When Being Unproductive Saves a Career

Debra Suh had been a leader in domestic violence prevention for 16 years when she hit a breaking point about a decade ago. Balancing her emotionally charged work and her family had become untenable. She was considering leaving her beloved job as the executive director of the Center for the Pacific Asian Family, which she had held for seven years.

Her father had been the survivor of domestic abuse growing up and yet never hurt her — an experience that gave her a deep conviction that, with the right support, people can break the cycle of violence. But the toll the work took made her question whether she was the right person to keep providing that support. There were never enough hours in a day. She felt as if she couldn’t think clearly. In her head, she repeatedly wrote resignation letters.

Suh is not an anomaly in the nonprofit sector. According to the journal Nonprofit Quarterly, burnout rates in nonprofits have increased in the last few years from 16 percent to 19 percent of their staffs, and the rise is most pronounced among those who do direct service work.

Burnout, in the sense we use it today, is a term that was introduced by the psychologist Herbert Freudenberger in the 1970s. He defined it as a “state of mental and physical exhaustion caused by one’s professional life.” He was particularly struck by the ways in which burnout showed up in those who help others professionally like doctors, teachers and social workers.

But others too sometimes feel the burn. One recent study found that 34 percent of the executive directors and half of the development directors at nonprofits questioned anticipated leaving their current jobs in two years or less. Worse, the 2017 Nonprofit Employment Practices Survey, published last month by GuideStar and Nonprofit HR, found that 81 percent of nonprofits have no retention strategy whatsoever, though such strategies are common at corporations.

The revolving door at nonprofits isn’t bad just for workers; it cuts down on organizations’ ability to address the problems they purport to solve. Significant research shows that overwork does not correlate with higher productivity. And turnover is expensive: According to the Center for American Progress, the average cost to an organization when an employee making $50,000 a year leaves is 20 percent of his or her salary.

What can nonprofits do to prevent losing talented, passionate leaders like Suh?

One increasingly popular option is to offer sabbaticals. It might sound luxurious for a sector that is chronically in need of money, but some organizations are recognizing that there can be cost savings in the long run if leaders are restored in the short run. While sabbaticals are de rigueur at colleges and increasingly common in the private sector, only a small minority of nonprofits have official sabbatical programs.

One pioneer in facing this problem is the Durfee Foundation, a family philanthropy based in Los Angeles. It started a sabbatical program in 1997 after hearing of too many nonprofit leaders who quit simply because they needed space and time to think.

To date, more than 100 nonprofit leaders have taken three months paid time off with Durfee’s support. A study by an independent evaluator and nonprofit consultant, Deborah Linnell, of Durfee’s approach found that foundation-supported sabbaticals have strengthened boards, leaders and organizations.

They appear to work best under certain conditions: The leave is uninterrupted and entails little or no contact between the leader and his or her organization. A staff member, as opposed to an outsider, leads in the interim. The staff, as a whole, has access to additional professional development. Durfee gives $45,000 to the recipient’s organization to cover the cost of the leader’s salary, and also provides $3,000 to the interim leader and $5,000 for organization-wide professional development.

It’s pretty radical when you think about it. Nonprofit leaders, who are normally forced to paint the rosiest picture possible when describing their work to foundations, are instead invited to be honest about the challenges they face professionally and personally.

Durfee’s president, Carrie Avery, recalls one sabbatical seeker who entered the foundation’s office for his interview in a starched shirt and tie, his game face firmly in place, and then melted down when he started being asked questions: “He sobbed while rapidly consuming five cookies,” she said. “He was in a really big position and it was like he finally had a chance to be vulnerable. He got a sabbatical and it had a huge impact on his leadership.”

Avery says that leaders are encouraged to become “rigorously unproductive” during their sabbaticals, which is easier for some than others. “Children of immigrants seem to have a particularly hard time with this,” she observed. “On top of the twisted nonprofit sector message that every E.D. has to be self-sacrificing and overworked, they’ve got parents who worked multiple jobs while they were growing up. A sabbatical can feel very privileged.”

Other foundations are following in Durfee’s footsteps, notably the Barr Foundation, the California Wellness Foundation, the Rasmuson Foundation and the Meyer Foundation. Linnell estimates that more than a dozen foundations now have official sabbatical funding available. Nevertheless, that is a very small proportion of the more than 86,000 foundations in the United States, by the count of the Foundation Center.

It’s easy to misunderstand sabbaticals as little more than extended vacations. After working in the nonprofit sector for nearly 40 years, Linnell believes that sabbaticals are one of the most effective investments a foundation can make in an organization or a cause.

The biggest payoff? The capacity to think clearly and expansively. “Leaders who are stuck in reactive or even adaptive leadership mode have a chance to refresh themselves and reconnect with their original passion for their cause,” Linnell explained. “They are able to do catalytic generative thinking again.”

Rinku Sen, who worked in nonprofits for three decades before becoming a writer recently, has taken three sabbaticals, all supported by the organizations she worked for. After a sabbatical from the Center for Third World Organizing, she was able to integrate a gender strategy into the racial justice work that the group was already doing — something she’d intended to do for a long time, but felt incapable of following through on.

“It wasn’t that I thought obsessively about gender while on my sabbatical,” she explained. “It was that I finally wasn’t tired. When I came back I could see the path: What’s the program? Who’s the staff? Where’s the money? I had space in my body and my head for those answers to come to me.”

Neuroscience tells us that what Sen experienced is a “default mode network”— a way in which our brains make new connections and even solve complex problems when we aren’t actively focusing on them. The default mode network is most likely to light up when we’re “mind wandering” — a term for what people often experience while daydreaming in the shower or waiting for a train. Stress shuts this kind of powerful thinking down, as does our compulsion to grab our cellphones at any idle moment. Sabbaticals, done right, reprioritize mind-wandering.

Sabbaticals have also been shown to strengthen leadership teams. Seventy-nine percent of respondents to Linnell’s longitudinal study reported that the sabbatical had been helpful to the professional development of interim leaders and that nearly half of the boards studied were stronger afterward.

Emily Cohen Raskin was the development director at the Jamestown Community Center when her executive director took a sabbatical. The organization had grown, but everyone still reported directly to the executive director. During the sabbatical, the remaining staff members were able to pilot a new leadership structure and build connections vertically.

“Each of us walked away with such a better understanding of how the whole organization functioned,” she said. “It was a great opportunity for us to stretch our wings and build our confidence, and it built the executive director’s confidence in us, too.” When the director returned from her sabbatical, the organization kept the new leadership structure.

One unintuitive consequence of leaders stepping away is that many build social capital while they’re “out of office.” Some foundations invite grantees to meet and reflect on leadership in their time off; the bonds formed during these gatherings lead to new professional connections, sources for funding, and even formal collaborations. The group get-togethers often extend beyond the three months off and function as a sort of touchstone for the benefits of the sabbatical after it’s over.

Some funders may fear that sabbaticals will lead to more turnover, but the opposite has been the experience. Sabbaticals typically breed loyalty and can encourage leaders to stick around longer than they originally intended. They also create healthier work habits, which influences the culture of the entire organization. Three-fourths of respondents report an organizational culture shift toward a better work-life balance, even 20 years later. “Patterns do change,” Linnell said. “Most people never go back to the level of workaholism they exhibited before.”

Raskin is no longer at the Jamestown Community Center, but what she learned there during a sabbatical that her boss took has changed her life. She is now the executive director of O2 Initiatives, a Bay Area-based collaboration by two family foundations that sponsors an average of six sabbaticals a year. She says that in addition to the funding, O2 plays a crucial role in legitimizing these kinds of breaks for nonprofit leaders. “When a funder puts this out there,” she said, “it creates permission for people to think they can do it and it’s worthwhile. Even if a candidate doesn’t ultimately get the sabbatical it can create a catalytic conversation among the board and staff.”

Avery spends a lot of her time educating other philanthropists about the value of sabbaticals, a task made easier these days with 20 years of data to point to. When asked how she makes the argument to skeptical peers, she responded: “We are not just on the assembly line producing widgets. We are trying to make social change and that is some of the hardest work out there. We have to invest in our sector’s greatest asset, which is its people.”

And what became of Debra Suh? She’s celebrating her 18th year as the executive director of the Center for the Pacific Asian Family. In 2008, she took a sabbatical funded by the Durfee Foundation. During her time off, she went white-water rafting and sailed down a zip line (“I’m not someone who meditates. I decompress by getting active”), and also spent quality time with her family. Despite returning from sabbatical as the Great Recession began, Suh was able to increase her budget twofold.

In 2009, Suh’s father died. She felt gratified that she’d stepped away long enough to clear her head and spend time with her biggest inspiration before it was too late.

Nonprofits pack $26 billion economic punch in Florida, new study says

Emon Reiser, South Florida Business Journal

Miami, FL – March 9, 2017

A new study from the Florida Nonprofit Alliance reports that the Sunshine State’s nonprofit sector provides an annual payroll of $26.63 billion and employs six percent of the state’s workforce.

Collectively, the nonprofits receive nearly $90 billion in annual revenue and hold assets of $205.7 billion according to the first-time report, which will be revealed Thursday at the Philanthropy Miami 2017 Conference at Jungle Island.

Overall, the state has 83,449 nonprofits and most are concentrated in South Florida. Five years ago, there were about 72,000 registered nonprofits in Florida.

“The contributions that the nonprofit sector makes are vital to the state economy,” said Florida Nonprofit Alliance Executive Director Sabeen Perwaiz. “The public and private sectors of the economy receive considerable attention, but this report demonstrates why the nonprofit sector cannot be overlooked.”

Of the 534,116 nonprofit employees in Florida, 44 percent are at nonprofits whose social function centers on health. The No. 2 top function is education at 20 percent. Not far behind education is human services at 19 percent.

The average hourly wage of those nonprofit employees is $23.98, according to the study, which was funded by JP Morgan Chase and will be repeated every two years. Its findings show that philanthropy has increased in Florida but is still lower than much of the U.S.

The Florida Nonprofit Alliance centers on research, collaboration and research for a statewide coalition of nonprofits and is based in Jacksonville.


4 Fundraising Ideas to Develop Your Fundraising Plan

A goal without a plan is just a wish.” ― Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

Embarking on a new year—whether it’s a calendar or fiscal year (or both!)—is always an opportunity for a fresh start.  After all, that’s why resolutions are written at the start of a new year.  New year. New goals.  It’s the same with writing a development plan for your nonprofit, which you can think of as a business plan for fundraising. It helps you develop the discipline of looking at what you’ve done well and where you need to improve, setting your sights for the year ahead, and mapping out what you will do to reach your goals.  Simply put, it translates your wishes to goals.

Let’s pause for a moment to think about the 30,000 foot view. Fundraising is not just about raising money.  The core of our work as fundraisers is as relationship architects between our organizations and the donors who currently or, we hope will eventually, support us. Our goal is to create two-way conversations that are not transactional or circular exchanges of asking and receiving money. We know this isn’t sustainable in the long-term. A development plan is more than just a set of lists, calendars, and activities.  It’s a strategic compilation of all the ways you can connect and communicate with your donors which, if done effectively, leads to increased revenue. It’s a competitive market out there. There are 1.8 million nonprofits in the US with about 75,000 new ones registering with the IRS each year.  If you feel like the room is getting crowded, so do our donors.  What makes the difference to them is if they feel valued by you and connected to your organization.  If not, they’ll go somewhere else to give.

So, your development plan should focus on four key areas:

  1. Balancing your portfolio—If your funding generally comes from one source more than others, it’s time to think about how to rebalance things. This might mean looking at how to welcome more individual donors instead of relying primarily on foundations and/or corporations. It could also mean thinking about others ways to build donor relationships besides the one major gala or one major direct mail appeal you do each year. Putting all your eggs in the proverbial basket is not sustainable.
  2. Setting the stage for major gifts—Every organization no matter how small can, and should, be raising major gifts. A successful major gifts program does not focus on high net-worth individuals with no connection to your organization. In fact, you probably already know who your major (current and potential) donors are. Your next major gift will likely come from one of these donors who has capacity and who has been supporting you for a long time (and not at particularly high levels) and may also have been involved as a volunteer. Carving out a little time for more personal interactions with these donors will help you qualify those who can make larger gifts down the road.
  3. Creating greater donor engagement—It’s easy to become complacent and think that just because donors have chosen to invest in our cause, they will unconditionally support us and that when we ask again they will give. Nonprofits on average lose more than 60% of their donors each year because they haven’t figured out the right way to connect with their donors. Good donor engagement involves a regular calendar of touchpoints, updates, and communications that highlights stories of successes, progress, results, and even failures and challenges. Donors want to see, feel, and touch the impact their gifts are having. They want a donor relationship and an exceptional donor experience. You are most likely already doing it without defining these activities in that way: annual reports, newsletters, special webinars hosted by your key program leadership, holiday and birthday cards are all examples of ways to leverage communications to enhance your relationships with your donors.
  4. Laying the foundation for tomorrow—Without question, your limited bandwidth should be focused on donor retention because once you lose the donors who already opted to give to you, it’s hard to get them back. That said, it is still important to plant the seeds for the next pipeline of donors to your organization. The best potential new donor names are people who self-identify in some way or who are connected in some way to you. Perhaps it’s through a sign-up on your website, following you on social media, attendance at an event, or a visitor book if prospective donors can visit your facilities. This is also a way board members and other volunteers can play a key role in introducing your organization to their networks.  Every follower, volunteer, and new name that crosses your doorway should be considered a potential investor in your work.  Welcome them.

Source: https://www.networkforgood.com/nonprofitblog/goal-without-plan-just-wish/

How to Make Giving Easy for Your Donors

Behind every great nonprofit is a great group of people who make it all happen. For all the grants you apply for and donations you receive, there’s a single contributor who invested their own time and money into funding your mission. At the root of your nonprofit is achieving that mission, and loyal donors who contribute major gifts are there to help you.

We’ve written before about the different options you can explore to fund your nonprofit and how silly it is to rely solely on grants. Of these options, your most reliable and most important is to continue building a donor base.

Here are some tips on how to grow your individual donor list so that you’re not just leaning on outside foundations or banks.

Milk what you’ve got

Amy Eisenstein suggests that when creating a “prospect” list of those you feel would be interested in donating to your cause, start with board members and staff who already understand what you’re doing and why you do it. Reach out to them and remind them why they work with you. If your organization is able to stay afloat financially, not only is it furthering your mission, but it’s job security for them too.

Don’t be afraid to ask friends and family who know how near and dear the cause is to your heart. These people see the everyday ins and outs of what goes into running a nonprofit and understand how even the smallest contribution can go a long way.

You likely already have a list of donors, be it big or small. Planning campaigns and events for continued engagement, appreciation and communication will help solidify advocates and keep them around for the long-haul.

Recruit new donors

The key to capturing new donors is getting them to understand your mission. Often times meeting with them in-person is a great way to do this—but not always! The more they get to know the people behind the organization, the more likely they are to engage. Before sitting down with a potential donor, do some extra research to find out what they care about and what problems they are passionate about solving. See what you have in common with them, and how you can connect to them. From there, you can make the ask.

Here are a few ways to recruit new donors:

  • Plan a social media campaign (we recommend starting with Facebook) to attract more small to medium-sized donations—keep track of those who donate!
  • Strategize an exciting (and on-mission) fundraising event to gain one-off donations of all sizes. This also adds the fundraising potential of ticket sales, sponsorships and establishing a strong public presence.
  • Develop a storytelling donor newsletter, be it a print or digital publication, showing the impact of the work you do to target donors.

Stay engaged

Both you and your contributors reap the benefits of working together. When a new donation is made, you’re closer to achieving your mission and they feel good about being part of the process. And the best way to keep a donor around is to make them feel important and keep them in the loop on what you’re able to accomplish with their help.

Engage with them on a regular basis (without being annoying!) and thank them for what they do. Make sure to do so on a personal level. Yes, that means you should be segmenting your list and strategizing your messaging to be specifically targeted for each group! When a contributor feels appreciated and like they’re making a difference, they’re more likely to come back and contribute again.

Source: http://nonprofithub.org/fundraising/how-to-grow-your-individual-donor-list/

Nonprofit Executive Program Helps Nonprofit Newcomer

Aug 25, 2017

Ft. Lauderdale, Fla. — Raelyn Barlow said she joined the National Leadership Institute, a nonprofit organization dedicated to supporting other nonprofits through strategies that help them run more like a traditional business, because she had reached a point in her life where she wanted to give back.

In 2015, Barlow accepted an offer to be President and CEO by National Leadership Institute founder and CEO, Gerry Czarnecki, with whom she had worked in the television industry. Czarnecki knew Barlow had produced numerous television and video fundraising specials for nonprofits, and thought her skills would translate to managing and marketing a nonprofit organization.

Barlow was charged with repositioning the National Leadership Institute’s services in South Florida, and soon realized she needed some help with the project. That’s when she applied and was accepted to the Jim Moran Institute’s Nonprofit Executive Program (NPEP), a world-class learning experience that teaches leaders of nonprofit organizations how to capitalize on business opportunities and turn challenges into strategic advantages.

“The Jim Moran Institute already had a great reputation, but what really interested me was it was the only program I found where you’re actually able to work on your own organization’s issues during class,” said Barlow. “Everything I was learning directly applied to specific situations we had at the National Leadership Institute.”

For example, just as Barlow began the NPEP, the National Leadership Institute received a grant from the Sanford Institute of Philanthropy to continue its core mission of supporting nonprofit education and training. During each NPEP class, Barlow received help creating and outlining a strategic plan to identify deliverables that would satisfy all the grant’s requirements.

“I learned so much and still use bits of knowledge I picked up in the NPEP every day,” said Barlow, who graduated from the NPEP in spring 2017. “But getting great guidance and advice on crafting an overall strategy and applying a strategic plan to the grant we received was huge.”

Since participating in the NPEP, Barlow says she has noticed a direct increase in the attendance of National Leadership Institute events. She credits this to the marketing strategies she learned and connections she made with peers during the NPEP.

“The support from my NPEP classmates at our events has been outstanding,” said Barlow. “You really build a bond with your peers that lasts beyond the program.”

As a result, Barlow joined one of the Jim Moran Institute’s Peer2Peer programs in South Florida. Exclusive to presidents, owners of established businesses and nonprofit leaders, the CEO Peer2Peer Groups provide an avenue for sharing insights about challenging situations, topical issues and solutions to problems with peers. Barlow meets with her group once a month.

For more information and to apply for the Nonprofit Executive Program, Small Business Executive Program, and the Jim Moran Institute’s South Florida Operations, contact Courtney Mickens at cmickens@jimMoranInstitute.fsu.edu, 954-399-2849 or visit us at jimmoraninstitute.org.

About the Jim Moran Institute for Global Entrepreneurship
The Jim Moran Institute for Global Entrepreneurship cultivates, trains and inspires entrepreneurial leaders through world-class executive education, applied training, public recognition and leading-edge research. Jim Moran was an automotive pioneer and an entrepreneur at heart, who at the age of seven, sold soda pop at sandlot baseball diamonds in Chicago. With a career that spanned more than six decades, he built an amazing chronicle of achievements in the automobile industry. His vision for the Jim Moran Institute was to provide opportunities that would help others become more successful business owners. A 1995 contribution from Jim and Jan Moran and JM Family Enterprises established the Jim Moran Institute for Global Entrepreneurship at the Florida State University College of Business. Since 2011, further enhancements to the Jim Moran Institute and its outreach have been made possible by Jan Moran and The Jim Moran Foundation. For more information, visit jimmoraninstitute.fsu.edu.

About South Florida Operations
The Jim Moran Institute’s South Florida Operations was established in 2009 and serves the community through the Advice Straight Up Expert Speaker Series, CEO roundtables, annual Business & Leadership Conference, Nonprofit Executive Program and the Small Business Executive Program. Providing executive education and leveraging the resources of the Jim Moran Institute, South Florida Operations helps its clients’ businesses – and the region’s economy – grow and prosper.

South Florida operations focuses on assisting CEO’s, entrepreneurs, business owners and presidents’ small businesses and nonprofit organizations with a minimum of three employees who have been in business for over three years for little to no cost.

IRS Drops Controversial Nonprofit Proposal

AFP News

Arlington, VA – January 13, 2016

Thanks to thousands of comments from nonprofits across the country, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) has dropped its proposal to create a new substantiation form that could have had charities asking for donor’s Social Security numbers.

THANK YOU if you submitted comments to the IRS using AFP’s template submission system. Your input matters, and this successful outcome demonstrates that the process works. We can make a difference and help advance policies that support the fundraising profession while protecting our donors and their privacy.

To read the IRS announcement, click here

Last fall, the IRS had proposed new regulations that would modify its requirements that nonprofits obtain a “contemporaneous written acknowledgement” for contributions of $250 or more. Under current law, a donor claiming a deduction of $250 or more is required to obtain and keep a contemporaneous written acknowledgment for a charitable contribution.

The regulations would have created a new “optional” information form that charities would file with the IRS by February 28 each year, as well as provide a copy to each donor who had given $250 or more for their tax return. Most concerning among the form’s requirements was the mandate for the nonprofit to collect the donor’s tax identification number (their Social Security number in most cases), an action which would impose other legal requirements on nonprofits to retain and protect those Social Security numbers from identify theft.

But the IRS received enough comments from concerned fundraisers and nonprofits, including formal comments from AFP, that it has decided to drop the proposal. This move should end the matter, but AFP will alert members if additional action is required.

Questions can be emailed Jason Lee at jlee@afpnet.org.

Thank you again for your participation in AFP and the public policy process!



10 Ways to Reward Your Nonprofit Staff When You Can’t Afford Raises

Mark Titi , Nonprofit Hub

Lincoln, NE – January 26, 2016

Different things inspire different people to work for nonprofit organizations. What is it that inspires you to work for a nonprofit. Maybe it’s the compensation, but you probably LOVE helping others; especially at an amazing nonprofit. After all, it’s in your DNA, right?

Living on a small paycheck isn’t easy. But sometimes service without much, or any, financial reward is an unofficial employer expectation. So, in return, you earn your “Badge of Courage.” Nice, but it doesn’t pay the bills.

There can be a lot of reasons why compensation is low. Perhaps wages and benefits are top weighted to leadership. Maybe there are other spending priorities. It’s possible that there has been poor management of funds. The culture may openly support weak compensation, as is unfortunately the norm for some charities. Employee turnover may be given little, if any consideration—allowing the cycle to continue. Or, the funds simply aren’t there to work with.

You know that there are many non-monetary rewards of working in a nonprofit, too. What is it worth, for example, to turn hopelessness to possibility? Homelessness to security? Hungry to fed? It’s impossible to measure this level of satisfaction.

But that still leaves one burning question—how can nonprofit employers increase employee compensation?

The short answer: plenty of ways. Here are 10 of them to enrich the employee-employer relationship.

1. Extend Purchasing Perks and Memberships

Some companies will pass on discounts and special offers to a nonprofit’s employees. Approach your vendors to find out about this possibility.

2. Provide Staff with Cell Phone Service

Cut a deal with a carrier. Your nonprofit could buy the phones and the service. Add even more value with internet services.

3. Offer ‘Work from Home’ Arrangements

Help employees save time and money on commuting back and forth to their work location. Just be sure you have a clear policy to administer a telecommuting program.

4. Increase Continuing Education Spending

Create more budget space for investing in employees. Consider paying for certification programs, association dues, learning materials, conferences and/or publications. (P.S. Don’t worry about staff leaving, either. Your trust and confidence can pay big dividends over the long-term.)

5. Recognition Awards

An example could be a short paid vacation and special recognition. Surprise awards can carry extra power and meaning.Try to do this often. Make the award visible and give credit where due. Recognize outcomes that are aligned to results and core values.

6. Extended Time Off

Pay special attention to extending holiday time. For example, the Friday after Thanksgiving is not a day all employers consider a paid holiday. But if your family is out of town, that can be an inconvenience. Think about adding a paid birthday holiday, too.

7. Grocery Gift Cards

Food costs continue to rise. Help employees defray this expense in the form of a grocery store gift card.

8. Health Club Memberships

Bring more energy to the individual and the organization with a membership to a local gym. Compliment that with flexible scheduling.

9. Transportation Benefit

Consider a flat dollar amount for each employee. It could be used for gas, bus passes or routine vehicle maintenance.

10. Emergencies

Set up a special fund for emergency employee needs. Being able to step in when life deals a heavy blow is what many nonprofits already do every day. Now extend that benefit to your employees.


If you’re a nonprofit employer, give these 10 perks careful consideration. Find pro-bono attorneys and financial professionals that can help, too. Always seek out in-kind contributions first to boost the benefit.

If you’re a nonprofit employee, don’t be afraid to start the conversation. It’s a clear win for relationships, culture and finances.

Being creative can be less expensive and better received than a raise, so leave no stone unturned. Just remember that money alone will not keep employees around for long. Make sure employees are appreciated as a contributor to the mission. Combining both can be a recipe for success in a cash-strapped nonprofit.



Small Businesses Giving Back More: What Nonprofits Can Learn from It

Eric Groves, Philanthropy Journal News

Raleigh, NC – February 2, 2016

The bigger a donor’s bank account, the bigger their donation – right? This is perhaps true on an absolute basis, but, it turns out there’s a lot more to charitable giving than that.

Recent data collected by Alignable shows small and medium businesses and their owners give more charitably on a percentage basis than their corporate counterparts. With small businesses making up about 50 percent of the nation’s GDP, it’s important to shine the light on these overlooked entrepreneurs who understand the importance of giving back. Based on a recent survey by Alignable of charitable giving behavior among small businesses, below are some tips for how nonprofits can work with small businesses to make charitable giving a win-win proposition.

Giving Takes Many Forms

The local shop down the street might be more willing to give or help than you previously thought. In fact, 90 percent planned to give to local charitable organizations, while 10 percent planned to donate to national organizations. You just need to make the right request.

Of those surveyed, about 81 percent said they’d give cash. However, 75 percent said they’d give goods or services, and 67 percent plan to give their personal time. Accordingly, when making a charitable donation request from a business, have three requests in mind: cash, a service or a good, or a request of time. This way, if a business wants to donate, they have options that both help you out and make them feel good.

Recognize these local businesses in your marketing communications and you stand to increase your appeal to small business owners and the magnitude of their contributions.

‘Who’ Matters Just as Much as ‘What’

Arm yourself with a bit of homework before pitching. The Alignable data suggests that men donate more than women, with 58 percent planning to give more to charity this year, compared to just 39 percent of women. Men are also almost twice as likely than women to give 20 percent or more of their profit to charity.

Furthermore, if your nonprofit involves working with immigrants or non-native people or causes, then the data is on your side. More than half (58 percent) of first generation immigrant-owned businesses planned to give more to charity this year, compared to 46 percent of non-immigrant-owned businesses. Immigrant-owned businesses also tend to give a significantly higher portion of their profits: 15 percent gave or planned to give over 20 percent of their profits, while only 9 percent of other businesses plan to give that much. Keep this information in mind when formulating your pitch: Not only do more of these businesses give, they give a lot more.

Location, Location, Location

On a grand scale, know where you might have the most success with small business solicitations, and where you might not. Regionally, the South is the most charitable, while the western United States was reported as the least giving. How can you use this data? If your nonprofit has multiple locations across the nation, think strategically of where you make your requests. Goods and services or personal time donations might be more likely than financial contributions in certain regions.

Where’s the Request?

On a (much) smaller scale, where in a retail store you make your charitable request might have an impact on the donation received. Point-of-sale donation requests did not fare well in Alignable’s survey. Nearly 75 percent of small business owners either opposed or had no opinion on cashiers asking for donations at checkout. By contrast, a survey of American consumers found that 71 percent of respondents have donated to charity at the register. Even though people might give, businesses may be reluctant to consider the request. Just like real estate, donations are all about location, location, location.

About Time

In addition to location, timing matters, too. The Alignable data showed that small businesses are solicited rather frequently; 20 percent report being solicited for donations more than 100 times per year. Consider this stat when timing your solicitation efforts – don’t wait until late November to start. However, the holiday heartstrings might help; 86 percent of small business owners say they are motivated to give back because it is personally meaningful.

They also think with their checkbooks; 28 percent cite tax deductions as a motivator. As a nonprofit, you can use this information to your advantage. Here you can find some tips on how small businesses can use charitable donations to their tax advantage. Use these tips to prepare yourself when pitching businesses that might want to give charitably for tax reasons.

The results from Alignable’s survey are enlightening, and at times, surprising. As a nonprofit, leverage the data to tailor your pitch to be as effective as possible in the new year.



7 Steps to Starting a Nonprofit

Nonprofit Hub, Matt Spitsen

Lincoln, NE – February 8, 2016

Starting a nonprofit isn’t an easy task to undergo. With so many steps to take in the early stages, it’s difficult to know where to start. Let us help.

The first step to starting a nonprofit is articulating the problems your organization will address. You’ll make the biggest difference when you’re specific about your scope and the demographic your nonprofit will serve. Most importantly: before you start your own nonprofit, make sure there’s a need for you, otherwise your organization won’t be sustainable.

Secondly, choose a name that communicates your nonprofit’s identity and mission. Make sure a matching domain name is free for your website, and check with your state to make sure your chosen name is available.

The third step is assembling your board of directors, which ought to consist of at least 3 to 6 people. The leadership of your founding board members will be essential to the rest of the startup phase, so choose wisely.

After recruiting your committed board of directors, your fourth step is completing the steps for incorporation in your state. Settle on your name, file your Articles of Incorporation and create bylaws.

Fifth, upon incorporation you can file for nonprofit status: expect fees and plenty of paperwork associated with your applications for federal and state tax exemptions.

Sixth, develop a sustainable fundraising plan and apply for foundation grants after being awarded 501(c)(3) status.

Our seventh tip is to create a marketing plan to recruit donors and volunteers for your organization. Work on your online presence, because your nonprofit web design and outreach on social media is especially important in starting a nonprofit.

After completing these steps, your nonprofit is ready to bring donations in and start making a difference in your community.

Have other tips for starting a nonprofit, or a question for our “In Kind” series?

Comment here:www.nonprofithub.org/starting-a-nonprofit/7-steps-to-starting-a-nonprofit-video/