Breaking the Rules of Board Roles

Posted by Johnathan Teal

How many times have you been told (or said) this: “It’s a board member’s responsibility to fundraise”?

Staff say: “Hey board members, fundraising is an expectation”. Then, when many board members don’t fundraise, staff bang their heads against the wall.

Rinse and frustratingly repeat.  

What if the world of professional golf could teach us something about how to handle this seemingly unsolvable problem?

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Topics: Philanthropy, Fundraising, Culture Of Philanthrophy, Board Leadership

Challenging Best Practices in Grant Fundraising

As the nonprofit world continues to move out of the pandemic recovery stage to the “new normal” and economic uncertainty, we find ourselves in changing times in every area of fundraising. Grant makers are no different. Many are re-evaluating their own models of giving and looking to change the way they invest in communities. Some are even going so far as to forgo formal line-item budgets in applications and traditional written applications all together and are asking nonprofit partners to solicit requests through a variety of channels including virtual presentations, videos and Q&A sessions.

Development professionals know that during times of change and transition, it is more important than ever to stay focused on best practices. In the foundation world we know these to be:

  • Get to know the funder and their giving priorities
  • Understand the application process
  • Make a strong case and clearly identify outcomes
  • Be a good steward

While we keep best practices at the forefront of our work, it doesn't mean there’s not room for creativity within each practice.  

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Topics: Fundraising, How To Ask, grant writing

More Does Not Equal Better: Metrics & Fundraising

Posted by Kali Righter

The concept of being “data driven” has taken the nonprofit industry by storm. Data’s ability to be objective and serve as a tool to focus energy and attention can be transformative to nonprofit organizations. Using data well means you can be the best steward of your resources and increase your impact in whatever critical area you support.

Therefore, nonprofits often dive in to using data, and once they start it can be hard to stop. More and more “what if we had [insert metric]” scenarios come to mind and before you know it one “basic” dashboard contains over 30 metrics. Success, right?

We need to stop and recognize a core concept when it comes to working with metrics. Metrics in their simplest form are quantitative representations of your work.

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Topics: Fundraising, Dashboard, Metrics

How To Thank and Retain Volunteers

Recently, I attended a volunteer celebration for a local public school district. The volunteers for the year were treated to a reception before the Board of Directors meeting, which included a performance from the honor band. The staff and board thanked and recognized the volunteers for their service throughout the evening. Students were also celebrated, which was a great way to incorporate the impact of the volunteers’ service and demonstrate their value to the organization.

This celebration reminded me that in addition to traditional nonprofits, many other organizations benefit from volunteer service, including schools, athletic teams, and medical care facilities. No matter where a volunteer is choosing to spend their time, it is important we celebrate them.

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Topics: Leadership, Volunteer, Volunteer Appreciation, Nonprofit Management, Nonprofit Leadership, Volunteers

Use Donor Data to Inform Strategy

The Bad News

According to the latest report from the Fundraising Effectiveness Project (FEP), year-over year growth in contributed support fell nearly 2% during the final quarter of 2022.

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Topics: Nonprofit Management, Nonprofit Leadership, Donor Management, Donor Prospect, Data Management

Lead with Inclusion: Transforming Your Leadership Style

Posted by Lora Dow

Whether or not you have the official title of “leader,” you have opportunities to create a work environment – and a community – that is not only more welcoming, but that engages the abilities and gifts of all people.

Leaders learn (and unlearn).

Biases and beliefs get installed in us all the time, often when we’re quite young. Unlearning these can be confusing, embarrassing and even shameful. But leaders aren’t afraid of learning. They are always seeking improvement. What they learn, they put into action. Just as you might have educated yourself on how to organize a team, read a financial statement or be a better public speaker, you can learn how to be better at being inclusive in your leadership.

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Topics: Leadership, Nonprofit Management, Nonprofit Leadership, Inclusion

Leadership at All Levels

Posted by Bruce Berglund

I get asked this question at least once a week: what’s the single most important thing for successful campaigns? Most who ask this question suspect my answer will be something about wealth screening, stewardship, powerful cases, endorsements from community leaders, etc.

The simple answer is … leadership. And that leadership has to come from all levels of the organization.

Leadership takes the form of a graphic designer who spends the extra hours to make materials simple, elegant and powerful.

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Topics: Leadership, Nonprofit Management, Campaign Leadership, Nonprofit Leadership

Rethinking Office Space for Nonprofit Organizations

Posted by DBD Finance Team

When thinking about ways to use real estate assets to further a nonprofit’s mission, we often focus on underutilized real estate and how we might turn those into cash. However, as nonprofits seek ways to use contributed and earned revenue dollars more efficiently, it may also be a good time to rethink how you use your office space

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Topics: Nonprofit Management, finance, financial management

How Understanding Working Genius Can Transform Your Team

Posted by Michele Goodrich

To build a strong team, you must see someone else’s strength as a complement to your weakness and not a threat to your position or authority.” – Christine Caine, Australian best-selling author

Have you ever heard someone express something like:

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Topics: Leadership, Nonprofit Management, Teamwork

Are False Starts Impeding Your Progress?

Posted by Kellie Wardman

Anticipation is at its peak, the play is about to happen, and the whistle blows. The referee’s voice echoes across the stadium: False start.

Five-yard penalty. The opportunity to move the ball is hampered. This might even lead to a turnover. 

False starts are common in many sports. In football, they are the top cause of penalties. And guess what? False starts happen in nonprofits too.

Organizational false starts might not be in adrenaline-pumping moments. But they can cost your nonprofit significant time, lost motivation, and wasted staff and volunteer energy. 

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Topics: Leadership, Nonprofit Leadership, strategic planning

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