Core Capacity Assessment Tool

Measuring Your Nonprofit’s Effectiveness: Understanding the Core Capacity Assessment Tool

Charlie D. Imbergamo, CFRE Resources

What if you could measure how effective your nonprofit organization’s leadership, adaptability, management, technical capacity, and organizational culture are in less than 45 minutes? With the Core Capacity Assessment Tool or CCAT, you can. The CCAT is an online, survey-based capacity assessment tool that collects information from organizational decision-makers to analyze your nonprofit and provide recommendations for ongoing improvement.

The CCAT tool represents decades of experience and research in capacity building — a nonprofit’s ability to deliver its mission now and in the future. It consists of 146 questions and takes 30 to 45 minutes for senior leaders and board members to complete. The CCAT assessment culminates with a final report that provides nonprofits with an analysis of strengths and challenges in nearly 40 categories, along with tangible recommendations to increase organizational effectiveness and long-term success.

Nonprofits can benchmark their CCAT scores alongside peer organizations, drawing on data from more than 5,000 participating organizations.

How to Implement the Core Capacity Assessment Tool at Your Organization

Effective organizations must consistently answer two questions:

  1. How well does our organization understand our current priorities?
  2. What must we do to continue setting goals, planning effectively, and implementing strategies to advance our mission priorities?

Answering these questions and creating plans to address them are made much clearer by conducting a CCAT assessment. The Nonprofit Leadership Center works with nonprofits to facilitate the CCAT assessment and develop organizational action plans to address findings.

The process consists of four steps:

Step 1: Orientation

Our NLC facilitator meets with key senior leaders, including board members, to discuss the CCAT process and its benefits.

Step 2: Online Survey

Key senior leaders and board members receive the CCAT online survey. It should take about 30 to 45 minutes to complete.

Step 3: Initial Analysis

Our NLC facilitator assesses the initial results and meets with your organizational point person to discuss key findings. Together, we prepare for a findings presentation and discussion with your nonprofit’s leadership team.

Step 4: Interpretation

Together with all senior leaders and board members, we meet to review and interpret your organization’s results and help you prioritize goals and next steps based on the recommendations.

As a leader who has used CCAT as an organizational tool and facilitates the assessment process, I can attest to the transformative nature of engaging in this work. Nonprofit leadership is about seeing and acting. The CCAT tool supports those efforts, unites stakeholders around core principles and serves as a useful assessment tool for collaboration and action.

Start Your CCAT Assessment

Want to learn more about the CCAT and how to implement the process at your nonprofit? Contact the Nonprofit Leadership Center at to schedule a conversation and get started.

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Finding Our Way Forward in 2021: Three Imperatives for Successful Leaders

Emily H. Benham | CEO, NLC Tips

While 2020 will likely be remembered for its relentless challenges, the lifelong learner in me is struck by the many lessons the past year taught us. Nonprofit leaders have stretched and grown faster than ever, being required to think differently, reimagine new ways of serving communities and speed innovations to deepen impact. While we can’t predict the future, we can control how we prepare for and respond to it. Here are three imperatives for nonprofit leaders to ensure success in 2021.

3 Imperatives for Leaders in 2021

1. Start with wonder.

Several years ago, the Nonprofit Leadership Center’s board of directors created a list of principles to guide their work. It included expectations, such as how they would treat or speak to each other, how to work through complex issues and how to approach disagreements. One of my favorite values from their list is “start with wonder.” To me, starting with wonder means having an open mind, imagining what possibilities are inherent in a situation and seeking to first understand an issue and others’ perspectives.

In 2021, at a time of great divisiveness, starting with wonder is essential to finding our way forward. During the 100+ training workshops we facilitate each year, we often hear leaders say things like, “We are different from everyone else, so that doesn’t apply to us,” or “We tried that in the past and it didn’t work,” or even, “I’ve been in this field for a long time. I know what to do.” 2020 taught us that we can neither predict nor control the future, and we don’t have all the answers. But if we start with wonder and actively engage others with different perspectives in a meaningful and respectful dialogue, we can move the best outcomes forward, together.

2. Give yourself grace.

As nonprofit leaders, we’ve all tried our best each day to make good decisions and have answers for those we serve. For the times at NLC when that wasn’t always possible during the past year, we gave each other permission to say: This was our best we could do today. The first line of Emily Dickinson’s poem, “It’s all I have to bring today, this and my heart beside,” was a quote we referenced many times in meetings. By allowing ourselves and each other a bit of grace, we live to fight another day and become a little better than the day before — ultimately to strengthen our communities.

3. Tend to your garden.

No one has a crystal ball for what lies ahead for the nonprofit sector in 2021. With a COVID-19 vaccine in early distribution, new funding available for qualifying nonprofits through the Paycheck Protection Program and many other near-term positive signs, I am filled with hope and optimism for the future. We learned in 2020 that this is a marathon rather than a sprint. We experienced prolonged stress, fatigue and worry like never before. Many nonprofit leaders expressed concerns about burnout for themselves and their teams. As we march forward in this time of healing for our nation, let’s remember to put our own oxygen masks on first. Time and space will not magically appear on our calendars to do this. We must create that time for self-reflection and self-care. Make space for yourself so you can be your best at work, at home and in life.

READ NEXT: Self-Care Tips for Nonprofit Leaders

As much as we want to “get back to normal,” the truth is that there will be no “back to normal” — just a next normal and another one right after that. Our constituents and communities need strong nonprofits and courageous leaders like never before. By starting with wonder, giving yourself and your colleagues grace and prioritizing self-care, you and your nonprofit organization are sure to thrive in the year ahead.

READ NEXT: 4 Skills Nonprofit Leaders Must Embrace to Be Successful

Lead for Success in 2021

Are you ready to move your organization and community forward with courage and conviction in 2021? Join us for an upcoming professional training workshop, virtual course, certificate program or customized training for your nonprofit organization. See the latest event schedule and browse upcoming learning experiences.

Emily H. Benham, FAHP, CFRE, has nearly four decades of experience in the nonprofit field. Before taking on the role of CEO of the Nonprofit Leadership Center in 2014, Emily was the interim president for Bayfront HERO (Health, Education and Research Organization), a health legacy foundation formed in 2013 with the net proceeds of the sale of Bayfront Medical Center. She also served as a member of Bayfront Medical Center’s senior leadership team, directing its philanthropic arm for more than 20 years.

Prior to her work in health care philanthropy, Emily led fund development efforts at the Florida Orchestra, American Stage and the Coconut Grove Playhouse in Miami.

Emily is a native of Reading, Pennsylvania, and received her bachelor’s degree in music from Amherst College in Massachusetts. She’s an avid equestrian and competes regionally in dressage with her equine partner, Current Affair.

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Caring For Our Emotions: 20 Gifts that Cost $0

Jack Levine, Founder, 4Generations Institute Tips

The holiday season is naturally a time when we’re buying and giving gifts to family, friends and colleagues to show how much they mean to us. But it’s often the things that cost nothing that mean the most. These 20 emotional gifts designed to strengthen happiness, well-being and compassion are sure to mean more than anything that will arrive on your doorstep from Amazon this year.

  • To yourself: Respect, confidence, faith and fortitude
  • To a family member: Communication and understanding, even if there have been relationship challenges
  • To a friend: A heartfelt, caring spirit and appreciation
  • To nature and our animals: Admiration, protection and preservation
  • To a nonprofit you care about: Generosity of time and treasure and ardent advocacy
  • To our military forces, first responders and their loved ones: Honor, admiration, and support to heal the wounds
  • To the ill and hurting: Conscientious concern and comfort
  • To the hungry and homeless: Compassion, emergency services and creative community solutions
  • To the abused, neglected and abandoned: Representation, security and hope
  • To someone with a special challenge: Recognition, acceptance and a path to independence
  • To the addicted and troubled: Open arms, forgiveness and a positive path to recovery
  • To a traveler: Words of hospitality and care
  • To an infant or toddler: Attention, presence, safety and learning opportunities
  • To a child or teen: Patience, guidance and a positive example through mentoring
  • To a parent in need: A helping hand and guidance.
  • To an elder: Reverence, gratitude and dignified care
  • To a customer or client: Excellent service and lasting value
  • To everyone you see, friends and strangers alike: A warm smile, acts of kindness and positive energy
  • To people of every age: Unconditional love and sincere gratitude.
  • To all the peoples of the world: Justice and peace

READ NEXT: Self-Care Tips for Nonprofit Leaders

READ NEXT: Gifts that Give Back

Jack Levine is the founder of 4Generations Institute, an organization that works with community leaders across Florida to identify challenges and inspire the contributions of human and fiscal capital to address them and spur community growth. Jack served as president of Voices for Florida’s Children for 25 years. His expertise is in advocating for policies that promote improved quality of life across the generations. Jack develops messages which move concerned citizens to action at the community, statewide and national levels. Connect with Jack at

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Why Every Nonprofit Should Be Conducting After Action Reviews

Luis R. Visot, Ed.D. Tips

While serving as a training support battalion commander in the U.S. Army, my command had the responsibility of capturing learnings after every operation. Known as After Action Reviews (AAR), these assessments brought a group of stakeholders together to reflect and discuss a task, event, activity or function to identify the key lessons learned as well as steps for continuous improvement. AARs allowed soldiers, through self-discovery, to develop, learn and grow by analyzing our work together.

As I reflect on the current operating environment for nonprofits, I can’t help but think about my time in the U.S. Army and the important role that After Action Reviews can play in strengthening the sector. The same process of capturing key lessons learned after military operations is essential to nonprofits as they face daily uncertainties and complexities.

3 Steps to Conducting an After Action Review

An After Action Review consists of a three-step process to evaluate and assess a completed activity, event or other initiative. Here is how to implement AARs at your organization.

Step 1: Planning & Preparation

Create an environment where staff and stakeholders feel safe and comfortable to have honest conversations about a program, event or initiative that your organization recently completed.

Select a facilitator for the AAR discussion. It is best to choose someone who is confident, organized, compassionate, able to manage group dynamics effectively, and open-minded. He or she will be responsible for the following planning actions:

  • Select AAR participants — This should include the event organizers/planners, event executers and supporting team as well as organizational leaders.
  • Schedule the AAR — Immediacy is the key. Hold your AAR no more than one week after the occasion/event being reviewed. If feasible and possible, the day after the occasion/event is ideal. The goal is to have the occasion/event freshly in everyone’s mind.
  • Select a location for the meeting — During the current climate, conducting AARs virtually through Zoom, Microsoft Teams or another digital platform is best to ensure social distancing and personal safety. When it is safe to gather again, conduct AARs at the site of your event, function or activity. Being able to visualize the event as it was happening and hear what was going on from those in attendance adds to the total immersion in the AAR process.
  • Identify and acquire the necessary resources for the discussion and notes capture
  • Develop and publish the rules of engagement — This is a list of rules to ensure participants can navigate the AAR process while being respectful and courteous of one another. Here are some sample rules of engagement to consider:
    • No “thin skin:” Be open and welcome to receive general observations from participants relative to your actions during the event. It is about the behaviors not the character.
    • No judgement.
    • No criticism.
    • No blaming.
    • No complaining.
    • Actively listen.
    • Participate with intention.
    • Be grateful.
  • Create and share the AAR meeting agenda with participants — Here’s a sample agenda to help you get started:
  1. Welcome and introductions
  2. Introduce the AAR process and its purpose
  3. Share the rules of engagement (see above)
  4. Review the logistics, tasks, conditions and standards of the event/initiative
  5. Discuss the sequence of events for the occasion, including planning, preparation and execution
  6. Discuss each aspect of the event (see Step 2 below)
  7. Who are the heroes? Who needs to be recognized? Who needs to be appreciated?
  8. Summarize the key lessons learned
  9. Identify when the follow-up session will be held
  10. Allow for questions and final comments
  11. Wrap-up and thank-you

Step 2: Execution

Conduct your AAR meeting following the agenda outlined in Step 1. Be sure to identify someone to capture notes.

For each significant aspect of the event or initiative you are reviewing, discuss the following as a group:

  • What was supposed to happen?
  • What actually happened?
  • What went well and why? (I liked …)
  • What could be improved and how (root causes)? (I wish …)
  • What were the key lessons learned? (Cluster themes)
  • Prioritize lessons learned: Summarize three areas to sustain and three areas to improve
  • What are the follow-on actions required?
  • Who owns the action?
  • By when will the action be completed?

Here are a few additional recommendations to keep in mind when conducting your nonprofit’s AAR:

  • Allow for maximum participation consistent with the rules of engagement. Ensure everyone has a voice and the chance to be heard.
  • Be cognizant of time, and keep participants on track with the agenda.
  • Ensure that the recorder and note-taker is capturing the most salient points.
  • Identify specific improvements and assign the right individuals to address them.
  • Set a date to complete all next steps.
  • Set a date and facilitator for a follow-up session.

Step 3: Follow-Up

After the meeting, provide AAR participants and your nonprofit’s leadership team with a written report that captures the key findings from the AAR session. This includes what went well, what could be done better, and most importantly, the key lessons learned.

Here are some recommendations to ensure a successful AAR follow-up:

  • Complete and publish the written summary report within two weeks of the AAR session.
  • Ensure that the appropriate leadership and team members have received a copy of the AAR summary report.
  • Ask organizational leadership to appoint a curator of all your nonprofit’s AARs and the lessons learned. This ensures that when a similar or the same event is being planned in the future, the lessons learned are reviewed and discussed.
  • Schedule a follow-up session to address all next steps or “fixes.”

Why Should Nonprofits Conduct After Action Reviews?

There are several compelling reasons that nonprofits should conduct AARs:

  • Strengthens team building, trust and understanding
  • Creates a constant improvement process
  • Promotes shared learning, growth and development
  • Contributes to organizational and individual performance
  • Builds confidence, credibility, relevance and resilience
  • Ensures a venue for sharing feedback, evaluating programs/strategies and space for timely evaluation

In addition to the formal AAR process, nonprofits can conduct an informal AAR anytime as an immediate, on the spot assessment. Informal AARs require minimal resources but enable leaders to capture key lessons learned from a task or activity. A series of informal AARs can provide input into a formal AAR.

As a learning tool, AAR’s can have a lasting effect and impact on nonprofit organizations. The process allows for the transition from individual learning to group learning to organization learning. As nonprofits, we must continue to “sharpen the saw” as Covey (1989) would say to maximize the effectiveness and viability of our organizations. Conducting AARs helps do that by capturing lessons learned and applying those learnings to drive continuous improvement toward mission delivery.

READ NEXT: Measuring Your Nonprofit’s Effectiveness: Understanding the Core Capacity Assessment Tool

References & Resources

Covey, S. R. (1994). The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People: Powerful Lessons in Personal Change. New York: Rosetta Books, LLC.

Headquarters, United States Army. (1993). TC 25-20: A Leader’s Guide to After-Action Reviews. Washington, DC: Headquarters, United States Army.

Mahal, A. (2018). After Action Review: Continuous Improvement Made Easy. Baskin Ridge, NJ: Technics Publications.

Sinek, S. (2009). Start with Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action. New York: The Penguin Publishing Group.

Dr. Luis R. Visot

Luis R. Visot, Ed.D., is a former deputy commanding general in the U.S. Army and U.S. Army Reserve and former executive director of the Joint Military Leadership Center at the University of South Florida. Dr. Visot currently serves as a board member for the Nonprofit Leadership Center.

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The 10 Most Popular Nonprofit Articles of 2020

Team NLC News

As a nonprofit community, we did a lot of learning, adjusting, reimagining and innovating in 2020. As a year defined by information overload, here’s a recap of the most popular articles and resources on from the Nonprofit Leadership Center during the past year.

Most Read Articles in 2020

Of all the content we shared with nonprofit leaders during the past year, these were the top 10 most read articles of 2020:

  1. How to Host Online Board Meetings
  2. 4 Simple Strategies to Improve Team Communication at Work
  3. 5 Common Misconceptions about Organizational Culture
  4. How to Work from Home Effectively: 10 Tips for Working Remotely
  5. How to Write a Grant Proposal
  6. Become a Better Leader in Just 15 Minutes
  7. COVID-19 Resources for Nonprofits
  8. 4 Tips for Breaking Bad Habits in the Workplace
  9. Nonprofit Board Finder Tool
  10. 6 Ideas for Improving Team Dynamics

Even during a challenging year, nonprofit leaders showed their commitment to lifelong learning to strengthen organizations and our communities. Thank you! We look forward to supporting you in 2021.

Have a topic you want to learn more about in 2021? Let us know at

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The Next Generation of Nonprofit Leaders: A Day-in-the-Life of an NLC Fellow

Team NLC Stories

Nonprofits are the lifeblood of our communities and often serve as a critical safety net for individuals and families, in good times and in bad. To help develop the next generation of nonprofit leaders who will move our dynamically changing sector forward with courage and impact, the Nonprofit Leadership Center (NLC) hires a resource development fellow each year to gain valuable experience and connections. This 12-month paid fellowship is for leaders with three to five years of experience and a passion for working in the nonprofit sector. Fellows gain experience working with our CEO and work on critical projects related to operations, corporate partnerships, stewardship and more while attending up to 10 hours of classroom/virtual trainings each month.

Our most recent Resource Development Fellow Jessica Dvoracsek completed her fellowship in November. She accepted a position with Ronald McDonald House of Tampa Bay as a donor relations coordinator. Jess shares her experience as a fellow and gives you an inside peek at what the position and program are like.

If you’re interested in what you read? We’re currently hiring for our next 2021 Resource Development Fellow! Learn more and apply here.

A Day-in-the-Life of a Nonprofit Leadership Center Fellow

NLC: What did your day-to-day look like in the fellowship role?

Jess: Every day was a little different, which is what I loved about the fellowship! I was able to participate on calls with funders, attend board meetings and work on grants at every stage of the process – from research to application to reporting. I also played a lead role in securing and managing sponsorships for NLC’s Leadership Conference.  Additionally, I jumped into the deep end when it came to NLC’s training room and how all of the pieces work together.

NLC: What were the key experiences or learnings from the fellowship that have helped propel your career?

Jess: Being a fly on the wall during conversations with funders, board members and staff was incredible. Most importantly, I think participating in NLC’s Certificate in Grant Writing and gaining experience writing grant applications was the most beneficial. Prior to the NLC fellowship, I had never even looked at a grant application, let alone been responsible for completing one. Additionally, I believe I took every fund development class offered at NLC by Sara Leonard and Alyce Lee Stansbury. The nuggets of wisdom I’ve learned through those workshops will benefit me throughout my entire career

NLC: What was your favorite moment from your NLC fellowship?

Jess: My best moments really came down to lunchtime chats that we implemented. The rule was no work talk, and it was the best getting to know my colleagues at Team NLC, including their backgrounds, experiences, cherished recipes and favorite words. That, and of course, the fact that we pulled off Leadership Conference virtually!

NLC: What was your favorite class you took at NLC?

Jess: Every class I took was great for a different reason, but I think the class that stands out most for me was Sara Leonard’s Mastering the Ask: Nonprofit Fundraising Strategy & Prep. During the course, she shared something I will never forget: “Asking is not negotiating. We’re not asking for a sale. We’re inviting someone to change the world with us.” 

This will be on the wall of my new office and will follow me around throughout my entire nonprofit career.

NLC: What would you say to nonprofit leaders interested in pursuing a fellowship at NLC?

Jess: Take the leap. This is 100% the best thing I could have done for my career in fundraising. The education I was afforded from the team, trainers and board was amazing. Practice your writing and pay attention. Be a sponge, and try to absorb every little detail. The little details are what will help you stand out from the crowd.

NLC: Tell us about your new job that you started at the conclusion of the fellowship.

Jess: I am the donor relations coordinator with Ronald McDonald House Charities of Tampa Bay. I will be working with the development team on all things stewardship and cultivation, writing grants and working with individual donors to ensure the organization’s success.

Learn more about the 2021 fellowship and apply now.

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2020 Nonprofit Holiday Gift Guide

Team NLC News

While 2020 has been an extraordinarily challenging year for families, nonprofits and communities, it has also sparked the very best in generosity, gratitude and humanity. Our Nonprofit Leadership Center 2020 Holiday Gift Guide highlights gifts for everyone on your list that give back to local nonprofit organizations. Thank you to our nonprofit community for sharing your top picks to compile this year’s guide, and to every nonprofit that continues to step up and step in to keep our communities safe and strong.

2020 NLC Nonprofit Gift Guide

One-of-a-Kind Bags to End Hunger

From wristlets and zipper bags to leather totes, ECHO Handmade bags transform salvaged materials into socially conscious accessories.

ECHO (Emergency Care Help Organization) is a nonprofit organization that assists Hillsborough County residents in crisis with emergency food and clothing, life stabilizing programs and resources. By leveraging excess clothing donations, ECHO upcycles leather jackets, vintage clothing, fur coats and worn out jeans to create one of a kind bags.

Handmade bags from ECHO

Products range from $14.95 to $44.95, and 100% of the proceeds support ECHO’s mission to end hunger.

Find them here.

Shirts That Show You Care

Social isolation and mental health issues are on the rise as a result of COVID-19. This year, give someone you care about an inspirational message they can wear to remind them that they and others are not alone. NAMI Pasco is selling inspirational shirts with positive mental health messages.

Shirts from NAMI Pasco

NAMI Pasco is an affiliate of the National Alliance on Mental Illness, a nonprofit that promotes recovery for children, adults and military personnel with mental illness. They work to eradicate the stigma around mental health by increasing public awareness and understanding while assisting families and caregivers with resources and services to improve the availability of programs, medical treatment, better living conditions and the overall quality of life for people with mental disorders.

Prices vary from $19.99 to $34.99, and shirts range from tank tops to sweatshirts.

Shop all the shirts here.

Candles to Express Your Emotions

Empowerment. Breaking free. Forgiveness. You can give these gifts and more when you purchase Transitions Candles to benefit Girls Empowered Mentally for Success. Their varying candle scents align with the characteristics they work to rebuild in the girls they serve, and they even have several special holiday scents, including Peppermint Joy and Christmas Eve.

Candles from Girls Empowered Mentally for Success

Girls Empowered Mentally for Success empowers high school girls to discover their passion and purpose through creativity and wisdom. The candles provide another means to create healthy transitions for at-risk girls.

 Each candle comes in three different sizes, and prices vary from $9 to $27 for travel tins to glass jars.

Find them here.

Coffee That Fuels Change

We can probably all admit that 2020 has left us feeling a little (or a lot) exhausted. Luckily, a jolt of caffeine isn’t all that coffee from the Portico Café will do. The Portico believes that coffee fuels change. That’s because this gathering space and café provides a second chance and employment ladders to people who were formerly homeless, addicted or incarcerated.

When you purchase bags of coffee or join their coffee subscription, you’ll help transform lives and change our community. 

12 oz. bags are $14.99 + shipping. They are available for pick-up at the café or by delivery. You can also purchase a monthly subscription by delivery.

Start caffeinating here.

A Fresh Way to Tote Your Food (and anything else)

Tie-dye cotton tote bags handmade by volunteers at Tampa Urban Benefit Farms make a unique and meaningful gift this holiday.

Tampa Urban Benefit Farms (TUB Farms) is a nonprofit focused on providing fresh produce to those in the community who rely on food assistance or who have limited access to fresh vegetables. They install large hydroponic gardens at schools and then work with students to plant, grow and harvest the vegetables for donation. It is a win, win, win.

1 bag for $7 or 3 bags for $20; 100% of proceeds benefit TUB Farms

Find them here.

Scarves that Promote Positive Self-Image

Find the perfect accessory for everyone on your list with these beautiful Alpaca Scarves made in Peru. They come in various colors and are gender neutral.

Proceeds benefit Miss Latina Tampa, an organization dedicated to developing young female Latinas in the community by promoting personal skills, positive self-image and internal beauty, while teaching the important values of respect, commitment, life and teamwork.

$30 donation for one scarf

Find them here.

A Home Makeover for More Time at Home

With everyone spending more time at home this year and for the foreseeable future, a gift card from the Habitat for Humanity ReStore will please everyone on your list. Find new and gently used home furnishings, with new items arriving daily. Your purchase helps build strength, stability, self-reliance and shelter for people living in our communities.

Prices vary based on the amount of your gift card.

Find your nearest ReStore location here.

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Gratitude is an Understatement

Emily H. Benham, CEO Stories

I think we can all agree that 2020 has been a wild ride, with many unexpected twists and turns, hardships and silver linings. Taking all of this into account, our team at the Nonprofit Leadership Center is ever mindful of and profoundly grateful for the many things, big and small, that have enriched, supported and comforted us all this year.

Each year at Thanksgiving, Team NLC shares the moments and people we’re most grateful for in our lives. We thank you for your friendship and partnership during this difficult year and always as we continue to develop and connect nonprofit leaders to strengthen organizations and our communities.

Slowing Down to Appreciate the Simple Things

“Being confined at home for the past eight months with my cellist husband Jim, college student son Josh and always ebullient lab Cassie has, in many ways, truly been a blessing for me. It has allowed me to slow down to appreciate the bird sitting on the palm frond on my home office window sill, or our neighbor walking his dog, or the smell of something being freshly baked by one of my family members. This house, this home, has seen a lot of living in the 27 years we’ve owned it, but sometimes we just moved too fast though it. It has kept us safe and comfortable, providing a haven in an unpredictable world. For that, I am grateful.”

Emily H. Benham, CEO

Spending More Time at Home

“I am especially grateful for my home this year — a place where I spend more time than ever because of the pandemic, and a place where I realize over and over again that my heart is embedded in so many places. Surrounding me are my red canary, blooming flowers and lush plants, family photos, things I bought because they made me smile, and a working laptop and smartphone to keep me close to friends and family.”

“My home is much more than walls and a roof with furniture, because I have filled it with love, lovely things and happy memories of times when visitors were safe to travel to stay with me. Spending more time at home has allowed me to recognize a new appreciation for life itself, and to recognize how fortunate I am to have a home, to love my home and to be safe at home.”

Lorraine Faithful, Operations Manager

Health, Service & Support

“I am most grateful for my physical and mental health, for the opportunity to serve the nonprofit sector, and for the growth in our community and beyond due to our agility and perseverance in a very challenging year.

“I am grateful to my family, friends and teammates for their support and encouragement.

“Lastly, I am grateful for newfound opportunities to recharge and relax during downtime, especially spending time on the water.”

Charlie Imbergamo, Director of Strategic Programs

Working Differently

“In addition to the gratitude for my and my family’s health this year, I’m most grateful that NLC has continued to operate through the pandemic and for my continued employment here. I was six weeks into my new role with NLC when COVID-19 required many offices to close and changed the everyday realities for many businesses and nonprofits. Given that much of NLC’s work focuses on in-person learning experiences, I was concerned that I might be out of a job. I’m grateful NLC redirected to virtual operations so quickly and that I’m able to support our nonprofit communities from my home office.”

Carina Kleter, Program Associate

My Sixth Sense

“This year, I’m extra grateful for my sixth sense — my sense of humor! With so much swirling around us these days, I’ve found humor to be a comforting home base to return to again and again. Laughter is always there for me throughout the day, almost like it’s just waiting to bubble to the surface at any opportunity, especially with my son and doggie as constant companions! It’s helpful to appreciate life’s little bits of fun, because if we’re open to them, they’re still there for us, no matter what else might be going on.” 

Laurel Westmoreland, Education and Data Manager

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Survey Reveals Impact of COVID-19 and 2020 Challenges on Nonprofits at Year-End

Team NLC News

It’s no secret that COVID-19 has profoundly impacted nonprofits and communities, but what is the outlook for organizations today as they’ve continued to navigate the effects of the pandemic?

The Nonprofit Leadership Center began surveying nonprofit CEOs and executive directors in March 2020 to understand the impact of COVID-19 on Tampa Bay nonprofits and their constituents. Six months after the outbreak, NLC invited nonprofit executive leaders during September and October to share how the ongoing issues of 2020 have affected their leaders and organizations. Here’s what they had to say.

New Survey Results Reveal COVID-19 Impact on Nonprofit Leaders at End of 2020

1. Despite a challenging operating and fundraising environment, the outlook for many nonprofit leaders is still positive.

  • Nonprofit leaders said the top challenge six months into the COVID-19 pandemic is fundraising. Additionally, leaders cited innovating programs/events/business models and revising/recalibrating organizational business strategy as challenges.

  • The top three concerns for generating organizational revenue are: 1) cancelled fundraising events (64.10%), 2) loss of funders or corporate partners (45.15%) and 3) challenges meeting funder requirements (38.46%) or grants/contracts with government agencies at risk (30.77%).

  • Despite significant fundraising concerns, nearly half (48.72%) of leaders who responded anticipate that their nonprofit will meet or exceed their total revenue goal for 2020.

  • Likewise, more than half of respondents said they will either be able to keep their current staffing model in place or will require additional services from agencies or partners six months from now. Only 23% of respondents said they’ll need to lay off or furlough staff.

  • The majority of respondents are currently open and operating, with some staff working in person and some working virtually. Nearly two-thirds of leaders plan to offer options for select employees to work in-person OR virtually. 20.5% will require all staff to work in-person while 5% plan to shift to a virtual model for all operations.

  • Nonprofits vary when it comes to how their services will be affected during the next six months. 61.54% said they will need to add additional programs or services to meet existing/new needs, while 25.65% will have to reduce services and 12.82% will have to eliminate some programs and/or services entirely.

2. 2020 has required nonprofit leaders to grow and stretch in many ways. As a result, the needs of leaders and their staff are growing, too.

  • The past six months have required nonprofit leaders to shift and adapt operations and services, with the most prevalent being pivoting to virtual service delivery. Additionally, leaders cited making more concerted efforts to connect personally with donors, forge strategic collaborations and refocus on enhancing operations and organizational strategies.

  • To personally be successful, nonprofit leaders say they most need the following:

Prioritize self-care
“A chance to breathe and think. Being in response mode long-term is draining.”

Financial stability
“More secure financial resources to meet payroll and continue business operations.”

Additional skills/training
“Better understanding of how to take community engagement activities to a virtual environment.”

Board and funder support
“A board that is willing to see all I’m doing and accomplishing.”
“Grace and kindness from funders.”

  • Respondents said their staff need more human connection, clarity and self-care. Additionally, flexibility and enhanced technology are necessary to ensure a successful virtual workplace.

More connection
“Time together, improved and more robust technology.”

More clarity and less uncertainty
“Clear goals that help to prioritize efforts for long-term instead of continuous pivoting.”

Emotional support/self-care
“Psychological support/therapy to deal with stress on the job and at home.”

“Vacation. Seriously. We are all taking some time off. The last six months have been exhausting.”

Better technology
“Tools that assist in remote work for planning and accountability.”

“Staff is asking for support with flexible work hours so they can be available to help e-learning children.”

3. While nonprofit leaders aspire to have diverse and inclusive organizations, most admit they have more work to do to make this a reality.

  • Only 18.42% of respondents say their board of directors reflects strong diversity across race, gender, experiences, expertise and other related factors. 55% say they have some diversity but have more work to do, while 26% say they do not have a diverse board.

  • Leaders say the most significant barrier to building a diverse board is identifying and recruiting people of color who are passionate about the mission.

  • Nonprofit leaders say the most significant barriers to moving diversity, equity and inclusion efforts forward in their organization are: 1) they don’t know where to start and 2) available time/resources to implement effectively.

  • To be a more diverse, equitable and inclusive organization, respondents said they need more training resources and support.

4. To succeed in our ever-evolving philanthropic landscape and world, respondents believe adaptability is the most important trait nonprofit leaders need to succeed.

  • 40.5% of nonprofit leaders say adaptability is the most important trait they need to succeed, followed by creativity (16.22%) and then resilience (10.8%).

  • On a scale of 1 to 10, with 1 being least courageous and 10 being most courageous, nonprofit leaders rank themselves an average of 7.5 on being a courageous leader.

Survey Methodology

This survey was fielded between September 21 and October 4, 2020, and explored questions in three areas: 1) current impact of COVID-19 pandemic on operations; 2) diversity, equity and inclusion; and 3) innovation and leadership. There were 39 total responses from nonprofit CEOs or executive directors, primarily who live in Hillsborough (52.78%) or Pinellas (44.44%) counties, with one respondent from Pasco County and one from Tennessee. Nearly half of respondents represent human service organizations (45.95%), followed by education and health care.

WATCH NEXT: 2020 State of the Nonprofit Sector Report from NLC CEO Emily H. Benham

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Five Ways to Steward Your Donors During Tampa Bay Philanthropy Week

Holly Moon, Foundation Manager Lions Eye Institute News

As we approach the end of the calendar year, many nonprofit professionals are gearing up to send heart-tugging, eloquent and compelling year-end fundraising appeals to donors. The urge to bombard donors with requests for support can be hard to resist when fundraising has been so difficult in 2020. But now is not the time to focus on generic asks and mass mailings. It’s time for stewardship.

Stewardship is the part of fundraising where you get to celebrate what you, your donors and your organization have accomplished together. Tampa Bay Philanthropy Week was designed to do just that. This special week is a reimagining of National Philanthropy Day — a day traditionally used to give awards and honor extraordinary philanthropists in the nonprofit community.

Tampa Bay Philanthropy Week — November 9-13 — is a week-long digital celebration of how the Tampa Bay community has come together during this unusual time. The movement is hosted by the Association of Fundraising Professionals (AFP) Tampa Bay Chapter and is presented by the Community Foundation of Tampa Bay.

Here are five ways to include your donors in Tampa Bay Philanthropy Week.

1. Share their story.

Do you have a philanthropist who made a huge difference for your organization this year? Did a volunteer go above and beyond to ensure your organization could continue providing essential services? Did someone share an innovative idea with you and then help you make it a reality?

This has been a year of exceptional generosity. Amidst a negative news cycle, it’s important to remember that people are still out there doing good. Sharing your donors’ stories of generosity, resilience, innovation and leadership is a great way to let them know that you appreciate them. It allows a public platform for recognition without limitations.

Share your story to celebrate Tampa Bay Philanthropy week here.

2. Feature donors in a visual collage.

Tampa Bay Philanthropy Week was designed to be a multimedia project, including written words, photos, videos and podcasts. The Heart of the Community Gallery is a place where you can share a short-form story (250 words) with a photo about your donor(s) and their impact, creating a visual collage of exceptional people who are making Tampa Bay a better place to live, work and play. Learn more and see the gallery here.

3. Share the Tampa Bay Philanthropy Week podcast with your donors.

Who doesn’t love a good podcast these days? The Tampa Bay Philanthropy Week Podcast features personal, casual conversations with and about people who are making a difference in their communities. It’s hosted by Wilma Norton from the Community Foundation of Tampa Bay. The podcast includes both longer episodes (15 to 25 minutes) and shorter “mini-cast” episodes (5 to 10 minutes). Listen to the podcast here.

4. Tag donors on social media.

Share a post on social media highlighting your donor(s). If it is a business or foundation, tag them! Make sure the world knows what you know: that your donors are sensational and that you’re grateful for their support. Be sure to tag #TampaBayPhilanthropyWeek and #TBPW so everyone can see them and reshare.

5. Invite donors to participate in the celebration.

After you honor your donors during Tampa Bay Philanthropy Week, invite them to join you! If you have a fabulous donor, chances are they know someone fabulous, too. Tampa Bay Philanthropy Week is meant to celebrate philanthropists, organizations and nonprofit leaders. Encourage your donors to participate in Tampa Bay Philanthropy Week by sharing a story about someone they know who is making a positive impact in our community. Helpful hint: Make sure they know you are not asking for return kudos when you invite them to participate!

Our donors deserve more love letters and less begging hands this year. Yes, we need to keep asking; that’s part of our job (and we are really good at it). But we also need to keep thanking and celebrating them. Our impact as nonprofit professionals would not be possible without their generous hearts and their love of humankind.

To learn more about Tampa Bay Philanthropy Week, visit

Holly Moon is a fundraising leader who is passionate about philanthropy and lifting up young professionals. She has dedicated herself to making Tampa Bay a better place through her fundraising efforts. Holly serves on the Board of Directors for AFP Tampa Bay, where she is the co-chair for Tampa Bay Philanthropy Week and on the Emerging Leaders Task Force for AFP Global. Holly is currently the foundation manager at the Lions Eye Institute for Transplant and Research where she manages the annual fund and Foundation marketing efforts. Holly holds degrees in marketing and international studies from the University of South Florida. She lives in Plant City with her partner, Derek, and their dogs Piper and Lana.