants. We also had a first ever evening plenary, featuring Brian Williams and Kinetic Affect (I can honestly say this is where the “togetherness” and hugs started!), to honor volunteers and service in our great state. On day two, in the final closing plenary, Raise It Up! performed before Doc Hendley of Wine to Water took the stage to share his personal and inspirational story. The entire conference came to a culmination at the end of Doc’s speech. Those of you who were there know what happened and the emotion in the room. Hugs, tears, and selfless giving swarmed around all of us. It was an amazing moment. The photo below, I feel, sums up, not only Doc’s closing speech, but the entire conference.

Below I have posted some of the Tweets that were sent during SuperConference in hopes of giving you an idea of the remarkable experience people had.

I also encourage you to share with us, in the comment section below, what your favorite moment of SuperConference 2011 was…

@MNAonline Great Job of saving paper and making resources easily accessible with the flash drives! #sc2011

I’m a sucker for a conversation about generational differences.#sc2011

@MNAonline very excited for #sc2011!! Great opening speaker…#Generationxer david stillman #millennial debra arbit #mfactor

Invincible is super rad. #sc2011 Girlfriend’s got soul! Bringing messages of change and hope to #Michigan . Preach, sista!

Detroit hip hop artist Invincible just made me cry #sc2011

#sc2011 listening to Gov Snyder. Its a “we” effort. To reinvent MI we need to focus on education, health & wellness and talent.

Presenting the Russell G Mawyby Award of Philanthropy to Jim and Donna Brooks #sc2011

Wonderful performance by Harron Atkins! Enjoying inclusion of the arts this year #sc2011

Glad Steve Tobocman is talking about the good sides of Immigration. Thanks for highlighting this issue @MNAonline!#sc2011

No better artists to rep #kalamazoo than kirk and gabe @KineticAffect. Love these guys. Always amazing social message in their words #sc2011

#sc2011 inspired by all of the awesome conversations happening here today. #michigan rocks! (@ Lansing Center)

All the performers at #sc2011 have been amazing. Makes me wish I had a performing arts talent.

@MNAonline I need to go to this #SC2011 next year! I’d make @GVSU proud!

@MNAonline <3ed learning about Time Banking today… What a difference it could make to our communities! #sc2011

He is awesome! People should google him. “@MNAonline: #sc2011Enjoying Doc Hendley at the closing plenary! yfrog.com/h8mpjvej”
reginajreid Regina Johnson-Reid
@MNAonline doc hendley is powerful. Great motivational speaker. Ordinary people CAN do extraordinary things! #sc2011

“Plug your ears when the world tells u that you cant. 1 individual CAN change the world. It starts with an idea”~doc hendley #sc2011

Proud to be a member of the MNA! Great conference #sc2011 Cant wait till next year!

@MNAonline excellent way to end these last two days by reminding us, “Don’t ever forget why you’re doing what you are doing” #sc2011

#sc2011 $3978 raised for Wine to Water! Thank you everyone!

michfoundations CMF
@MNAonline – Congrats MNA on a SUPER conference #sc2011

RT @alexandbre: It’s amazing the willingness of nonprofit professionals to help those they have never met @MNAonline#sc2011 @wine_to_water

Thrilled by new ideas learned at the MI #Nonprofit SuperConference. Def got my wheels turning! Now back to the office. @MNAonline#sc2011

Had an amazing time with @MNAonline folks this week. I was blown away by the generosity of #sc2011 attendees toward @wine_to_water!

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

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Why You Should Attend Conferences

There are countless professional development opportunities where we can meet people and develop our skills. Some of these are short one-time local events, while others are large state-wide and national conferences. While I believe strongly that each of us should take advantage of every professional opportunity we can fit in our schedules and budgets, I am partial to attending conferences. Why? Here are my three reasons for attending the 2011 MNA SuperConference and other large state-wide and national conferences:

Inspiration – If you arrive at a conference looking to be inspired, I can guarantee that you won’t be let down. Whether it is by a plenary speaker, a breakout session presenter, or someone you will meet during lunch, there are tons of inspirational stories waiting to be shared at every conference. Inspiration is what drives you to have a big vision and give the most to your work. For me, at the 2010 SuperConference it was John Wood, Founder of Room to Read. His story was inspirational and motivated me to think big, dream bigger and GSD. With a great line up of speakers for 2011 I will have to wait and see which one inspires me the most, but I attend SuperConference, each year, with confidence that I will walk away inspired.

Networking – I’m not talking about your everyday networking where you meet a bunch of people you may never meet again. I’m talking about identifying people you want to meet, finding them and talking with them to build your network. Conferences are where you will find the rockstars of your field. The CEOs, founders, and powerbrokers of the nonprofit sector are most easily accessible at conferences. Once you’ve met the people you want to meet, remember that it takes at least two significant interactions with someone for them to remember you. You can either find that person a second time during the same conference (this may involve going out of your way, but it’s worth it!) or email them afterward. On my way home I always make a list of 4-5 people I want to “reconnect” with when I get home. It can be as simple as emailing them saying how great it was nice to meet them, but you need that second interaction to make your networking count.

3 Great New Ideas – You will be exposed to a large number of ideas at a conference, but not all of them will be new or great. I have discovered that if I can find three great new ideas at a conference it is a successful use of my time and resources. Three core changes to my day-to-day work, my organization at large, or my personal philosophy is a significant amount of improvement. If you bring back many more than three (and aren’t able to prioritize them), you run the risk of not implementing any changes due to being overwhelmed. With specific tracks of programming, the 2011 Super Conference has new ideas waiting for every type of nonprofit professional.

I’m not here to advocate any one particular conference over another, but I will encourage every professional to find a way to attend at least one conference a year. You will be inspired, networked and you’ll have 3 great new ideas to improve your professional and personal life. See you at the 2011 MNA Super Conference in May!

For a further look at why you should attend SuperConference, click here!

Submitted by Mike Goorhouse, Private Foundations Coordinator and Grants Manager for the Council of Michigan Foundations

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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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SuperConference 2011 Keynotes – Taking us Forward

SuperConference 2011 is quickly upon us, and as you can imagine MNA staff has been busy searching for the perfect keynote speakers. We knew that we had a lot to live up to after last year’s speakers, Andy Goodman and John Wood, and we also knew we wanted to bring in innovative speakers who would help drive home the theme of this year’s conference: Michigan’s Transformation: Nonprofits Leading the Way.

Our workgroup spent hours searching, reviewing, debating…until finally, we narrowed it down to four, outstanding, keynote presentations.

Being Effective in Today’s Changing World
To kick off SuperConference this year, we have David Stillman and Debra Fiterman from BridgeWorks. The energy and expertise from this team is remarkable. They will be speaking to address generational issues and how they plague today’s workplace. Just think of all the generations you have working together, from employees to volunteers! This team speaks to all generations, no one is left out and everyone will learn not only about their own generation, but the other generations around them.

Engaging Our Creativity for Powerful Impact
For the closing plenary, we want people to walk away feeling inspired, creative, and refreshed to go back to their organizations and continue to lead the way. Doc Hendley, was just like any of us when he was inspired to take action against the lack of clean drinking water in the developing world and founded Wine to Water in 2004. Because of his courage and social entrepreneurial drive, he was named as a CNN Hero in 2009. It is for those same reasons, plus his ability to quickly adapt to social and economic crisis, that we knew he was the perfect fit for our closing keynote. (I also must note that while speaking to Doc, he told us he spent several summers in the U.P. while growing up. That definitely sealed the deal!)

Understanding the Past for a Relevant Future
Nonprofits are truly leading the transformation in Michigan and we wanted to honor that by bringing in a speaker who is local and taking the lead on social innovation. Insert Steve Tobocman. He is the author of the Global Detroit study which is an effort to understand the role and impact foreign-born residents have on a region’s economy and to define strategies to enhance their role in revitalizing older neighborhoods and transitioning the region to a new economy. Steve truly understands Michigan’s history and how it can be used to build a prominent future for our state.

Steve Tobocman of Global Detroit

Tuesday Evening Dinner Plenary – Celebration of Service
This year MNA is switching things up and making what is usually a short evening event, into a dinner plenary. Volunteers have long been involved with the work and success of nonprofits, and our speaker, Brian Williams, has a modern take on volunteer mobilization. Brian is the Executive Director of Hands On Nashville and his efforts helped revitalize the devastated city of Nashville after the floods in 2010. This is going to be an exciting night to help celebrate Volunteer Center’s of Michigan’s 20th Anniversary and the future of service in the nonprofit sector.

Brian Williams of Hands On Nashville

So, there you have it! The four keynotes for SuperConference 2011. I hope this “sneak peek” has you excited for this year’s conference. We will be featuring blog posts dedicated to SuperConference 2011 throughout the next few months, stay tuned for more details!

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

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