Archive for the ‘Resources’ Category

Reflection & top 4 posts from 2009

February 26, 2010

Photo by SRivera

2009 has been a great year, having written 117 blog posts on a variety of topics. I know my resolution for 2010 will be to write more often and with better consistency! Here are the top 4 posts that were written in 2009 that have been the most popular.

1. Advertising on nonprofit websites?

2. Why can’t a nonprofit get its own credit card?

3. 3 reasons why you should have a twenty something on your board

4. Want to know how your nonprofit is doing financially?

Interestingly, they are not the most popular overall. Three posts I wrote in 2008 were more popular this year, with the SWOT post getting more hits than all four of the above combined:

1. Using SWOT Analysis for Strategic Planning

2. In-Kind Gifts 101: Definition, Acknowledgement & the Law

3. Nonprofit Blogging Tips from ProBlogger


Why I like Alltop

February 26, 2010

For those that haven’t heard of Alltop, it is “an “online magazine rack” of popular topics”, they update the posts/stories every hour. While the website has every topic you can imagine, I spend most my time in the nonprofit section.

I thought I would take a minute to explain why I think Alltop is so useful, and why you should take a look. Before I knew what alltop was, I spent a lot of time googling nonprofit blogs and looking at other blogs blogrolls, basically searching for new posts and blogs. Then, I found Alltop. Alltop has a lot of nonprofit blogs, and shows those blogs most recent 3 posts. So, instead of having to go and open up dozens of blogs to see if they have a new post (or add them to my feed), all I have to do is check out Alltop. It is a great resource for nonprofit news.

Most Popular Posts in 2008

February 19, 2010

Photo by Eve the Weaver

The top 5 most popular posts in 2008 were (in order of popularity):

1. In-Kind Gifts 101: Definition, Acknowledgement & the Law

2. Using SWOT Analysis for Strategic Planning

3. Nonprofit Accounting: Cash vs. Accrual

4. Independent Contractor vs. Employee Part I

5. Nonprofit Blogging Tips from ProBlogger

3 tips to reduce expenses

February 19, 2010

Photo by Leo Reynolds

When times are tough, nonprofits often need to cut expenses to match their declined revenue. It is important to be strategic when cutting expenses, and to avoid a knee-jerk reaction to the financial climate. Here are a few tips for reducing expenses:

1. Take a close look at what you are paying right now for everything.

There are savings to be had in almost any area of spending. For example, you can change your payroll service or negotiate a lower monthly fee. I know several nonprofits that use PressGold Payroll, a small local firm and they only charge $22.50 as a base fee and $1.75 per employee. You can also bring your nonprofit’s communications into the 21st century by switching your phone service to VoIP (voice over internet telephony) based services like Skype, and take advantage of this website for free conference calls. Speaking of conference calls, schedule more of them! We all have been in meetings where a meeting wasn’t really necessary. In those cases suggest a conference call which can save in mileage and parking. Also, take a look at your printing and office supplies costs. Businesses like Office Max offer special discounted prices for nonprofits, and don’t be afraid of negotiating with them for a better deal.

2. Take advantage of free help.

Make sure to take advantage of your volunteers, and continuously recruit new ones. Volunteers can do amazing things, and to illustrate that is Pet Haven, a nonprofit organization in Minnesota. Pet Haven is run solely by volunteers. Volunteers plan their annual event that raises $20,000+, volunteers manage their 100+ other volunteers, volunteers run their website, and more. This is a great example of how volunteers can make a huge difference in your organization- in fact they could even run it. Also, don’t forget about interns. Students are always looking for opportunities to gain knowledge and skills (and a good recommendation), and will work for little or nothing. If you have had to cut staff hours or lay staff off, don’t let their work do undone, give it to a volunteer or intern.

3. Outsource some of the work.

Many nonprofit organizations have to make the difficult decision to lay off staff due to lack of revenue. In those cases, a viable option is often hiring an independent contractor to do some of the work of that employee. For example, if your organization had to let go of your communications coordinator, you can often find an independent contractor that can manage your e-newsletter and design your collateral for less than half of the cost of that employee. Now, this is rarely the recommended route because having staff in these important roles will affect an organization’s long-term success, but in times of financial crisis it can be a short-term solution. If your organization decides to do this, you need to be very careful. You need to make sure that the IRS wouldn’t classify this person as an employee, which will only get your organization fined and responsible for back taxes.

Finally, make sure you stay on top of your budget. A budget should not be made, approved by the board, and then set aside never to be looked at again. You should review it monthly to make sure you are on track. It should be a road map for your organization’s spending.

Samples Week- Collateral

February 19, 2010

Sample newsletters here, here, here, here, here, and here.

Sample annual reports here, here, here, here, and here.

Sample promotional pieces (postcards, brochures, etc.) here, here, here, here, here, here, and here.

Check out all of the other samples discussed this week!

Samples Week- Finances

February 19, 2010

Sample financial procedures/policies here, here, and here.

Procurement policy here.

Sample fiscal sponsorship agreement here, here, and here.

Sample request for bid letter for an auditor here, here, here, and here.

Sample nonprofit audit here, here, here, here, here, and here.

Sample budget here, here, and here.

Sample profit & loss statement here, here, and here.

Nonprofit Financial Management Self-Assessment Worksheet here.

Financial ratios worksheet here.

Cash flow template here.

To see any nonprofit organization’s 990, you can go to GuideStar.

If you have some spare time, this is a good read. It is a paper on Financial Statements, includes their background, talks about accounting methods, and includes samples of a cash flow worksheet and statement, balance sheet, and operating statement. It also includes several sample budgets, including a performance-based budget and a flexible budget.

If there are any other samples related to finances that I didn’t include, please leave a comment and I will add the sample.

Check out all of the other samples discussed this week!

Samples Week- Evaluation

February 19, 2010

Sample employee performance reviews here, here, here*, here, here, and here.
*360 degree review

Sample volunteer evaluation here.

Sample evaluation plan here and here.

Sample logic models here, here, here, here, here, here, here, and this one is a guide for developing them (and explains their purpose).

Sample SWOT Analysis here, here, and here.

Sample strategic planning stakeholder survey here.

Check out all of the other samples discussed this week!

Samples Week- Board of Directors

February 19, 2010

Sample board member job description here, here, here, and here.

Sample board fundraising menu/board commitment form here, here, and here.

Sample board agenda here*, here*, here, and here*.
*Agenda includes a consent agenda

Sample board minutes here, here, here, here, here, and here.

Sample articles of incorporation here, here, here, here, and here.

Sample bylaws here, here, here, and here.

Some nonprofits list their board members on their website, others go a step further to include full bios and contact information. Here are a few websites of nonprofit organizations and what information they have for their board of directors: here, here, here, and here.

For more information about Boards of Directors, BoardSource is a great resource.

Check out all of the other samples discussed this week!

Samples Week- Fundraising

February 19, 2010

Fundraising forms:

Donor appeal and thank you letters, and grant applications will be different for each organization since they focus on the specific work of that particular organization, but here are some samples:

A few samples of good nonprofit websites and their donate page:

  • The United Way has a unique aspect to their donate page– a video. The video is appealing and draws you in. They also include a how-to for giving.
  • Achieve Minneapolis has a very attractive website overall with a very noticeable and easy to find donate option. Their donate page does a great job translating what a donor’s gift does. They also include a “success story” at the bottom of the page that adds something special to the page.
  • The Seattle Humane Society has a good donation page. They have pictures to draw you in, and link to several things to make it easier for the donor to research the organization, or attend upcoming events. I always like when organizations include a “why donate” page, which this organization does well.

If there are any other samples related to fundraising that I didn’t include, please leave a comment and I will add the sample. Check out all of the other samples discussed this week!

Samples Week- Most Commonly Requested Samples

February 19, 2010

Photo by sonrisa electrica

I often get emails from people looking for examples of an appeal letter, board menu, board job description, SWOT analysis, etc. So, next week I will post examples each day:
Monday: Samples- Fundraising (in-kind acknowledgement, appeal, thank you)
Tuesday: Samples- Board of Directors (agenda, minutes, job descriptions)
Wednesday: Samples- Evaluation (employee evaluation, swot analysis, strategic planning stakeholder survey)
Thursday: Samples- Finances (budget, P&L, ratios, etc)
Friday: Samples- Collateral (annual report, newsletter, etc)

I will post both my own samples and samples from around the web. If your organization has a particularly good appeal letter, employee handbook, etc and you don’t mind sharing it, please email it to me: