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Pages tagged "Nonprofit Sector"


Myth Busting: Why volunteers aren’t free

main.jpgHow many times have you heard this in your nonprofit workplace?

“Of course volunteers are free. We don’t pay them.”
“You’re overwhelmed? Just get a volunteer to help you.”
“Doesn’t spending money on volunteers defeat the purpose?”

The notion volunteers are free is a common misconception both in and outside the nonprofit world. While many of the costs associated with volunteers aren’t directly monetary, there are costs nonetheless.

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Facing partnership overload? The good and bad of our collaboration culture

As nonprofit employees in one of the friendliest states in the nation, we can’t help it—we love collaborating. In most cases, this is a really, really good thing (there’s a reason why “Allied for Action” is the theme of the MCN/MCF conference this year). We solve problems faster and gain unexpected knowledge from the best collaborations. I’m currently part of a multi-organization partnership that is firing on all cylinders, and it’s incredibly motivating.

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How can your nonprofit engage voters this election season?

ElectionThis month’s Emerging Leaders Networking lunch featured Jeff Narabrook and David Zeller speaking on the subject of nonprofits and voter engagement. Many 501c3 nonprofit organizations err on the side of caution because they want to guard carefully their right to perform mission-related work as a tax-exempt organization eligible to receive tax-deductible gifts. Either public charities (aka 501(c)(3) nonprofits) do not know that they can or do not know the extent to which they can participate in the political process.

Federal law, as it stands, does not forbid public charities from involvement with government. The problem, as outlined in the book A Voice for Nonprofits, is that 501c3s are not actively engaging in the political process and speaking for their constituents to the extent that they are allowed by law.

So what can a nonprofit do to provide valuable information to the public in an election year without jeopardizing its 501(c)(3) status?

*Disclaimer: I am not an expert, lawyer, or IRS  employee (although I consulted and learned from a few to write this post), so please do the proper research before acting on what you read here!

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Navigating shifting seas: Thriving during workplace changes

If you’ve had any interaction with a nonprofit over the past five years, you know that it’s a time of never-ending change. Realignments, redistribution of talents, tightening belts, cutting costs, closing organizations, rebirth of organizations, shifting departments, shifting responsibilities — the list goes on and on. You may find yourself doing a completely different job than when you began, or you may be the new guy or gal who’s come on board as a result of these changes. So how do you navigate shifting seas? How do you choose your battles and still manage to stay afloat?

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How to make better decisions with stakeholder engagement

main.jpgStakeholder engagement. There’s some nonprofit jargon that can easily overwhelm anybody. But it’s really just about who to involve in decision making, when to involve them, and at what level - all pieces that are essential to working with clients and others. 

As a nonprofit consultant at Aurora Consulting, I talk with my colleagues about stakeholder engagement in relation to organization assessments, program evaluation, strategic planning, nonprofit governance, and many other areas. The questions of who needs to be heard from, what quality of information we need, how important consensus is, where will authority lie all become very important. 

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Let’s talk: A love/hate relationship with conversation

We emerge into this world through conversation—an exchange of words that danced between our fathers and mothers. Conversation is the universal tool we use to attract some of the priceless things we desire out of life: understanding, insight, happiness, friendship, solace, love, and more.

In our work as nonprofit professionals, conversation is also our go-to for addressing topics affecting our society and sector: lack of diversity and inclusion, racism, achievement gap, homelessness, intergenerational workplaces…the list goes on. Yet in all our casual and suited-up exchanges, are we really moving the needle toward transformational change, or are we just talking ourselves in circles?

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Myth Busting: Nonprofit executive salaries

Most young nonprofit professionals are not yet executive directors, but the policies and attitudes around nonprofit executive salaries already affect us. Negative perceptions and underpaid talent devalue our entire sector and make it an undesirable place to devote one’s career.


Recent data from the 2011 Daring to Lead report supports the sentiment that most executives are underpaid: the median nonprofit CEO salary falls between $50,000 and $75,000 a year, an average of 20–40 percent less than his or her foundation/government/business sector counterpart.

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Sunshine and Showers: The highlight reel

“I have no idea what I’m doing.”

It was a thought that sat right smack in the front of my 19-year-old mind as I, a credulous improv comedy “actor," woodenly blurped random sequences of words to the blank, slightly pitying faces of the audience before me. Needless to say, I am no longer an improv comedy actor. And needless to say, it can be tough to know what to do when you don’t know what to expect next.

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Nonprofits Are Ready to Take the Plunge

main.jpg“Action and reaction, ebb and flow, trial and error, change—this is the rhythm of living. Out of our over-confidence, fear; out of our fear, clearer vision and fresh hope. And out of hope, progress.” —Bruce Barton

In the spirit of the New Year, change is on our minds, in the form of resolutions and goals. Nonprofit organizations and staff are thinking about it, as we map out the next fiscal or programming year.

We want 2012 to be better, to be more successful, and to operate more efficiently, through our use of better practices. In order to make the year better, we need to be better. We need to excel and improve, and to improve, we need to adapt, to evolve. Luckily, humans are equipped to do just that.

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Innovate or Die: The Fight to Establish a Culture of New Thinking

main.jpgThe following blog is by Adaobi Okolue.

I’ve been having this recurring dream that’s got me wondering what the next couple of years in nonprofit land (and my perceived state of freedom) will look like. In my dream, I’m making stops at local nonprofit organizations in one of those white cargo vans with conspicuous ’60s flower-printed curtains draped over the back windows.

Ignoring “no solicitation” signs, I walk up to front-desk personnel and assure them I have meetings with their executive directors. After introductions, I convince these executives to check out my new fundraisinggimmick tool (too heavy to carry up). As I open the van’s backdoor, the Stride Gum ram emerges from nowhere and catapults executive after executive into a black hole.

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