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
October - November 1991
Don't Dump -- Delegate: The purpose and benefits of effective
delegation are often lost because managers engage in indiscriminate
Here are some problems associated with dumping:
Dumping is typically done on the spur of the moment. "Here, Pat,
take care of this for me" or "I forgot about that meeting. Go and
tell me what happens."
Dumping usually does not take into account special skills,
abilities and interests. The bottom line then is resentment on the
part of the person selected.
Dumping ignores the need for information, coaching and preparation
for the tasks involved. It's a sink-or-swim approach -- and the
drowning rate is high.
Dumping usually reveals an anxiety to get rid of a problem by simply
giving it to someone else.
To delegate effectively you should:
Carefully select the person to whom you delegate an assignment.
Assign the authority -- and the support -- to get the job done.
Agree on standards of performance and establish checkpoints.
Delegate the "what" not the "how."
Assess the risks and provide for them.
Encourage independent action.
Give recognition when deserved.
Take action when things go wrong.
Source: Dr. Roger Fritz, Roger Fritz & Associates, Inc., 500
Technology Drive, Suite 104, Naperville, IL 60563, cited in
Grant Applicant, Where are You?:
We recently completed a
preliminary review of over 80 letters of intent from organizations
seeking grants from MWF. One mistake that a surprising number of
applicants made was failing to give a mailing address and phone
number for their organizations.
MWF staff usually manage to get this contact information one way or
another; however, last year, we were never able to notify one
applicant of our decision regarding a grant. WE cannot give an
application serious consideration, when we have no way to contact
the applicant to ask questions, to get further information or to
arrange a site visit.
This mistake seems to happen most often in two circumstances: the
application is made on plain paper rather than agency letter head,
which normally carries both the address and phone number; or the
agency is a women's shelter, which commonly leaves the address off
the letterhead for security purposes.
Before you send your next grant proposal off to a potential funder,
make sure that the funder will know where to ind you to give you
the good news or the bad.
Nonprofit organizations of every size and purpose share common
questions about how to make board membership a mutually satisfying
experience for those who volunteer and for the organization itself.
Every organization needs to take the time on a regular basis to see
how (and sometimes if) the board is working. If, as is often the
case, there is room for improvement, there a re some fairly simple
things that can be done.
When the MWF staff consults with women's nonprofits around board
issues, the most common concerns are:
confusion over the role of a volunteer board of directors
The need to recruit more board members
what to do about inactive board members
how to involve board members more effectively in fund raising.
The Role of the Board:
There is no reason to expect people to understand what it means to
be a board member of your nonprofit organization unless the job is
defined clearly. Some new board members may never have service on
any board; and others may have learned things on other boards that
are incorrect or that don't work well in your organization. Ask
your board members to work together to develop a one page job
description that spells out:
The organization's mission and a statement in which board members
are asked to support the mission and develop policies to help carry
The approximate monthly time commitment expected of the board
members. Include the board and committee meetings, telephone time,
fundraising and any other commitments you can think of. In most
cases, the average time commitment will probably be 6-10 hours a
month. Spell out how often the board meets and how long meetings
last. Do you have an annual board retreat? Is everyone expected
to attend special events?
Expectations about committee service. In many organizations,
board members are asked to serve on at least one committee in
addition to attending board meetings.
The board's understanding about personal financial contributions.
The amount expected need not be specified, but it is important to
include some understanding that every board member is expected to
contribute money as well as time and expertise. (A total dollar
goal for board gifts should be the first line item in your fund
raising income budget each year.)
The clear understanding that all board members will participate in
fund raising in addition to their personal contribution. (More on
this later.) You board job description may include other
commitments (such as being a supportive voice for your organization
within the community, which means being sufficiently familiar with
goals and programs to be an effective advocate). You may wish to
write the description as a contract, in which the organization
promises certain things (timely information, ongoing training,
recognition, respect) in return for the board member's commitment.
The important thing is that the document reflect the real
commitments needed from board members, and that everyone agrees to
take such commitments seriously.
The job description, together with a good basic package of
background materials including by-laws, financial information and
program descriptions, will help to recruit new board members and
will demonstrate your organization treats board membership
seriously. It will also help to avoid misunderstandings later.
(Sometimes, in their anxiety to recruit new members, volunteers and
even staff downplay the commitments. How many directors does your
organization have who were told, "Oh, you won't have to do
Before setting out to recruit, the current board should make a list
of what attributes they want new board members to possess. While
belief in your cause is important, it isn't enough to qualify
someone as a board member. What skills do you need? (Examples:
law, finance, personnel, education.) What age groups and
ethnicities should be included in your board? What parts of your
community do you want to connect with? (Examples: political
leadership, the business sector, health organizations.) Be
proactive in your recruitment and be selective. Interview
community leaders for suggestions and don't forget to talk with
human resources professionals, who often have the best overview of
the talent in the organization and who are not yet committed to a
lot of other volunteer activities. You want people who will make
your organization their principal cause, not people who sit on
every other board in town, no matter how famous they are.
Don't leave recruiting to chance. Make appoints to discuss your
organization with prospects and be sure they are comfortable with
the commitments you are asking for.
(Note: This is Part I of a two-part article to be continued in the
next issue of Women's Road Map. Part II will address "Inactive
Board Members" and "Boards and Fundraising").
For More Compelling Fundraising Letters: When writing a fund-
Peg your appeal to a current news item if possible. Readers will
contribute more readily if they feel they can help solve a pressing
problem covered by the news media. Also, your appeal will gain
believability and urgency.
Come up with a "villain" that will anger your readers. Let them
vent that anger by contributing. Caution: Avoid personal attacks
on an individual. Instead, attack the perceived bad policy or
program of your opposition.
Find an emergency your readers can respond to. But don't create
a false one, because they'll see through it. Effective emergencies
usually contain deadlines that give people a reason to "act now."
Example: a piece of legislation that will be voted on by a certain date.
Be sure your readers will feel their contribution will help solve
the problem you've outlined. Don't overstate your case and give
the impression that no solution is possible. People want to get
behind winning causes.
Reward your readers for taking time to read your letter. Share
some inside information. Offer some new facts. Make the letter
interesting or fun to read.
Source: Maximum Gifts by Return Mail, by Roland Kuniholm, Fund
Raising Institute 12300 Twinbrook Parkway, Rockville, MD 20852,
cited in communication briefings.
Donated Computer Software and Other Products:
Gifts in Kind America is a clearinghouse not only for very low- or
no-cost computer software but also for many other products of
interest to nonprofits, including personal care products, building
supplies, household items and office supplies. The program is
currently the sole distributor for donated software from the Lotus,
Aldus and Microsoft companies. In the near future, the program
will become a distributor of clothing donated by apparel
manufacturers. All products are available on a first come, first
Nonprofits can take advantage of this program in one of two ways.
First, contact your local United Way, which in amy areas of the
country is the distribution point for the Gifts in Kind program, to
find out how to access the program through that agency. Second --
if you have no local United Way or it doesn't participate in the
program -- you can apply directly to Gifts in Kind America for
membership to the program. A modest fee is involved, ranging from
$50 for agencies with budgets below $1M to $200 for agencies with
budgets above $3M.
For further information, send a self-addressed, stamped envelope to:
Attn. Mefula Fairley, Gifts in Kind America, 700 N. Fairfax St.,
Ste. 300, Alexandria, VA 22314, or call 703/836-2121.
Helping Your Board Understand Financial Statements: A new
booklet entitled Understanding Nonprofit Financial Statements
illustrates basic financial concepts that all board members should
understand. The 25-page booklet, by John Paul Dalsimer, is
available for $6.25 plus $2 shipping, from the National Center for
Nonprofit Boards, 2000 L Street, N.W., Suite 411, Washington, DC
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.
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.
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
Thanks for visiting The Grants and Related Resources Home Page.
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information concerning this Home Page, please send e-mail to:
This page has been visited
times since June 1, 1996.
Jon Harrison : Page Editor
Funding Center Supervisor
Social Sciences Collections Coordinator
Michigan State University Libraries
E. Lansing, MI 48824-1048
Voice mail: (517) 432-6123, ext. 123
Fax: (517) 432-8050
Last revised : 09/24/96