Michigan Women's Foundation, 17177 North Laurel Park Dr., Suite 445, Livonia, MI 48152
telephone: (734) 542-3946; fax: (734) 542-3952; http://comnet.org/mwf
Center for Women, 25 Sheldon Blvd., SE, Grand Rapids, Michigan 49503
telephone: (616) 742-2389; fax: (616) 459-8460

Michigan Women's Foundation
Women's Road Map
The Newsletter of MWF's Management Assistance Program
March - June 1991

Fund Raising

Boards and Fundraising: Women tend to have more difficulty asking for money than men; however, a distaste for fundraising seems to be shared by most board members.

In a study summarized in "Increase Your Board's Fundraising: Suggestions from a Recent Study," researcher Kathleen Brown Fletcher found that among 71 board members surveyed, "there was hardly universal enthusiasm for fundraising" - half said they found fundraising distasteful or somewhat distasteful. However, three quarters said they would ask for money if requested to do so; less than 10 percent said they'd refuse to ask for money. Fletcher's recommendation: Ask board members to ask for money -- the refusal rate may be lower than you expect.

Other suggestions from Fletcher: Emphasize fundraising when recruiting board members; look for people who enjoy fundraising and have previous experience on fundraising boards; nurture your board members -- lead them slowly along the path to fundraising, encouraging them to first take small steps and then leading them on to greater involvement; let board members start by doing what they like most and are good at, such as drafting letters or organizing lists.

Source: Cited in Nonprofit World, Vol. 9, No. 3, May/June, 1991, pg. 4.

Donor Fatigue: An overwhelming number of high-pressure charitable solicitations has brought on "donor fatigue," according to a 1990 Gallup poll conducted for Money magazine.

Nearly 70% of those polled complained that they are badgered by charities and 39% said that they get 10 or more appeals in an average month. However, 94% of the respondents said they intend to give money this year, with 38% planning to donate $500 or more. More than one in 10 said they send in whatever among a charity requests.

There are several lessons in that poll for nonprofits. First, donor dollars are in high demand, so plan for, design and time your appeals carefully so that you have a competitive edge. Second, donors want to give, but you have to help them by knowing why you need their money and by making sure your message is loud and clear. If you don't know how to design effective fundraising letters, find someone in your community who does to teach you or, better yet, recruit that person onto your fundraising committee.

A final lesson -- a hard one especially among women's organizations -- is ask for what you need! If you really need $50 from each of your donors to operate your program effectively, don't ask for $25 or, even worse, fail to specify an amount in your letter. There is no virtue in asking for too little and struggling with an underfunded budget.

Klein on Fundraising: Earlier this year, Kim Klein conducted a fundraising training in Lansing. If you aren't familiar with Klein's work, her book Fundraising for Social Change (Chardon Press, 1988) is a classic in the nonprofit world -- and she is very familiar with the needs and issues of women's organizations.

Noteworthy tips Klein offered at her Lansing presentation:

  • When fundraising, remember that you're not begging -- you're putting a price tag on the work you do.
  • Ask for money two to four times a year -- asking only once will result in smaller gifts. Every time you write to your list of donors, 10% will give you money.
  • The average organization loses one third of its donors a year. So you must recruit new donors to replace those you lose, just to keep even. If your attrition rate is less, then you don't have enough donors; if it's more, then you're not working hard enough.
  • President Bush has sent a memo that calls for making it harder for nonprofits to get tax-exempt status and harder to keep it.
  • For Board members who feel that they give their time and, so should not be expected to give or ask for money -- time is not money. Their time will not pay the phone bill. Klein notes that people aren't afraid to ask for others' time -- she doesn't have to do workshops on that!


    The Environmentally-Minded Office: Consider some of these easy-to-implement environmental ideas in your office.

  • Use white legal pads instead of yellow ones, because yellow paper needs to be bleached, thus raising the cost of recycling.
  • Buy a set of inexpensive ceramic mugs for the office instead of using foam or paper coffee cups. (You'll save money, too, once you amortize the cost of the mugs).
  • Turn off the water as soon as possible when washing your hands in the restroom. Report leaky plumbing to the proper person instead of waiting for someone else to do it.
  • Use pens that take refills or new cartridges instead of buying disposable pens.
  • Choose a copier that makes copies on two sides to eliminate paper waste.
  • Donate computer printouts and other paper to schools to be used for painting and drawing or a scratch paper.

    For more ideas, send for Your Office Paper Recycling Guide, available for $5 from the San Francisco Recycling Program, City hall, Room 271, San Francisco, CA 94102.

    Source: Adapted from Heloise: Hints for A Healthy Planet, The Putnam Publishing Group, 200 Madison Ave., New York, NY 10016 in communication briefings, February 1991.

    Mail Matters: Keep in touch with your local post office about constantly changing postal rates and your changing postal needs. As rates continue to increase, more and more discounts are being offered for presorted mail in most classes. Developing a working relationship with your post office can provide lots of opportunities for avoiding wasted money, time and energy.

    Even if your agency is too small to operate a formal mail room, give one staff person the job of becoming your in-house postal expert. Doing so can help you take advantage of the best rates and get the best mail service.

    Source: Adapted from communication briefings, February, 1991

    Before You Buy a Computer: Computers are wonderful tools for organizations. They can increase an organization's productivity, streamline its operations, organize and maintain information, and - - with all the terrific wordprocessing and desktop publishing software on the market -- improve the look of an organization's letters and publications.

    If your organization doesn't already have a computer, .get some help in evaluating whether you really need one or not and, if you do, what kind of computer equipment and software will meet your needs.

    Where to turn for help? Ask your colleagues at local nonprofits who on their staff or in the community is an expert on computers for nonprofits. Try contacting your local college or university computer education department for advice. Reputable computer dealers often have very experienced, honest and helpful people on staff who'll be glad to work with you (again, ask colleagues for referrals) -- of course, remember that their objectivity is limited, because they'd also like to sell you something.

    Another source of advice and technical assistance that is often overlooked is computer user groups. These organizations are generally founded by and for people who make everyday use of computers -- lay people, as well as professionals -- and are often specialized as to the type or brand of computer those in the particular group use.

    The majority of these groups are grassroots organizations and have a philosophy and practice of giving advice and technical assistance to individuals and nonprofits free of change. To find one of these groups, check with local computer stores or a nearby college or university, or contact the manufacturers of some of the major computer brands -- e.g. IBM, Apple, Compaq -- who often keep lists of local computer user groups. Incidentally, once you buy your computer, consider joining one of these groups for practical and emotional support in learning to use the equipment and software.

    Once you've evaluated your needs and decide it's time to buy, avoid two common errors in buying computers.

    First, don't purchase equipment that's virtually obsolete the day you take it out of the box. Organizations often try to save money by buying a used or bargain computer with too little memory (that is, it isn't powerful enough( and very quickly find that the software they also purchased won't run on their computer. Or several months later, a new program or a new version of an older program comes on the market and they can't use it because their computer has too little memory. Or the organization has a new need or project and their computer can't handle it.

    Besides buying a powerful enough computer to do what you need to do, also take care to buy a high quality printer. In ascending order of print quality (and price), there are dot-matrix printers, ink-jet printers and laser printers. If you expect to be doing any kind of publications -- newsletters, flyers, reports, etc. -- strongly consider buying a laser printer.

    In short, bite the bullet now and buy hardware that will serve you now and down the road.

    Second, don't neglect to budget money for staff training in how to use the new computer and software. A computer can only do what a person tells it to do.

    Some computers and programs are more "user friendly" than others; but none of the will do you any good without training -- training that teaches your staff the right way to use the computer and software and ways to get maximum benefit from them.

    You can buy this training from the vendor who sold you the equipment, pay a consultant to do the training, or send your staff to classes at a local college. Occasionally, nonprofits can find a volunteer who'll do the training for free -- but be sure the volunteer really is an expert. And, again, don't overlook computer user groups for help in this area.

    A computer is a costly investment; but with careful research, the right equipment and well-trained staff, it can reap tremendous dividends for your organization.

    Contact Deb Frederick, MWF Project Director at 517/349-9002 for more on this topic. She has used computers in her work with women's nonprofits for the last seven years and will be glad to share her knowledge and experience.


    Employee Compensation: Considering revamping your agency's salary scale and benefits package? A new booklet explains how to prepare competitive compensation packages for nonprofits. Available for $8.95, "Employer/Employee Guide to Nonprofit Compensation in the 1990s" (26pp.) from the Technical Assistance Center (TAC), 1600 Sherman Street, Suite 200, Denver, Colorado 80203 (303/894-0103). The booklet addresses not only internal evaluation of jobs and pay but also how to compare your internal evaluation to the external market as an aid to attracting and retaining high quality staff.

    What Employees Want: Staff turnover is often high in women's organizations, primarily because salary scales aren't competitive and, in small organizations, upward mobility is limited. AS it becomes more difficult to attract and keep good employees, you might want to remember why most people like their jobs. Most employees want:

  • To be recognized as an individual. Get to know each employee's likes and dislikes. This enables you to work effectively with each person.
  • To have pride in their work. Be sure all employees know how their efforts help the organization's mission. Provide appreciation and praise for a job well done.
  • A sense of belonging. People cooperate more and produce more when they can identify with a successful group.
  • Fair treatment. Employees must feel that policies are fair and clearly communicated. They must also feel that policies are administered in a consistent way.
  • A climate that encourages employees to express ideas. Encourage people to come to you with their ideas.

    Source: Adapted from Arthur R. Pell, "The Human Side," Dale Carnegie & Associates, Inc. 8 Fellowsworth Road, West Hartford, CT 06107 in the March 1991 issue of communication briefings.

    Drop us a line: We'd like to share with our readers' your ideas about staff recognition, team building, and participation. Supervisors, what do you do that works? Staff, what do you like? Dislike? Send your comments to Attn. Deb Frederick, MWF, 2277 Science Science Parkway, Okemos, MI 48864.

    Grantmaker's Point of View

    Over the last 15 years, I have had the sometimes dubious honor of reading and evaluating at least 500 grant proposals. Each time I review a set of proposals, I come away with a few more pointers I wish I could have given the grantwriters before they wrote their proposals.

    Following are several tips for writing better proposals that may seem very obvious to some of our readers; but, take my word for it, what seems obvious and what is actually done in practice are two different things!

    Most proposal writers would increase their "fundability" tremendously if they would do the following:

  • Read the instructions accompanying the grant proposal carefully. Keep a highlighter pen handy to mark important points and also keep a running list of the information you'll need to gather, documents to be attached, signatures required, etc. If the instructions don't make sense, call the funder and ask questions and/or have a board member or another staff member read the instructions.
  • Make sure that what you're proposing is fundable by this particular funder; otherwise, you're wasting time and energy that could be better spent researching funders who will pay for what you do. Again, call the funder if you're not sure your project fits their funding guidelines.
  • Think twice about applying for money just because it's available. If a funder wants proposals for child sexual abuse services but you serve adult women only, think very carefully about whether you want to substantially change the direction of your agency and whether you can really deliver what you plan to propose. Otherwise, funding very often is more trouble than it's worth to your agency, especially if it doesn't help you achieve your organizational mission.
  • When the proposal package asks for the "problem identification" or "needs statement," don't tell the funder that your agency's lack of money is the problem! Your agency may well need money; but you need money to accomplish a mission, to address a community problem. It's surprising how many proposals talk about their agency's needs and never mention the needs of those it serves.
  • Never assume knowledge on the part of the person(s) who'll be reading and evaluating your proposal. A person reviewing your proposal is likely to know a good proposal when she sees it, but she won't necessarily have much knowledge about your particular area of expertise. Spell out acronyms, avoid jargon and briefly describe every program component -- not everyone knows what "crisis intervention counseling" is.
  • Use a calculator to run a tape on all budget figures and have at least one other person check your figures.
  • Proofread carefully and neatly correct all errors. Have at least two other people proofread for spelling, punctuation and grammar. In fact, you can never proofread too many times!
  • Speaking of neatness, do be neat because it does count. When the time comes to decide who gets funded, proposal pages with coffee stains, typo's, messy typo corrections, or unreadable photocopying could be the deciding factor the causes you to lose out to another equally qualified applicant.
  • Be clear, concise, honest and realistic in describing the proposed project. Be sure you're clear on just what it is you're proposing, use economy of language, don't use a lot of flowery language and jargon, don't use the English language to be evasive or to cover up an ill-conceived project idea, and don't promise more than you can deliver.

    Happy grant proposal writing!

    Deborah Frederick, Project Director
    Michigan Women's Foundation


    Breadth of Human Experience and Leadership: Dolores Wharton, president of the New York-based, nonprofit Fund for Corporate Initiatives, runs a business school one week every year for young people she feels have the best chance to make it to senior management and the boardroom.

    Wharton, the first African-American and first woman to sit on the boards of several major corporations (including Kellogg, Phillips Petroleum and Gannett), believes in creating opportunity for women and minorities -- as well as white males -- through excellence. What she has learned about the corporate world can be translated to the real world of women's nonprofits.

    In her research into who gets to the top and who doesn't, she found that if race and gender are factored out, success depends to a surprising degree on a single personal attribute -- breadth of human experience. Wharton's approach to success and leadership are the subject of an article in the March, 1991 Lear's magazine: "Professional competence is not enough. Those who go furthest tend to play a part in community and cultural affairs...(because), Wharton says, 'Executives who are more widely experienced can represent the company more easily. Corporations pick their leaders from people who have led fuller and richer lives.'"

    The young women and men who attend Wharton's school are exposed to a wide range of issues facing business and society, as well as the humanities: Plato, Confucius, Bantu philosophy, government censorship of the arts, shareholder activism, corporate lobbying, corporate ethics and responsibility, the environment, education, and media coverage off business. Wharton says of her "broadening school," "I wanted to expose them to people and ideas that would help them develop faster than they might on their own" -- as Lear's put it, a sort of workout for the mind.

    Wharton's philosophy is applicable to the nonprofit world and to women who run women's nonprofits. Women leaders often become totally immersed in their organizations and the issues and problems they were designed to address -- immersed to the point that they have no time for a social life, no time for enjoying hobbies and interests, no time to become involved in their communities in ways different than their organizations require, no time to learn new skills and ideas nor to meet new people.

    The dangers for these women and their organizations are several:

  • Their tunnel vision can make it difficult to develop rapport and working relationships with others in their communities -- like public officials and business people -- who can become potential partners in achieving their organizational mission and maybe even donors.
  • Their insulation from the world outside the doors of their organization can limit their ability to objectively assess the strengths and weaknesses of their organization and severely limit their exposure to new ideas and new ways of solving problems.
  • They can lack the sense of synergy that grows out of making connections with new people and ideas -- and which that can add new vitality to an organization.
  • They can become single issue people who almost always "burn-out" on their issue and then, when they finally have to leave the organization and issue behind, they find it difficult to break into other fields.

    The next time you start to turn down an invitation to a social gathering or decide against taking an interesting class because it's just too busy at work, stop and think a minute. Maybe what you're judging to be a trivial pursuit is just what you and your organization need.

    Organizational Development

    Is Strategic Planning the Answer? Strategic planning seems to be the universal remedy these days for nonprofits. They try to cure budget crises, personnel problems, board dysfunction and a host of other ills with this planning tool. But as D. Kerry Laycock, a Ypsilanti training and organizational development consultant, points out in the September/October, 1990 issue of Nonprofit World, it's no cure-all.

    There are four factors that distinguish strategic planning, says Laycock, from other planning models and organizational improvement strategies:

  • It is fundamentally concerned with adapting to a changing external environment.
  • It is future oriented -- anticipatory rather than reactionary
  • It is comprehensive -- requiring a thorough review of internal and external conditions, which means an enormous commitment of time and energy and willingness to struggle with difficult issues and diverse perspectives.
  • It is a consensus building process -- bringing divergent needs to the surface and seeking agreement on fulfilling those needs.

    The most common misapplication of strategic planning, Laycock says, is to view it as short term problem solving (rather than as a long-term strategy). In fact, he says, the organization should address short term problems before beginning a strategic planning process.

    Another common misapplication occurs when a small, often unrepresentative group within the organization undertake the strategic planning process -- without other's support. A planning team should not be composed solely of staff or of a small fraction of board members. Inclusion is critical to the strategic planning process.

    A third misapplication is to undertake strategic planning without the commitment of adequate resources. Without an up-front commitment of time -- and money if you hire a consultant to guide the process - strategic planning can be a drain on human resources and lead to burnout and frustration.

    Finally, Laycock recommends this checklist to help your organization decide whether strategic planning is what's needed and whether you're ready for it:

    1. Is your organization preparing for the future, or are you attempting to resolve a crisis?
    2. Is your organization's current operation strong enough to allow for the stress it will endure as resources are directed to planning?
    3. Will your programs continue to function and will other obligations be met if you undertake a strategic planning process?
    4. Is the need for change recognized in your organization?
    5. Is your organization forward looking?
    6. Do you have resources to do planning?
    7. Is there sufficient commitment to the strategic planning process?
    8. Does everyone agree on the process and know what is expected of each of them?
    9. Is there clear agreement on planning objectives?
    10. Is there someone to lead the process?

    Et Cetera

    New Ms. Foundation Program: The Ms. Foundation for Women recently announced a public-education and grant-making program to help girls sustain their self-confidence into adulthood.

    Called the National Girls' Initiative, the program will support community-based social change organizations that provide girls with peer support, cultural programs promoting their self-expression, and crisis-prevention programs, among other services. The foundation is especially interested in projects that reach girls aged 9 to 15 who are lesbians or members of minority groups who come from low-income families.

    Besides making grants, the Initiative will finance a public education campaign to widen girls' visibility by giving them the opportunity to describe their experiences through art, advertisements, exhibits, and public events.

    For more information on the National Girls' Initiative, contact Kristen Golden, Ms. Foundation, 141 Fifth Ave., Suite 6S, New York, NY 10010, 212/3530-8580.

    Nonprofit Journals: In the premiere issue of Women's Road Map, we suggested three nonprofit journals that can keep you up to date on nonprofit issues, but we neglected to tell you ho to contact the publishers for information on how to subscribe.

    Nonprofit World is published by the Society for Nonprofit Organizations, 6314 Odana Rd., Suite 1, Madison, Wis. 53719. To contact them by phone, call 608/274-9777. AS of June, 1991, the subscription price was $59/year.

    Grassroots Fundraising Journal is published by Kim Klein an Lisa Honig, P.O. Box 11607, Berkeley, CA 94701. To contact them by phone, call Klein at 212/673-6216. As of June, 1991, the subscription price was $25/year.

    The Chronicle of Philanthropy can be contacted at P.O. Box 1989, Marion, OH 43306-4989 or 1-800-347-6969. As of June, 1991, the subscription price was $57.50/year.

    Need Help?
    Do you have questions on fund raising, infrastructure, financial management, grantseeking, legal issues, personnel issues, leadership or other management issues? Drop us a line and we'll do our best to find and publish the answer.

    "Just received your Women's Road Map and wanted to congratulate you on a nice piece. It's well-organized, the information is offered in chewable bites and the info. is worthwhile. Nice job."
    Karen V'Soske, YWCA, Kalamazoo

    "Just a note to express feedback on the premiere issue of ... Women's Road Map. We thought that it was pleasing to the eye, and informative with very succinct articles."

    Althea M. Grant, ACSW, Director Rape Counseling Center, Detroit

    Women's Road Map is a publication of the Michigan Women's Foundation. Published bi-monthly and free of charge as a project of MWF's on-going Management Assistance Program, this newsletter is designed to improve the management of women's organizations and, thus, enable them to compete more successfully in the nonprofit world. 1991 publication is made possible through a grant from the Chrysler Corporation Fund.

    General Notes
    MWF was founded in 1986 as a way to increase support for programs and projects that empower Michigan women and girls . In addition to the Management Assistance Program, MWF uses donor's contributions to make grants to a variety of women's organizations and works to increase public awareness of the needs of Michigan women and to encourage other foundations, individuals and the corporate community to increase their support of women's programs.

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