Friday, March 30, 2012
Before you bemoan the challenges you face because you are a nonprofit, remember the benefits that come with being who you are. Claim them, leverage them, and be strong.
Friday, March 23, 2012
“We don’t have a chance to earn corporate support,” Tony complains, “We don’t have a single corporate headquarters in our region.” If you think like Tony, get ready to change your opinion. No matter if your nonprofit serves in a major city, or rural area without a single corporate headquarters for miles, you can raise funds from businesses. Lysakowski’s book, Raise More Money from Your Business Community, will help you to develop a systematic effort to partner with big and small businesses to raise money to meet your mission and to improve your community.
One extremely valuable area of Raise More Money is Lysakowski’s common sense suggestions on meeting and interacting with the business community that are scattered throughout the text. Since getting started is often the most difficult step in fundraising, you will find Lysakowski’s practical, doable advice helpful. She suggests, for example, working with chamber of commences and identifying potential opportunities including “unglamorous partners” like the millionaire who owns the car wash.
This book is excellent for nonprofit organizations that flounder in the business development area and those who believe little is possible, like Tony, whose community offers no corporate headquarters. If your goal is cause marketing and sponsorships, like the Statute of Liberty-American Express experience, follow Lysakowski’s suggestions to enhance your journey to these kinds of relationships. By interacting with businesses, you will have the opportunity to see new possibilities to enhance your nonprofit, businesses, and your community.
Friday, March 2, 2012
2. We see you as more than a just as a fat wallet.
3. We want to help you to achieve your hopes and dreams.
4. We are interested in what you want but also what the nonprofits needs. We will work to find ways to honor both needs in our relationship.
5. We will not take advantage of our relationship with you. This non-profit is worthy of your trust.
6. We respect you.
7. The paperwork will be completed promptly. You will have what you need for your taxes.
8. We will let you know that your gift was used as you requested and how it helped.
9. We still care about you after you give us a gift.
10. Thank you.
What would you add to this list? What are other key messages in regards to non-profit funding? How do you plan to make sure you communicate these critical messages to your donors and potential donors in words and actions? How do these contribute to a culture of philanthropy?
Thursday, March 1, 2012
First, I must say that I have always held Dr. Shalala in the highest regard and I trust that her ethical standards and those of her trustees Roger Medel (Mednax) and Stuart Miller (Lennar) are above reproach. I’m confident, too, that all three organizations involved here have strict conflict of interest policies to which they adhere. But that doesn’t mean that those who care about the University of Miami shouldn’t be apprehensive.
When working with clients I always suggest that the litmus test for any decision is how you will feel if you wake up one morning to find the resulting situation on the front page of the newspaper. Tuesday the 13th, it was. And the response wasn’t pretty, if the Herald’s Flashpoint comments on the Opinion page were indicative. This is a private university that relies on big donations, a number of which Dr. Shalala has personally influenced. The university is just kicking-off a $1.6 billion – yes, with a “b” – campaign. I have to wonder if this publicity won’t, at least in the short term, negatively affect charitable giving and consequently what the university can offer.
I worry about the independence of a board where there is so much overlap of leadership. The university and the community are not well served if, even at a subconscious level, trustees and/or the university president hold back from sharing their most creative ideas or raising challenges and critical issues – responsibilities inherent in good governance – because they are afraid that showing vulnerability in one setting will impact their role in another. Moreover, any other trustee who hesitates to speak his/her mind because s/he isn’t part of a perceived inner circle ultimately cheats the university of his/her best efforts.
A related concern is that by going back to the same small group of community leaders to sit on so many of our boards, we are getting only one, relatively homogeneous view of what the community needs. While presumably an intelligent view, it is still an insular one. More diversity on our boards could only benefit the university and the community as a whole.
I can appreciate why any CEO would want someone of Dr. Shalala’s caliber on his/her board. But she doesn’t have to sit on a board to offer insights. If she is going to sit on a board, she’d be wise to steer clear of the boards of her own trustees. The University of Miami Board of Trustees should insist on this. After all, that group is responsible for ensuring the health of the university. It can’t risk the loss of independence, diverse thought or potential donations.
The university has been rather quiet about this flap. Time will tell what the fallout might be. But in my mind the situation serves as a morality play for other organizations. Having a conflict of interest statement is an important first step. But in scientific terms, while necessary it is not sufficient.
What are your thoughts? Is this a lesson other organizations should learn from? Or, is it much ado about nothing? Perhaps Dr. Shalala, with a lens already on her football team, is just too big a target and others don’t have to worry. Are there situations where it is appropriate for the CEO of a nonprofit to sit on the corporate boards of his/her own trustees?