7 Tips for a Successful GivingTuesday

7 Tips for a Successful Giving Tuesday Campaign

Jesica D'Avanza, MPA, APR Tips

GivingTuesday is a global day of generosity that happens every year on the Tuesday after Thanksgiving. As people are bombarded with ads, emails and social posts from nearly every organization about this day of giving, what can your nonprofit do to stand out from the noise? These GivingTuesday tips will help you craft communications that inspire more prospects and donors to support your mission now.

1. Make it about them, not you.
Donors don’t give because of your organizational fundraising goals or operational needs; they give because they want to help real people in your community. As you craft your GivingTuesday communications, lead with your audience, not your organization. Elevate the individuals, families and communities that depend on you and the life-changing impact your work will have on their lives and livelihoods. Ask your donors and supporters to help them. Including first-person messages and appeals directly from those who have benefitted from your organization can be particularly helpful to paint a clear picture of your impact. Be transparent and detailed about how you will use the dollars you raise on GivingTuesday to support your community.

2. Approach your donors and supporters as partners.
Rather than begging donors for their support, consider them essential partners in delivering your mission. Show them how their partnership and collaboration can strengthen lives and their community, and make it clear in your communications where they fit in these efforts. By treating your donors as critical collaborators, you will develop a more meaningful relationship with them that inspires continued involvement.

3. Secure a match partner.
A whopping 84% of donors say they are more likely to give to nonprofit organizations if a match is offered, according to Double the Donation, and 1 in 3 donors say they’ve given more because a match is offered. Increase the funds you raise on GivingTuesday by identifying an existing corporate partner or board member to match the donations you raise on this giving day. This offers your audiences an added incentive to give, knowing their contributions will have double or even triple the impact, up to a specific amount.

4. Give them a reason to feel hopeful.
Let’s face it. Everywhere we turn right now, we’re bombarded with grim news stories and heartbreaking accounts of what’s happening in the world around us. Approach GivingTuesday from a place of strength by giving your audiences a reason to feel positive and hopeful. Although the needs are great at this moment and urgency is essential in a strong fundraising appeal, connect your donors’ actions today to how their contributions will make our entire community stronger tomorrow.

5. Offer those struggling financially with a way to support you.
While it may not be possible for everyone to make a donation, everyone can use their influence to support your cause. Encouraging certain segments of your supporters to host a Facebook fundraiser on your behalf is a great way for them to make a difference when so much feels out of our control. Learn more about how to ensure your nonprofit is eligible to have supporters fundraise for you on Facebook here.

6. Don’t just ask.
While GivingTuesday is all about giving, don’t forget to surround every ask you make with authentic cultivation and engagement communications. Sharing stories and reporting back frequently with clarity and accountability is critical to fostering a lasting relationship with your supporters. Just as you wouldn’t ask someone to marry you on the first or second date, you must consider how you communicate with your donors in the same way you would with a valued friend or family member.

7. Remember your staff.
Finally, on GivingTuesday, consider how you might give back to your staff. As many staff work remotely these days, maintaining team morale is essential. Use this day to give them something — an unexpected day off this month, a hand-written note or some other token of your appreciation. Your employees and team members are your greatest assets. Make sure they know just how much you appreciate them.

Photo of Jesica D'Avanza, MPA, APR

Jesica D’Avanza, MPA, APR, is an award-winning communications leader who works at the intersection of brand and business strategy to make our world a better place. As owner and chief strategy officer at Round Square, she applies two decades of experience in brand and communications strategy to help nonprofits and mission-driven organizations transform their communications for greater relevance, resonance and results. Her consultancy supports clients across health care, wellness, education, environmental and nonprofit arenas.

Jesica has served in a variety of national communications and marketing leadership roles for organizations like the American Cancer Society and Muscular Dystrophy Association. She holds undergraduate and graduate degrees from Florida State University and her Accreditation in Public Relations.

Get featured in the 2021 Nonprofit Holiday Gift Guide: Submissions due by Nov. 26, 2021

Feature Your Organization in the 2021 Nonprofit Holiday Gift Guide

Team NLC News

You have probably heard the famous quote from St. Francis of Assisi that, “It is in giving that we receive.” As nonprofit leaders, we certainly agree. Now through Friday, November 26, the Nonprofit Leadership Center is accepting submissions for our 2021 Nonprofit Holiday Gift Guide. Started in 2019, this festive guide highlights holiday gifts that give back to nonprofit organizations to strengthen our communities.

All you need to complete your submission is the following information:

  • Name of nonprofit organization
  • Description of product or service that benefits the nonprofit organization
  • Link to learn more or purchase the item
  • A photo(s) of the item, if available
  • Your contact information

For inspiration, find past gift guides here:

We will publish the 2021 Nonprofit Holiday Gift Guide on GivingTuesday, November 30. Thank you in advance for sharing your favorite nonprofits and products that support them with our community.

Sign up for our weekly e-newsletter to get exclusive tips, tools and professional development events exclusively designed for nonprofit leaders.

Applications open for Certificate in Nonprofit Management at the University of tampa

Applications Now Open for the 2022-23 Nonprofit Management Graduate Certificate Program at UT

Team NLC News

Are you a nonprofit leader who aspires to be a CEO or member of a senior leadership team? A graduate certificate in nonprofit management is a powerful step to make that goal a reality. The Nonprofit Leadership Center offers a graduate certificate in nonprofit management in collaboration with the University of Tampa, and we’re pleased to announce that applications are now open for the 2022-23 program.

“I have no words that can fully express the profound effect the Certificate in Nonprofit Management program has had and will continue to have on my nonprofit.”

2020 graduate

READ NEXT: 3 Benefits of the Certificate in Nonprofit Management

About the Graduate Certificate in Nonprofit Management

The 2022-2023 graduate Certificate in Nonprofit Management at the University of Tampa will begin in May 2022 and last about 15 months. Courses are delivered as four one-week seminars, representing 12 credit hours of graduate-level instruction. Program participants will develop skills in strategic thinking, leadership, marketing, development and accounting. The required in-person sessions include:

  • Thinking Strategically
    Students will focus on evaulating mission, analyzing board governance and conducting an environmental scan. They will also identify the focus area for their program-long project and business plan.

  • Marketing, Research & Communication
    During this session, students will learn how to conduct market research, explore fund development and develop a marketing plan for their chosen project.

  • Accounting & Financial Management
    Students will learn the fundamentals of accounting, financial performance, analyzing costs and internal controls. They will also develop a budget for their program-long project.

  • Leadership and Innovation
    In the final session of the program, students will evaluate their personal leadership and develop an implementation plan.

  • Final Presentations
    The program culminates with students presenting their business plan to a group of nonprofit and community leaders for evaluation as the final step to receiving their certificate.


Join us for an info session to learn more.

Join us for a virtual or in-person info session to discover how quickly you can further your education with our nonprofit graduate program. You’ll receive a general overview of the University of Tampa as well as details about nonprofit management track options. Faculty and staff will be available to answer your questions, discuss the application process and review financial aid options.

“This program has been so insightful and challenging. Working and learning from organizations that are so different from my own has significantly expanded my horizons.”

2020 graduate

Have questions? Email us at info@nlctb.org, or contact our friends at the University of Tampa at 813-258-7409 or grad@ut.edu.

READ NEXT: A Day in the Life of a Working Student Pursuing Their Certificate in Nonprofit Management

Image of a woman that says apply now next to the words funding for nonprofits

Available Funding Opportunities for Local Nonprofits

Team NLC News

Year-end fundraising isn’t the only source of income for nonprofits before the end of 2021. The following funding opportunities are available to local and/or Florida-based nonprofit organizations now.

Win $10,000 from the Florida Blue Foundation

For the fifth consecutive year, the Florida Blue Foundation is giving away $10,000 to five Florida-based nonprofit organizations as part of its #FloridaGives campaign.

Nonprofits can enter between November 8-14, 2021, by posting on Twitter and/or Instagram with the following information:

  • Name of your nonprofit
  • Why you are grateful for this nonprofit
  • Tag #FloridaGives and Florida Blue (@FLBlue on Twitter & @Florida.Blue on Instagram)

Share and post throughout the week to increase your organization’s chance of winning. If you do not have Twitter or Instagram, you can submit your favorite Florida-based nonprofit’s name and why you are grateful for them on Florida Blue’s campaign webpage.

Winners will be selected at random and announced on GivingTuesday, November 30, 2021.

Learn more and see all rules and regulations here.

Working Capital Loans from Foundation for a Healthy St. Petersburg

In response to the ongoing need for working capital loans to complement grant funding, the Foundation for a Healthy St. Petersburg is investing $2 million to support nonprofits working to advance race equity in Pinellas County.

In partnership with the Tampa Bay Black Business Investment Corporation, Inc., the Pinellas Working Capital Loan Fund will offer reasonable and ready access to working capital through an interest-free, zero-fee loan program. Nonprofits can use funds to sustain operations, improve services and/or make strategic investments.

The Foundation hopes access to this financing will allow more nonprofits to seek local, state and federal grants (and other revenue sources) to magnify available resources.

Nonprofits must meet the following eligibility requirements:

  • Tax-exempt public charity under 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code
  • Incorporated and active for more than one year
  • Advance racial equity in Pinellas County
  • Prior year expenses were less than $15 million

The Foundation will accept grant applications on a continual basis until funds are allocated.

Learn more and apply now.

Community Investment Grants Now Available from United Way Suncoast

United Way Suncoast has opened its competitive community investment process for programs seeking funding in early learning, youth success and financial stability projects. Grants will be awarded to qualifying organizations serving Florida communities in Hillsborough, Pinellas, Manatee, Sarasota and/or DeSoto Counties, and will provide funding for three years (July 2022-June 2025).

Letters of intent are due by December 15, 2021.

Learn more here, including information on funding priorities, funding guidelines, an outline of the full application and process and upcoming info sessions.

READ NEXT: How to Write a Winning Grant Proposal

READ NEXT: Your Guide to Applying for Nonprofit Grants

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The 6 Cs of Inclusive Leadership

Six Traits of Inclusive Leadership

Team NLC Tips

“If you think you’re a leader and nobody is following you, you’re just taking a walk. Inclusive leaders walk the walk and live the values. They’re creating organizational cultures where people feel they can thrive and succeed.”

These are the words Dr. Shirley Davis recently shared at the Nonprofit Leadership Center’s 2021 Leadership Conference. Dr. Davis is the president and CEO of SDS Global Enterprises, Inc., a woman- and minority-owned C-Corporation that works with leaders to create more inclusive and high-performing workplaces where all talent can thrive.

Dr. Davis described culture as the values, beliefs and behaviors of an organization. She said, “Culture is like the wind; you can’t always see it, but you can always feel it.”

READ NEXT: 5 Common Misconceptions about Organizational Culture

So how can leaders create an inclusive culture? Dr. Davis says it comes down to six things.

The Six Cs of Inclusive Leadership

Dr. Shirley Davis says highly inclusive leaders demonstrate the following attributes:

1. Commitment: They are committed to diversity and inclusion because these objectives align with their personal values. They create a culture of belonging and high performance.

2. Courage: They are willing to speak up and challenge the status quo and are willing to have difficult conversations.

3. Cognizance of bias: They are mindful of personal and organizational blind spots and self-regulate to ensure “fair play.”

4. Curiosity: They have an open mindset and a desire to understand how others view and experience the world.

5. Cultural Intelligence: They are confident and effective in cross-cultural interactions. They practice self-reflection and discovery in order to build honest and trustworthy relationships.

6. Collaboration: They empower individuals as well as create and leverage the thinking of diverse groups.

Dr. Davis also shared that workers want their leaders to be authentic and transparent, trustworthy, inspirational, willing to take risks and allow risk-taking, and aware and empowering.

“There’s a reason the word inclusion starts with ‘I,’” Dr. Davis says. There are things each of us can and must do every day to be more inclusive leaders. “The platinum rule trumps the golden rule. It’s not about treating people the way you want to be treated. You’ve got to treat people the way they want to be treated. People have different needs, work ethics and expectations. Step into your vulnerability and discomfort. Belonging leads to believing.”

Register for the 2022 Nonprofit Leadership Conference

For nonprofit leaders and organizations, the past few years have challenged and changed us. We’ve dug deeper and pushed boundaries. We’ve reinvented how to fundraise and engage. We’ve experienced immense energy and intense exhaustion.

But leaders like you were called to nonprofit work for times like this.

Join hundreds of nonprofit and business leaders at the 2022 Nonprofit Leadership Conference on September 28 to rediscover what drives you and how to harness it to effect lasting change. Presented by Bank of America, this highly anticipated annual conference is back in person at the beautiful Tampa Marriott Water Street. 

READ NEXT: 8 Things Authentically Inclusive Leaders Believe

READ NEXT: 7 Traits of Emotionally Intelligent Leaders

Be the first to know about events and news for nonprofit leaders by signing up for our email list and following the Nonprofit Leadership Center on FacebookLinkedInInstagram and Twitter.

Image of a nonprofit finance committee meeting

Financial Management for Nonprofits: The Role of the Nonprofit Finance Committee

By Michelle M. Sanchez, CPA, Warren Averett Tips

Financial management can be intimidating for many nonprofit professionals, especially those new to oversight roles in nonprofit organizations. One of the primary oversight roles is that of the finance committee. What exactly is the role of a nonprofit finance committee? Why is the finance committee important? This introductory guide shares nonprofit finance committee best practices to help prepare you and your organization for success. 

What does a nonprofit finance committee do?

A nonprofit finance committee is one of the most important pillars of your organization and leadership structure. The finance committee provides overall financial oversight of your nonprofit. Its members help to ensure that your organization has the necessary resources to provide programming and deliver your mission in the community.

What are the responsibilities of a finance committee?

The finance committee oversees a nonprofit’s funding and spending. Specifically, a nonprofit finance committee is responsible for:

  • Approving the annual budget
  • Monitoring monthly financial statements
  • Overseeing financial reporting, including the annual IRS Form 990 and all required tax filings
  • Ensuring the organization has the cash reserves and investments necessary for long-term success

Who should be on your nonprofit finance committee?

One of the most common mistakes nonprofits make is not having a nonprofit finance committee with members who have the right mix of knowledge and experience in nonprofit financial management.

The ideal size for a nonprofit finance committee depends on the size of your organization but generally consists of three to five members. When establishing your finance committee, it is essential to have someone with financial expertise who can evaluate the overall health of your organization. While not mandatory, having a CPA is extremely helpful to provide the financial skillset to serve that role.

Additionally, identify at least one person who has experience in nonprofit financial reporting. While not everyone on the committee must have a nonprofit background, it is helpful to have someone with experience serving in a CFO (chief finance officer) role or corporate accounting position supporting a nonprofit.

Finally, the majority of the finance committee should consist of independent members.  This means the committee members are not part of the nonprofit’s management staff or do not have other ties to the organization.

READ NEXT: How to Recruit Nonprofit Board Members

What kinds of questions should nonprofit finance committee members be asking?

One of the most important things that nonprofit board and finance committee members can do is ask insightful questions. Members shouldn’t just rubber-stamp financial documents; they need to understand what they approve because they have fiduciary responsibility for the nonprofit organization.

Here are some questions board and finance committee members should continually pose to the executive director or CEO and staff leadership:

  • Do we have enough cash inflows to cover operations, or are we living off reserves?
  • Do we have enough cash on hand to cover at least three months of operating expenses?
  • What portion of our funds are we spending on program activities?
  • Are we raising funds from a diverse array of donors and sources? Are we relying too much on grants? Are we growing our donor base?
  • How much does it cost for us to raise a dollar?
  • How much are we spending on administrative expenses?

What best practices should our nonprofit finance committee follow when selecting an external auditor?

When it comes to financial audits for your nonprofit, here are a few things to keep in mind:

  • Do your homework. The American Institute of CPAs (AICPA), the world’s largest member association representing the accounting profession, offers resources, publications and events to foster high-quality performance by auditors.
  • Ask for an auditor’s peer review report. Auditors get peer-reviewed where others come in and look at their work. That report is public information and can provide some comfort related to the audit firm’s controls and quality.
  • Ask for references. It seems simple, but when you’re doing an RFP and asking for information from auditors, ask for and check references.
  • Look for a trustworthy advisor. You need an audit firm that thinks you’re important, will communicate with you regularly and be proactive in serving your needs.
  • Keep in mind that the cheapest option may not be the best option. Look for a firm that offers value and advice, and that supports your organization and its mission.

What is the difference between an audit committee and a finance committee? Does my organization need both?

An audit committee focuses on the hiring and performance of auditors to perform an annual financial audit of your organization, while a finance committee oversees the management of financial resources, such as cash flow and other important practices. Whether you need both committees depends on the size of your organization. Larger organizations may have a specialized committee to oversee the auditing process, but smaller organizations typically have their finance committee take on both roles.

Get Your Certificate in Nonprofit Financial Management

The Nonprofit Leadership Center’s Certificate in Nonprofit Financial Management will provide you with the basic skills and knowledge needed to establish and maintain a strong financial management system.

This two-day program will build your ability to make sound decisions that affect your nonprofit’s programs and operations with a focus on best practices. Courses will demystify financial jargon and teach you about financial record-keeping. Class material uses easily understood and relevant case examples and engaging, interactive explanations for financial terminology, assumptions and concepts.

About Michelle Sanchez

Photo of Michelle Sanchez, CPA, NLC Board Member

Michelle Sanchez is a certified public accountant who has been practicing public accounting since 1994. As a member of Warren Averett, she leads the firm’s Nonprofit Industry Service Team. Michelle is primarily responsible for audits, reviews and compilations for a broad-based clientele, including nonprofit organizations, manufacturing firms, distribution companies and various service industry companies.

READ NEXT: Tips to Prevent Internal Fraud at Your Nonprofit

Be the first to hear about the latest nonprofit tips, resources and training classes at the Nonprofit Leadership Center. Sign up to receive our weekly NLC e-newsletter to thrive personally and professionally.

Secrets to Year-End Fundraising

Year-End Fundraising: Secrets to Inspire Greater Giving

Charlie Imbergamo | Director of Strategic Programs Resources

Research shows that people make nearly one-third of all charitable gifts in December, with 12% of all giving occurring in the last three days of the year. What is your nonprofit doing to capitalize on the critical year-end giving season? Develop a practical plan to boost year-end fundraising for your nonprofit and get new strategies you can implement immediately.

WATCH: How to Increase Year-End Giving at Your Nonprofit

After watching this free video, you’ll better understand:

  • Effective year-end fundraising strategies for the final two months of the year, including Giving Tuesday
  • How to focus on the best fundraising strategies for your nonprofit right now
  • Practical ways to increase your success this year-end

Download the presentation shared during the session.


READ NEXT: 7 Secrets to a Successful Year-End Fundraising Letter

READ NEXT: The Year-End Fundraising Tool Most Nonprofits Overlook

About the Presenter

Photo of Sara Leonard, NLC trainer

Sara Leonard, MBA, CFRE, is a solutions-oriented advancement professional with more than 25 years of experience in development and administration in the nonprofit field. She is a Certified Fundraising Executive and has been named a Master Trainer by the Association of Fundraising Professionals.

Sara has worked in the nonprofit sector, raising funds for health care, educational and cultural organizations. Sara launched the Sara Leonard Group in April 2015 to provide consulting, coaching and training to fundraisers, CEOs and nonprofit board members. She is an active trainer at the Nonprofit Leadership Center in fund development and volunteer management.

Get More Fundraising Tips Delivered to Your Inbox

Be the first to hear about fundraising tips, nonprofit training events and free resources from the Nonprofit Leadership Center by signing up to receive our weekly NLC e-newsletter.

Be sure to join the conversation and connect with other nonprofit leaders on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and Instagram

2021 State of the Nonprofit Sector: The Painful, the Extraordinary and What’s Next

Emily H. Benham, FAHP, CFRE | CEO, NLC News

Think back to December 31, 2020. New Year’s Eve. We celebrated the end of a year that was like no other, hoping a return to normal was in sight. Vaccinations were on the way. Plans were being made to return to the workplace. The fog seemed like it was beginning to lift. And yet, the new normal became the next normal, and the next normal after that.

While there has been an extreme disparity of experiences during the past two years, the pandemic’s effect on the nonprofit sector has been both inspiring and cautionary. In the words of Dan Cardinali, president & CEO of the Independent Sector, “The US nonprofit sector is the underpinning of our society, and in 2021, we have seen this continue in extraordinary and extraordinarily painful ways.”

I’d like to dig deeper into the extraordinarily painful and extraordinary themes from our vantage point at the Nonprofit Leadership Center.

WATCH: Emily Benham’s 2021 State of the Nonprofit Sector Report

The Extraordinarily Painful

1. Workforce Issues

First, acquiring and retaining talent to successfully carry out nonprofit work has never been more challenging. While this is certainly not unique to the nonprofit sector, the current situation is especially acute for nonprofits with historically lower pay and funder restrictions, which constrains growth and the ability to be competitive in the labor market.

The average tenure of a fund development professional is 16 months (Chronicle of Philanthropy), while nonprofit executive directors and CEOs are in their roles for an average of six years, with this tenure expected to decline (Nonprofit Quarterly). To be successful moving forward, nonprofits must focus on succession planning for both departing CEOs and board leaders. The Nonprofit Leadership Center plans to increase our support in this area to help nonprofit leaders and organizations.

READ NEXT: Your Guide to Retaining Nonprofit Staff

2. Decision Fatigue

How do we protect our employees’ safety while delivering programs to our most vulnerable audiences? How far can we bend our programming strategy to accommodate funder requests without risking mission creep? Constant pressures to make decisions without clarity around what’s ahead can lead to a state New York Times writer Adam Grant has described as “languishing”. He defines languishing as the state between flourishing (or the peak of well-being) and depression (the valley of ill-being.) He says languishing can dull motivation, disrupt the ability to focus and triple the odds that a person will cut back on work. 

3. Diversity, Equity & Inclusion

Finally, we’ve seen organizations struggle this year to shift their understanding about the importance of truly embracing a culture centered on the principles of diversity, equity and inclusion. In our most recent 2021 survey of nonprofit leaders, when asked what resources they needed most, DEI rose to the top of the list. NLC has new tools, including assessments and classes, to support nonprofits, and, in 2021, we stood up a new fellowship program to advance racial equity on nonprofit boards for both professionals of color seeking board service and nonprofits interested in diversifying their boards.

While the unity of purpose around this topic may not be shared universally across all organizations, I am reminded of something one of our Leadership Conference participants shared last year: “Courageous leadership is about speaking when your opinion is not popular and taking action even when there is risk.”

The right time to commit to bold action is now.

The Extraordinary

Let’s look next at what’s extraordinary in the nonprofit sector, as we see plenty of it each day.

1. Speed

The speed at which the nonprofit sector has responded during the past two years has been remarkable. Responding to the confluence of crises, creating new environments to counsel clients, distribute food, build homes, hold board meetings, communicate with donors, engage, manage a diverse workforce, organize and stand up movements, rallies, and unimaginable resources at a frenzied pace.

We have officially debunked the overused and tired mischaracterization of the nonprofit sector as being inefficient, wasteful and slow to change. Not the case then. Not the case now.

Quote from Emily Benham: "We have officially debunked the overused and tired mischaracterization of the nonprofit sector as being inefficient, wasteful and slow to change. Not the case then. Not the case now."

2. Focus on Mission

We saw attendance improve at board meetings, no show rates decline at counseling sessions, theater productions in parking lots, teams working remotely engaged in both reflection and robust action, building new processes and possibilities for the delivery of critical services. A recent report released by Deloitte found that “social change leaders, inspired by Winston Churchill’s often quoted admonition not to let a good crisis go to waste, are working with a renewed sense of purpose and possibility.”

3. Grace

Call it unity, call it collective action or impact. We see people coming together, despite the divided world in which we live, choosing to find common ground to move issues and our lives forward.

And whether people are drawn to nonprofit work because of a high level of inherent empathy or whether this trait has been burnished by the past months of uncertainty, separation and sadness for many, we see it every day in our work. A dropped Zoom call. A dog or cat making a cameo appearance in a virtual meeting. A parent pulling double duty and helping a child with homework while on a 10-minute break from a virtual class.

There is a palpable sense of commonality in that we are all going through this together.

Where We Go Next

So where do we go from here? What of these learnings from the past 19 months will stick and carry us forward to flourishing, if you are not there already, and to reimagining true, sustainable impact?

Well, I won’t presume to know what the answer is for you, but I can tell you that leading bravely and acting boldly will be essential. Team NLC is here to navigate this with you every day.

“Only when we are brave enough to explore the darkness will we discover the infinite power of our light. “

Brene Brown

Keep burning bright today and always, my friends. Here’s to leading bravely and acting boldly

Be the first to hear about the latest nonprofit tips, resources and training classes from the Nonprofit Leadership Center. Sign up to receive our weekly NLC e-newsletter to help you thrive personally and professionally. 

Image with password box: Cybersecurity for nonprofits

Cybersecurity for Nonprofits: What You Need to Know

Team NLC Tips

Companies rely on data for nearly every decision they make — evaluating programs, engaging audiences and setting organizational strategy. As the value of data has increased, so too has the rate of cyber attacks. From Marriott, Garmin and Yahoo to local nonprofit organizations, no one is immune to cybersecurity risks. So how can you protect your nonprofit’s personal and financial information? During a recent roundtable discussion at the Nonprofit Leadership Center, University of South Florida Professor Steve Gary shared tips on cybersecurity for nonprofits to help reduce your organization’s risk of a cyber attack.

A Cybersecurity Checklist for Nonprofits

1. Educate your staff.

Many cyber attacks on email or ransomware happen because an employee clicks on a link they should not have opened. Proactively and frequently educating your staff about what to look for and avoid clicking on can help prevent your nonprofit from becoming the next victim of a cyber attack. For example, show your staff examples of Phishing scams so they can spot them in the future, and remind them that you will never request their passwords or banking information via email.

Holding annual employee cybersecurity training is also an important way to prevent cyber attacks on nonprofits. These trainings are an excellent time to remind staff to:

  • Keep their software, operating systems and apps updated.
  • Avoid using public WiFi, as tempting as it may seem. Instead, use a VPN — Virtual Private Network — a secure way to use regular WiFi.
  • Regularly back up data and encrypt laptops so unauthorized users cannot access sensitive information if the device is stolen.
  • Disable removable devices and USBs.

2. Upgrade your password.

Nearly every device we own, from watches to thermostats, is connected to the internet — communicating mobile numbers, login information and passwords across vulnerable channels. Hackers can break into these systems and even shut down power grids or your home’s security system. When it comes to cybersecurity for nonprofits, making your password sophisticated and changing it frequently is essential. 

  • Make your password longer and harder to guess, with a minimum of 16 characters and using a combination of letters, numbers and special characters.
  • Change your password often.
  • When available, use multi-factor authentication, such as face recognition, which requires a user to provide more than one piece of evidence to authenticate the individual and gain access to a website or application.
  • Add a human element into the authentication process to make it harder for hackers to breach, such as face or fingerprint recognition or certificate authentication, which can be app-based. 

3. Be diligent when working at home.

As many employees transition to a hybrid or remote work environment, data and computer systems are more vulnerable to cyber attacks than in the past. Hackers often see small businesses as easy targets, with many nonprofits fitting into this category. Check out these data security tips to protect your nonprofit, and talk to your insurance agent about cyber liability insurance.

4. Update your policies.

It is critical to ensure you have policies and procedures in place that protect your donor, employee and constituent data. For example:

  • Secure your cloud workspaces.
  • Ensure your human resources policies reflect the latest cybersecurity measures.
  • Make sure your employees and volunteers know about these policies and their updates and are adhering to them.

READ NEXT: Four Critical HR Policies for Nonprofit Organizations

5. Know who to call.

If you suspect your nonprofit has been a victim of a cyber attack, contact the authorities immediately. Here’s where to start:

Be the first to hear about the latest nonprofit tips, resources and training classes at the Nonprofit Leadership Center. Sign up to receive our weekly NLC e-newsletter to thrive personally and professionally.

Meet Your 2021 Leadership Conference Emcee Bill Fries

Team NLC News

Back by popular demand for the second year in a row, Bill Fries will emcee the 2021 Nonprofit Leadership Conference on October 13. Bill will guide you through an incredible line-up of speakers and sessions as we come together to lead bravely and act boldly to move our missions and sector forward.

A Special Message from Bill

Bill Fries is the founder and CEO of Hiregy, a Tampa-based company that changes lives by connecting exceptional talent with top companies. Since 2004, Bill and his team have placed more than 10,000 people in jobs to enhance their lives and livelihoods.

As a lifelong learner and self-help junkie, Bill joined the Nonprofit Leadership Center board of directors in 2009 because he loved how our work inspired local nonprofit leaders to strengthen their skills and organizations. 

“One of the best decisions I ever made for the health of my business and my leadership growth was to dedicate time and mental energy away from my business and into nonprofit service. Every business leader and entrepreneur should volunteer and serve the nonprofit sector.”

Bill Fries

In addition to his many contributions to NLC, Bill is particularly passionate about the development and support of nonprofit CEOs. He helped start NLC’s CEO Circle program in 2017, which brings together intimate groups of “CEOs helping CEOs” to challenge each other, problem-solve and discuss the most pressing issues facing nonprofits. Bill continues to host one of the active CEO Circles every month. 

Bill started his first company when he was just 11 years old and paid for his college education at the University of Central Florida working as many as four jobs at one time to attend debt-free. He started his professional career learning “The Disney Way” as a cast member, trainer and lead for Walt Disney World’s Magic Kingdom. 

He attended Harvard Business School’s Governing for Nonprofit Excellence Program in 2015 and proudly earned the first Certificate in Nonprofit Board Governance from the Nonprofit Leadership Center.

Outside of the office, Bill loves studying jazz piano and spending time with his wife and two daughters.   

Join Bill to Lead Bravely & Act Boldly on October 13

Join Bill and hundreds of nonprofit leaders across the country for a half-day of intentional, interactive sessions on October 13 that will activate the seed of courage inside you. You’ll walk away with tools and knowledge to galvanize your spirit and team to lead bravely and act boldly, now, and in the crucial year ahead. Just imagine what will change in you, around you and because of you when you learn how to be the change that changes everything. Learn more and register now.

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