Become a Better Leader in Just 15 Minutes

Team NLC Tips

Is it really possible to become a better leader in just 15 minutes? According to Simon T. Bailey — author, life coach and keynote speaker at our recent Leadership Conference — the answer is yes. He says that by incorporating this 15-minute routine into your day, you’ll be on your way to long-term leadership success.

Become a Better Nonprofit Leader in Just 15 Minutes a Day

If you want to become a more successful leader, start by waking up 15 minutes earlier each day. Research shows the world’s most successful CEOs are morning people. Break this extra time into three, 5-minute segments to start daily habits that lead to a lifetime of success.

1. First 5 Minutes: Meditate/Mindfulness

To speed up, we must first slow down. Prior to reaching for your phone and tapping out emails before breakfast, spend the first five minutes of your day engaging in quiet meditation. Science shows that practicing daily meditation, just for a few minutes, can improve our focus, decision-making and sleep while reducing stress and anxiety. Apps like Headspace can help you learn how to practice mindfulness and prevent your brain from wandering away from the present.

2. Second 5 Minutes: Read/Listen

After you’ve spent some quiet time disconnecting from the day’s many tasks, spend a few minutes reading or listening to something that inspires you. Curiosity is one of the most critical tools for leadership success. Whether that’s reading the latest news articles, reviewing peer campaigns or listening to a podcast, we are more effective leaders when we look outside ourselves and our own organizations. Instaread is an app that allows you to read more than 800 non-fiction books in just a few minutes at a time. Looking for a great read for nonprofit leaders? We’re big fans of “The Sustainability Mindset,” co-authored by NLC trainer and partner Steve Zimmerman. It helps nonprofits create better strategic decision-making models to drive both impact and profitability.

3. Final 5 Minutes: Stretch/Move

Finally, spend the last five minutes of your new 15-minute routine stretching. This will help get your mind and body in alignment so you are mentally and physically ready for the day ahead. If you need a little help getting started, there are numerous stretching apps for your smartphone you can search for in the app store.

Are you ready to become a more successful nonprofit leader? Wake up 15 minutes earlier tomorrow and get started.

Get more tips and tools to become the best nonprofit leader you can be by signing up to receive our weekly NLC e-newsletter. It includes resources, learning opportunities and the latest NLC training events to help you thrive personally and professionally.

What does it mean to develop and connect nonprofit leaders?

Emily H. Benham, CEO Resources

About five years ago, my brother asked me a (seemingly) simple question: “What do you do?” Try as I might to come up with creative ways to explain the Nonprofit Leadership Center’s work, my role and the challenges facing our sector, my brother kept coming to the same conclusion: “So, NLC teaches, and you’re a teacher?” While teaching is an important part of what we do, he didn’t fully grasp the scope, depth and complexity of NLC’s work. Being his little sister, it was very important to me that he understood.

NLC CEO Emily H. Benham

It was during a strategic retreat last year when an image suddenly hit me that might help my brother, and anyone, understand the key principles and unique essence of NLC’s business. Wait for it … a robotic vacuum cleaner most of us know as the Roomba.

Now, stick with me here. Picture me explaining this to my brother:

  • The NLC develops and connects nonprofit leaders to strengthen organizations and our community.
  • We have two customers: 1) individuals and 2) organizations. We work with them to build internal strength to benefit our community. 
  • We have five areas of expertise: Board Governance, Fund Development, Financial Management, Leadership, and Marketing.
  • Our customers can receive resources in a number of different forms, choosing their own adventure.

Now, let’s take a spin around our “NLC Roomba,” lighting up the different opportunities for developing and connecting nonprofit leaders.

Nonprofit Leadership Center offerings

Our first light is CONFERENCE. We hold two conferences each year, our Leadership Conference in May (see highlights from our latest event here) and a Board and Senior Leadership Conference in the fall. These are tremendous opportunities for hundreds of nonprofit and business leaders to come together to learn and lift up our community together.

The second light is CLASSROOM. We offer more than 75 professional development classes annually at our training center in Tampa, and we’ve launched a new series in Pinellas County this year. From attracting new donors and better managing staff and boards to improving time management and communications skills, our expert trainers help nonprofit leaders strengthen their personal skills and organizational impact.

Next, CUSTOM SOLUTIONS is our largest area. This is where we bring tailored training directly to organizations. We have a highly regarded assessment tool we are certified to use to help organizations identify opportunities and overcome obstacles. New this year, we launched a Fast Forward Emerging Leadership Series to help rising stars grow within their organizations.

Finally, our COHORTS connect and engage networks of individuals and organizations in intimate, small-group settings where conversation and collaboration lead to innovation and impact. Currently, we have a group of professionals engaged in our Nonprofit Management Certificate program at the University of Tampa and two CEO Leadership Circles where more than 30 nonprofit CEOs come together regularly.

Our newest cohort is the 2019 JP Morgan Chase Nonprofit Sustainability cohort, which is a six-month process that helps organizations create and/or strengthen their strategic decision-making process. This year’s participants include: 211 Tampa Bay Cares, Boys and Girls Clubs of Tampa Bay, CASA, Champions for Children, Dawning Family Services, Feeding Tampa Bay, Gulf Coast Jewish Family & Community Services, Habitat for Humanity of Pinellas & West Pasco, Lighthouse Pinellas, and McDonald Training Center.

As you can see, there are many ways to access resources within NLC’s areas of excellence. The magic happens when organizations and individuals participate in several areas, lighting up multiple lights on the Roomba, illustrating true impact and sustainability.

So, there it is. The NLC Roomba. Best of all, my brother totally got it!

On behalf of all of us at NLC, we are honored to be your partner in this work, building internal strength and capacity so you can deliver your mission to the community. Your work inspires ours.

Want to be the first to hear about new nonprofit trainings, classes and events at NLC? Sign up to receive our weekly NLC e-newsletter, chock-full of the latest resources, tips and tools to help you thrive personally and professionally.

A Brilliant Day: Highlights from NLC’s 2019 Leadership Conference

Team NLC News

“Brilliance is living from the inside out and leading with purpose.”

These were the words brilliance expert Simon T. Bailey shared during his keynote address at our 2019 Leadership Conference. He told us that when we’re in alignment with our calling, our work isn’t a job — it’s an opportunity. He asked: What problem were you created to solve?

2019 NLC Leadership Conference
2019 NLC Leadership Conference

As we continue to soak in the education, conversation and inspiration from this incredible day, there’s one thing we know for sure: our Tampa Bay area nonprofits are truly brilliant — created to uplift our community and solve its greatest challenges.

2019 NLC Leadership Conference
2019 NLC Leadership Conference

In reflecting on what brilliance means for our nonprofit community in Tampa Bay, it isn’t about big wins or bold moves (although those certainly are amazing and brilliant). It’s about the small moments every day in which we’re creating positive change. It’s taking a second to say thank you or to send a donor a hand-written note. It’s going out of your way to help a constituent, colleague or corporate partner. It’s investing in a personal relationship by understanding what’s important to them. It’s asking questions, showing kindness and being relentlessly passionate about making our community a better place.

We witnessed brilliance at the 2019 Leadership Conference in each and every attendee and the organizations they represent. And speaking of brilliance, these six brilliant moments stood out to us from our time together with you.

6 Brilliant Moments from NLC’s 2019 Leadership Conference

1. Playing Simon Says

Remember the age-old game Simon Says? One player is dubbed “Simon” and instructs the other players to do something (like wave their hands in the air or turn in a circle), but only when they hear “Simon says” first. Those who follow directions without that prompt are eliminated from the game until a single winner remains.

At our 2019 Leadership Conference, we had a real-life Simon as our keynote speaker, but we plan to follow his instructions whether we hear “Simon says” or not for many days to come (his advice was that powerful.)

2019 NLC Leadership Conference

Simon T. Bailey reminded us that culture, commitment and connections spark our greatest growth. Here are a few of the insights he shared:

  • Brilliance is about bringing out the best in ourselves and others. It happens in environments where people are celebrated, not just tolerated.
  • Leaders must prioritize and build an organizational culture where everyone matters — hug people with your words.
  • Leadership is not about motivating people to do more; it’s about inviting people on a journey alongside you to discover the leader within themselves. It’s about making people feel valued, seen and appreciated.
  • It doesn’t matter if you’re a public success, if you’re a private failure. To lead with purpose, you must start at home with the people you love most. When you’re better at home, you’re better for your business.
  • Change is your friend, not your foe. It’s a brilliant opportunity to grow.
  • See and treat your customers/constituents as guests. Provide them such a phenomenal experience, they can’t forget it. Keep them loyal through acts of kindness.
2019 NLC Leadership Conference
2019 NLC Leadership Conference
2019 NLC Leadership Conference

We’ll share more from Simon’s talk here on the blog soon, but if you’re itching to learn more now, check out his book “Be the Spark.” A big thanks to Simon for giving free copies of his book to our attendees and signing them (with selfies brilliantly included).

2. Learning from Experts Who Lead by Example

We believe leadership development is about more than just learning; it’s about cultivating a culture of and commitment to excellence. This year’s Leadership Conference connected attendees to a phenomenal line-up of experts who lead by example — making each of us and our community better.

2019 NLC Leadership Conference
2019 NLC Leadership Conference
2019 NLC Leadership Conference
2019 NLC Leadership Conference

3. Authentic Engagement

Building strong relationships is key to nonprofit success. We believe the best relationships are built by spending time together, by learning together and by sharing common experiences. We saw that in action at the 2019 Leadership Conference — hallway conversations to exchange ideas, vulnerabilities shared during small-group discussions, advice and encouragement swapped over lunch. Beyond the education we all took away from the conference, it was the organic conversation and collaboration that will stick with us — and perhaps strengthen us — most.

2019 NLC Leadership Conference
2019 NLC Leadership Conference
2019 NLC Leadership Conference
2019 NLC Leadership Conference

4. Electric Energy

The amount of positive energy buzzing through the breakout rooms and hallways during this year’s Leadership Conference would keep the lights on at NLC for an entire year if we could bottle it up and use it to pay our electricity bill. But don’t just take it from us …

5. Generosity at Work

We were humbled and in awe of the generosity and selflessness of everyone who helped make this year’s NLC Leadership Conference possible. From Bank of America volunteers who stuffed swag bags and set up the ballroom to Florida Blue that provided lunch and our friends at Children’s Board of Hillsborough County who continue to invest in supporting our entire nonprofit community, we will never be able to say thank you enough to our generous sponsors and volunteers.

2019 NLC Leadership Conference

Please be sure to thank our sponsors on social media (give them a follow too!) and when you see them in person. This conference wouldn’t be possible without their support.

2019 NLC Leadership Conference

6. Chocolate Cake Too Big {and Too Good} Not to Mention

And no conference would be complete without a sweet ending. While living healthy is definitely something we prioritize at NLC (yes, we served grilled chicken salad for lunch), everything in moderation, right? Our attendees worked up a sweat after a morning of breakout sessions and networking, so a giant piece of chocolate cake was necessary (of course) to send our leaders off with the energy they need to return to their organizations ready to lead brilliantly. You can thank our friends at My Benefit Partners for their kindness (and the extra calories).

At NLC, we consider it a deep privilege and pleasure to champion nonprofit leaders and organizations as you change and save lives across the region we all call home. Thank you to everyone who attended, sponsored, volunteered, shared content and took an interest in our 2019 Leadership Conference. We look forward to seeing you soon at one of our upcoming trainings or events

2019 NLC Leadership Conference

Spend Another Day with Our 2019 Conference Speakers

If you missed this year’s conference — or you’re simply jonesing for more — join us for one of our upcoming classes facilitated by the experts who led our conference breakout sessions.  

Changing Habits to Improve Your Productivity with Margarita Sarmiento (June 4)

Optimize Your Optimism with Dr. John Loblack (June 25)

Perfect Your Pitch with Tammy Charles (July 9)

The Gift of Being Present with Rick Bennett (July 31)

Stop, Collaborate & Listen with Mandy Cloninger, Thomas Mantz, Jeff Darrey, Brian Butler and more (August 29)

Strengthen Your Core Values with Ellen Nastir (September 5)

Build Career Bridges with Gordon Gillette, Wendy Johnson, Jessica Muroff and Brian Butler (October 11)


Want to be the first to hear about new nonprofit trainings, classes and events at NLC? Sign up to receive our weekly NLC e-newsletter, chock-full of the latest events and resources, along with tips and tools to help you thrive personally and professionally.

New Classes from NLC’s 2019 Leadership Conference

Team NLC News

At the Nonprofit Leadership Center, our annual Leadership Conference is like the Super Bowl of our year. It’s a powerful time to gather with 700 nonprofit leaders across the Tampa Bay region for a day of intentional learning, networking and growth. But the connections and development opportunities don’t start and stop here. This year, we’ve taken the best of our conference and brought it directly to you through new leadership classes hosted by our conference speakers.

If you were unable to join us at this year’s conference or couldn’t participate in every breakout session you wanted to attend, we’re helping you overcome your FOMO (fear of missing out). These upcoming classes dig deeper into the content from our 2019 Leadership Conference, strengthening your focus and lead with purpose.

New Classes Led by NLC Leadership Conference Speakers

Optimize Your Optimism (June 25)
Learn how to harness the power of optimism to reframe obstacles as opportunities and make empowered choices to get to where you want to go. You’ll build self-leadership skills to take responsibility for your outcomes, set direction for your life and career, and better manage priorities.

Perfect Your Pitch (July 9)
Learn how to tie your story to your goals and use the power of persuasion to nail your pitch.

The Gift of Being Present (July 31)
Learn mindfulness tools and techniques to be present in awkward or tense situations and resilient in navigating them to grow personally and professionally.

Stop, Collaborate & Listen (August 29)
Hear from leaders at Feeding Tampa Bay, Trinity Café and Habitat for Humanity of Pinellas County about the decision-making and step-by-step processes behind their mergers as case studies of collective impact and collaboration in the nonprofit sector.

Strengthen Your Core Values (September 5)
Deepen your self-awareness and isolate your core values to help you achieve your best life and bring your purpose, career and life into alignment.

Build Career Bridges (October 11)
Join local nonprofit executives who began their careers in the for-profit sector to explore the process for finding purpose and making a successful transition to the nonprofit sector.

Want to be the first to hear about new nonprofit trainings, classes and offerings at NLC? Sign up to receive our weekly NLC e-newsletter, chock-full of the latest events and resources, along with tips and tools to help you thrive personally and professionally. 

4 Nonprofit Moms Share Tips for Balancing Motherhood and Their Mission

Team NLC Stories, Tips

Lunches packed. Laundry folded. Gifts for the upcoming party wrapped. Homework checked. Dog walked. Bed made. Meals planned. Dinner in the oven. Tantrum calmed. Crisis averted. Hugs given. Advice shared. Out the door. Repeat.

Let’s face it — moms are super heroes. They do the little things every day that go unnoticed and the big things that leave a lasting impression on our lives. They know what to say when we’re hurting, they know how to bring the best out in each of us and they’re master jugglers of their lives (and sometimes ours, too). When you add to that list running a nonprofit to make our communities better, super hero status is officially off the charts.

To celebrate all the amazing moms out there, including those no longer with us, we’re sharing tips from four nonprofit moms for balancing the responsibilities of motherhood and moving a mission.

4 Moms Share Tips for Balancing Motherhood While Leading a Nonprofit

We recently asked a handful of nonprofit CEOs and executive directors (who are also moms) these questions: How do you balance being a busy nonprofit leader and mom? What tips would you share with other moms out there who are juggling it all?

Here’s what they shared with us.

1. Tuesdi Dyer, CFRE, Executive Director, CFC International

“Juggling my role as a mom and the executive director of CFC International has a unique challenge, because my youngest son has the disease my nonprofit supports. It’s so easy to find myself working long hours or responding to a diagnosed family during dinner — not because I have to, but because I want to. Even though I feel like my organization is my extended family, my boys don’t see my job as anything more than a job. I avoid talking about work between 5:30 p.m. and 8 p.m. That’s their time. I dedicate only a few morning hours a weekend to work, and then once my laptop closes, I shut off my job.

“As for my self-care needs, what a work in progress! Recently, I implemented a practice of every time thoughts of work enter my mind during my free time, I go for a run. This gives me dedicated time to myself and often forces me to think about issues objectively, rather than emotionally. Once my run is done, I find that the stress and concern of a work-related challenge fades away.”

2. Jessica Muroff, CEO, Girl Scouts of West Central Florida

“There is no balance. Roles ebb and flow. It’s all about managing priorities. Some weeks are very full focusing on our mission. Other weeks I may be focused on my family. You have to “be present.” The key is to be all in where you are — whether that’s at home, at work or in the community. If you try to do too many things at once, you aren’t being effective in the role you’re living in that moment. My recommendation is to clearly identify your priorities, deliberately plan for them every day and be present. I’m a better wife, mom and leader because of this.

“My other tip is to give yourself grace, understanding we are human and imperfect. Juggling isn’t easy. There are times a ball is going to drop. Don’t beat yourself up over one dropped ball. The best example we can set for our children is how we persevere when we make mistakes.

“Finally, I LOVE the bullet journal method. Google it or get lost in Pinterest for inspiration. It is one of my favorite tools for staying focused.”

3. Sherry Bagley, Co-Executive Director, Pathfinder Outdoor Education

4 Tips for Balancing Motherhood While Leading a Nonprofit

“Balancing everything is hard. I try to embrace the moments I have — those times when bedtime has passed but you are lying next to your kiddos giggling over the book you have read. Or when you are having an inspiring and exciting discussion about a new project with a staff member and the clock slowly creeps past 5 p.m. Those focused moments can be more important than the hour you spend in a staff meeting dreaming about being at your son’s field trip. And don’t forget to have fun! Laughter makes us all better people and moms.”

4. Emily H. Benham, FAHP, CFRE, CEO, Nonprofit Leadership Center

4 Tips for Balancing Motherhood While Leading a Nonprofit

“Don’t give up things that bring you joy. While priorities shift with motherhood and responsibilities that come with it, I find I’m my best self when I carve out time to do what makes me happy. Sometimes, my son will share in those activities with me, and sometimes I need to do them by myself. I return to my family from that time refreshed and ready for the next move.”

Find More Balance

Do you need extra help managing your time and finding the right balance in your life as a nonprofit leader? Join us for one of these upcoming classes at the Nonprofit Leadership Center to learn how to make juggling it all a little easier.

Creating Balance for Nonprofit Leaders (July 24)
Striking the right balance between work and home life can be a challenge, but this engaging session will help improve your mental and physical well-being to be more efficient and productive. This new class will help you recognize the signs of an unbalanced life, identify employer resources for a balanced lifestyle, discover the most effective work methods for you, better manage stress and more.

How to Be More Present (July 31)
Do you find yourself zoning out and missing parts of an important conversation or meeting? Do you avoid tense or awkward conversations at work and in life? Have you been blindsided by a personal or career setback? In this class, you’ll learn mindfulness tools and techniques to be present in awkward or tense situations and to navigate them with resilience to achieve personal and professional growth.

Taking Good Care of Ourselves So We Can Take Better Care of Others (October 4)
In this engaging and interactive half-day session, learn strategies for introspection, how to better control and manage technology in your life, building relationships for positive results, understanding what makes us different, time management skills and more.


Be First to Know About New Classes and Resources

Get information about new NLC classes, job opportunities, resources and nonprofit training delivered to your inbox. Join our email list to receive our weekly e-newsletter, chock-full of valuable tips and tools to help you and your organization thrive. 

NEW 2019 Nonprofit Leadership Classes in Pinellas County

Team NLC News

We recently asked nonprofit leaders across Tampa Bay to tell us how the Nonprofit Leadership Center can better support and strengthen their work. The answer was clear: Offer more classes in Pinellas County.

“I’d like to see NLC take some of their courses into the community and do more in Pinellas.”

You shared your feedback, and we’ve listened. In addition to the 80 nonprofit trainings and leadership classes scheduled at our training facility this year, NLC has launched four professional development series across Pinellas County in the areas of board governance, marketing communications, leadership and fund development.

Please join us for one of our upcoming Pinellas County nonprofit trainings. Bookmark this page to be the first to learn about new classes as we add more information to this list throughout the year.

New 2019 Nonprofit Leadership Classes in Pinellas County

Board Governance Rock Star Certificate at Collaborative Labs (COMPLETED)
This interactive series will prepare your organization with the fundamental governance concepts every nonprofit leader should understand and practice. In this six-hour program that takes place over two evenings, attendees will learn how to identify, recruit and train board members, establish board roles and responsibilities, forge strong board-staff partnerships, run successful meetings, engage board members in fundraising, ensure responsible financial oversight and reporting, and explore the latest governance models and trends.

Marketing & Communications at the Juvenile Welfare Board (August)
In this two-part interactive series, you’ll build fundamental marketing and communications skills to make your story stick in an ever-changing media landscape. You’ll leave with an understanding of how to create the right content for every social media channel, how to connect with and drive action among your audiences with your content and how to dazzle writers and reporters.

Nonprofit Leadership Development at Collaborative Labs (September)
This three-part class will help every nonprofit professional become a more effective leader by learning how to adapt their specific personality style to reduce conflict and maximize impact, cultivate optimism and accountability, and effectively manage conflict and change in the workplace.

Fund Development at Center for Health Equity (October)
This three-part class series will help you learn how to raise more dollars with fewer donors, successfully cultivate and secure major gifts for smaller organizations and integrate planned giving into your development program.

Thank you to the following generous partners for making our Pinellas County classes possible this year: Allegany Franciscan Ministries, the Community Foundation of Tampa Bay, the Foundation for a Healthy St. Petersburg, Pinellas Community Foundation and Wells Fargo.

Want to be the first to hear about new nonprofit trainings at NLC? Sign up to receive our weekly NLC e-newsletter, chock-full of the latest classes and resources, along with tips and tools to help you thrive personally and professionally. 

6 Secrets for Success at Leadership Conference

Team NLC News

Team NLC is counting down the days (19!) until our 9th annual Leadership Conference on May 22.

We’re thrilled to share that the conference has SOLD OUT for the fourth year in a row. (If you didn’t get a chance to register, please call us at 813-287-8779 to join the wait list. We accommodate requests on a first come, first served basis.)

This year’s conference will be an incredible day of personal and professional growth. We’ve developed eight new breakout sessions to hone your FOCUS and find your PURPOSE. And that’s before we introduce you to our Keynote Speaker Simon T. Bailey.

We’ll be communicating more detailed information as the big day nears, but today we’re sharing the top six things you (and your guests) need to know to maximize your experience at the 2019 Leadership Conference.

6. We’re in a new venue. This year’s Leadership Conference will take place at the Hilton Tampa Downtown. Be sure to program 211 N. Tampa St. into your GPS ahead of time.

5. We’ve added two additional breakouts. We’ve tapped 13 local and regional experts to facilitate eight working breakout sessions. These aren’t lectures! You’ll learn proven techniques and create individual action plans to change the way you approach every facet of your personal and professional life. Share the link to our 2019 Leadership Conference page with your guests so you can each start thinking about which two (of the eight) breakout sessions you’ll attend. (Capacity in some breakout rooms is limited, so we recommend snagging your first choice space early and having a Plan B if it’s maxed out.)

4. This is more than a meeting; it’s a meet-up. You’re going to have the chance to network with hundreds of leaders and organizations. With a confirmed crowd of nearly 700, this is your best opportunity of the year to meet new peers and forge new connections. Wear your corporate name tag and bring business cards … LOTS of business cards. Take advantage of one-stop-shopping as you examine the varied products and services our exhibitors have to share.

3. Parking is on us. NLC is picking up the parking tab for everyone attending Leadership Conference. Parking will be easy and FREE in the Fort Brooke garage. We’ll provide detailed driving directions in pre-conference emails to all registrants. Simply pick up your parking voucher at registration. At the end of the conference, hand your voucher to the attendant, or insert it into the machine when you pull up to the garage exit in your car (no need to stop at the machines near the entrance doors as you’re walking back to your car).

2. Fortune favors the early birds. Doors open at 8 a.m., and we’ve packed the schedule with incredible personal and professional development opportunities at every turn. Breakouts begin at 9:15 and 10:30. The Keynote with Simon T. Bailey will start promptly at noon. For a more detailed timeline, see our 2019 Leadership Conference page.

1. Don’t rush off! After the Keynote, join us for our special networking reception and book signing with Simon. It’s also another chance to visit with our exhibitors and expand your circles by networking with new contacts. Besides, traffic will die down while you’re networking and rubbing elbows with a best-selling author.

Are you as excited as we are?!? Team NLC, our Board of Trustees and the planning committee can’t wait to host you at the Hilton Tampa Downtown on May 22.

If you’re already registered to attend, expect additional details via email during the next three weeks and on the 2019 Leadership Conference page. We’re also here to answer any questions at or 813-287-8779.

Don’t forget to subscribe to our weekly e-newsletter so you’re among the first to know about the 2019 Leadership Conference and all the great content we’ll be sharing before, during and after the event.


Nonprofit Training: Why face-to-face learning is better than online learning

Team NLC Tips

I just don’t have the resources in my budget. I can’t afford to be away from the office that long. We have too much on our plate right now to fit anything else in. These are some of the common responses nonprofit leaders share when it comes to prioritizing professional development. But did you know that more than half of nonprofit managers say they don’t have the knowledge, experience and resources to be successful? While 96 percent of nonprofit leaders are interested in receiving leadership and managerial training, our sector spends less than a half of 1% on leadership development initiatives. With shrinking budgets and increasing responsibilities, how do you choose what kind of nonprofit training to invest in? Is face-to-face learning or online learning better?

To answer these questions, we must look beyond cost and convenience to long-term value and impact.

Is face-to-face learning or online learning better for nonprofit leaders?

In our technology-driven world, professionals are looking to online learning to minimize costs and maximize convenience. But the measure that matters most when it comes to professional learning is whether it changes how you perform in your professional role to solve real-world problems outside the learning environment.

The Nonprofit Leadership Center has made the strategic decision to deliver all our nonprofit training through face-to-face learning. From classroom and custom training to intimate cohort learning and group-sharing circles, we believe knowledge gained and shared collectively fosters leadership.

Here are three reasons face-to-face learning is better than online learning when it comes to nonprofit training:

1. Relationships deepen results.
Nonprofit success is built on strong relationships — with board members, donors, constituents and funders. We are stronger when we can access a network of colleagues to support us in making decisions, implementing new programs or shifting strategic direction. These relationships are built by spending time together, by learning together and by sharing common experiences.

Research conducted at Florida International University on learning delivery preferences found participants placed importance on social environments, groups and peers along with networking and intimacy of connectivity as key elements of relationships in learning. Additionally, our Pinellas County Nonprofit Assessment completed in May 2018 with the Foundation for a Healthy St. Petersburg found that the most critical issue concerning nonprofit leaders outside of funding was relationships/networks.

While it’s not impossible to connect with someone digitally, the magic happens when people are face-to-face in the same space.

2. Information isn’t a substitute for experience.
Tackling our communities’ biggest issues requires collaboration, conversation and creativity. There are many ways to solve the same problem, and none of us have all the answers when it comes to raising money, increasing awareness, reaching new audiences, working with board members, pitching funders and creating organizational culture. There isn’t a one-size-fits-all approach to learning. Being able to talk with others who have gone through similar experiences and learn what did and didn’t work provides rich context and counsel that online learning alone can’t always provide. The ability to ask deeper questions, seek feedback from others and pressure-test ideas is something best done through human interaction and group dialogue.

3. Practice enhances performance.
Through face-to-face nonprofit training — especially multi-part sessions — participants can test what they learn through real-time engagement. From group role-playing to developing plans and deliverables for experts and peers to assess and discuss, face-to-face learning allows leaders to apply principles and strategies to real situations in real-time, gaining constructive feedback, guidance and ideas for enhancement.

Join an Upcoming Nonprofit Training Opportunity at NLC

We offer about 90 classes in Hillsborough and Pinellas counties each year for nonprofit leaders, covering everything from leadership, management, board governance and finance to marketing communications, fundraising and HR. Join us for an upcoming class, or contact us at about custom solutions for your organization.


Be First to Know About New Classes and Resources

Get information about new NLC classes, job opportunities, resources and nonprofit training delivered to your inbox. Join our email list to receive our weekly e-newsletter, chock-full of valuable tips and tools to help you and your organization thrive.

Sources: 1) Nonprofit Standards, A Benchmarking Study: BDO (2018), 2) ProInspire Managing for Success Study (2014), 3) Sanders, Tammy S., “A Value-Driven Exploration of Online & In-Person Learning for Professionals (2016). FIU Electronic Theses and Dissertations. 3053

3 Ways to Learn from Your Fundraising Mistakes

Team NLC Tips

Inspiring donors to invest in your mission is an art and a science. Our work as fundraisers requires us to cultivate relationships and demonstrate our impact while staying ahead of giving trends and providing an exceptional year-round experience. With all the responsibilities fundraisers have in a changing donor landscape, you’re bound to make a mistake or two along the way. But when you approach fundraising mistakes as learning adventures, you’ll be more likely to take risks and uncover new opportunities.

3 ways to learn from your fundraising mistakes

Here are three tips from NLC trainer and fundraising consultant Sara Leonard, MBA, CFRE of Sara Leonard Group for turning your fundraising mistakes into new opportunities to increase long-term revenue and results.

How to Turn Your Fundraising Mistakes into Future Wins

1. See shortfalls as opportunities to optimize.

Rather than viewing fundraising mistakes as failures, think of them as adventures — powerful opportunities to learn something new that you can apply to future efforts. Take a realistic look at what you did in the planning and execution stages. Identify strategies that are accepted as the way you do things in your organization but might not actually be the right or best way to do them. By creating a culture where you have the freedom to fail from time-to-time but apply learnings to enhance your efforts moving forward, you’re sure to better engage donors and raise dollars.

2. Use research to set realistic goals.

In fundraising, we often set our goals high, which can lead to unrealistic expectations from CEOs and board members. The best way to chart a winning plan is to use research to set achievable objectives. Sometimes, the best research (and the only kind your budget may allow) is calling a colleague who has implemented a similar strategy to ask what their results were and what they learned. Other times, it’s conducting your own prospect research or hiring a research partner to help you unlock your organization’s potential. Be intentional about setting achievable fundraising goals, and use data and insights to establish them.

3. Look beyond the green.

There’s a common saying that every day isn’t good, but there is good in every day. The same goes for fundraising. Even if we fall short of our goals, we learn valuable lessons and often achieve wins in other ways. Be sure to evaluate your success beyond dollars raised. For example, look for achievements in areas such as reaching new donors, renewing lapsed donors or deepening engagement with current donors. While the final dollar amount is important, it’s not the only indicator of success.

Avoid Common Fundraising Mistakes with These Upcoming Classes

Ready to take your fundraising to the next level? Check out these upcoming classes at NLC to sharpen your fundraising skills.

Components of Successful Fund Development (September 13)
Explore how to best use an array of fundraising techniques to increase support for your organization regardless of your budget size.

Three-part Fund Development Series in Pinellas County (October)
During this multi-class professional development series, you’ll learn how to raise more money with fewer donors, master major gifts for smaller organizations and be effective with planned giving when you’re stretched across multiple fundraising priorities.

Want more nonprofit resources delivered to your inbox? Sign up to receive our weekly NLC e-newsletter, chock-full of valuable tips and tools to help you and your organization thrive. 

Self-Care Tips for Nonprofit Leaders

Guest post by NLC trainer Ellen Nastir Stories

Picture this: After a full day sitting at your computer, you’re finally putting the finishing touches on a major presentation when — BAM! — your machine makes a whirring noise and the screen goes dark. All your effort has been wiped out, and you wonder what to do next.

We’ve all experienced similar moments of dread. We rely on our computers and must back up files and maintain security updates to ensure their top performance.

The same is true for our own well-being. Incorporating safeguards to care for our heart, mind, body and soul is as important as implementing a computer back-up system. Just as computers have mechanisms in place to protect against crashing, we need our own protective shield as humans.

Daily Practices for Better Self-Care

Self-care is making it a priority to nurture and care for ourselves. It’s important to have daily practices we can rely on to help protect us when life becomes unruly. But how can you best be there for your organization, your employees, the individuals you serve and your own family if you aren’t taking care of yourself?

Let’s compare our self-care to that of the derailed computer system we mentioned earlier:

  • Too many windows open
  • Multi-tasking; saying yes to additional projects when you wish you’d said no
  • Battery drain
  • Energy drained; fatigue sets in and feeling lethargic
  • Shut down
  • Overwhelmed and flat emotions; lack of joy
  • Memory issues
  • Forgetfulness, loss of concentration
  • Slow down or screen freeze
  • Stress and anxiety; depression, sleeplessness, loss of boundaries
  • Susceptible to viruses
  • Mild to severe physical illnesses; loss of interest in people, work and formerly pleasurable experiences
  • Reboot and recharge
  • Exercise, present-focused, engaging in fun and meaningful activities – both solo and with others

Taking a proactive role to implement better habits and routines is the first step to better self-care for nonprofit leaders. Make a written list of the things that feed and renew your energy to keep you grounded when you’re feeling stressed or overwhelmed. Refer to it when life is spinning to guide your thinking and ideas.

Here are a few questions to ask yourself:

  • What helps you remain calm and focused?
  • What has worked in the past for you to relieve tension?
  • What is one activity you’ve thought about doing but never find the time to do?

To be more intentional about your self-care, download the 4 Quadrant Checklist for Self-Care. Start by committing to one activity in 2 of the 4 areas — Emotional, Mental, Physical and Spiritual. Be consistent while determining which self-care activities suit you best. When you feel ready, adopt another in one of the remaining areas. Then, add from the last quadrant. There’s no time limit or pressure to do this a specific way. It’s all up to you.

Self-care is important to be your best, feel your best, and, yes, give your best. You are worth every moment.

Meet Ellen in May

NLC trainer Ellen Nastir, M.Ed., PCC, BCC, CPCC, is a Certified Professional co-active Coach with advanced training in Organization and Relationship Systems Coaching, Tension and Change Management, Appreciation at Work, and most currently obtaining certification in Positive Psychology for the Workplace. She received her coach training and certification from The Coaches Training Institute, the first ever to be recognized by The International Coach Federation.

More Opportunities to Achieve Balance for Nonprofit Leaders

Interested in more professional development opportunities to achieve greater balance as a nonprofit leader and in life? Check out this upcoming class from NLC:

Taking Good Care of Ourselves So We Can Take Better Care of Others (October 4, 2019)
In this engaging and interactive half-day session, learn strategies for introspection, how to better control and manage technology in your life, building relationships for positive results, understanding what makes us different, time management skills and more.

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