355 posts categorized "Nonprofit Management"

The sustainable nonprofit: Addressing challenges in leadership recruitment and retention

September 04, 2022

Food_bank_nico-smit_unsplashWhile serving constituents in need has always been challenging, today’s food banks face a new post-pandemic and rapidly shifting socio-economic landscape that is impacting how they recruit and retain leadership. We need to consider fresh strategies that food bank executives can leverage in addressing challenges in leadership recruitment and retention.

The impact of social and economic change

Low-income and at-risk populations—those served by food banks—were disproportionately impacted by the pandemic. This increased pressure on food banks, which saw a55 percent spike in demand in the first year of the pandemic. At the end of 2021, one in six adults still relied on charitable food and, as of this summer, food banks across the country are seeing growing lines as inflation impacts households. Against this backdrop, recruiters must consider specific internal and external obstacles when it comes to finding and retaining leadership....

Read the full column article by Derrick Chubbs and Janet Albert, president and CEO of Second Harvest Food Bank of Central Florida and a partner and U.S. nonprofit lead at executive search firm Bridge Partners, respectively.

(Photo credit: nico-smit via unsplash)

Wage inequity is 'a dream deferred': A commentary by Kyra Kyles

August 29, 2022

Job_handshake_Black_man_GettyImages_DMEPhotographyOne of my favorite poems of all time is Langston Hughes’ “Harlem,” better known by the compelling question it posits: “What happens to a dream deferred?”

Far too many in the BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, and people of color) community can answer that question from personal experience due to a pipeline of privilege that favors white workers. People of color, particularly those from Black and Latine communities, are locked out of desired careers by a toxic mix of systemic racism and bias; comparative lack of generational wealth; and sparse access to corporate sponsors. This is certainly true in for-profit companies, especially in fields including finance, television and film, technology, music, and journalism. Sadly, it is also a pervasive issue for nonprofit organizations, even though social good and positive impact is at the very center of our missions.

I have no doubt that my colleagues in the nonprofit community want to improve, rather than echo hollow vows to increase diversity and retain BIPOC team members, but no anti-bias training, career fair, or positive intention can trump equitable payment for employees who hail from communities of color. This is critical at every level, from interns up, and it must be a competitive wage....

Read the full commentary by Kyra Kyles, CEO of YR Media.

(Photo credit: Getty Images/DMEPhotography)

Recruiting and retaining employees with skills-based volunteering: A commentary by Tessa Vithayathil

August 28, 2022

Diverse_women_GettyImagesThe COVID-19 pandemic has spurred an unprecedented shift within the U.S. workforce. No industry or sector has escaped as a record number of people have left their jobs in what’s been called the “Great Resignation.” Perhaps you have witnessed this exodus among your colleagues or been part of it yourself.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the number of “voluntary quits” reached 4.5 million in March 2022, continuing the record highs posted during 2021, which closed out its last two months with an astonishing combined total of almost 9 million workers leaving their jobs. National Economic Council deputy director Bharat Ramamurti has pointed out that people are using this opportunity to change their employment situations for the better. Perhaps the Great Resignation would be better termed the “Great Upgrade.”

One of the top reasons so many people are changing jobs is they’re seeking more purpose and advancement in their careers. Professionals are putting more emphasis on the meaning of their work and pursuing opportunities to further develop their skills....

Read the full commentary by Tessa Vithayathil, the director of programs at Common Impact.

(Photo credit: Getty Images)

Review: 'Resilience That Works'

August 17, 2022

Book_cover_resilience-that-works_2Stop me if you’ve heard this before: A longtime nonprofit manager who’s spent her entire career steeped in the inner workings of the sector becomes the head of an organization. She works tirelessly, rarely takes a vacation, successfully steers it through a difficult financial period, seemingly by force of will, and no one ever doubts that she has the organization’s best interests in mind. But within five years, she steps down and never leads another organization.

Was she not the right fit for that particular organization? Was it burnout?

I suspect that if she’d had a chance to read Resilience That Works: Eight Practices for Leadership and Life, by Marian N. Ruderman, Cathleen Clerkin, and Katya C. Fernandez, such a leader might have had a better experience and a more enduring tenure.

Written as the coronavirus began to spread around the world and published by the Center for Creative Leadership (CCL), where the authors were working at the time (Clerkin is now senior director of insights at Candid, and Fernandez is at Stanford University), the book aims to help nonprofit leaders examine their work and their approaches to work and guide them to be better able to sustain their energies....

Read the full book review by Matt Sinclair, editor of Philanthropy News Digest.

Review: 'Choose Abundance'

August 10, 2022

Book cover_Choose AbandanceIn his 1989 best-seller, The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, Stephen R. Covey coined the terms “abundance mindset,” the belief in a benevolent world rich in resources, and “scarcity mindset,” the belief in a competitive world lacking in resources. Three decades on, most of us are still struggling to choose abundance over a scarcity mindset. Every day, we’re besieged with messages from a consumer culture that encourages the desire for new things and manifests the fear of not having enough. As Lynne Twist notes in her book, The Soul of Money, which Laurie Herrick considers required reading: “This mantra of not enough carries the day and becomes a kind of default setting for our thinking about everything, from the cash in our pocket to the people we love or the value of our own lives.” In this environment, can a nonprofit organization made up of complicated individuals choose abundance? Yes! In her book Choose Abundance: Powerful Fundraising for Nonprofits — A Culture of Philanthropy, Herrick, founder and president of Rainmaker Consulting, reveals step by step how nonprofit staff and their organizations can choose abundance by building a “culture of philanthropy” and reframing their attitudes toward fundraising.

What is a “culture of philanthropy”? After stating her preferred gender-neutral definition of philanthropy, “love of humankind,” Herrick explains, “A Culture of Philanthropy exists when organization-wide attitudes, actions and systems reflect an understanding, respect and responsibility for philanthropy’s role in the success of the organization.” In this culture, all stakeholders within the organization and in the larger community are engaged and active in advancing the cause through their individual strengths. Everyone has something to offer, whether financial assets, time, wisdom, experience, connections, or special skills. A culture based on deep relationships and a common goal opens the door to infinite possibilities....

Read the full book review by Kati Neiheisel, senior liaison at Candid.

Review: 'Nonprofit Neighborhoods: An Urban History of Inequality and the American State'

July 27, 2022

Book_cover_Nonprofit NeighborhoodsIn 2014, when Massachusetts launched its “pay for success” social impact bond program—in which private investors would front the funding for nonprofit efforts to address a social issue—it was hailed as an innovative, data-driven public-private partnership that would deliver demonstrated results and cost savings. Yet, as Claire Dunning illustrates in Nonprofit Neighborhoods: An Urban History of Inequality and the American State, it was just the latest chapter in a long history of public-private initiatives that so far have not fulfilled their promise.

An assistant professor of public policy and history at the University of Maryland, College Park, Dunning defines “nonprofit neighborhoods” as “places where neighborhood-based nonprofit organizations controlled access to the levers of political, economic, and social power and mediated the local manifestations of the state and market.” While that definition might suggest the nonprofits have power, Nonprofit Neighborhoods illuminates how, through government and public-private grantmaking, nonprofits in Boston’s low-income and minority neighborhoods came to provide the services that government should have provided and, even more disturbingly, how that funding mechanism was used to appease, manage, and control grassroots movements for policy reform and inclusion....

Read the full book review by Kyoko Uchida, features editor at Philanthropy News Digest.

Thinking less about the job postings, more about the jobs: A column article by Amy Born

June 09, 2022

Meeting_fizke_GettyImages-1164377560The Great Resignation. The Great Reshuffle. The Great Realignment. The Great and Terrible Oz. Whatever you call it, leaders are feeling it. 

Nothing is more important to an organization’s success than its people. My work with Leading Edge is all about that necessity, and I’ve been involved in countless conversations with talent professionals asking questions like: “How can I step up my recruiting in this environment? What does a job posting need to say to attract the right people? Where should I post this job to get a diverse pool of candidates?” In this “buyer’s market” for jobs, if we think about the job as a product, many of us focus on our sales pitch. 

It’s important to get our pitch right. But what if the problem is less with the pitch than the product? What would happen if we worried less about the job postings and more about changing the jobs?

It’s easy to assume that a job is static. You need a director of development. You need a volunteer coordinator. You need a finance associate. Those are the functions needed to get the work done. What can we change about that?

A lot, actually....

Read the full column article by Amy Born, chief strategy officer at Leading Edge.

(Photo credit: Getty Images/fizke)

The sustainable nonprofit: Optimizing operations for community impact

May 06, 2022

News_globe_keyboard_solution_GettyImages.jpgThe past two years have been defined by disruption, and for many individuals and organizations, the prospect of more change may be intimidating. In fact, half of respondents to a recent Innovation Process Design (IPD) survey of community foundations said they worry about overwhelming staff with process changes. In reality, however, thoughtfully examining and optimizing operations—the day-to-day organizational activities that define how an organization achieves its objectives—can actually help philanthropic and nonprofit organizations recapture time, improve accuracy, increase coaching, and otherwise enhance their community impact.

The COVID-19 pandemic has been a significant driver of change over the past two-plus years, as organizations scrambled to adjust to a rapidly evolving work environment and shifting community needs. According to the IPD survey, 92 percent of organizations installed virtual meeting systems to support a remote workforce, and 66 percent went paperless. Further, 66 percent of survey respondents reassigned job responsibilities and 61 percent overhauled operations.

Now, with two-thirds of organizations anticipating appreciable growth as the pandemic eases, changes are likely to continue through 2022 and beyond. Quite simply, organizations will have to make changes if they hope to keep up with demand. In light of that anticipated growth, 65 percent of organizations plan to bring in a major new operation in the coming year, 83 percent plan to expand or add programs, and 43 percent plan to create or execute a new strategic plan....

Read the full column article by Lee Kuntz, founder and president of Innovation Process Design Inc. 

(Photo credit: Getty Images)

Questions to ask before quitting your job: A column article by Molly Brennan

April 24, 2022

Man_face_down_on_desk_burnoutThinking about joining the Great Resignation? Four questions to consider

If you’re thinking about joining the Great Resignation and quitting your job, you’re in good company. Resignations are at a 20-year high, and depending on what study you’re reading, one-third to one-half of all U.S. workers are considering leaving their jobs right now. This record number of resignations is fueled by a range of factors, from the understanding that better pay and opportunities may be readily available, to a desire to work for an organization that is more values-aligned, to the desire to have more flexibility about when and where work is done. Burnout is also a significant factor that’s driving employees to seek other opportunities.

If you recognize yourself in any of these factors and are considering taking action, you’re likely to find yourself in a good position. The number of open opportunities has created stiff competition for talent, driving up salaries and giving candidates an advantage when it comes to negotiations.

A recent study from Pew Research Center found that many workers who leave their positions actually do find better jobs. At least half of these workers say that compared with their last job, they are now earning more money (56 percent), have more opportunities for advancement (53 percent), have an easier time balancing work and family responsibilities (53 percent), and have more flexibility to choose when they put in their work hours (50 percent). At the same time, that means almost half of those surveyed reported that they are not earning more, and about 22 percent said their current benefits are worse than at their last job.

So it would be a good idea to explore the following questions before quitting your current job....

Read the full column article by Molly Brennan, founding partner at executive search firm Koya Partners.

(Photo credit: Karolina Grabowska via pexels)

A ‘Nonprofit Development Bill of Rights’: A commentary by Evan Wildstein

April 05, 2022

Man_face_down_on_desk_burnout_pexels-karolina-grabowska-5717795The nonprofit sector, where I have spent the entirety of my career, is often woefully (and sometimes willfully) behind the curve on adapting to change. How many organizations had “preparing for a global health crisis” as a strategic planning priority?

Before 2020, some 1.54 million U.S. nonprofits were staffed by more than 12.5 million employees. Within the first three months of the pandemic, 1.64 million of those jobs vanished—and that’s a conservative estimate. Many of those jobs were eventually recovered, yet as 2021 came to a close, more than a quarter remained lost....

Nearly 10 percent of the U.S. nonprofit workforce are fundraisers. This hardworking cadre helps to raise hundreds of billions of dollars annually in a sector that grows more competitive, challenging, and necessary with every year....

I’ve been following the Community-Centric Fundraising (CCF) movement — a network of nonprofiteers who endeavor to “evolve how fundraising is done in the nonprofit sector.” Specifically, I’m inspired by how different fundraisers and organizations apply CCF’s 10 principles to philanthropy. This led to the idea of a development bill of rights....

Read the full commentary by Evan Wildstein, a fundraiser and nonprofiteer in Houston, Texas.

(Photo credit: Karolina Grabowska via Pexels)

Review: 'The Smart Nonprofit: Staying Human-Centered in an Automated World'

April 03, 2022

Book_cover_the_smart_nonprofit_fine_kanterTechnology is collecting information from us all the time to guide us in our decision making—much more than ever conceived of 30 or 40 years ago. A Netflix algorithm makes recommendations on past viewing history; Amazon’s algorithm decides how products are ranked in search results; Facebook’s algorithm determines what you see in your feed, to good and not-so-good results. If we’re not careful, algorithms can be used to decide who gets hired, who gets a loan, and who can receive vital, life-saving services. That part of it is about making sure human beings are not part of a data point metric but considered unique individuals with various needs. In The Smart Nonprofit: Staying Human-Centered in an Automated World,  Beth Kanter and Alison Fine, two experts in the use of technology for social good, explore the many ways in which nonprofits have been adopting “smart tech,” which they define as “an umbrella term for advanced digital technologies that make decisions for people.” Smart tech includes artificial intelligence (AI) and related technologies such as machine learning, natural language processing, smart forms, chatbots, and robots.

Kanter and Fine discuss the many ways in which smart tech is quickly becoming a part of nonprofit operations and how it’s used to automate tasks and save time. One of the most significant points they make is the importance of saving time in the nonprofit world—this world filled with people who are working to do good but may not have copious resources, staff, money, or time. The authors refer to this as the “dividend of time,” which translates to freeing staff to focus on other activities instead of rote tasks. Enabling staff to focus on “the things that only people can do” could lead to the very things the nonprofit is working to accomplish internally and externally, like reducing staff burnout, connecting with clients on a deeper level, solving problems, building better relationships within the sector, creating solutions, and overall better outcomes—a win-win when you find yourself in the nonprofit trenches and wishing for the day to be a little longer to offer just a bit more to the communities you serve....

Read the full review by Lauren Brathwaite, content editor at Philanthropy News Digest.

Strategies to help nonprofits not only survive, but thrive: A commentary by Donna Kennedy-Glans

March 07, 2022

Diversity_GettyImages_gmast3rNot only is the not-for-profit sector expected to address the disparities and fill the gaps exposed and exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic, nonprofit leaders are not exempt from the calls for greater accountability, equality, fairness, and sustainability—from the public as well as their funders, employees, volunteers, and the communities they serve. In these uncertain times, what strategies can help not-for-profit organizations not only to survive, but to thrive?

To understand how successful leaders build the organizational capacity required to adapt to a changing ecosystem and maximize opportunity for growth, it’s essential to understand the most relevant challenges your nonprofit is facing, then deploy strategies that connect the dots between external threats and foundational organizational values and capacities....

Read the full commentary by Donna Kennedy-Glans, founder of volunteer-run global social entrepreneurship initiative Bridges Social Development and the citizen engagement initiative Viewpoints AB.

(Photo credit: Getty Images/gmast3r)

Career insights: Four strategies for retaining top talent

February 22, 2022

Diverse_women_GettyImagesRetaining employees during the ‘Great Resignation’

We are in the midst of an extraordinary period of change in the talent market. The “Great Resignation” is a phenomenon that is impacting every sector and level of talent and is leading to fierce competition for leaders. As a recruiter focused on the nonprofit sector, I see the effects of this situation in my daily conversations with candidates and hiring managers. Candidates are in demand and talented leaders are very open to new opportunities. Hiring managers are losing team members and facing very difficult searches to replace them at a higher rate than ever.

According a September 2021 report from McKinsey, record numbers of employees are quitting or thinking about leaving their jobs: 40 percent of employees said that they were at least somewhat likely to leave their current job in the next three to six months, and 53 percent of talent management professionals reported greater voluntary turnover than in prior years.

It’s critical that managers and leaders understand what’s driving this trend and take steps to retain talent. Here are four things you can start doing right now to help ensure that your top performers stay with your organization and remain engaged....

Read the full column article by Molly Brennan, founding partner at executive search firm Koya Partners.

(Photo credit: Getty Images)

Invest in your operations teams to drive your mission forward

October 08, 2021

Like many sectors, nonprofit and philanthropic organizations have experienced a tidal wave of changes, adjustments, and challenges over the course of the pandemic. The need to direct funding toward efforts to meet emerging community needs, combined with the movement to bolster social justice causes, have highlighted new issues — or perhaps exacerbated existing ones — in operational structure.

Many nonprofits and philanthropies have come under pressure to be more efficient and effective than ever before. The dollars just haven’t been invested to support the kinds of operations needed to carry out such a heightened level of giving in addition to addressing emergency programs. Don't think about operations in a narrow sense; for philanthropic organizations, the nuts and bolts of operations are what enable teams to award and deliver grants quickly, set up and service fund accounts accurately, and work effectively with their boards.

Operations graphic PND

Most philanthropic organizations take pains to carefully design and redesign their mission, strategy, and programs. Yet, few invest time in improving their daily operations to deliver on plans to meet their strategic goals, a step that is essential to making meaningful community impact. Sound planning without excellent execution is unlikely to produce the desired results.

It isn't enough to add operations staff when they’re needed. Organizations must frame operations as a function and manage it as a process with a defined plan, including giving it the same level of attention and subjecting it to the same rigorous evaluation as efforts to design, monitor, and manage their mission, strategy, and programs.

Improving operations processes has become even more important with the development of emergency programs and social justice funding, which have required an increased level of responsiveness even as the volume of grant applications has significantly increased. For example, one foundation I’ve worked with used to receive thirty applications for each program annually; this same funder now receives a hundred and fifty applications while having to meet a faster turnaround requirement. This makes existing processes and policies impractical. To fulfill the foundation's mission and achieve its goals, it has become more essential than ever that nonprofit and philanthropic organizations invest significantly in their operations teams.

Skill development and training are table stakes

Operations success requires specific assets and abilities including detail-orientedness to produce desired results, strong project and task management skills, effective problem-solving capacity, and a deep working knowledge of process management and improvement. At the same time, operations teams must have expertise in a wide variety of systems and procedures. Philanthropic tools have gone from a few select systems to a wide array of resources that are vital to each organization. And each year more tools are becoming available.

The first step in enhancing operations expertise is to identify employees with an operations aptitude, then provide them with process management and improvement training. This can involve everything from adapting existing tools and changes in communication to implementing new and improved forms and process changes.

By investing in the skills development of operations teams, organizations can enable employees to transform how work is done, significantly reducing turnaround time and increasing community impact. At the same time, the organization as a whole can gain a better organization-wide understanding of the value of operations work and show renewed appreciation for their teams, which, in turn, can lead to higher satisfaction among core workers.

Invite operations into the C-suite

Being efficient and effective also means greater commitment to scrutinizing how work is done. This includes identifying staff and leadership to focus on monitoring operations outcomes while managing processes and systems, which can involve identifying an operations professional in each major function of the organization.

For example, I’ve seen organizations place an operations manager in their philanthropic services team who works across departments to improve collaboration and communication. Others identify an operations leader who owns and drives finance and operations team planning, project management, and process development.

It is also essential, however, to bring operations into the strategic discussions happening at the executive level. Some organizations I've worked with are grouping functions that are highly operational into one leadership role — a chief operations officer — who is responsible for effectively managing the organization’s infrastructure, processes, and resources. I've also seen organizations choose to add operations to an existing leader's role, often the CFO. Elevating operations to the executive level will help ensure that the necessary process and system conversations are included in the design and redesign of an organization’s mission, strategy, and programs.

Ongoing coaching and training for an ever-changing environment

Investing in operational excellence is not just a one-time prospect. As organizations, technologies, and the needs of communities evolve over time, providing ongoing training and coaching to teams and leaders is necessary if an organization is to continue delivering positive impact effectively. Building process muscle and capacity can help organizations consistently raise more money and make more grants on a year-over-year basis without dramatic increases in their budgets. Creating a culture and structure that supports ongoing training and process improvement also helps employees feel more confident and pursue solutions.

Operations staff may feel second-class compared with their counterparts in a structure that excludes them from mission and strategy design. Conversely, if organizations invest in these teams, they feel empowered to take initiative on behalf of the organization.

Making a positive community impact is possible only when effective operational practices are in place. Foundations need to build their operations capabilities and accountabilities, which will enable them to focus on both planning and operations. By moving the conversation beyond mission, strategy, and programs to the details of how the work gets done, organizations find creative ways to maximize their resources and help them support their communities efficiently and effectively.

Headshot_lee kuntz_PhilanTopicLee Kuntz is founder and president of Innovation Process Design, Inc., and a certified operations coach. She provides training and coaching to help teams look at their work with new eyes, transform how work gets done, and create tangible results in operations efficiency and effectiveness.

[Review] Equity: How to Design Organizations Where Everyone Thrives

September 27, 2021

Book_cover_equityBrevity and Wit, author Minal Bopaiah's strategy and design firm, could also be a good description of the way in which Bopaiah addresses the complicated concepts in her book, Equity: How to Design Organizations Where Everyone Thrives. In six short chapters (along with an introduction and conclusion), Bopaiah both educates readers in equity-related concepts and equips leaders with tools they can use in their organizations' efforts to "design for equity." 

Bopaiah first explains how the concept of "equity" differs from that of "equality," defines each term in IDEA (Inclusion, Diversity, Equity, and Accessibility), and explores how equity drives inclusion. She then illustrates the three preconditions necessary before an organization can begin to move toward a full expression of equity: 

1) Differences between individuals and groups are valued, not demonized or minimized;

2) People with power can see systems and how they influence opportunities for others; and

3) People with power want to create more opportunity so everyone can thrive with their differences intact.

Read the full review by David M. Holmes.

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