New Normal in the coronavirus era

Business man pointing the text: EngagementI’ve come to dislike the phrase “New Normal.” I think it is because so-called-experts have overused it. And when they do use it, they normally fail to associate any meaning to it. So, they sound smart without actually being smart.
Unfortunately, I cannot find any good replacements for the phase “New Normal.” If you have suggestions, I encourage you to please share them in the comment box below.
My sneaking suspicion is that all of us have different visions in our heads about what the “New Normal” during the coronavirus era is going to look like. And these various visions are all informed by different data points streaming into our daily digital lives.
For example, I read the following article from USA Today titled “When will a second wave of the coronavirus hit, and what will it look like?” I then had a conversation with a Boys & Girls Club professional friend of mine about how this potential future state might impact how they operate once their state’s stay-at-home order is lifted.
Here is an abbreviated synopsis of what that organization is thinking about:

  • Personal protective equipment for staff and the children they serve
  • Organized hand washing activities
  • Social distancing of 6-feet dictating reconfiguration of spaces
  • Social distancing impacts programs/activities (e.g. no contact sports or large group programming, cancellation of field trips, etc)
  • Social distancing results in fewer youth being allowed in the facility at one-time, which has staff contemplating assigned program shifts
  • Disinfecting/sanitation of spaces in between shifts
  • Fewer youth served has staff looking into taking some programming online
  • Online programming has staff worried about how many of their members are impacted by “digital divide” challenges (e.g. inability to access hardware, lack of home wifi, etc)
  • Reviewing / revising / developing new written plans, policies, and procedures on how to operate in the corona virus era (e.g. what do they do if a child or staff member gets sick? how long do they need to stay home? what proof will be required for them to return? do all families need to be informed? does it trigger a temporary shutdown and period of self-isolation?)

I need to stop here, but this list of considerations and questions went on-and-on for the better part of an hour.
And it became overwhelming very quickly.
As I’ve mulled over this conversation over the last few days, I’ve come to the following conclusions. Hopefully, some of this will help as you contemplate your organization’s “New Normal“:

  • Don’t make assumptions — talk to your clients, staff, board members, volunteers, donors, vendors, etc (e.g. how many of your clients actually have access to tech, etc)
  • Don’t wing it — put everything in writing because organizational structure allows you the ability to assure people (e.g. clients, donors, staff, etc) that you’ve thought things through and can be trusted
  • Be knowledgeable — understand the ins-and-outs of your local and state governmental orders and regulations; engage your insurance provider in what’s covered or excluded in your policies
  • Be a leader — tell people what you’ve learned, offer various options, and share your recommendations because group decision-making right now seems to be an exercise in paralysis by analysis

So, what data points are you seeing in your new virtual world? What ideas are floating through your head regarding your organizations potential “New Normal?” Please share in the comment box below. Because we can all learn from each other.¬† ūüėČ
Erik Anderson
https://thehealthynonprofit.com/
https://www.facebook.com/thehealthynonprofit/

Are you registered for the 2017 Nonprofit Leadership Summit?

Happy Labor Day to all of my friends in the non-profit sector!
Here are a few fast facts about the non-profit labor force in the United States:

  • The non-profit sector accounts for more than 10% of the United States’ labor force (Bureau of Labor Statistics)
  • Approximately one-quarter of Americans volunteer time via a non-profit organization (Independent Sector)
  • If the non-profit sector were a country, it would rank sixteenth among the 199 nations tracked by the World Bank (Urban Institute)

So, I think it goes without saying that it is important to invest in our sector’s leadership and people development.¬†For this reason, I am proud to share with you that I’m one of this year’s presenters at the 2017 Nonprofit Leadership Summit.
I know what you’re thinking . . .

Ugh, another conference that my resource deprived non-profit organization cannot afford to send me.

But you’d be wrong.
This three day VIRTUAL conference is affordable and time efficient. If you haven’t given this online event any consideration, then I strongly urge you check it out ASAP because you only have a few days remaining to sign up for more expert advice than you can possibly imagine! And did I mention there are 19 CFRE credits available to those fundraising professionals who need continuing education opportunities?
Still not convinced?
OK, then please click-through to YouTube and watch a short (and dare I say FUN) interview Mazarine Treyz did with me a few weeks ago that she titled “Plan B from Outer Space! Interview with Erik Anderson of The Healthy Nonprofit” about my upcoming presentation. You can also find a transcript and more details on the Wild Woman Fundraising website.
Here is one more fast fact on this beautiful Labor Day holiday . . .

The employee turnover rate in the non-profit sector is approaching 20% and it is growing.

Show your employees they are valued by allowing them to participate in things like the 2017 Nonprofit Leadership Summit. Investing in your labor force:

  • helps address turnover
  • addresses leadership succession planning
  • illustrates that you’re a good boss

Here’s to your health!
Erik Anderson
Founder & President, The Healthy Non-Profit LLC
www.thehealthynonprofit.com 
erik@thehealthynonprofit.com
http://twitter.com/#!/eanderson847
http://www.facebook.com/eanderson847
http://www.linkedin.com/in/erikanderson847

Interview with Mazarine Treyz about the online Fundraising Career Conference

Yesterday, I posted a review of¬†‚ÄúGet The Job: Your Fundraising Career Empowerment Guide,‚ÄĚ which is a book written by a very talented fundraising coach/consultant by the name of Mazarine Treyz. If the title of the book intrigues you, then you definitely want to check out my review. I suspect that after reading more, you’ll most likely be running off to Amazon to get yourself a copy.
It should come as no surprise to anyone who knows Mazarine (or gets to know her through her books) that she used her book as a foundation to build an online virtual conference¬†called the Fundraising Career Conference. This year the online conference is on a Monday, Wednesday and Friday starting on April 17th. There are 10 different sessions, and Mazarine has some very awesome presenters lined up. (If you are looking for CFRE credits, then you don’t want to miss this opportunity to earn some)
The training sessions are designed to deepen your knowledge on the topics presented in the book. The ultimate outcomes for participants include:

  • Finding a new job
  • Better understand your skills gaps
  • Creating a better work environment for you and those around you
  • Identifying and achieving your career goals

And if you’re afraid that someone also logging into the conference will see your name in an attendees box and tell your boss, then fear no more because Mazarine is keeping everyone’s identities hidden.
If you aren’t yet signed up for this online conference, I urge you to click-through and check it out. After all, it isn’t just for people currently looking for a job.
In order to give you a better feel for Mazarine and what her book and conference bring to the table, I “virtually” interviewed her. You can read the transcript in the space below. Enjoy!


Q: What drives your passion to write a book and host an online conference to help people with their fundraising career aspirations?
A: I have such a passion to help fundraisers because I feel like fundraisers are my tribe.¬† I’ve moved on up from Development Associate, Development Assistant, Development Officer, to Development Director and now, finally, to Fundraising coach and conference organizer.
When i left my last fundraising job in 2009, I immediately began to write The Wild Woman’s Guide to Fundraising with everything I knew from the last 3 years of full time fundraising jobs in a one person shop.¬† I wanted to pass on what I knew to people because so often in our fundraising jobs we just WING IT and we aren’t set up to succeed.
Now of course, after 8 years of teaching, I have so much more to teach that I’ve written 10 e-courses and a number of webinars about various aspects of fundraising in a LOT more detail than I went into in the book.
And during my time in full time fundraising, I had the experience of bosses that really did not know what they were doing. We had the issue of the MBA boss coming from the board in my last 2 fundraising jobs, which means they may understand business, but they don’t know fundraising.
So because of this experience, it makes me feel like we have to protect fundraisers from unrealistic expectations, and help them find out if there are going to be these unrealistic expectations RIGHT IN THE INTERVIEW. So what we teach at the Fundraising Career Conference is career self empowerment. Everything from how to negotiate your salary to how to build a better relationship with your boss.
But! We also have to teach bosses what fundraising is and how to manage us better. So that’s why in 2016 I created the Nonprofit Leadership Summit, so we could speak to both sides of the aisle.
It helps people learn how to fundraise more effectively but it ALSO drives home the cost saving message that if you TRULY want your nonprofit to be efficient and effective and raise BUCKETLOADS of money, you need to treat your staff well, and help them stay.
 
Q: What is the biggest challenge you see fundraising professionals grappling with regarding their career path and advancement opportunities?
A: I tend to see two types of challenges with people. One is people who are victims of gender bias as women. They tend to be underpaid, under-appreciated, and under-resourced in their fundraising jobs. So usually they have to move to another nonprofit to make any changes to their situation.
Sometimes women who are older, who feel like no one wants to hire them because they are older women come to me and ask me what to do. They get the double whammy of age bias and gender bias combined.
And then there’s people who have had bosses who don’t understand fundraising, which leads to a whole host of problems, including no money invested in fundraising databases, or events, or marketing, or insisting that the fundraiser be at their desk when they need to be out in the community meeting people. That’s why this year at the Fundraising Career Conference we’re going to talk about how to manage up at your fundraising job, and teach your boss why you do what you do, and how they can best support you.
 
Q: The average tenure for a fundraising professional is just a couple of years according to some studies. Why do you think the development director position is such a ‚Äúrevolving door?‚ÄĚ
A: The revolving door is a result of a few things. According to Penelope Burk’s Donor Centered Leadership, AND the Underdeveloped Report by the Haas Jr Fund, people leave because:

  1. They do NOT have a good relationship with their boss. That’s why this year we’re going to teach how to deliberately build trust with your boss at the online Fundraising Career Conference in April 17-21, 2017.
  2. They can get a better salary elsewhere. And this is unfortunately how it goes, instead of negotiating in their current role, they jump ship and go somewhere else. But in this fundraising career conference we’ll be teaching people how to negotiate their salary at their current organization, as well as in a new job. But we’ll also talk about what else you can get, aside from salary, to help this be your dream job.
  3. I find that when people in fundraising are supervised at all, at least in small nonprofits, we aren’t encouraged to focus on our strengths, and we are given 3-5 people’s jobs to do, and we burn out. This does happen much more often than we like to admit, and so often we see it as a personal failing that we can’t do the work of 2-3 people. But it’s not a personal failing. It’s not your fault.¬† This is what is known as a super job, when you have to do more than one person’s job for no extra pay. And lots of people have this problem, from hotel maids and pepsi truck drivers to nurses and doctors. So we need to work on our boundaries, and last year we went over that.

So in this 2017 Fundraising Career conference we’ll talk about how to manage up, use your strengths, and create space for deeper conversation instead of pretending the problem doesn’t exist.
 
Q: Do you have any advice for fundraising professionals who seek greater longevity and a sense of fulfillment in their current job?
A: Yes. I wrote a whole book about it, so answering this question feels like trying to fit an elephant down a plughole.
For greater longevity, read this interview with Kishshana Palmer about how to manage up in your fundraising role. This will help you be aware of what your boss does and doesn’t understand about fundraising, and hopefully help you start conversations that will make your workplace support you more.
Next, for greater longevity, you want to help your boss learn to trust you. Read this interview with Marc Pitman, as he talks about the signs that are there when there’s lack of trust, and gives you 13 tips on how to create trust with your boss.
Then, if you want a greater sense of fulfillment in your work, you need to check out the Gallup test, where they interviewed 3 million people, and found out that people have these strengths. Take the Strengthsfinder 2.0 test online. Once you find your 5 strengths based on that test, you’ll have a better idea of what you are good at in fundraising and what you should focus on. We’re always told to shore up our weaknesses, but in honesty we should focus on our strengths as much as we can, because this is where we get the juice to be a good fundraiser.
Of course, you can get the book, Get the Job, Your Fundraising Career Empowerment Guide, on my website, and you can definitely come and ask questions at the Fundraising Career Conference, because these two things together will help you get this.
 
Q: Most fundraising professionals need to become experts at ‚Äúmanaging up‚ÄĚ in their organizations. Do you have any tips or fun success stories on how to do so effectively?
A: Oh yes! First, you want to ask your boss, what’s your favorite communication style? And they might say, “Email” or “Texting” or “Phonecalls” so, you want to try to communicate with them most often in that manner. However, face time is still important. So,
Second, insist on meeting with your boss every week for 5 minutes on Monday. Go over your priorities for the week, explain why they are your priorities, and ask your boss if they have questions. Or, if your boss is setting your priorities, ask if there’s anything they would like you to do differently. This way you’ll be able to head off any miscommunication at the pass.
Third, if they expect you to do 2, 3, 4, or 5 people’s jobs, when you have this meeting, you can say, “OK you’ve given me 80 hours of work. Which 40 would you like me to do?” This is a way you can push back and have better boundaries at your job.
We are going to be covering how to manage up in a LOT more detail at the Fundraising Career Conference, with a session on how to do this with Kishshana Palmer. I’m really looking forward to this, people are going to learn so much! (Myself included)
 
Q: What is your favorite story you like to tell others about your book ‚ÄúGet The Job! Your Fundraising Career Empowerment Guide‚ÄĚ (either in writing the book or anything associated with the book)
A: I like to tell people that the reason I wrote this book is because I GOT MAD.
I got mad when I saw good fundraisers raising a lot of money and being treated like garbage.
I looked at them being thrown out for systemic problems, not because they didn’t know what they were doing.
I was outraged when I witnessed people being fired for no reason other than their boss got a wild hair. This led me to research workplace bullying, and help people understand it.
It upset me when I saw bosses stealing large sums of money, and lying and cheating their staff out of the wages they were supposed to have from a government contract.
I heard about friends going to interview and being offered $10/hour and having the interviewer laugh and say “ha ha we all wish we could make more! You just have to believe in the mission!!” and that made me even more upset.
Probably the most egregious thing was when I talked with a government leader at the Portland Development Commission, who was in charge of facilitating better relations with the largest apparel and technology companies in our state (Nike, Adidas, Intel, etc).
I asked him, “Why don’t you focus on nonprofits?” And he said, “Because nonprofits bring the median income of a region down.”
And that, right there, is when I knew that I needed to agitate for worker rights, and for helping fundraisers and all nonprofit staff demand a higher salary, better working conditions, no super jobs, a pension and retirement fund, better healthcare, and just decent work.
Why should we be punished with bad wages, no real healthcare, and no way to retire, just because we wanted to make the world a better place?
HOW can nonprofits say they want to create a better world when they actively make it worse for their employees? It’s the height of hypocrisy.
I wrote my Get the Job book in 2013, but it wasn’t enough for me. I wrote a research report called Shafted in 2014, but that wasn’t enough either.
So in 2015 I started the online Fundraising Career Conference and in 2016 I started the online Nonprofit Leadership Summit, and it’s my goal to have as many people as possible take part in these events, so that we can start a larger conversation around decent work in this country. They’re already having the conversation in Toronto with the Ontario Nonprofit Network in Canada. We’re lagging behind here and we’ve got to get caught up.
 
Q: I see that this is the third year you’ve hosted the Fundraising Career Conference. What new and exciting things can participants look forward to this year?
A: Yes! I’m so psyched about this year because we’re going deeper into how to create a better relationship with your current or future boss.
Now, if you’re any good in fundraising at all, you will have been fired, because to be a good fundraiser you have to be able to say no. And so you probably have had a boss who, to put it mildly, has NOT been able to support you in the best way in your work.
Well, this year we’ll have a session from Marc Pitman about how to build trust with your boss, deliberately, which I’m looking forward to very much.
We’ll have a session with Pearl Waldorf, a therapist, who is going to be talking about how to create space for authentic communication at work, and how to assess your boss to see how to communicate with them.
We’ll have a session from Peter Drury all about how to be a better mentor and manager.
We’ll have a session from Kishshana Palmer on how to manage up,
And we’ll have a session for new consultants on how to be a better consultant, how to market your business starting out, and more.
There are so many good sessions that are new and exciting this year, it’s hard to not list them all. But these sessions are the ones that I think signify the integration theme of this year, where it’s not adversarial against your boss, and we’re not focused on healing. Rather, we’re focusing on how you are like your boss, and how your boss is like you. We’re encouraging people to step up and be leaders in their organizations, no matter what their titles are, and that, I think, is a true step towards self empowerment in your career.
 
Q: Unlike in-person conferences, the Fundraising Career Conference is online. What inspired you to develop and offer a virtual conference? And for those who have never participated in an online conference, what should they know and do you have any tips for them?
A: Here’s the deal.¬† I’m a millennial. Millennials are lazy! That’s why you can attend this conference in your pajamas. Just kidding. Millennials have no money. Because we’re in late stage capitalism. And on top of that, many nonprofit people are underpaid.¬† That is why you can attend this conference without having to go on an airplane and buy a taxi ride and eat crappy airport food and stuff like that. I wanted it to be available to anyone who wanted to go.
At an online conference, the nice thing is, you can sit at your desk at work (or in a coffeeshop somewhere) and attend this conference. Then you can go back to doing your work.
And if you have to miss some sessions, we’re recording everything for you, so you can go back and watch it later. And we have a phone number to listen in as well. So whether you choose to connect on the phone or on your computer, you’ll have¬† a way to be involved. We also have a questions pane where people can enter questions during the sessions each day, so everyone will have a chance to have their questions answered.
This is one of my favorite things, being able to answer questions during and after each session, and pass questions on to the presenters, who have also graciously volunteered to answer questions after the conference is over.
Learn more about Mazarine Treyz
If you can’t tell, I’ve quickly become a fan of Mazarine Treyz. She is one of the more genuine people who I’ve met in my travels, and I’ve quickly become a fan. Like me, Mazarine is a blogger and you can learn a lot about her by visiting her blog and sifting through her posts. You can find her at Wild Woman Fundraising. But if you do nothing else, you should go buy a copy of this book. I promise that you won’t regret it!

Executive coaching is for non-profit leaders

fishbowlA few years ago, I wrote a post titled “Why are non-profits adverse to executive coaching?” after a conference where I couldn’t give away executive coaching services. With a few more years under my belt, things haven’t gotten any easier. In fact, I still find it challenging to sell executive coaching services to non-profit leaders. However, I’ve changed my mind since writing that last blog post about the reasons why this is the case.
After a heart-to-heart with a few non-profit friends, I’ve come to believe executive coaching is seen by some (and perhaps many) as a service for professionals who are failing. One person even compared it to counseling.
When put into this context, people who see coaching as a remedy for failure also see asking their board or their supervisor to pay for coaching as an admission of weakness or being unable to do their job.
The ironic thing here is that some of the for-profit sector’s greatest leaders have worked with executive coaches. It wasn’t because they were failing, but it was because they needed to maximize their performance.
Executive coaching is not like coaching in athletics. They don’t call the plays in from the sidelines. In fact, they don’t even tell you what to do. A good executive coach will ask powerful questions, facilitate discussions, help you with goal setting and be an accountability agent in your professional life.
Executive coaches are not therapists, but hiring one can have the impact of bringing greater work-life balance and fulfillment to your professional life.
The reality is that executive coaches are hired for any number of reasons. Here are just a few:

  • Help with succession planning
  • Developing young leaders
  • Improving performance / Maximizing performance
  • Serving as a thought-partner during important projects (e.g. strategic planning)
  • On-boarding new CEOs and key leaders (both staff and volunteer)
  • Surviving and thriving during executive search and transition

I could go on and on with this list, but the bottom line is that there are any number of projects and situation where non-profit organizations can benefit from executive coaching services.
Has your organization every hired an executive coach for staff or board volunteer? If not, then what is stopping you? Please share your thoughts and experiences in the comment box.  We can all learn from each other.
Here’s to your health!
Erik Anderson
Founder & President, The Healthy Non-Profit LLC
www.thehealthynonprofit.com 
erik@thehealthynonprofit.com
http://twitter.com/#!/eanderson847
http://www.facebook.com/eanderson847
http://www.linkedin.com/in/erikanderson847

Illinois budget crisis impacting non-profit organizations ‚ÄĒ Part 3

illinois budgetEarlier this week and last week, I started writing about the State of Illinois’ budget crisis and how it is impacting non-profit organizations. In Part 1 of this series, I shared survey results provided by United Way of Illinois along with other insights and perspectives . In Part 2, I talked to a non-profit executive director whose organization lost significant funding as a result of Illinois’ budget impasse and shared some surprising developments. Today, I have a suggestion for Illinois non-profit leaders to mull over as the crisis deepens (and there is lots here for non-profit leaders from other states to chew on, too).
Frog in boiling water
We’ve all heard the story about frogs and boiling pots of water. Right?
Assuming that some of you haven’t any clue of what I’m talking about, here is a nice summary from Wikipedia:

“The boiling frog is an anecdote describing a frog slowly being boiled alive. The premise is that if a frog is placed in boiling water, it will jump out, but if it is placed in cold water that is slowly heated, it will not perceive the danger and will be cooked to death. The story is often used as a metaphor¬†for the inability or unwillingness of people to react to or be aware of threats that occur gradually.”

I have no clue what the origins of this old story are, but I do know this . . .

IT IS A MYTH!

boiling frog1Don’t want to take my word for it because you might have heard it from your grandfather or another beloved family member. No problem … I completely understand. Let me provide you with scientific proof. Simply click here, click here for more, and click here if you are in deep denial. ¬†If you clicked all three links, I’m guessing you probably also believe a number of other grossly inaccurate things about other animals and suggest you the Snopes.com article titled “Critter Country:¬†Wild Inaccuracies
So, what does any of this silliness have to do with non-profits and the Illinois budget impasse?

Your organization is like a frog!

In other words, your non-profit should (and likely will) jump out of the boiling waters of government funding if things get too hot. It is a simple matter of survival.
Question #1: When?
I’ve lamented too often — right here on this blog — that too many non-profit boards operate poorly. They don’t understand (and sometimes reject) their legally defined fiduciary responsibilities, focus their meetings obsessively on monitoring rather than governance, micromanage the organization and its staff, rubber stamp things (oftentimes very important things) that staff put in front of them, and my list can go on and on.
If anything in the last paragraph describes your organization’s board of directors, please hear me clearly . . .

You’re at risk!

In other words, you might just be on the road to¬†proving all of the scientists, who said in the last section that “the boiling frog story is an urban legend,” are liars.
boiling frog2Your board is likely made up of smart people. If they aren’t being used (at a minimum) as a “sounding board” on the issue of government funding and what to do about it, then my suggestions are:

  • Stop business as usual in your boardroom
  • Start adding a 45 minute “generative discussion” agenda item to every one of your monthly meetings for the foreseeable future
  • Focus your discussions around various aspects of your government funding situation
  • Bring in guest speakers who know more than you do about state funding and your grants
  • Pose open ended questions and facilitate an engaging dialog where everyone is encouraged to share their thoughts and feelings
  • Don’t just have theoretical conversations … also pose action oriented questions (e.g. what are our options? what should we be doing?)

If you and your board can make this adjustment in non-profit governance, I guarantee you that . . .

It will be clear when it is time to jump out of the boiling pot!

Question #2: What?
boiling frog3Of course, the more difficult question for most non-profit organizations is “What to do about it?
If your organization isn’t reliant on government funding, the answer is easy . . . carry on and try not to gloat too much around your non-profit friends. For those of you who rely on modest¬†(or perhaps significant) government money, then you want to keep reading.
If you and your board have decided the water is getting a little too hot, then here are a few suggestions:

  • Re-exam your non-profit revenue model
  • Explore other models (refer to previous section about generative discussions in the boardroom)
  • Make a group decision about which model (or hybrid model) is best for your organization at this time
  • Don’t try to turn the battleship all at once … choose one (or a few) things to “try on for size” and experiment with¬†small aspects of your new revenue model¬†(e.g. write a private sector foundation grant, engage a corporate partner, identify prospective individual donors and start a conversation with them; write a business plan for a potential social enterprise, etc)
  • Invest time, energy and effort in evaluation of every new thing you undertake and commit to nurturing a culture of improvement and excellence
  • Celebrate every success from top-to-bottom and side-to-side of your organization (no matter how big or small it may be)

If you got this far and still find yourself scratching your head over the idea of different non-profit revenue models, then you need to click-through and read a Bridgespan white paper titled “Ten Nonprofit Funding Models“. I also highly suggest clicking on and reading every hyperlink embedded in the white paper.
If you don’t believe your organization can do this without help, then I have some good news. There are countless non-profit consultants (myself included) who are available for hire.
Stop listening to stupid people
boiling frog4I’ve heard state funders (e.g. foundations, United Ways, etc) say loudly and clearly, “The state cannot expect funders to fill the gap created by the State“.
I do NOT¬†believe¬†foundation leaders and United Way professionals are¬†“stupid people“. However . . .
I have heard some people (in fact some are even dear friends of mine), amplify the cautionary words of foundations and United Ways and then twist them by concluding “private sector philanthropy” cannot fill the gap. It is these folks to whom I urge you to please stop listening.
The reality is that foundations, corporations and United Ways only account for 20% of the $358 billion of charitable giving. The remainder of the pie (a huge whopping 80%) comes from individuals either directly or through bequests.
Moreover, charitable giving is only 2% of our country’s GDP.
The pie can be increased. There is room to expand and grow. Foundation leaders and United Way professionals never said private sector philanthropy couldn’t be the solution (or at least a big part of the solution). They were simply say that politicians need to stop telling voters their organizations will fill the gap.
Are you a doubting Thomas? If so, then I have a proposition for you . . .
Add this topic to your board agenda. I think it makes for¬†an awesome generative discussion. If you’re an Illinois non-profit organization and you’re looking for someone to speak in your boardroom on this subject and facilitate a generative discussion, then please contact me because I would be willing to consider it.
Next up in this blog series?
I’ve sent emails to a handful of politicians and policymakers who I trust and respect. I’ve invited them to share their thoughts on this subject. If any of them respond, then I’ll publish those next week.
In the meantime, please use the comment box to share your thoughts and experiences on the Illinois budget impasse, the impact you’re seeing on the non-profit sector, your thoughts on what organizations should be doing about it, or anything else that is top of mind regarding the state of government funding (federal, state or local) and those trends. We can all learn from each other.
Here’s to your health!
Erik Anderson
Founder & President, The Healthy Non-Profit LLC
www.thehealthynonprofit.com 
erik@thehealthynonprofit.com
http://twitter.com/#!/eanderson847
http://www.facebook.com/eanderson847
http://www.linkedin.com/in/erikanderson847

What can your non-profit learn from Southwest Airlines?

A few weeks ago, I signed a contract to do a little work with an organization on the Mississippi Gulf Coast. I must admit that it was nice to get out of the Chicago winter, even if it was only for a few days. On my way home, I found myself waiting for a delayed airplane at a Southwest Airlines gate at the Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport. As time elapsed and the plane became increasingly more late, people understandably became more agitated and upset. It was in this moment I saw a Southwest Airlines gate agent (I think his name was Aaron) demonstrate the type of leadership that every non-profit executive director and fundraising professional could learn from.
Let me attempt to tell this story pictorially.
southwest restless gate
In the picture above, you see that no one was particularly happy. No one is smiling. There are some arms crossed. In fact, every time the gate agent used the PA system to announce a new piece of information, there were audible groans and grousing from weary travelers. It wasn’t a pretty scene.
Then something happened as you can see in the pictures below . . .
southwest line daning
Uh-huh . . . your eyes aren’t deceiving you. You see people in the picture above line dancing.
southwest dancing
Yep . . . this last picture is the gate agent dancing with one of those delayed travelers. What you can’t hear is a fellow passenger playing music on¬†his accordion.
So, what happened?
Simply put, the gate agent realized that people were unhappy, and he stepped into the leadership void and filled it. However, what was most impressive was that he didn’t have many resources at his disposal. Over the course of more than an hour, the gate agent facilitated the following activities with people in the gate:

  • charades contest
  • trivia game
  • line dancing
  • talent show (e.g. an¬†accordion player, magician, and a 7-year-old girl performing her dance competition routine)

When the delayed aircraft pulled up the gate, no one noticed because they were too busy having fun. There wasn’t a frown to be found anywhere.
Mission accomplished! ¬†ūüôā
So, what happened here that your non-profit organization can learn from?
Well, scroll back up to the first picture of angry people being told that their flight was delayed. Now pretend that those aren’t angry travelers, and they are instead angry donors and key community stakeholders.
The reality is this can¬†happen to the best of us. Our organizations make decisions that make people upset. Sometimes management decisions simply don’t work out. Other times external circumstances lead us down roads fraught with crisis.
When this happens, people get angry. More oftentimes than not, you aren’t in a position to wave a magic wand and fix the situation, but you better do something to keep things from getting worse. (Very similar to the Southwest Airlines gate agent’s situation, right?)
Here are a few tips when your organization finds itself in similar circumstances:

  • Take responsibility
  • Don’t make excuses (even though you want to explain what is happening and why it is¬†occurring)
  • Empathize with those who aren’t happy (we’ve all been there)
  • Do whatever you can to make people happy even if you can’t fix the problem (ask those who are upset if there is anything you can do to make the situation better)
  • Coordinate your response (especially when dealing with a crisis, only have one spokesperson dealing with restless people)
  • Know your resources and use them!

This last bullet point sounds simple, but it is hard to do when you’re in the middle of a challenging situation. However, the reality is that most non-profit organizations have many more resources than the Southwest Airlines gate agent I’ve highlighted in this post.
The following are just a few examples of resources at most non-profit’s fingertips:

  • talented staff
  • board volunteers
  • clients
  • donors
  • community supporters (e.g. program volunteers)
  • collaborative partners (e.g. other non-profit partners)
  • technology
  • budgets (albeit probably stretched thin)
  • facilities (albeit not every non-profit is endowed with physical space)

This short list of resources is like a list of food ingredients for a chef. Surely, some spontaneous recipe can be cooked up?
The reality is that whatever mess you find yourself in, you don’t have to be in it alone.
Please scroll down and use the comment box below to share your thoughts and experiences. No one is in this alone. We can all learn from each other.
Here’s to your health!
Erik Anderson
Founder & President, The Healthy Non-Profit LLC
www.thehealthynonprofit.com 
erik@thehealthynonprofit.com
http://twitter.com/#!/eanderson847
http://www.facebook.com/eanderson847
http://www.linkedin.com/in/erikanderson847

Performance management and professional development

professional developmentIt is year-end and I’ve been working with a few clients on year-end things like solicitation mailings, various planning projects, and of course year-end evaluation and 2015 performance management plans. The fourth quarter is a busy time of the year with many different balls to juggle.
When it comes to developing performance management plans, I like to create tools that include the following three parts:

  • measurable performance objectives
  • skill set evaluation (e.g.¬†feedback on how someone does their job from a skill set perspective)
  • professional development opportunities

Let’s face it . . . none of us are perfect and everyone has room for development, education and growth. Right? For this reason, I really like the professional development portion of the tools I’ve been helping clients build in recent months.
I recently read the following about professional development opportunities:

  • 70% comes from on the job learning and targeted work experiences like special projects
  • 20% comes from coaching, shadowing and mentoring
  • 10% comes from training sessions, conferences, etc

This was a “DUH” moment for me, but back in the day when I was developing plans for my staff I used to focus a lot more on formal training opportunities.
Do you include a professional development planning component in your staff’s performance plan? If so, what things do you include, and how does it compare to the aforementioned formula? What type of on-the-job special projects have you used to help employees grow?
Please scroll down and use the comment box below to share your thoughts and ideas. We can all learn from each other.
Here’s to your health!
Erik Anderson
Founder & President, The Healthy Non-Profit LLC
www.thehealthynonprofit.com 
erik@thehealthynonprofit.com
http://twitter.com/#!/eanderson847
http://www.facebook.com/eanderson847
http://www.linkedin.com/in/erikanderson847

Building staff loyalty means engaging in conversation

In case you haven‚Äôt heard, DonorDreams blog is hosting for the second year in a row the¬†Nonprofit Blog Carnival¬†in the month of May. This year‚Äôs theme revolves around building loyalty among various non-profit stakeholder groups such as donors, employees, volunteers, etc. If you are a blogger and looking for the ‚ÄúCall for Submissions,‚ÄĚ then¬†click here. The carnival will be posted right here at DonorDreams blog on Wednesday, May 28, 2014. Stay tuned!

In the interest of building momentum, we’ve dedicated the entire month of blog posts to this topic. We’re specifically focusing on what a variety of non-profit organizations are doing (or are looking at doing) to build loyalty.

All-staff meeting results in health care discussion
Vietnamese Association of Illinois

vietnamese associationThe idea of how to build loyalty has bubbled into all sorts of conversations with my non-profit friends this month. Just last week I met my old friend and current President & CEO of the Vietnamese Association of Illinois, Paul Luu,¬†¬†for a delicious lunch at Tank Noodle in Chicago’s Uptown neighborhood. After ordering hot tea and pho, we started talking about his one year anniversary as the top dog at his agency. Quickly, our discussion turned to the topic of loyalty.

When the conversation turned to Paul’s staff, he got very excited and started talking about the quarterly meetings his agency hosts where every employee is invited and encouraged to attend. At these meetings, a wide variety of activities occur. The following are just a few examples of things that have ended up on quarterly all-staff meeting agendas:

  • trainings
  • updates from upper management and board members about the state of the agency
  • Q&A with the President & CEO

Recently, it was brought to Paul’s attention at one of the quarterly all-staff meetings that employees were struggling with health insurance issues. These struggles were going to become more pronounced with the IRS poised to enforce the Individual Mandate of the Affordable Care Act (ACA).
loyaltyUnderstanding that it isn’t enough to just give the staff a forum, Paul and the board of directors listened and developed a plan of action to help employees with their healthcare challenges.

  • ACA navigators attended future all-staff meetings¬†to work with employees
  • healthcare became a priority and¬†repeatedly¬†talked about in internal communication vehicles
  • the agency found funding to help underwrite some of the costs associated with giving employees a healthcare stipend

Why did the agency go to great lengths to meet their staff halfway on the healthcare question? Paul explained it as follows:

“Our staff is talented and could go to work for any number of other social service non-profit agencies throughout the city. We understand that we are only as good as our staff and the services they provide our clients. While we don’t have endless financial resources, we owed it to our employees to engage in a discussion that was very important and collaborate with them on working through the problem until an¬†acceptable¬†solution was found.”

As I heard Paul talk about this situation — one with which he and the board are obviously very happy — I couldn’t help but think about what Peter Drucker once said:

“All organizations now say routinely, ‘People are our greatest asset.’ Yet few practice what they preach, let alone truly believe it. Most still believe, though perhaps not consciously, what nineteenth century employers believe: people need us more than we need them. But, in fact, organizations have to market membership as much as they market products and services — and perhaps more. They have to attract people, hold people, recognize and reward people, motivate people, and serve and satisfy people.”

I believe that Paul and the Vietnamese Association of Illinois just put a huge down payment down on something called employee loyalty because they gave their staff a forum; they listened; they collaborated; and they acted.
I think Peter Drucker, Frederrich Reichheld and all of the other loyalty thought leaders would be very proud of this non-profit organization.

 =================================

If you want to learn more about what other non-profit organizations are doing to build loyalty among various stakeholder groups (e.g. donors, employees, volunteers, etc), then tune in here to DonorDreams blog every Tuesday and Thursday throughout the month of May. We will also publish the Nonprofit Blog Carnival on May 28, 2014 with a number of links to other non-profit bloggers who are talking about loyalty related themes.

Here’s to your health!

Erik Anderson
Founder & President, The Healthy Non-Profit LLC
www.thehealthynonprofit.com 
erik@thehealthynonprofit.com
http://twitter.com/#!/eanderson847
http://www.facebook.com/eanderson847
http://www.linkedin.com/in/erikanderson847

A few tips for participating in your community's "Giving Day"

give local americaI may not be the sharpest knife in the drawer, but when I get beat over the head with something enough times over the course of a year it becomes obvious that I’m staring at a trend. LOL! In this case, I am referencing an increasingly popular activity sprouting up all over the place — Giving Day.
I was first introduced to the idea of a concentrated one day push while working with a client in Valparaiso, Indiana. Their local community foundation had organized a day where local donors could make an online contribution and designate it to any number of local non-profit organizations. Of course, there were incentives such matching dollars and contests.
As many of you know, I’ve spent the last five months in West Texas and New Mexico working with 18 different agencies on a variety of organizational capacity building activities. While I was down south avoiding a brutal Midwest winter, I was once again introduced to another statewide Giving Day in New Mexico. Like the one in Valparaiso, it was being sponsored by a handful of different community foundations.
Finally, last week I returned home from my temporary assignment and started wading through a ton of mail that was waiting for me. While sifting through that pile, I came across a letter from another agency promoting their community’s Giving Day and they were asking me to make an online contribution.
As I clicked around on Google, I discovered there is a national Giving Day initiative called “Give Local America!” being sponsored by communities, non-profit organizations and an online giving portal company called Kimbia.
As I said earlier, I may not be the brightest or the quickest, but I suspect that I’m looking at a trend in the non-profit sector. ¬†ūüôā
The Knight Foundation defines a community Giving Day as follows:

“A Giving Day is a powerful 24-hour online fundraising competition that unites a community around local causes. Hosted by the area‚Äôs community foundation, the Giving Day raises money through a single online donation platform. A Giving Day is a great way to build community, connect donors to local nonprofits, teach organizations to use digital tools and generate excitement about your community foundation.”

The foundation developed an online “playbook” for people who want to organize one of these events in their community. If you’re interested, click here to check it out.
online givingAs I started playing around with these ideas in my head, I’ve come to the conclusion that this doesn’t necessarily have to be a community-wide event sponsored by a community foundation or a United Way. (However, I do think a community-wide approach organized by a foundation or¬†United¬†Way is preferable)
I believe individual non-profit organizations can take these same principles and develop a focused day of giving for themselves. Perhaps, it is something at the end of your Spring annual campaign pledge drive focused on smaller donors. Or maybe it is a year-end giving strategy with a Thanksgiving theme done in conjunction with #GivingTuesday.
Regardless of whether it is community-focused or agency-focused, there are a few simple best practices that power the successes associated with planning these events. You can find those best practices at the other end of the Knight Foundation link (see link above). If you aren’t planning such an event, but you’re participating in one, then here are a few tips for engaging¬†the most number of people in making a contribution in your agency’s name:

  • challenge gifts are an important part of the call to action (don’t just rely on the challenge being offered by the organizer . . . additional matching gifts from your major donors will drive even more traffic on your behalf to the online giving portal)
  • pre-event publicity is crucial to raise awareness among your donors (e.g. targeted mail, email, etc)
  • day-of-event solicitation (e.g. emails, blog posts, Facebook/Twitter/LinkedIn chatter, etc) are important strategies to drive online traffic to the¬†giving page
  • post-event recognition and stewardship for an entire year leading up to your next Giving Day build loyalty and a strong base of sustainable giving

Does your agency participate in a community-wide Giving Day? If so, what best practices have you used and found work well? Please use the comment box below to share your thoughts and experiences.
Here’s to your health!
Erik Anderson
Founder & President, The Healthy Non-Profit LLC
www.thehealthynonprofit.com
erik@thehealthynonprofit.com
http://twitter.com/#!/eanderson847
http://www.facebook.com/eanderson847
http://www.linkedin.com/in/erikanderson847

The executive director's first 90 days

bright eyed bushy tailedBright eyed and bushy-tailed. I love those two descriptions because they perfect describe most newly minted non-profit executive directors. They are eager, optimistic, and ready to change the world when they walk through your agency’s door on their first day of work.
It is at this point that I’ve witnessed many exhausted board volunteers collapse because the first day for the new executive director typically represents the end of a long executive search process. Of course, the reality is that the first 90 days are perhaps some of the most crucial days for the new executive director and the organization.
As I reflect back upon my experience 14-years ago, I now recognize how lucky I was to have been hired by an agency that belonged to a larger national organization (e.g. Boys & Girls Clubs of America). The board simply pointed me in the direction of the regional office, and they signed me up for “New Executive Orientation”.¬†There were pre-training worksheets that walked me through an assortment of activities geared toward hitting the ground running.
But what if your agency doesn’t belong to a national organization? What should your new executive director’s first 90 days look like?
Without getting into a very tactical answer to this question, here are a few big picture activities both the board and the new executive director should look at engaging in:

  • The board needs to develop a written (and measurable) 90 day performance management plan for the new CEO
  • At the end of the first 90 days, the board needs to evaluate their new employee against the written performance management plan and issue another written management plan focused on the remainder of the year
  • The new exec should schedule one-on-one meetings with every board member to talk about the following: 1) where do they currently see the agency and 2) in what direction do they think the agency should be moving
  • The new CEO should be meeting in-person with the agency’s top 25 or top 50 donors to get their perspective on where the agency is and where it should be going
  • The new executive director should meet in-person with each of the agency’s key stakeholders and collaborative partners
  • Back home at the office there is much to do including: 1) reviewing all grants (esp grant deliverables), contracts, audits, recent financial statements, and written organization plan and policy documents including bylaws and 2) getting to know operational staff and learning programs
  • The board needs to plan a party and introduce their new executive director to the community

exhaustedExhausted yet?
Well, these six bullet points are only meant to be a big picture view.
If you are looking for something more tactical and detailed, I ran across a great document online from NAMI titled “The First 90 Days: The New NAMI Executive Director’s Guide“. I think this is a great resource to help new executive directors hit the ground running. It is definitely worth the click. ¬†ūüėČ
What has your agency done to help its new executive director hit the ground running? Please use the comment box below and share your thoughts and opinions. Why? Because we can all learn from each other.
Here’s to your health!
Erik Anderson
Founder & President, The Healthy Non-Profit LLC
www.thehealthynonprofit.com
erik@thehealthynonprofit.com
http://twitter.com/#!/eanderson847
http://www.facebook.com/eanderson847
http://www.linkedin.com/in/erikanderson847