“Leading courageously is about not being afraid to venture into the uncomfortable, take risks and make mistakes. It’s about learning from our failures and seeking advice and different points of view. Courageous leadership is taking action to move initiatives forward and encouraging your team to do the same.”
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.
“I’m excited to emcee the 10th Anniversary Leadership Conference because it gives me a chance to channel my inner Hugh Jackman, Ellen DeGeneres and Ricky Gervais! It’s an honor to be asked and I’m looking forward to being at the virtual podium for such an amazing program line-up.”
“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.”
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 also proudly serves as a trustee for the Community Foundation of Tampa Bay.
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.
Outside of the office, Bill loves studying jazz piano and spending time with his wife and two daughters.
Join Bill to Lead Courageously on October 13
Leading courageously means pushing past our boundaries and self-limitations to reframe how we create impact and inspire the change we need and want to see in our communities. We’ll help you do just that at our virtual Nonprofit Leadership Conference.
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 courageously, now, and in the crucial months ahead. Just imagine what will change in you, around you and because of you when you lead with an attitude and actions that are courageous. Learn more and register now.
How many times have you and your colleagues analyzed questions that still have no clear answers: How do we recoup the revenue lost from our cancelled fundraising events? What will the year-end giving season look like? What is the long-term impact on our staff and operations?
In our data-driven world, we’re used to having the numbers and analytics at our fingertips to make decisions. Yet today, with everything we’ve ever known and come to rely on turned upside-down — data, experience, instincts — effective planning and outcome predictions have been challenging, to say the least.
As nonprofit leaders continue to look ahead with creativity and innovation, new data is emerging that provides four timely insights to help you move your mission forward.
1. Humans are still wired to give. Keep inviting them to do so.
Even amid a public health pandemic, recession, civil unrest and a divisive political climate, a recent study by Fidelity Charitable found that 43% of donors plan to continue supporting their usual charities.
The latest Blackbaud Institute Index found that 25% of donors plan to increase their donations, while 54% plan to maintain their giving levels.
Americans who have been laid off or furloughed are among the most likely to donate (62%), according to LendingTree research.
Across all nonprofit subsectors, there has been a 36% increase in online giving year-over-year from April through June 2020 compared to the same time period in 2019 (Blackbaud Institute Index). Significant jumps during May suggest a shift to digital platforms and momentum from GivingTuesdayNow (May 5, 2020).
To tap into the best of our human spirit, continue inviting donors to support your organization with a clear case for support and a compelling call to action that’s centered on them and the impact they can make, not your organization and its fundraising goals or struggles.
2. Donors want to solve immediate problems. Highlight urgent needs and how they are a key partner in addressing them.
While Americans are continuing to give during this time of uncertainty, their giving behavior has shifted.
More than one-third (37%) of Americans say they have changed their charitable giving behavior in recent months. (LendingTree)
25% of Americans say they will give to different organizations that are responding to COVID-19 (Fidelity Charitable). Gen Z and Millennials reported coronavirus support as their top charitable cause in June 2020 (LendingTree).
Giving to every nonprofit sub-sector was down in Q2 2020 from the previous year, with the exception of Human Services organizations which are up 9.3% from Q2 2019 to Q2 2020.
This shift is underscored by LendingTree data that shows people are donating to areas of urgent need over causes they say are closest to their hearts. For instance, while only 12% of respondents say food banks are their top cause, 23% said they’ve donated to a food bank in 2020.
Donors want to help solve important and urgent problems. To be relevant in your messaging and fundraising appeals, ensure your supporters understand how they can help address urgent needs connected to the challenges we’re all experiencing, even if you’re not providing direct COVID-19 relief.
3. Make relationships your top priority — and cultivate them consistently.
Strong relationships are the one thing that no global pandemic or cancelled event can destroy. Retaining donor relationships is one of the most important factors in fundraising success. While you shouldn’t be afraid to be transparent about the challenges your organization may be facing and what’s at stake for those you serve, stay focused on communicating how donors are making a tangible impact. From regular emails that show results and real stories of people who have benefitted in this time of need to personal calls and hand-written letters to your top supporters, take time to nurture and grow your relationships with authenticity, empathy, optimism and confidence.
Additionally, with 43% of donors planning to continue their support of current charities (Fidelity Charitable), focus on efforts to convert one-time donors into monthly sustainers as you plan your future strategies.
4. How you communicate matters. Be intentional, and not just externally.
Effective communication, both internally and externally, can make or break organizations right now. Surprisingly, one-third of Americans say they don’t have enough information to understand where they can direct their support effectively (Blackbaud Institute Index). Helping donors understand how their support makes an impact is something you can control when so much feels beyond our control. Consider these additional factors:
Prioritize online excellence. You don’t always have to spend money to ensure the digital front door to your organization is inviting. Optimize high-traffic web pages, maximize your Google Ad Grant, test your emails and do more of what works best, consider your technology landscape and ensure that it supports virtual giving at its core. Stop spending money on digital ads unless you’re producing a positive return.
Fill your funnel with social media: Social media spurs many young Americans to donate. Roughly 52% of Gen Z and 45% of millennials have donated to a cause this year after hearing about it on social media (LendingTree). Make sure your social media content brings your mission to life through an array of stories, images, news, collaborative dialogue and more. Balance your asks (20% of content) with information that delivers direct value to your audience (80% of content).
Capitalize on year-end giving season: The upcoming presidential electionwill coincide with the start of year-end fundraising campaigns, which could fuel charitable activity. The CARES Act of 2020 reinstated a $300 charitable deduction for one year. This may encourage low- and mid-level donations by a comparable amount as many individuals race to give to the causes of their choice. These effects may amplify as the effects of widespread unemployment and federal relief continue in the wake of the pandemic.
Stay connected across teams so you can respond with agility: It has never been more important for your internal departments and teams to be integrated. Your capacity for embracing innovative solutions to new challenges will rely on your team’s ability to stay connected. Internal communication is as equally important as external communication right now.
While 2020 has been a fundraising year like no other, your mission is still as important today as it was when the year began. Focus on relationships, identify areas of greatest opportunity, communicate with your donors and optimize your resources so you can be in a strong position to remain stable and reap future rewards.
Secure Your Organization’s Strong Future
Even amid continued uncertainty, ensure your leadership never wavers. From board governance and financial management to fundraising, communications and leadership, nonprofit training workshops and virtual courses from the Nonprofit Leadership Center will help you lead courageously into the year ahead.
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 founder and chief strategy officer atRound 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. 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.
Natalie Stamer is the co-founder and managing partner at Streetlight Digital, a fundraising and marketing consultancy focused on nonprofits. Her unique skill set across the full digital landscape helps organizations turn casual donors into lifelong supporters and one-time event participants into brand advocates. Prior to launching Streetlight Digital, Natalie led marketing and online fundraising and spearheaded custom-built peer-to-peer fundraising platforms at the St. Baldrick’s Foundation and the Muscular Dystrophy Association.
Despiterecent survey findings from the Charities Aid Foundation of America that nearly one-third of nonprofits may be forced to close their doors within the next 12 months, local leaders are investing in themselves and their organizations to ensure they can continue serving those in need.
“We’ve seen tremendous creativity in the nonprofit sector with organizations designing new approaches to meet increased demands for services. Many leaders are now at an inflection point needing to reimagine their nonprofit’s future. This certificate program is more than a series of classes; we’re developing the head for business, the heart for nonprofit work and the spirit of a leader — each of which is essential now.”
Emily Benham, CFRE, FAHP, CEO of the Nonprofit Leadership Center
This week, the new Certificate in Nonprofit Management class of 2021 is on campus to kick off their program while the current class of 2020 is back to finish their 15-month journey. The program is taught by Ph.D. faculty in partnership with leading nonprofit practitioners, with a goal of increasing students’ knowledge of the nonprofit sector while solving real-world challenges. This program includes four one-week seminars and culminates with a presentation to a panel of nonprofit executives and experts.
This is such a critical time for nonprofits. The fight to survive is real. In a year with significant recruiting challenges for universities overall, we started this year’s program with the largest enrollment in history. Part of this reflects momentum from educating current and future nonprofit leaders, but it also reflects the promise and power of education to address the critical issues currently facing nonprofit organizations.
Amy Harris, Ph.D., Associate Professor of Management, Director of Graduate Business Programs and Director of Nonprofit Management Program, University of Tampa
Learn More About the Certificate in Nonprofit Management
Wondering how getting a Certificate in Nonprofit Management can strengthen your skills, organization and community, or if it is right for you? Read more about the program and get a peek behind the classroom door:
During times of crisis and economic hardship, learning and development are often the first items cut when organizations must trim budgets. But why is talent development so easy to deprioritize when it’s the one thing that can help raise more dollars, serve more constituents, and increase employee morale and productivity?
Research shows that staff development increases the expertise and productivity of our workforce as well as their loyalty and engagement. Learning and development opportunities are a way to help employees learn and grow during COVID-19 and while everything around them may feel upsidedown.
Additionally, a study by Morgan McCall and the Center for Creative Leadership shows 10% of what we know and do comes from classroom-style learning experiences. As nonprofits are forced to quickly adapt and operate in ways they’ve never done before, growing new and necessary skills is imperative, especially now.
By being intentional about your training and development investments and turning to virtual opportunities, you can strengthen your ability to serve your community, today and in the days to come.
Where to Invest in Learning & Development Now
Not your average webinar or Zoom call, the Nonprofit Leadership Center offers a variety of highly specialized certificate programs to help develop and connect nonprofit leaders to strengthen organizations and communities. The following programs will be held virtually this fall to ensure you can continue investing the same care in yourself that you do in the audiences you serve.
Designed to address the challenges all nonprofit leaders encounter to recruit, retain and reward their volunteers, this three-part series includes interactive exercises and information to help you begin immediately implementing best practices in volunteer management. Attendance at all three sessions, completion of assignments and passing module tests is required to earn the Florida Association for Volunteer Resource Management Certificate. LEARN MORE & REGISTER
In this two-part virtual series, you’ll learn the fundamental governance concepts every nonprofit leader should understand and practice. You’ll explore case studies and learn best practices for board structure, the roles and responsibilities of board members and financial and legal oversight. If you want to serve a chosen organization with passion and true impact, this is the certificate for you. LEARN MORE & REGISTER
Here’s what people are saying about the Nonprofit Board Governance Rock Star Certificate series:
This interactive and practical four-day virtual training program is designed for those who seek to acquire the knowledge and practice the skills necessary to succeed in today’s competitive grant writing environment. This virtual series includes tips on how to identify and analyze funding resources for programs and projects, approach funding sources, how to be ready once the deadline is looming and what to do once you’ve been awarded a grant. Students must complete all four sessions and all assignments and pass section tests to receive their certificate. LEARN MORE & REGISTER
Nonprofit leaders have always known how to wear many hats and do more with less. But the challenges and change nonprofits have been facing since the COVID-19 outbreak has sparked an even dizzier pace as leaders work to support individuals, families and communities through prolonged crisis. Caring for others starts with caring for yourself. To help you take a breath and create some personal space to recharge and reboot, NLC trainer and organizational and relationship expert Ellen Nastir, M.Ed., PCC, BCC, CPCC, with Innovative Team Solutions created these adult coloring pages for nonprofit leaders.
As we celebrate National Coloring Book Day on August 2, take some moments for yourself to reconnect with your inner child and press the pause button. Hint: This is good to do any day!
As our communities continue to navigate the challenges and deepening inequities brought on by COVID-19, nonprofit organizations haven’t let up on their commitment to individuals and families. As a nonprofit that exists to supports other nonprofits, the Nonprofit Leadership Center is shining a spotlight on the courageous leadership and innovation of Tampa Bay area nonprofit leaders and organizations. This week, we’re pleased to share stories from four organizations that are helping strengthen our community — and us all.
Gulf Coast Jewish Family and Community Services
In 2019, Gulf Coast Jewish Family and Community Services (GCJFCS) launched a pilot program called CHATS that stands for Companionship, Help, and Access by Telephone for Seniors. The program recruits, trains and matches volunteers with local seniors to reduce isolation and loneliness. CHATS pre-arranges calls so that seniors only have to answer the phone at the scheduled date and time. Weekly CHATS conversations last 15 to 30 minutes. Callers talk about a variety of topics, like health and well-being, movies or TV programs of interest, family and friends, etc.
When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, CHATS was just beginning to ramp up its services after establishing the necessary policies, procedures and program structure to allow it to scale. Now, with social distancing and so many people sheltering in place, caring for and keeping vulnerable community members connected is critical.
There are so many people in the community who are at home and socially isolated. Now, more than ever, there’s a dire need for individuals to reach out to them. I was connected to a recent widow who is still coping with the loss of her husband. After chatting and getting to know one another, we realized we have much in common and this naturally enriched our conversation. I primarily see my role as an empathetic, non-judgmental listener, and a caring friend.”
Susan Traub, CHATS volunteer
Champions for Children
Disasters like the coronavirus put vulnerable children and families at even greater risk. Champions for Children is a nonprofit dedicated to building stronger families in the Tampa Bay region through child abuse prevention and family education programs. Under normal circumstances, the organization provides parent-child playgroups, parenting classes, home visits, in-school education, and more across Hillsborough County. When social distancing became the “new normal,” Champions immediately began delivering most of these services via phone and video chat to help families cope with the unprecedented stress and social isolation of parenting during COVID-19. Families have been eager to receive support and stay connected to other families. Additionally, Champions staff has been distributing supplies via porch pick-ups, porch drop-offs and weekly drive-thru events.
The Healthy Start Coalition of Pinellas
A public health crisis won’t stop the Healthy Start Coalition of Pinellas from continuing its efforts to make sure every baby has a healthy start. Home visitors have been able to meet with families through video and teleconferencing. By partnering with community organizations such as Feeding Tampa Bay, Babycycle Diaper Bank and Angels Against Abuse, the Healthy Start team has provided weekly food and basic need deliveries to homebound pregnant women and families with infants in Pinellas County. Families that live in Pinellas County and are expecting or have an infant under age 1 can call the Healthy Start Coalition of Pinellas at 727-507-4260 for resources and referrals to community programs.
Heart Gallery of Tampa
A change in any routine – like school closures or separation from friends – can trigger uncomfortable emotions and behaviors for foster children and add stress for foster parents who may also be experiencing economic hardship. In response to COVID-19, the Heart Gallery of Tampa, along with the generous support of donors and friends, has been building and delivering personal care packages with toiletries, activities and meals for the kids and the foster families it serves. They have also been providing birthday party boxes for fun, at-home celebrations so these special milestones aren’t cancelled. Each box includes decorations, gifts, dessert and a gift certificate for pizza,
Charlie Imbergamo | Director of Strategic Programs Resources
Is your nonprofit being intentional about reducing the spread of COVID-19 and limiting your organization’s risk? As an employer, are you taking the right, legally required steps to provide a safe workplace for employees that is free from recognized hazards that could cause serious harm?
In this video, you’ll learn the best practices for handling safety and employee issues in the new era of COVID-19. After watching, you’ll have an understanding of:
The steps your organization should be taking to minimize the spread of COVID-19 and reduce your organizational risk
The importance of following federal, state and local guidance, including developing a COVID-19 plan, appointing a COVID-19 monitor and training employees
What the Families First Coronavirus Response Act means for your organization and employees
Karen M. Buesing is a partner at Akerman LLP, Tampa, with more than 35 years of experience counseling and representing management in workplace law matters. Karen is one of only about 200 lawyers who are Board Certified by The Florida Bar as a specialist in Labor & Employment Law. Her expertise includes representing employers in discrimination/harassment matters, hiring/firing/disciplinary matters, leave and accommodation matters, wage and hour matters, non-compete and trade secret litigation, whistleblower and retaliation claims, and all aspects of employment counseling and training. She is currently on the Akerman Return to Work Resource Guide Team, assisting employers in navigating re-opening during the COVID-19 pandemic.
COVID-19 Resources for Nonprofits
This video is part of the Nonprofit Leadership Center’s free webinar series to help nonprofit organizations not only survive the COVID-19 crisis but help support communities in emerging even stronger.
Robin Moch, NLC Board Member & M.E. Wilson Partner Tips
For most nonprofit organizations, the cost of property and casualty insurance is among the top five expense items within already limited budgets. As the need for nonprofit services increases, resources shrink and the insurance marketplace becomes firmer, nonprofit leaders must take steps to reduce and control their organization’s risks and lower costs in the process.
Before we dive into risk management trends and strategies, it’s important to understand what we mean when we talk about risk management. For this communication’s purpose, we are talking about commercial insurance or property/casualty coverage. These lines of coverage include property (buildings and contents), general liability, auto, workers’ compensation, management liability (directors, officers and employment practices liability), professional, cyber insurance, and the list goes on.
The insurance marketplace has recently experienced a hardening, meaning less capacity and higher pricing. COVID-19 has made the insurance marketplace even more unstable, especially for the already precarious nonprofit segment. Here are three trends nonprofit leaders should anticipate as we continue in the current environment.
Risk Management Trends
1. Insurance costs will increase.
When developing budgets for the coming year, nonprofit leaders should expect and plan for their insurance premiums to increase. This is especially true for automobile coverage (particularly if your organization provides transportation services) and for those involved with supporting children, as the market for sexual abuse and molestation coverage has become extremely challenging. Many nonprofits are struggling to obtain the same limits they’ve had in the past, and many carriers are simply not offering coverage in that segment any longer.
Since they follow the underlying policies and jury verdicts are on the rise, the excess/umbrella marketplace has hardened considerably. Likewise, we are seeing less capacity in the property market, especially for coastal locations. While your area may not have experienced a catastrophic loss, there have been many others worldwide that impact the entire marketplace. Lastly, the directors and officers line of coverage is also seeing firming for the first time in years.
2. Employment practices and workers’ comp claims may increase.
With many nonprofits and for-profit companies having had to lay-off or furlough employees in response to COVID-19’s impact, we expect employee claims around supervisor mistreatment and discrimination to increase. The renewed commitment to racial justice in America may also impact claims in this area.
Given the inherent nature of this industry segment, most nonprofits have not only continued working, but the need for their services has increased. Employees who become ill and allege their illness was work-related will increase workers’ compensation claims. Compensability will be in question. Only time will tell how this area is ultimately impacted.
3. Ignorance may be your worst enemy.
In working in nonprofit risk management for nearly 15 years, one of the most common issues I see is that leaders aren’t fully aware of their claims experience. Claims may be settled without the organization’s knowledge or input, and adjusters may settle or reopen claims from several years ago due to new activity. When it comes time for policy renewal, insurance companies can significantly increase rates because of claims that the organization doesn’t realize are an issue. You cannot shed your claims history. Nonprofit leaders must be vigilant about what is going on and understand what underwriters are looking at to determine their organization’s premiums.
Strategies to Reduce Nonprofit Risk
What can nonprofit leaders and organizations do to reduce their risk? Here are a few important places to start.
1. Do more than the minimum.
Implement and invest in risk-reducing practices that go beyond the bare minimum. For instance, nonprofits that provide services to children can and should do more than the legally required background checks. There are additional trainings and programs that can be put into place. For nonprofits that provide transportation services, adding policies that require regular vehicle inspections, training and address common risks in every staff meeting offer an extra layer of risk mitigation and raise awareness. The key is to ensure that safety policies and trainings aren’t simply tools that sit on a shelf and collect dust. Nonprofit leaders have a critical responsibility to integrate risk mitigation strategies and culture into everyday practice and conversations.
2. Cultivate the right culture.
The stronger your organizational culture is, the more successful your nonprofit will be, including when it comes to risk management. This starts at the top with the executive staff team and board of directors being engaged in risk management and authentically invested in why it’s important. Nonprofit CEOs should take the time to participate in safety meetings and understand loss trends to focus training.
When it comes to board leadership, seek a diverse group of professionals who represent both those you serve and those with the expertise to provide oversight and guidance. Most importantly, seek leaders who embrace a culture of curiosity and aren’t afraid to share their opinions or ask questions to avoid unintended risk.
3. Tell your story.
When nonprofits are seeking insurance coverage, it’s critical to help partners and insurers understand your mission and the steps you’re taking to mitigate risk. In addition to communicating how your organization is making an impact in the community, be sure to highlight the policies, procedures and training you have in place and how it is more than “check-the-box” online tutorials or posters hanging in a break room. What are your hiring practices? How are you onboarding? How are you training? Are there repercussions after an accident/incident? Tell the story about your commitment to risk management to insurers and partners. Applications are part of the process, and while they are not fun to complete, taking the time to be detailed will help.
4. Look for a partner who puts your mission first.
Selecting an agency to partner with your nonprofit is a significant decision. When evaluating risk management partners, start by looking for a company that puts your purpose before its profits. Ask other nonprofits about their experiences. Consider an RFP (Request for Proposal) process for agent/broker selection so you can meet the team you would be working with and determine if there is a cultural fit. The services provided and the level of expertise vary greatly by agency.
Here are a few questions you should ask a current or potential risk management partner:
How do you help our organization improve our risk profile?
What other nonprofits do you work with and may I contact them?
What is your standing in the marketplace for nonprofits?
Are the carriers you represent all AM Best rated and protected by FIGA?
Are there other options outside the traditional insurance marketplace?
Robin Moch, CIC, is a Nonprofit Leadership Center board member and partner at M.E. Wilson Company where she specializes in risk management for nonprofits and large commercial organizations.
When it comes to the best books about nonprofit fundraising and governance, these 10 resources stand the test of time and should be on every leader’s bookshelf or e-reader.
1. “Ten Responsibilities of a Nonprofit Board” by BoardSource
This short book outlines the primary responsibilities of nonprofit board service. In the most recent edition, the role of advocacy has been added. This list of 10 responsibilities should be the basis for all nonprofit board service. It can also be used to generate thoughtful discussions among board members about what it means to serve on a high-performing board and nurture a culture of engagement and meaningful participation.
2. “Asking: A 59-Minute Guide to Everything Board Members, Volunteers and Staff Must Know to Secure the Gift” by Jerold Panas
Written by a fundraising icon who passed away in 2018, this book is the quintessential guide to taking the fear out of asking, especially for larger gifts. This book recognizes and celebrates the joy of giving which should be at the heart of every ask and every gift.
In another of his best-selling books, Panas interviewed 50 people who each made a single gift of $1 million or more to one organization. These interviews reveal volumes about what donors care about most and how nonprofits can and must earn the right to ask. This book is helpful for fundraising staff and executive directors to help them understand donor motivations that inspire people to make big gifts. Hint: They do not include solving your organization’s need for money.
4. “Achieving Excellence in Fundraising (Second Edition)” by Henry “Hank” Rosso
Mr. Rosso, another icon and legend in the field, wrote my favorite definition of fundraising: “The gentle art of teaching people the joy of giving.” The second edition includes updates on various aspects of the fundraising process that are built on Rosso’s founding principles. As long as I have been in the fundraising business, I still return to this book for descriptions and explanations of the art and science of fundraising.
5. “Donor-Centered Fundraising (Second Edition)” by Penelope Burk
This book is the result of robust research conducted by Penelope Burk and her firm to learn what donors want and need from the charities they support. It is extremely valuable to hear this information from the donor’s point of view. I have met Penelope and heard her speak many times. I agree with Penelope’s assertion, supported by her research, that the better job nonprofits do of communicating with donors before asking again, the more likely they will be to continue to give.
6. “Good to Great for the Social Sector” by Jim Collins
As Jim says, the good-to-great concept is not about business but about what separates great from good. In this slim volume, he applies the principles to the nonprofit sector and includes examples and diagrams to make his points. This is a helpful read for staff and volunteer leaders alike.
7. “Conducting a Successful Fundraising Program” by Kent Dove
I used Dove’s book as the textbook for a graduate-level course in fundraising I taught for many years at Florida State University. The back section of the book is full of examples that demonstrate how to apply the principles outlined in the text. It is also a great reference for executive directors and experienced development staff for tried and true fundraising principles and techniques. This book is terrific for people who are new to fundraising.
8. “How to Write Fundraising Materials that Raise More Money” by Tom Ahern
I am a long-time fan of Tom Ahern who is a fabulous copywriter and communications guru. This easy-to-read book features short lessons for writing more effective fundraising communications. These lessons apply to the case for support, direct mail, email, newsletters and any other kind of donor communication.
To learn more about endowment fundraising, I always recommend this book which is part of the Association of Fundraising Professional’s Fund Development Series of Nonprofit Essentials. Before starting my consulting business, I spent three years in the community foundation field and learned so much about endowments. Diana’s book will help you and your organization learn how to establish, build, invest, manage and grow an endowment fund for long-term financial sustainability.
10. “Management Library” by Carter McNamara
This is a free online management library available at managementhelp.org. It is chock-full of templates, articles, checklists and documents addressing all areas of nonprofit management. Many of the authors above are included in this database of online resources.
Alyce Lee Stansbury, CFRE, President of Stansbury Consulting, is a 25+ year fundraising veteran and expert in nonprofit governance. She is a Master Trainer in Fundraising and sought-after instructor and facilitator. Her firm provides support to nonprofits in Florida and the Southeast in the areas of fundraising, board governance and sustainability. Contact her at StansburyConsulting.com and follow her on Twitter at @StansburyCFRE
At the Nonprofit Leadership Center, we believe the best lessons in nonprofit leadership come from nonprofit leaders themselves. Our 10 Questions With Series celebrates and elevates nonprofit and business leaders across the Tampa Bay region who are making an enduring impact on our communities. Today, we’re pleased to introduce you to Dr. Sheron Brown, executive director of Tampa Bay Healthcare Collaborative (TBHC).
Dr. Brown is a passionate community advocate who has dedicated her career to bringing individuals and organizations together to work collaboratively to achieve health equity. Prior to joining the Tampa Bay Healthcare Collaborative, Dr. Brown served as a wellness educator, consultant and coach to schools, school leaders and women of color who struggled with chronic disease. She also served as the national director of program quality for Teach Plus, a national program to empower excellent, experienced and diverse teachers to lead key policy and practice issues that advance equity, opportunity and student success. Dr. Brown holds her Ph.D. in professional studies in education from Capella University in Minneapolis, a master’s degree in education from the University of New Haven, and a bachelor’s degree in accounting from Howard University.
Here’s what Dr. Brown had to share about the power of collaboration, what it takes to advance systemic change, leading a nonprofit through COVID-19, and the inspiring story behind her name.
Q1: As the executive director of the Tampa Bay Healthcare Collaborative, tell us a little bit about your organization and what drew you to serve this nonprofit.
Dr. Brown: The Tampa Bay Healthcare Collaborative is a member-led nonprofit dedicated to promoting and advancing health equity for people of color and those in low-income communities. The organization was started in 2003 by leaders who wanted to work together to help ensure that our most vulnerable populations had access to quality health care. Even though they were focused on different areas — from homelessness and food insecurity to dental care or community heath — they believed they could help solve collective problems together. Today, the Tampa Bay Healthcare Collaborative is still about that: Bringing people who represent different organizations and areas of expertise together to solve the problem of inequities in health.
When I discovered the executive director role at TBHC, I knew immediately this was the seat where I was meant to be. I was interested in serving in a role where I brought my entire self to the opportunity. I wanted to bring people together and help them work through the process of solving some of our most intractable health problems. We cannot work in isolation to enact systems-level change. We must take a multi-sector solutions-oriented approach to transform the systems that are creating the inequities we see.
Q2: Not only are you newer to your current executive director role and leading a nonprofit, but you’re doing so through COVID-19 and an unprecedented time in our history. What are the most important lessons you’ve learned about leading a nonprofit during this time of crisis?
Dr. Brown: The most important lesson is something we should already know — to always be focused on learning so you can be nimble and quick to pivot when necessary to offer value to those we serve.
Because I’m new to my role as TBHC’s executive director, I was already in a learning phase — studying the organization and the community and listening to what members wanted. I was already thinking about what the future of TBHC should look like when COVID-19 came along, which proved to be important for figuring out how to bring people together who want to solve problems while everyone is locked in their homes.
Q3: Is there anything positive that COVID-19 has brought to your leadership or organization? What, if anything, will you and your organization do differently as a result of COVID-19?
Dr. Brown: As horrible as COVID-19 has been for individuals, families and communities, it has affirmed the work we’re doing and the importance of focusing on health equity. When you look at the rates of African Americans who are dying as a result of COVID-19, they are higher than the white population. There are inequities in health care and there are systemic issues that we need to dig down into the roots of to create solutions. I don’t know if I feel comfortable calling that positive, but COVID-19 has affirmed the need for this work.
In terms of what we will change, I was already thinking about ways to incorporate technology to enhance our members’ value. When COVID-19 hit, everyone recognized the need to incorporate more technology into the services they offer to constituents.
Q4: Fostering community relationships is a significant part of your role. Many nonprofits tell us they struggle with moving their relationships beyond transactional engagements. What strategies do you feel are most critical to forge authentic partnerships that spark change?
Dr. Brown: I love this question because it gets at the heart of what I’m focused on: getting people to collaborate effectively.
When different people come together who represent different seats in the health space, they’re doing so to solve a common problem. The very first thing they must do to be effective is to agree on a collective goal. For example, if I’m coming from a health center and you’re coming from your own private practice, we clearly have different agendas. Our agendas color our lenses of what we think we want to do. We must first be willing to sit in the same room, knowing that we represent different agendas, yet agree to work on a collective goal that would address the needs of our clients or constituents despite our agendas. That takes time. That’s one thing that the Tampa Bay Healthcare Collaborative is here to do — to help those who sit in different seats and different organizations in healthcare arrive at a collective goal.
Secondly, effective partners must determine if they have the right people at the table. People’s egos often get in the way. We must decide what roles we will play and what responsibilities we will have. Sometimes, people want to hold a bigger role because they want their organization to be viewed as owning the initiative. That’s where collaboration can start to fall apart. But if we can come together on an aligned goal with the right people at the table, that’s where change happens. As individual partners, we must stay focused on the wicked problems we need to solve. By thinking about our skill sets and resources in a fair manner and removing ourselves from it, we can collectively have an impact together.
Of course, there are other important factors like deciding on a clear decision-making process — who’s facilitating us through our problem-solving? What is our roadmap to getting to where we’re going? How will we agree to hold each other accountable?
Q5: How will the need to do more business virtually affect community partnerships?
Dr. Brown: That is a good question because we must figure out how to be effective in meetings. A lot of the “doing” happens outside of meetings. I have been part of many in-person meetings that aren’t impactful, and it’s really easy to take our habits and bring them into a virtual space. Just as we had facilitators for in-person meetings, I believe the same has to happen virtually. Facilitators are still necessary. We also need a structure for what happens before, during and after meetings so that partners aren’t meeting just to meet; they need to go out and have impact.
Q6: You are a longtime community health advocate and have owned a company to help people achieve total wellness. For nonprofit leaders whose anxiety and workloads are higher than ever, what guidance would you share to ensure self-care is a priority?
Dr. Brown: First, you are not your job. You are not your role. Your identity is not the same as what you do. Oftentimes, we can confuse our identity with what we do and the role we have. That can cause people to work themselves into the ground. Identify your true identity, and that will help you work differently and be diligent about staying in touch with how you have come to serve humanity.
The second thing you can do to reduce your stress is meditation. You can’t get meditation wrong, even if you think you don’t know how to do it. There are so many YouTube videos, apps and classes, It allows you to slow down and clear all that junk in your head. You bring yourself into a calm, connected state. When you’re in that place, you can think more clearly. You make better decisions. You feel the presence of your purpose.
Q7: You’re currently participating in one of our Nonprofit Leadership Center CEO Circles. For nonprofit leaders who may not be familiar with this peer-based leadership group, tell us about your experience so far.
Dr. Brown: Through NLC’s CEO Circle program, leaders come together and share the problems they’re experiencing that they can’t share with their staff and won’t necessarily want to share with their boards. It’s an opportunity to sit in room (or via Zoom) with people who hold similar positions and may have had similar challenges and be able to receive guidance and support in a safe place.
Learning from the experiences of others in the group has been helpful to me, especially as it related to the Payroll Protection Program and how everyone was handling it with their boards, budgets and funders. It was a great learning experience, and I was able to take some of what they said and apply it to what I was doing. Recently, I had a challenge and turned to this group. Two members had a similar experience when they first started in their executive director roles and offered advice that I applied immediately. The pressure valve on that problem was released. I felt lighter.
We had a very profound conversation in our last meeting about everything that’s going on in the world today with protests and Black Lives Matter. It was a very vulnerable, honest conversation. I appreciated that moment very much.
Q8: What’s the best book on leadership or professional development you’ve read that you think every nonprofit leader should read?
“The Surrender Experiment” by Michael Singer. If I could get everybody in the world to read it, I would.
The author shares his journey through life of surrendering to fear and to whatever life put in front of him rather than resisting. He is incredibly successful today. The story of how he experienced life made me realize that if we surrender to the moment, be present, observe and listen with our ears and our hearts, we’ll be guided to the next thing. That has helped me with how I lead and how I live.
Q9: What are your favorite shows or movies you’ve watched during quarantine?
I love Self Made and She Did That on Netflix. I recently watched Just Mercy, which tells the story of the state of humanity as it has been since the founding of this country. I would recommend everybody watch that movie.
Q10: What is something interesting about you that most people don’t know?
Dr. Brown: Definitely the story behind my name and why it means so much to me.
My mother was born in Jamaica in the 1940s. Her grandmother wanted to name her Princess Mercedes. The hospital workers told her she couldn’t do that because she was not a princess. (Remember, Jamaica is connected to Great Britain, and so they were caught up on that.) So, my grandmother named my mother Mercedes Princess.
Fast forward to when I was born. I don’t know what my mother wanted to name me, but there was a name and my father disagreed. He picked my name: Sheron. They named me Sheron Mercedes.
Fast forward 30 years later. I’m at a professional development workshop. We’re standing in line for lunch and I start talking to the man in front of me. We exchanged names and when I told him my first name was Sheron, he said, “Do you know that the name Sheron means princess?” I had no clue. Essentially, my name is Princess Mercedes. Without my mother knowing it, I ended up getting the name that was intended for her. This is significant for me because I am my mother’s and grandmother’s legacy. My grandmother never went to school and my mother was only able to complete the sixth grade. I always knew I wanted to go as far as I could in education for their name’s sake. I always say my Ph.D. belongs to them.
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