Sunday, February 26, 2012

Nonprofit Self Evaluation Leads To Efficient, Economically Trim, Effective, Increased, and Successful Fundraising & More

Save Your Nonprofit Money, Raise More Money, and Succeed - Yes, Now

How Any Nonprofit Can Raise More Support, Acquire the Best Talent, Strive, and Grow...

How Nonprofits Will Save More and Raise More: Or, How To Conduct Donor and Donations Analysis

How Proof of Concept Can Improve Fundraising for a New Program and What Proof of Concept Is

Why It Matters What the Public Thinks of a Nonprofit & How To Check

Grants for American - French Jazz Collaborations

From The Foundation Center...

[If you are interested in more information about this grant opportunity, then click "Link to Complete RFP" at the end of this post].

Deadline: May 1, 2012

French-American Jazz Exchange Invites Applications for Collaborative Projects

The French-American Jazz Exchange (FAJE) celebrates the shared passion for jazz in France and the United States. A partnership of the French-American Cultural Exchange and the Mid Atlantic Arts Foundation, the program seeks to foster the creative and professional development of jazz artists from France and the U.S. through the collaborative investigation of artistic practice and exposure to new audiences, music concepts, and professional relationships.

FAJE supports projects jointly conceived by French and American professional jazz artists that aim to encourage artistic exploration, foster intercultural dialogue, and contribute to the dynamism of the art form. Projects may take place either in France or the U.S. and their respective territories within a sixteen-month period (September 1, 2012, to December 31, 2013). The program supports activities that result in the creation of new work, the establishment of new creative and professional partnerships, and/or the development of new audiences for participating artists. Projects may include jazz artists in France and the U.S. working together or investigating forms other than jazz with artists who work in different music genres.
Each FAJE project consists of a lead partner from one country working with a collaborating partner from the other country. Lead and collaborating partners may be either individual artists or ensembles. Ensembles may represent an established group or musicians brought together specifically for the proposed project. Projects can include artists working together for the first time or those having a prior working relationship.

FAJE will annually award up to $100,000 in total grants, with no grant exceeding $25,000. Funding may be used toward artist stipends, communications, equipment and space rentals, fiscal sponsor fees (if applicable), marketing, project-related agent/management fees, recording and production fees, shipping, travel-related expenses (international airfare, domestic travel, accommodations, and per diem costs), and visa fees.
Additional support will be available to artists who received funding through FAJE for touring in the mid-Atlantic region of the U.S. Presenters in Delaware, the District of Columbia, Maryland, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Virginia, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and West Virginia will be eligible to receive fee subsidies for booking selected artists funded through the program beginning in the 2012-13 season.

Visit the Mid Atlantic Arts Foundation Web site for complete program guidelines, eligibility requirements, and application procedures.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

How Does A Nonprofit Implement A Sound Growth Strategy for Itself?

All nonprofits look forward optimistically about their potential, what needs they will meet in the future, and how the organization will continue its efforts and improve (or perhaps increase) them.

The issue of currently being sustainable and more importantly, efficient but effective is fraught with questions, when a nonprofit leader looks into the future because we wonder of the future: will we be able to manage the level of support that we provide, right now, or will we need to locate increased new funding; are we operating at capacity and if so, where are the areas this organization needs to grow so it may remain vital; are we staffed (or staffed by volunteers) who are the best and brightest providing the fullest potential to our organization's mission's goal; and we also wonder, of course, what hiccups are coming down the road, that we can't know about yet?

__  As is almost always the case, any organization that is contemplating anything operational (i.e. organizational goals, programs and services. fundraising, volunteer management, budgeting, retention of talent, etc.) it is best that it begins by honestly, in quantifiable data, in sum total evaluating itself (the organization's relevant (casting a fair and wide net as to which) operations, the current leadership and its track record (organizational successes per the goals of the mission under their direction, how effective it is, how much turnover (or volunteer and staff retention) there has been, the public perception of the organization, fundraising track record, its ability to work with the executive director, staff, volunteers, and community partners, what needs improvement, etc.).  Then the organization must be reviewed, in the same regard, using quantifiable (verifiable) data points, and objectively investigating the organization's recent track record (like how the leadership should be reviewed), its potential, what needs the organization's beneficiaries have (related to the organization's mission) that are still as yet unmet and how those can be met (if they are pertinent), etc.  This information should be an honest, effective, positive review of the leaders and the organization's operations.  This project is called an organizational self evaluation and can obviously be regularly conducted, too, for programs and departments within the organization.

__ Next, based on the findings of the organization's self evaluation, the organization's leadership (and if appropriate any key volunteers or staff that should be involved) should begin strategic planning.  Many excellent reputable, proven, best practices resources exist that outline how an effective, efficient, ethical professional, nonprofit strategic planning process works and how to conduct one (check our recommended books, above, in our Amazon store (on this blog page, in the upper right corner of this blog) for excellent book recommendations.  Do not feel obligated to buy anything you find that you like - check your local library for it and if they do not have it, ask them to get it for you through inter-library loan).  Similarly, many reputable, effective, and proven professional consultants walk nonprofit clients through strategic planning programs quite often.  Ask colleagues working for other nonprofits who they have worked with that they both liked and found their outcomes to be what the organization hoped they would be.

__ One outcome of the strategic planning effort will be the three (or five or whatever) year plan that usually includes the specifics as to when, buy whom, and how the findings from the strategic planning will be implemented or rolled out.

Sound growth strategy involves the above steps, but it includes more.

Sound growth strategy is the result of sound organizational evaluation and planning, but too, sound decision making that truly is made in the organization's and its beneficiaries' best interests.  Leaders who can leave their egos, personal agendas, and even inter-personal politics at the door in order to make some sound decisions based solely on the current but as yet unmet needs of the beneficiaries (as they relate to the organization's mission and goals) and, too, based on the organization's mission are truly doing the best possible 'leader-ing' (sorry) that they could be.

__ We all know, especially in this economy, enough can not be said, here, about planning for economic downturns (with some kind of nest egg (perhaps an endowment or other assets)); creating and implementing a realistic and effective fundraising plan (which can be one year out, a 2 year plan, or so on, up to and probably preferably no more than a five year plan); and truly budgeting well for the organization and all of its individual programs/services/and their projects, annually.  Obviously, growth must be projected and quantified so that growth and too, some kind of economic buffer, can be put into place that would realistically fund the organization (at its future operational level and its expenses).

__ Sound growth is usually bolstered with some public outreach, marketing, and public relations.  Those efforts must be planned, organized, efficient, and tailored to individually and together achieve the goals necessary to introduce, explain, put into context (regarding the organization's beneficiaries), and welcome (or even invite) the public to the new growth.  Too, it should be clear how and where the public can get more information, volunteer, or donate.

__ Growth, though always occurring should be planned, monitored, and then evaluated.  Time is the greatest ally to all anticipated and projected change.  Growth is change, and so, the who, what, where, when, how, what for, and the goals of each of the specific steps of the growth and too, the goal of the sum total or end result, of the growth should be clearly planned out.  After the growth plan is implemented and has been underway for some realistic amount of time for it to have been successful - evaluate the outcomes.  Wherever goals were not reached, determine why and how.  These findings (which are not downfalls, but rather, opportunities for the organization to learn, grow, and improve) can then be assessed, leadership and key staff can begin to come up with viable solutions, and those can be implemented (and evaluated, eventually, too, for their outcomes).

Monetary Awards for Elementary School Physcial Activity Programs And for Technologists Innovating to Get Children to Move More

From The Foundation Center...

[If you are interested in this grant opportunity, click "Link to Complete RFP" at the end of this blog post, for more information about it].

Deadline: April 2, 2012

New National Competition Launched to Identify and Support School Programs and Technology Innovations That Motivate Children to Be Physically Active

ChildObesity180 and the Partnership for a Healthier America have announced the launch of the Active Schools Acceleration Project, a national competition to identify and reward effective school-based programs and technological innovations that promote physical activity for children.

The ASAP competition will award a total of $500,000 to schools with the most innovative, effective, and cost-effective physical activity programs, and to technology developers who create new ways of using technology to promote increased physical activity among youth. In addition to monetary awards, top winners will participate in funded pilot studies aimed at expanding their programs' reach and impact.
Entries are invited in two categories — one for school-based programs and one for technology innovations.

The school program category is for programs that target children between the ages of 5 and 12 and are already being deployed in a school setting. Ideas for programs not yet developed will not be considered. Entries will be accepted from teams of two to six individuals from public, private, charter, and parochial schools. A school's physical activity program may be any curriculum, activity, environmental modification, event, or other initiative that promotes quality school-time physical activity among the target population. Each school team must include a team leader who is an employee of the school or district where the program is currently deployed. Additional team members should be individuals with some connection to the program such as students, parents, teachers, coaches, and volunteers. The competition will award prizes of $25,000 to up to ten regional school program winners, and prizes of $100,000 to up to two national school program winners.

The technology innovation category seeks to identify technological innovations, including both newly developed technologies and unique applications of existing technologies, that can motivate kids to get at least sixty minutes of moderate to vigorous activity every day. "Technology" may include but is not limited to devices, tracking and measurement systems, software applications and platforms, innovative uses of social media, gaming, smart phones, mobile phones, and more. These technologies may be practical for increasing physical activity in many settings and among students of all ages; however, all entries must be able to demonstrate at least one application of the technology that could be feasible and effective within an elementary school environment.

Entrants to the technology innovation category should form a team of two to six individuals age 18 or older to present their concept. Two grand prizes of $50,000 will be awarded in the technology innovation category to execute a school-based pilot study featuring the winning technology.

Complete competition details and the application portal are available at the ASAP Web site.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Susan G, Komen Organization's Experience Is the Devil In the Details (for Us and Not Just Komen)

Politics aside, for the sake of our discussion about nonprofit best practices and the 'why' in 'why do nonprofits choose to practice them' is helpful, so we are taking a cursory look at the recent Susan G. Komen happenstance and where that now leaves the agency what they can do to fix their public image.  The mission statement, as Shakespeare might have written (sorry, William, for my liberties here) , is "the thing".  When a nonprofit that has not taken any political stands before is perceived as having done so by the public (and that public is either for or not in agreement about that particular political stance) harm has indeed been done to the organization's brand (and its ability to raise all kinds of support).  In looking at Komen's situation we begin to understanding how nonprofits best operate effectively, efficiently, professionally ensuring their own longevity and thereby ensuring that their mission's goals get delivered to the beneficiaries of the organization's work.

If I were to go into Susan G. Komen's offices, after their harm to their own brand, I would advise them of the following (based on what is commonly known as per only what has been generally reported by the media)...

Mission drift, at a minimum, occurred.  When an organization's leadership, in any of its decision making for the organization, over-reaches or altogether forgoes the agency's mission and the goals of that mission - mission drift is most likely happening.  The number one way to get an organization back on track is for any one (or more) of the nonprofit's leaders to simply recognize and acknowledge the mission drift has happened.  This is the first step to getting the ship righted.

What Susan G. Komen did (politics aside) when they decided to pull previously awarded funding from a nonprofit that (whether one agrees with it being a controversial organization or not) is indeed a flash point, in political discussions, and Komen only pulled funding from that organization (and that news broke publicly) then Komen's leadership put the entire Komen organization name, mission, reputation, and goals out to walk a very fine line.

In their 2010 tax filing to the IRS (for fiscal year 2010), as required, Komen reported their mission statement as: "Nancy G. Brinker promised her sister that she would do everything in her power to end breast cancer forever. That promise is now Susan G. Komen for the Cure®, the global leader of the breast cancer movement, having invested more than $1.9 billion since inception in 1982. As the world’s largest grassroots network of breast cancer survivors and activists, we’re working together to save lives, empower people, ensure quality care for all and energize science to find the cures. Thanks to events like the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure® and the Susan G. Komen 3-Day for the Cure®, and generous contributions from our partners, sponsors and fellow supporters, we have become the largest source of nonprofit funds dedicated to the fight against breast cancer in the world."  [As an aside, I might also advise Komen, if I were to meet with their leaders that their mission statement needs to be tightened up (less words - more meaning on point)].

The meat or on point portion of that huge mission statement is actually the short phrase: "... we’re working together to save lives, empower people, ensure quality care for all and energize science to find the cures."  Nowhere in the entire (long) mission statement but especially not in the crux of it (this phrase I've highlighted, here) does it say anything about funding or not funding based on whether a potential Komen grant recipient organization is under investigation (which has been repeatedly stated in ensuing media reports as the reason that Komen initially pulled the grant that they promised Planned Parenthood).  In fact, the mission only says (we'll look at verbs) "empower people", "ensure quality care for all", and "energize since to find the cures".  Again, I'd advise Komen that they need to clarify, better specify, and hone down this mission statement - but it is what it is.

Though this specific instance is now reversed, Komen said that the board had create a new policy and this new policy (not funding organizations under investigation) is what ruled Planned Parenthood's promised grant out (and while Planned Parenthood will receive its promised grant, now, it is right now not clear if Planned Parenthood will receive any other Komen grants in the future - but Komen is the grant donor and it has the right to develop whatever policies (again, politics aside) that is in line with Komen's mission and it's goals that they deem necessary to best carry out that mission).

Policies must also (like any and all decision making that an organization's leadership makes) be in line with the organization's mission, its goals, and the current needs of the organization's beneficiaries (of course, in Komen's case, women with breast cancer).  After looking at their mission (above) I am not sure how not funding potential Komen recipient organizations under investigation fulfills the Komen mission statement, but for the sake of the lesson, here, let's just give Komen the benefit of the doubt and say that yes, that policy is in line with Komen's mission (again, politics aside for this discussion).

Here's the thing: if any nonprofit's leadership makes decisions (popular or not) that are not clearly in line with (or are not explained in the media within the context of) the nonprofit's mission statement then current and potential new donors, community partners, volunteers, and other kinds of supporters will not be clear about what the intention and goals of the organization are, anymore (because evidently the organization's leadership is not).

This gets back to my point, above, about Komen making a policy decision that only needs to appear political to the public (whether meaning to or not and whether indifferent to, for, or against Planned Parenthood's breast exams program (specifically what the Komen grant will fund - which is in direct line with Komen's mission statement)) - Komen has entered a heretofore uncharted area.  This is where and how Komen has done damage to its own brand.

You see, like when you donate to any nonprofit, anyone who volunteers with, donates to, or any other separate nonprofit that partners with Komen (or has in the past) will now at least stop and think before they do so again.  They may decide to give again, volunteer again, and continue to partner with Komen on community projects - but the point is that they will stop and consider whether they should.  Some will not.  That kind of loss, called attrition, is difficult at best (especially in this economy) even for enormous nonprofit operations that, in at least 2010 (the most recent year we have on record for them), operated at nearly $345 million.   This is why I say that damage has been done.  Komen will feel some loss of support across its volunteer program, its donations receipts, and among which community partners stay or go.  It has some public relations, marketing, and outreach work to do, now, to clarify where it stands on its mission statement.

Mission statements aren't just 'annoying blah, blah, blah' only good for internal marketing posters tacked up over every kitchenette in the nonprofit's office, for the volunteers and staff to read.  They are actually clear statements that (should) explain what the organization does, for whom or what, why, how (and even where, and when) for everyone working for and with the nonprofit, and everyone in the community volunteering with, donating to, and partnering with that nonprofit.  When a mission statement has really been worked on to become a powerful ally in the organization's ability to serve the beneficiaries, it is the organization's strongest point in any and all of its support-raising work.  You see, the reason that anyone supports but then supports again any one nonprofit is because they not only believe in the cause and the organization's effort to champion the cause - they believe in the organization's efforts and their potential to continue to be effective at doing the work of their mission statement.  If for any reason the public begins to question an organization's motivations (or more rightly the motivations of the leadership of that organization) it puts into question the confidence the supporter had in the organization's commitment to its mission's goal.  People begin to wonder 'well, if I donate to them, are they doing with my dollar what they say they exist to do - or are they motivated by something else that is who knows what?'   In the end, a mission statement is a bond between an organization and its beneficiaries but also between an organization and the community in which it does its work and raises all of its support.  That bond is invaluable to all three entities: the organization, its beneficiaries, and the community at large.  Once, though, that bond is questioned beneficiaries can lose as the organization may get less support (thereby affecting those needing the help the most).

That is the greatest shame, here.  The women who have breast cancer and those who love them have actually lost at least a bit because of Komen's controversy and its public fall out.  This is something that will have to be fixed.

Update 3/28/12: See the article Komen's Brand Equity Plummets According to Harris Poll: What Other Changes Are Afoot?

Grants for American or Canadian Nonprofits Providing Programs Addressing the Needs of People With Traumatic Spinal Cord Injury

From The Foundation Center...

[If you are interested in this grant opportunity, click "Link to Complete RFP" at the end of this blog post for more information]

Deadline: March 31, 2012 (Letters of Intent)

Craig H. Neilsen Foundation Offers Funding for Spinal Cord Injury Quality of Life Programs

Established in 2002, the Craig H. Neilsen Foundation is a private foundation dedicated to supporting cutting-edge research aimed at finding a cure for paralysis due to spinal cord injury and to funding innovative rehabilitation programs to improve the quality of life for those living with SCI.

The foundation's Quality of Life Grants Program provides support for innovative rehabilitation and recreation programs as well as independent living and educational opportunities intended to improve the quality of life for people living with spinal cord injuries in the United States and Canada.

Quality of Life grants are awarded only to qualifying nonprofit 501(c)(3) organizations (or Canadian equivalent) in the U.S. and Canada for programs or projects that clearly address the needs of people living with traumatic spinal cord injury. Proposals must include an estimate of how many people living with SCI will benefit from the program/project. Grants are not awarded to individuals.

Grants range from $10,000 to $100,000 for one year. Applications should demonstrate that the program is sustainable beyond Neilsen Foundation funding. The foundation does not typically provide funding for staff salaries but may consider a request for such funding if a compelling explanation is provided. The foundation discourages requests for funding to cover administrative expenses (i.e., indirect costs, operating costs, overhead, etc.); however, it does allow for a limit of up to 10 percent of the total grant request for administrative expenses.

Visit the Neilsen Foundation Web site for complete program information, application procedures, and examples of funded projects.

Monday, February 06, 2012

A Look At Susan G. Komen's Experience After the Backlash Causes Them to Reconsider Pulling Their Grants for Planned Parenthood

This is an excellent lesson in the anatomy of a nonprofit's public relations and marketing nightmare after its leadership makes decisions based on anything other than the organization's mission statement and current programmatic and organizational goals.  How can a nonprofit avoid this?  Educate your board in current, professional, nonprofit, best practices; conduct regular strategic planning based on real programs' outcomes and current beneficiaries unmet needs related to your mission; remove stalwart or 'overly dominant' leadership and replace them with proactively recruited talent and successes as needed; and require that all organizational decisions be made based on the mission and current organizational goals.

The fall out of Susan G. Komen's 2012 decision to make a political stand (on whether or not it would support Planned Parenthood's breast exam program) has indeed caused waves (it is after this snafu less support by the public; its reputation among all former, current, and potential new supporters is damaged; and its internal changes are both signs of good change but signs, too, of upheaval) and the news items describing these repercussions ("waves") are listed, here, with the most recent news about it at the top through to the older, listed at the bottom:

Komen's Past and Current Challenges Confront Its New Leaders

A 64% Raise For Komen Founder and - Wait!  Is She Still the CEO? (May 8, 2013: This is a terribly interesting unexpected turn of events, if not simply an excellent question given what the public understood Susan G. Komen organization's intentions were after the backlash - which leaves supporters and potential supporters wondering yet again - what the Hell is going on at Susan G. Komen).

Komen, Planned Parenthood say lessons learned from funding dust-up

How Planned Parenthood Is "Like the Mafia"... Or Not

Ex-Komen official blasts 'Bullyhood'

Ex-Komen VP Karen Handel is Writing A Memoir Called Planned Bullyhood

Planned Parenthood Puts Donations from Komen Skirmish To Use

Komen founder to step down as chief executive

Chief Fundraiser Leaves Susan G. Komen

 Fewer People Registering for Susan G. Komen Races

Komen's Brand Equity Plummets According to Harris Poll: What Other Changes Are Afoot?

Calls Grow For Leader of Komen To Step Down

Insight: Komen charity under microscope for funding, science

Komen  exec quits over Planned Parenthood flap

Komen Caught Pink Handed But What Else Don't We Know?

Susan G. Komen Foundation revises policy that barred Planned Parenthood funding

A Cancer Survivor On Susan G. Komen

Amid Komen flap a frantic 24 hours for agencies in Twin Cities

Komen reversal on Planned Parenthood doesn't end controversy

Democrats laud, GOP laments Susan G. Komen reversal

Komen: Collateral Damage Assessments Made On the Fly

Applications Being Accepted for Conservation Fellows and Innovation Grants for Conservation of the Natural Environment in the U.S.

From The Foundation Center...

[If you are interested in this grant opportunity, click "Link to Complete RFP" at the end of this blog post, for more information.]

Deadline: Various

TogetherGreen Accepting Applications for Conservation Fellowships and Innovation Grants

TogetherGreen, a conservation alliance between the National Audubon Society and Toyota, is accepting applications for its 2012 class of Conservation Fellows and Innovation grantees. These programs are designed to foster conservation leadership, achieve conservation results, forge partnerships in communities across the United States, and help engage millions of Americans in conservation action.

The Conservation Fellowships program seeks to invest in individuals who are committed to empowering others and to creating positive environmental change in their communities and organizations. Applicants must have at least six years of experience in conservation, environmental education, policy, or environmental issues, as demonstrated through current and past work experience, academic studies related to the environment, and/or volunteer work; and have a current affiliation (full- or part-time employment or equivalent volunteer commitment) with a conservation organization, business, university, community-based organization, or other professional organization whose goals and practices make a positive contribution to environmental conservation. Fellows receive a $10,000 grant to conduct a twelve-month conservation action project in their community, as well as specialized training and support to help shape and implement their projects. (Deadline: March 5, 2012.)

The Innovation Grants program provides funding to enable Audubon groups and others to inspire, equip, and support activities that engage new and diverse audiences in conservation action and create healthier communities. To be eligible, the applicant organization must constitute a branch, office, or other operational unit of the National Audubon Society (including national or state offices and field units such as Audubon centers and sanctuaries), or be an Audubon-certified chapter or Audubon- certified chapter-run center or sanctuary. Independent Audubon entities that wish to participate in a cooperative arrangement with the National Audubon Society for this purpose are also eligible. Other organizations are encouraged to apply if they partner with an Audubon group on their project. Organizations in areas in which there are no Audubon organizations may apply with partners of their own.

Applicants must have 501(c)(3) tax-exempt status, a commitment from at least one partner organization to serve as a collaborator, and adequate collective experience and organizational capacity to administer, implement, and evaluate the project. A minimum of forty projects will receive funding totaling more than $1 million, with grants ranging from $5,000 to $80,000. The average grant awarded will be around $25,000. (Deadline: April 2, 2012.)

For complete guidelines, selection criteria, eligibility, and the online applications for both programs, visit the TogetherGreen Web site.