End of an Era, or The Start of Something New

It is unbelievable that 4,000 people from around the country descended on New Orleans to either memorialize an era of remarkable achievement for volunteering and national service or to look to the future growth of this movement. I say unbelievable because this year’s National Conference on Volunteering and Service provided great content, great speakers, and untold opportunities to learn, serve and network with people who know and understand the power of service. This conference has been a bold joint convening hosted by the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS) and the Points of Light Institute (POLI) – a relationship that has given rise to a number of highly successful mobilizing efforts including this, the largest gathering of leaders and practitioners in our sector.

Yet this relationship also leads to some strange scenarios like the one we witnessed last week in the Big Easy. While we celebrated the great work of thousands of volunteers who responded to the natural and man-made disasters that have plagued the Gulf Coast region, there was an underlying concern that a storm of a different kind waited just around the corner. And like the BP oil spill and levee failures that taxed the resources and spirit of the Gulf residents, the appropriations for the CNCS (or potential lack thereof) could be a tragic failure of our commitment and ingenuity.

Despite the dark cloud on the horizon that CNCS funding cuts represented, the thousands gathered were not, and could not, be empowered to have a robust dialogue on how to overcome this challenge. Why? Because the CNCS cannot be in a position to lobby its own constituencies in support of their own existence. Strange, yet true. So, while conservative icon and successful Governor Haley Barbour thanks the national service field for coming to the rescue of Mississippi, participants are left to say, you’re welcome and not, you’re welcome and please tell your friends. As a POLI board member, I felt somewhat like the married couple that doesn’t talk about the challenges brought on by the in-laws. On the one hand they can be troubling and meddlesome, and on the other, without them, neither of us would be here.

Next year’s conference will be held in Chicago, and will not be in partnership with the CNCS. Correctly, in my opinion, the CNCS has decided not to renew its contract with the POLI and seek other means to provide professional development opportunities for grantees that may or may not involve the Chicago gathering. I concur with their decision because it will allow them to demonstrate that they are making prudent and careful future decisions on their resources that a national conference with high profile champions could give lawmakers a chance to call into question.

We have to convince our support network to communicate the tremendous value of our mutual work and the need for financial support of our cause. This summer is an excellent time to engage elected officials in their districts and educate and explain the power, impact, and genuine need for national service, especially as we seek to make every public dollar go further. If we don’t, we may well have celebrated the end of an era in the Crescent City rather than realizing the dawn of a new beginning.

Submitted by Kyle Caldwell, president and CEO, 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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Member Spotlight: Nonprofit Network

Nonprofit Network is a membership organization that provides services to nonprofits in the extended Jackson County region. As the recognized local management support organization, Nonprofit Network provides professional development, technical support and consulting services to over 100 nonprofit organizations and the more than 800 individuals who serve as board members, volunteers or employees.

Nonprofit Network serves the greater Jackson County region by:

– Operating as a hotline for basic nonprofit management policies and procedures,
– Functioning as an encyclopedia of governance knowledge,
– Offering professional development opportunities through basic training and advanced curriculum and
– Supporting nonprofit leaders as a mentor, coach, teacher, advocate, mediator and consultant.

2010 Census

Nonprofit Network served as the regional distribution center and nonprofit advocate for the 2010 Census in Jackson County. Working with partners like United Way of Jackson County and their census Complete Count Committee, Nonprofit Network provided area nonprofits with materials and resources they needed to ensure their clients were counted. Other partner organizations included the Center for Family Health, Goodwill Industries, Salvation Army, St. Vincent DePaul and the area food banks. Nonprofit Network also hosted the Census Bus, which made more than 800 stops at events nationwide to raise awareness about the importance of everyone participating in the Census. In addition, Nonprofit Network assisted with neighborhood canvassing projects by partnering with volunteers from the American Red Cross to promote the benefits of being counted to more than 4,000 homes in hard to count areas.

“The Census is extremely important to organizations like Nonprofit Network and the many nonprofits we serve. The census count determines how much of the $400 billion in federal funds is allocated to services like foster care, Medicare and school funding. It also helps to determine congressional representation through the redistricting process in which congressional and district lines are drawn,“ said Regina Funkhouser, executive director.

Trainings and Events

Nonprofit Network provides the areas nonprofit community with a number of affordable trainings on a large variety of topics including:

– Basic information technology
– Building alliances and other beneficial relationships with the for-profit sector
– Team building and morale boosting
– Strategic planning
– Evaluation
– Fundraising

An example of one of the training offerings is Board 101 – Basic Responsibilities. This bi-monthly class covers the legal responsibilities of a board, the overall responsibilities of the board as a whole, and the individual responsibilities of each board member. In addition, the course covers the expectations of the IRS, the 990 reporting form and how the changes in the 990 illustrate the IRS’s governing expectations of board members. This training is free and open to the public.

A new offering this year is the Fall Conference planned for November 9, 2010, from 8:00 AM-3:00 PM at the First Church of the Nazarene in Jackson. “We are thrilled that so many respected nonprofit leaders will join us to share critical information about how our sector is changing, how we can prepare for these changes and how we can be instrumental in the economic recovery of our communities,” said Regina Funkhouser. Nonprofit leaders planning to attended include; Kyle Caldwell, president and CEO of the Michigan Nonprofit Association, Diana Kern, vice president of programs for NEW, Lynn Wooten, faculty co-director from the Center for Positive Organizational Scholarship, and many more. For more information as well as a complete list of workshops and presenters, please visit www.nonprofnetwork.org/fallconference.

To learn more about Nonprofit Network, visit www.nonprofnetwork.org. Nonprofit Network has been a MNA member since 1999.

All MNA members can feature their story in our online storybank. If your member organization would like to be featured in any upcoming MNA publication, contact Bill Gesaman, Director of Member Services at 517-492-2416 or bgesaman@MNAonline.org

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Michigan Nonprofit SuperConference 2010 – Call for Presenters

Beginning May 18-19, 2010 at the Lansing Center in Lansing, Michigan, hundreds of participants from across the state will join together to attend Michigan Nonprofit SuperConference 2010. This annual conference features educational workshops, an exhibit hall and bookstore interspersed with several opportunities for networking. We expect approximately 500 participants, including nonprofit executives, program staff, fund development professionals, board members, researchers, consultants, advocates, national service members and leaders from the government, corporate and faith communities, bringing synergy and a broad community context to our discussions.

This year, the theme is “Bringing Focus to the Future,” to invoke a feeling of forward-thinking and optimism during a time of great challenges in the sector. The goal is to not just discuss the future of the nonprofit sector, but for participants to leave the conference with real ideas of their own personal, and their organization’s, contribution to the future of the sector. 

We are seeking presenters and experts with creative ideas who can interact with conference participants around the following topic areas:
• Fund Development
• Marketing, Messaging, Communication
• Nonprofit Governance & Management
• Professional Development & Leadership

Workshop proposals submitted should take the theme into account and should include thoughts on how the workshop content relates to it. One important aspect to include will be tools, specifically technological tools, and how they can help organizations accomplish their mission.

Download the RFP here. Proposals will be accepted until January 6, 2010.

Watch what past participants, presenters and exhibitors had to say about the Michigan Nonprofit SuperConference!

Submitted by Kari Marciniak, Training and Events Manager for Michigan Nonprofit Association.

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