Monday, August 18, 2014

Scaling the Wall: 5 Ways to Get Unsolicited Proposals Heard

by Rick Cohen
Nonprofit Quarterly

Philanthropy is, increasingly, a world of insiders. How many foundation websites explain in no uncertain terms that they do not accept unsolicited proposals, or even unsolicited letters of interest? For nonprofits that aren’t already in the foundations’ circles or don’t socialize with the foundation leaders and staff, it looks and feels like an impenetrable, unscalable, concrete wall. And as government programs like the Social Innovation Fund put government dollars into grantmakers who bring their own predetermined lists of grantees, smaller and newer nonprofits—particularly nonprofits representing the interests and concerns of controversial constituencies—find foundation fundraising an impossible game that could even affect their prospects for some public sector funding. Imagine the sound of a metal gate closing just as you get to the door. That’s where foundations tend to be nowadays.

Does this mean that foundation grantmaking reaches an ever-narrowing range of nonprofits? To an extent, unfortunately, yes. The foundation grantmaking game—remember, we’re talking about some 100,000 foundations—depends a lot on who you know on the inside (or as an intermediary referral) who will bring your nonprofit’s proposal or letter of interest to the attention of someone within the hallowed halls of philanthropy. The barrier presented by foundations that won’t even entertain or read unsolicited letters is a real problem for nonprofits looking for the “risk capital” that foundations are known for. But nonprofits with good ideas, strong experience, and projects and programs worth funding are a hardy lot and sometimes find ways of vaulting over the barriers to present ideas to foundations that they might not otherwise hear or consider—but should.

          Read more:

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Setting up a nonprofit organization requires passion, patience

By Wally Northway
Mississippi Business Journal

Jeffery Duplessis has a passion for nonprofits. After spending some 20 years in the media, he is now communications and training coordinator at the Mississippi Center for Nonprofits in Jackson helping others launch their charitable concerns.

 He said he finds his work immensely rewarding, but has seen too many individuals who have started working toward opening a nonprofit only to stumble. Duplessis’ advice to others looking to establish a non-profit organization is simple — stay true to the cause and be prepared to see the process through to the end.

 “I can’t tell you how many people have called me over the years and said they need a job and want to start a nonprofit,” Duplessis said. “That is not the right way to begin. You have to be passionate about your cause — to make a difference in your community. You are going to have challenges. If you are not committed, those challenges can become brick walls. You have to be passionate, persistent and patient.”

         Read more:

Monday, August 11, 2014

Pro-bono/community service: Blackbaud Inc.

By andrew Ramonas
National Law Journal

As in-house lawyers for a company that supplies software to nonprofit organizations, Jon Olson and his team at Blackbaud Inc. are experts at giving back.

The four-lawyer legal department at the Charleston, S.C., company is ­"highly encouraged" to donate time helping members of the nonprofit community, said Olson, who has served as the publicly traded company's general counsel since 2008.

An "ethos of philanthropy" permeates Blackbaud, Olson said. "It connects with our customers in a way that is kind of unique in business."

          Read more

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Horse rescue agencies need help themselves

By Katie West, Charleston, SC Post and Courier
Aug. 03--MEGGETT -A pony recently found a new home here at the Livestock Equine Awareness and Rescue Network after a father bought it for his daughter but it bit her twice.
The girl no longer wanted the horse, and neighbors found it wandering around with its ribs showing.
The pony's path to LEARN was not a particularly unusual one.
"He's the nicest man," said Elizabeth Steed, the nonprofit's director, said of the father. "Most of the people who do this, they're not monsters. They're just not educated. They don't understand that these horses need so much attention."
Steed has been rescuing horses for 30 years, and she's familiar with stories like this. But in the last few years, she has heard more and more.

Thursday, July 31, 2014

New Media Matters: Small nonprofits can shine online

By Paige Henson
Macon Telegraph

"There’s a special place in our hearts for local nonprofits -- those amazing change-makers performing miracles for others on a dime and only a handful of volunteers.
"Thankfully, with a savvy social media coordinator on board, smaller nonprofits can stand on a level playing field with larger groups to get the public attention they deserve. If you’re a small nonprofit, here are a few tips to propel you ahead on a crowded landscape.
"• Beth Kanter at is the nonprofit guru of this generation. She blogs, publishes, posts, tweets vast information especially geared to nonprofits needing assistance with technology. Subscribe to Beth’s emails and stay on top of online information.
"• You are already networking using social media to get the word out about your group. But how about exploring tools like: (for creating ready-to-use forms); (to appeal to a wider audience); (to publish visual presentations); (to get board members on track with super-simple explanatory videos); (for conducting easy research); and (for creating infographs that will increase readership)?

Read more here:

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Advanced Marketing Opportunities for Nonprofits

By John Rampton

"I’m passionate about helping Nonprofits.  Nonprofits are some of the most giving people that I have every met.  I personally have worked with Open To HopePrimary Children’s Hospital and The Institute for Applied Tinkering.  All three nonprofits have experienced the need for additional help online to which we’ve helped!

"Nonprofit companies have very different goals and a different way of operating than your traditional business; so many of your typical online marketing strategies simply aren’t optimized for nonprofits. Fortunately, some of the major online players like Google, YouTube, and Facebook took this seriously and created customized options to help nonprofits really succeed. Too many companies still aren’t taking advantage, so if you work with a nonprofit, the sooner you can learn about the opportunities out there, the better.

         Read more:

Monday, July 28, 2014

Toward a Nonprofit Theory of Leadership and Organizational Culture

From NPQ (The Nonprofit Quarterly)
and The Minnesota Council of Nonprofits

Nonprofit organizations are different from business and government. One would reasonably expect to manage and govern them differently. However, in the absence of a general framework for nonprofit management, third sector organizations are under persistent pressure to look like something else. On the one hand, nonprofits are advised (sometimes by “venture” philanthropists) to become more entrepreneurial and business savvy, orienting their organizations more closely to market forces. At the same time, organizations are urged to make increasing the reliability and accountability of their “outcomes” their highest priority, by controlling internal processes and structuring and orienting themselves as hierarchies.

The following statements on Leadership and Organizational Culture are excerpted from Principles & Practices for Nonprofit Excellence, a 40-page document available free at MCN’s web site. These 19 Practices are designed to set out an explicitly nonprofit set of expectations for leadership from board members, managers, and volunteers, in which these organizations gain from broad participation in important discussions and decision-making.

           Read more: