NPO Blog

I was interviewed by Blogher

I was recently interviewed by Beth Kanter, an amazing blogger who I really admire and respect. Beth is author of Beth's blog and contributing editor for Blogher. Thanks Beth!! 

What I'm learning about Fiscal Sponsorship for Nonprofits

I'm going to this workshop this afternoon at the Foundation Center about Fiscal Sponsorship. It seems like I have been spending the last couple of months thinking about Fiscal Sponsorship not only from the perspective of a nonprofit that provides Fiscal Sponsorship, but also looking at start-up nonprofits and what fiscal sponsorship means to them.  Here's what I've learned so far.

First, I learned that fiscal sponsorship is not something that nonprofits should just jump into quickly. When I came into Aspiration, we had a fiscal sponsorship agreement in place, however after working with my Attorney and reading the book, "Fiscal Sponsorship--6 Ways to Do It Right" by Gregory Colvin. I realized that we needed to have a stronger agreement with the new organizations we were sponsoring. We are what the book defines as Model C--"A Preapproved Grant Relationship" with the new organizations we sponsor. It took us a while to get all this figured out and we are still working to do this the right way.

Carnival of Nonprofit Consultants #16/17-General Nonprofit Management Advice

So I'm hosting the Blog Carnival of Nonprofit Consultants again this week and I received a lot of great posts this week about general nonprofit management advice. Here are the top seven.

1. In lieu of Hawaii's big earth quake over the weekend, I thought it fitting to start with Ken Goldstein from the Nonprofit Consultant's Blog very relevant post about Fundraising for a Disaster.

Also Nonprofit Branding seems to be a hot topic this week; here are a couple of posts that reflect this marketing tool that nonprofits can use.

Budgeting for Nonprofits

If your fiscal year is July-June then you already have your annual budget in place, however for those of us that have a fiscal year January-December the budgeting process has begun!

I have a 3 step method for preparing the annual budget for my organization.

1. I make a list of the staff for the organization and then I figure out how many hours each staff person will spend working on each program, as well as how much time they will spend on administration and fundraising time. I do this through conducting a time study--seeing how each staff member spends their time for one particular week, or by looking at staff time allocation from the previous year.

Brown Bag Lunch Discussion-Mass E-mail for Nonprofits

Wednesday we had the first nonprofit operations brown bag lunch discussion here at the Tech Center--which I think went really well.

The topic that everyone wanted to talk about was nonprofits sending out mass e-mails to their clients, constituents or donors. 

John Kenyon a technology consultant participated in the discussion and provided some helpful examples of affordable mass e-mail providers for nonprofits:

We also discussed how sending out mass e-mails by your regular e-mail provider is not recommended. The general progression that nonprofits seem to follow is, first they use a free e-mail service first like Google groups, then progress to something that costs $15-$20 a month, like Email now or NPO Groups, and then if the nonprofit wants additional features like a database then they choose something like CiviCRM or Democracy in Action.

Advanced Degrees for Nonprofit Professionals

Being a young nonprofit professional, I am very appreciative of the people and opportunities that have helped me to excel in my nonprofit career. One of those opportunities is earning my Masters of Management in Nonprofit Administration degree from North Park University in Chicago. This degree program taught me the skills needed to excel in my nonprofit operations jobs as well as opened the door to additional opportunities.

It is exciting to see how many recent college graduates are choosing to work in the nonprofit sector and also earn nonprofit management advanced degrees. 

Nonprofit Operations vs. Programs

Several folks have asked me to blog about Nonprofit Operations vs. programs. I will attempt to explain what I mean by Nonprofit Operations.

Nonprofit Operations is a broad term that I use to describe running the behind the scenes of a nonprofit.  These duties include, Administration, Finance, Fundraising, Human Resources, Risk Management, Marketing and more.  Nonprofit Operations is often the work that nonprofits' constituents or the general public do not see.

Nonprofit Operations and program administration are very intertwined. It is hard to run the behind the scenes of a nonprofit without doing some sort of program administration, for example, when I do all the logistical planning for an Aspiration event, I do both program and operations work.

Should my nonprofit do a Review or an Audit?

A common question that comes up for many nonprofits-Should my nonprofit do a review or an audit?

Since I just finished submitting Aspiration's financials to our accountant who will be filing our annual 990 tax return and conducting our annual review, I thought it would be a great time to answer that question.

A financial review is when an accountant asks the organization to submit a series of financial documents. The accountant then reviews those documents and presents the financial reports to the organization in which it is good practice for the Board of Directors to vote on the review presented by the accountant. Review’s generally cost $2-6k or less.

Travel Reimbursements for Nonprofit Staff

I just got back from traveling to Boston for work and reimbursements have been on my mind. I wanted to share a reimbursement practice that I learned from the last nonprofit I worked for.

It's often a hardship for nonprofit staff to pay out of pocket for expenses while traveling so we implemented a policy to provide staff a per diem while traveling on behalf of the organization.

To figure out the per diem rate we used the domestic per diem rates set forth by the U.S. General Service Administration. These rates are broken down by location/lodging/meals and incidentals. The map on the website makes it easy to find a location and per diem amount for that location.  

Event Planning for Nonprofits

Another question that came up during my presentation at Craigslist boot camp was, "How do I find those event planning templates that you talk about during your 10 Nonprofit Operations Success Steps?" Well here they are...

Aspiration has become fairly well known in the nonprofit tech world for our unique event planning and facilitation methods. I think it helps that we have Allen Gunn a super and amazing facilitator leading our organization. (I'm not biased, really I'm not :) Anyway, we have created a set of event planning templates and materials so we can easily replicate our events. Nonprofits and Foundations even hire us to plan and facilitate events for them and its a lot of fun since we have streamlined the process.

Pages