Celebrating Our Female Leaders

Jen Dodd, Director of Education & Communications News, Stories

In honor of International Women’s Day on March 8th, Team NLC is thrilled to introduce you to four outstanding women leaders who will be bringing you inspiration and practical action steps to increase your focus and lead with purpose during our breakout sessions at the 2019 Leadership Conference on May 22nd.

We have a deep and diverse talent pool for speakers and trainers, and we’re proud to bring you the very best of the best—the superheroes! 

Join us for 8 transformative breakout sessions facilitated by these lead-by-example women:

Mandy Cloninger, Executive Director of Trinity Cafe, will be part of a panel exploring COLLECTIVE IMPACT and COLLABORATION in the nonprofit sector. She’ll walk you through the important relationships and the business case that drove the Trinity Cafe-Feeding Tampa Bay merger, increasing the capacity and impact of each.

Jessica Muroff, CEO of Girls Scouts of West Central Florida and NLC Board Chair, will bring her unique perspective on PURPOSE and TRANSITION to a panel exploring how three high-performing nonprofit leaders made the leap for the for-profit sector.

Margarita Sarmiento, ever-popular NLC trainer and nonprofit consultant, is back by popular demand! Join her for a working session that will transform your TIME MANAGEMENT skills and teach you how to AVOID OVERCOMMITMENT.

Ellen Nastir, also a wildly popular and repeat breakout facilitator, is an NLC trainer and executive coach. She’ll help you increase your SELF-AWARENESS and isolate your CORE VALUES, bringing clarity and focus to your path in life and at work.

And we’re still planning additional breakout topics, so expect to see even more incredible women take the stage on our biggest day of the year!

For additional information about the day, please visit our Conference web page, which we’ll update regularly with details about the breakout sessions and the keynote.

Individual early-bird tickets are available only through March 15th. So reserve your seat now or reserve a table to make sure you don’t miss a minute of this life-changing event!


What to Read When Life is Just No Fun

Jennifer Dodd Stories

As part of our work to educate and empower nonprofits, we actively search out new and helpful resources to share with you. And today we want to introduce you to (or maybe remind you of) one of our favorite writers and thinkers: Jon Acuff.

Jon has written three booksQuitter, Start, and Do Over. He is a passionate advocate of doing work that you love, and he writes and speaks about remaking your life so that Monday becomes a great day, not a drag. Jon creates and shares thought-provoking material in a light-hearted manner; the subtitle(s) of Start tell you all you need to know: “Punch Fear in the Face. Escape Average. Do Work that Matters.”

Jon spoke at our 2013 AND 2015 Leadership Conferences and is, without a doubt, the most popular speaker in that conference’s history! Why?

What he writes and teaches about really hits home for nonprofit professionals. We get into the nonprofit sector because we’re passionate about creating positive change in our community, right? But sometimes we’re so not so great at creating positive change in our own lives. Jon can help you there; he offers new ways of thinking about things and actions you can take to recharge your passion.

So when life is just no fun, here are three of Jon’s blog posts that we think you’ll like:

Your Very Special Invitation…

Jen Dodd, Director of Education & Communications Stories

Team NLC is already busily working behind the scenes on many aspects of our 9th annual Leadership Conference on May 22nd.

Thanks to Key Partner C3 Media we can now unveil our snazzy new 2019 Leadership Conference theme logo:

Don’t you love it??

And one of the most fun things we’ve done to date is chat with our Keynote Speaker, Simon T. Bailey, about the content for his keynote presentation.

He’s got such wonderful energy, positivity, and inspirational content to share! In fact, we asked him to put together a little video to give you a taste of the day, and he was absolutely game!

So we’re thrilled to share with you a very special invitation from our 2019 Leadership Conference Keynote Speaker, Simon T. Bailey!

Learn even more about the day, which will be filled with 8 incredible working breakout sessions, a book signing with Simon, and all the networking you can handle, and register your team for a table of 10 or get your early-bird-priced individual tickets now!

A-Z Practices for a Better You

Ellen Nastir Stories

Are you being bombarded?  Everywhere I turn all the talk is (still) about setting goals and intentions for this new year. There are fabulous articles, videos and audios available at the click of a button or a turn of a page describing in detail how and why this is beneficial.I’m not repeating that here.

I’ve simply compiled a short list of simple practices you may choose to incorporate in your day-to-day life. They will offer huge results over time. Simply look them over, select one you’d like to improve upon or even begin…and get going!  They are short, direct and to the point.

Appreciate more.

Be kind – to yourself and others.

Compliment generously.

Dream….daydream…bring it into your life if only for 5 minutes a day.

Encourage and empathize with others when a soft shoulder is needed.  Be there.

Have more FUN!  Jot down a list of activities you used to enjoy as a child and mark your calendar to incorporate these in your weekly/monthly/yearly plans.

Practice GRATITUDE…write down 3 things each day that you are grateful for.

Help out more, even when it’s not “your job”.

Use “I” statements more to help communicate your thoughts.

Judge less.

Keep a tad more organized; it makes life much easier!

Laugh often – Listen more.

Move forward, even one baby step at a time.

Notice the little things around you, sights, smells, feelings. Get off auto-pilot.

Open your mind before having it automatically close to new and different ideas or experiences.

Practice one new habit each month that will improve your relationships, both at work & at     home.  See how it may enhance your overall life!

Quit one destructive habit.

Reflect on the good.

Share a smile.

Try again-especially when you are ready to throw in the towel!

Upbeat people are certainly more fun, inspiring and uplifting than their negative   counterparts.   Be sure to have those positive people in your life to lift you up and enjoy being around.

Celebrate one VICTORY each day, no matter how small!

Well-being means your whole being…taking care of yourself in many aspects so you can be  there for others both at work and at home. It’s not selfish to nourish & respect yourself.

Use an imaginary red “X” to cross out any negative self talk you find yourself thinking.

Refrain from starting sentences with the word “You” followed by never or always.

Zzzz – Sleep more – go to bed 15 minutes earlier and see what you notice after just a few days.

I hope a few of these clicked for you and you have one in mind to begin right away!  I’d love to hear which resonated with you, so feel free to comment on this post or send me an email.

NLC trainer Ellen Nastir is a certified professional coach with advanced training in Organization and Relationship Systems Coaching and Positive Psychology.  The goal is to shift the perspective. Just as a twist of the kaleidoscope completely changes your view, so do the tools that Innovative Team Solutions brings to your work environment.  Learn more at www.innovativeteamsolutions.com

Tuning Into Your Future

Simon T. Bailey, 2019 LC Keynote Speaker Stories

Republished with permission

We’re thrilled to bring you the first guest blog post from our 2019 Leadership Conference Keynote Speaker, Simon T. Bailey.

The biggest risk is not taking any risk…In a world that is changing really quickly, the only strategy that is guaranteed to fail is not taking risks.” – Mark Zuckerberg

Have you ever had an idea or dream but for some reason or another didn’t pursue it?  

You may have told yourself you had too many other obligations or that the timing wasn’t right. Maybe you experienced fear when you thought of making a change. Maybe you’ve known someone who took a big risk in their life, and it paid off but you thought, “They just got lucky,” or “That could never be me.”

Success is not accidental or a game of chance, like winning the lottery. The successful people I know did not get there overnight. They put in years of work not only externally but internally, working through their fears and doubts.

For over 20 years, Christy Crump was an administrative professional. She moved up quickly in her field, was promoted several times across the realm of state government, and she truly loved the secretarial profession. Despite her contentment, she began to experience a “gnawing feeling” in the pit of her stomach – a feeling that she had a calling to do more.

Tuning in when that small, quiet voice speaks to you is key to owning your future. 

Take the opportunity to be quiet and still in your space so that you can hear what God is trying to tell you. You’ve got to listen to identify your calling, your commitment, and your connection.

Once Christy began to listen and accept that she was meant to do more, her mind and heart opened to the opportunities all around her. She gave herself permission to reframe her thoughts and examine her surroundings and found a gap in the marketplace: a need for secretarial training. She realized that there were no more “old-timey secretarial schools,” where administrative professionals could go for training and continuing education pertinent to their profession.  

Christy began to discuss her feelings with her husband and family verbally. Her husband encouraged Christy to start a business that would provide training and professional development for administrative professionals. After all, who better than someone with 20 years’ experience to deliver the required skills enhancements? 

Still, Christy pushed back. She thought that it would be selfish of her to give up her comfortable and secure government job in exchange for the unknown. She worried that she could be putting her family at risk. Her self-doubts crept in: she had a college degree but didn’t consider herself financially savvy. She didn’t have marketing, networking, public speaking or sales experience.

Don’t let insecurity be a barrier to your brilliance. 

The future beckons and invites us to a moment where we reach a crossroads. Letting go of what’s comfortable and convenient is required to shift into brilliance. What you don’t know, you can and will learn as you go. Have confidence in yourself and take Facebook CFO Sheryl Sandberg’s advice: “Lean in!”

Despite Christy’s hesitation, opportunity continued to knock. She began a two-year training and development plan designed to develop employees for career advancement. Christy worked cover to cover through my book Release Your Brilliance, and when she finished, she realized that the workbook she had labored over contained nothing about her current occupation. Rather, she had literally written a blueprint of her dreams!

Christy didn’t realize it yet, but she had opened the door to opportunity by writing and speaking her truth. Out of the blue, a former colleague invited her for a lunch meeting and offered her a new job. Christy considered the offer, but that small voice nudged her to trust her colleague with her dream. Together, they made a plan for Christy to work part-time, giving her the opportunity to work steadily toward her goal of opening an administrative development training center.

 Just 16 months later, Christy made the leap to working her business full time.

If you have a dream or goal, make it work, even when it looks different than what you originally pictured. Find ways to work on your dreams slowly over time. Sometimes the next step or opportunity will come in the least expected form. 

The most important thing is to take action.

Because she listened, Christy the connection and was willing to take a leap of faith. She is now living her dream and doing what she loves most.

Looking back, Christy realizes that she had never before in her life taken an uncalculated risk – even as a child. She vowed that she would no longer let this hold her back. These days, she faces her fears head on and doesn’t overanalyze. Christy’s advice to budding entrepreneurs is to beat up the “fear monster” and leave it behind, rather than letting it control you. 

“Every day I sit on the edge of a cliff with my wings spread waiting for someone to give a little push. When they do, I fly.”

ALL THE NEWS about the 2019 Leadership Conference

Jen Dodd, Director of Education & Communications News

We have MAJOR news about the 2019 Leadership Conference to share! In fact there’s so much, you might think of this post as a series of sound bites! But there’s no #fakenews.

Team NLC has been busily planning and locking in details of the 9th annual Leadership Conference for months now! It’s been hard to sit on the juicy details until now, but the time has come!

First things first: Save the date! The 9th annual Leadership Conference will be held on May 22, 2019. Go ahead. Block it off on your calendar; we’ll wait….

Now, you also need to know that we’re changing venues for 2019! Yes; it’s true! We’ve moved Leadership Conference to the Hilton Tampa Downtown so that we can (drum roll please!) add 2 additional breakout sessions to the day! 8 breakouts!!

Yes; we did just make your breakout decisions even harder by guaranteeing you 4 knock-your-socks-off breakouts in each of the two timeslots. Watch this space for upcoming announcements regarding the local experts we’re tapping as panelists and facilitators for these 8 exciting new working sessions!

Have no worries about parking; the Fort Brooke Garage is actually attached to the hotel, so you can just meander across the enclosed bridgeway and straight into our event. (And, yes, we are indeed still picking up the tab for parking.)

We’ll share additional details about parking and a map of the venue as days progress, so you’ll arrive ta the 2019 Leadership Conference with everything you need to know to feel comfortable in the space and make the absolute most of this incredible day of personal and professional development.

As if all of the above wasn’t exciting enough: we have still more to share!

We’re thrilled to announce that our Planning Committee met just a week or so ago and (in record time) came up with what might be certain team members’ favorite Conference theme to date. We give you the 2019 Leadership Conference theme….

FOCUS: Leading with Purpose

This universal and yet transformational theme will resonate throughout all of the day’s breakout sessions as well as the keynote luncheon. Whether you’re employed by a nonprofit or a for-profit, whether you’re a board member or other type volunteer, whether you’re new to the working world, a seasoned pro, or mulling a career transition, whether you’re exactly where you want to be in you personal and professional life or you’re seeking meaningful change, the 2019 Leadership Conference’s theme will help you to grow individually, as teams, and as organizations into your most focused, most purposeful, most effective selves.

 Okay, so here comes the REALLY BIG REVEAL!

Because this is where you’ll learn the name, background, and topic of the 2019 Leadership Conference keynote speaker.

After collecting speaker suggestions for months and watching countless TED Talks, we took a short list (just 2) candidates to our speaker selection taskforce. They were both strong candidates with compelling messages and something unique to offer, so there was debate.

In the end, however, our speaker selection taskforce agreed that we should invite Personal Brilliance Guru and author Simon T. Bailey to be the 2019 Leadership Conference Keynote Speaker.

Simon also calls himself a Breakthrough Strategist and describes his life’s purpose as teaching people how to be fearless and create their futures.

With more than 30 years’ experience in the hospitality industry, including serving as sales director for Disney Institute, Simon challenges individuals to dig deep to find and release their inner brilliance and become Chief Breakthrough Officers – personally and professionally.

Simon has written 10 books and been named one of the top 25 people who will help you reach your business and life goals by SUCCESS magazine, joining a list that includes Brene Brown, Tony Robbins and Oprah Winfrey.

Exciting, right?

We sincerely hope you will be among the very first to register as early bird individual tickets and tables are now available at the event registration page. (You’ll also find the agenda of the day there as well as on the dedicated web page.) It’s sure to be #timewellspent!

If you’d like to sponsor or exhibit at Leadership Conference, you can learn about the opportunities and benefits by downloading this form.

We’ll be back soon with additional exciting details about Leadership Conference (Breakout topics! Breakout facilitators! Panels! Networking Opportunities!), so stay tuned.

In the meantime, we would like to say THANK YOU TO OUR SPONSORS:

3 Ways to Ease Into Your Annual Nonprofit Audit

Lorraine Faithful, Operations Manager News, Stories

Is it “annual fiscal audit time” for your nonprofit? It is if your nonprofit’s fiscal year is the same as the calendar year.  If you closed your fiscal year at the end of December, then you are most likely getting prepared for your auditors to examine your financial statements.  This can be a busy and stressful time for you and your financial staff, but with a little forethought and planning ahead, this process can go smooth and easy with these simple tips:

  1. Begin one year in advance to prepare for the audit! It makes a lot of sense to prepare on a monthly basis the general ledger activities and transactions that auditors need to review. This includes your balance sheet items like receivables, payables, prepaid expenses, fixed assets, etc. Create your monthly spreadsheets for all accounts, then record transactions each month. These reports will be complete at the end of the year and ready to give to the auditors.
  2. Keep all your accounting files in one designated place on your server or hard drive. This helps to stay organized and easily find files requested when the auditor is on site and hadn’t previously requested them. Also, keep either a scanned copy or hard copy of all items you provide to the auditor, and never give away original documents.
  3. Get to know your auditors! An audit should be a two-way conversation about your business and financial situation. Don’t be shy about asking for advice or assistance on fiscal matters during the year or during the audit. Auditors are more than happy to help solve issues as they occur which of course will make their auditing job easier in the long run.

New resources about nonprofit fiscal audits can be found in the Financial Management Resources area of our website such as:

See more nonprofit financial management resources.

Free Tax Preparation

Team NLC News

Did you know that anyone earning $66,000 per year (per household) can get their taxes done for free?

Complete your taxes electronically by going to myfreetaxes.com or call 2-1-1 to find the physical location closest to you to have you taxes done completely free by a trained tax preparer.

Tech4Good Free Events Coming Soon!

Lorraine Faithful Uncategorized

Have you heard about the Tampa Bay Tech4Good group and their free events to help nonprofits with technology/marketing education, strategy, website enhancements, etc.? They have several upcoming events, including ‘An Overview of Free/Discounted Technology Products from TechSoup’ and ‘Using Storytelling to Improve Your Content Channels!’ To attend these events, join their MeetUp group via https://www.meetup.com/Tech4Good-Tampa/ and RSVP to events that interest you, and their Facebook group via https://www.facebook.com/groups/tech4goodtampa/. Direct your questions to ewoods@apexsystems.com.

Mind Your Manners (and Other Practical Tips for Calling a Prospective Funder)

NLC trainer, Sara Leonard Stories

Republished with permission

Calling a prospective funder shouldn’t just be another phone call to quickly check off your to-do list. At the point of actually picking up the phone, you should be confident the funder is open to your communication (Call Me… Maybe: Determining If You Should Call a Foundation Prospect) and have spent time researching and preparing to make the call (Wait, Don’t Just Pick Up the Phone). Now (and hopefully only now) is the time to actually make the call.

Remember – this is not just any old call. This call could be the beginning or the beginning of the end of a great relationship with a funder for your organization.

Here are tips to make the most of the call.

Be Ready to Talk Now or Later

When you make the initial phone call, you may or may not get through. Be ready for either scenario. First, if you get through to the funder and they say, “Let’s talk now” be ready to go. This does not happen often, but you have to be ready for it every time. Conversely, if you get voice mail or talk to a gatekeeper, be ready to explain why you are calling and make an appointment to connect at a later time.

Location, Location, Location

One wonderful benefit of our modern, connected world is our ability to conduct business from anywhere – coffee shops, sporting events, and conferences. This however is not one of those times. Find a quiet, private place and make sure those around you know that you are not to be interrupted for the duration of the call.

Be Prompt and Respectful of Their Time

Place the call on time and be respectful of the time allowed for the call. If you asked the funder for 20 minutes, stick to that. When the allotted time has passed, you can ask if they are able to keep going, but be prepared for them to say “no” and conclude the call.


This might sound silly for a phone call, but it really matters. If you smile while you are talking, it will show in your voice. Practice this on a family member if you are skeptical. The smile in your voice projects a positive attitude and shows your enthusiasm.

Be Enthusiastic

Avoid the trap of being “all business” and not letting your passion come through during the conversation. Make an effort to find the inspiration that you need. Consider a photo of the ultimate beneficiary of the mission – that might be an animal that will be rescued or a child that will be educated.

Manners Matter

You’re building a relationship and first impressions matter. Remember the little things:

• say please and thank you,
• don’t interrupt,
• listen carefully to their answers,
• speak in a clear voice.

Take Good Notes

This conversation is where you can ask for answers and clarification to the questions left unanswered by your research. As you ask your questions, take good notes. Make note of any questions the funder has of you and be sure to record any promises you make or any information you need to provide following the conversation. If you are asked a question you can’t answer, don’t panic and just be honest. Explain why you don’t have that information and offer to find out and follow up as soon as you can.

Ask for Clarity

If you are asked a question you don’t understand, speak up and ask for clarification. The nonprofit sector is filled with jargon and the funder might use terms you haven’t heard before, ask for a definition. Sometimes we are afraid to admit we don’t understand something for fear of making a bad impression. It’s much better to understand than to answer incorrectly on the application when the funder feels they told you what they wanted.

Finish Strong

As you conclude the conversation, review anything you promised to provide and confirm your next steps. Hopefully, you have determined that they will consider your grant application so confirm the deadline. If you determine that a grant application is not appropriate, restate any follow-up action that is appropriate. No matter the outcome of the call, thank them for taking the time to talk to you.

Follow Up

A thank you/nice to meet you note is always appropriate to send after a call. If the funder requested information be sure to follow up and provide it within the agreed upon timeline. If someone else has the information, contact them immediately and confirm that the deadline is appropriate.

The funding community is smaller and more connected that most people think. So while it’s true that if you know one funder, you know one funder – they also talk and a good impression on one can translate to introductions and a good reputation among many funders. Taking the time to do your research about the funder’s process; researching what you can on your own while preparing; and making the most of your time while on the call can make a big difference not only on this particular opportunity but perhaps even more opportunities in the future.