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:
The Environmentally-Minded Office: Consider some of these easy-to-implement environmental ideas in your office.
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:
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.
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:
Happy grant proposal writing!
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:
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.
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:
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:
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.
"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."