NPO Blog

Professional Development for Nonprofit Staff and Managers

I enjoy nonprofit conferences and workshops very much and look forward to professional development opportunities in the nonprofit sector. Some might say I am a conference junkie, so I try to limit myself to one conference or workshop per month.

In my organizational budget, I set aside professional development funds for staff members. In addition, if a conference is expensive, like $200 or more, I ask one of my vendors to sponsor me to attend the conference. For example, my insurance vendor sponsored me to attend the Risk Management and Finance Summit because it benefited him for me to learn more about how to prevent risk in my organization. Furthermore, sometimes I pay for the conferences on my own—like the nonprofit academic ones because that doesn’t really relate to the mission of my organization. :) 

Here is a list of conferences and workshops that I frequently attend.


Common Software Tools for Nonprofits

Yesterday I presented, "How to Improve your Nonprofit Operations in Under Two Months" at the Craigslist Foundation's Nonprofit Bootcamp.  It was a great event and in future blog posts I will share what I learned in the sessions that I attended.

I received a lot of questions during my session that I wasn't able to answer because I was pressed for time. One question that came up over and over again was, What are common software tools that nonprofits should be using for operations?

This is a tough question for me to answer because I don't want to offend any nonprofit software vendor for not using their tools. There are so many great tools out there! Also, because every nonprofit is different I think that every nonprofit needs to find the best software tools that work for them and go through a software selection process. I took at a variety of sources when choosing software like Idealware which provides nonprofit software reviews.

Free Furniture and Other Items for Nonprofits

Here are the places I go to get free or much discounted furniture for my nonprofit.

1. http://www.IReuse.com Provides all free furniture and other items for nonprofits. I created a wish list on their site, and have been able to get the majority of the items on my wish list.

2. Industrial Surplus Foundation Discounted Furniture and other items for Nonprofits. I filled out a small application and was able to purchase furniture at a huge discount for my organization, like desks for $20-$30 etc.

Carnival of Nonprofit Consultants #9-On Nonprofit Operations

This week I'm hosting the Carnival of Nonprofit Consultants with the topic being Nonprofit Operations. Here are the 7 nonprofit operations posts of the week.

1. Kivi Leroux Miller from Nonprofit Communications gives us Three Tips for Working Well with Printers.

2. Ken Goldstein from the Nonprofit Consultant Blog provides helpful advice to nonprofits about using Donor Care and Privacy especially with their mailing lists.

3.  Another issue that nonprofits should be aware about are the New Rules Regarding Unsolicited Faxes sent by Nonprofits which Gene Takagi describes in his Nonprofit Law Blog.

4. Jeff Brooks from the Donor Power Blog describes the importance of nonprofits to allow their donors to designate their giving in his post called Nonprofit Diseases: Malignant Accountants.

5. Celeste from Studio 501c tells us about the PR 2.0 Essentials Guide in her post--a free guide is a handy tool for nonprofit public relations.

6. Harry Joiner of MarketingProfs:DailyFix expresses that your business card is a tiny direct marketing piece in his post Building a Better Business Card.

7. In my Nonprofit Operations Blog, I describe 3 Human Resource Management steps that I follow in my nonprofit.

Thanks for all the great posts!  

Three Human Resource Management Tips for Nonprofits

Here's an exerpt from my Nonprofit Operations Toolkit about three Human Resource steps I take in my nonprofit.

1. I keep the organizational personnel manual in compliance with state employment law.

2. I created procedures for hiring new employees, an orientation and training manual for new employees, and a step-by-step procedure for training those new employees.

3. I keep employment records up to date and created a procedure for the standard way information is stored in the employment files.

The items I track in the employment records include: employee attendance, disciplinary warnings, vacation requests, employment hiring forms, and benefit enrollment forms. 

This information comes in handy if an employee dispute arises or if I am called before the local Unemployment Insurance Board for a hearing.


Nonprofit Carnival

I'm hosting the Carnival of Nonprofit Consultants this week. The topic is Nonprofit Operations!

Being that I am very passionate about the subject, I am excited to review the Carnival posts this week.  Submit one good Nonprofit Operations post that you have recently written by Friday, August 11th--5PM PT to npc.carnival@yahoo.com or you can submit your entry online BlogCarnival.com

Hire a Caterer or Not Hire a Caterer---That is the Question

I tend to work for nonprofits like Aspiration that do a lot of events for our constituents. Our goal for each event is to spend as little money as possible on the food by either getting it donated or ordering pizza instead of getting catering.

I found that in my past organizations, we spent a lot of time requesting food donations, doing food set up/clean up as well as errands to pick up things that we ran out of or forgot to get.

When I did the math, I found it was actually the same cost and sometimes cheaper for me to hire a caterer who takes care of all that stuff like set up and clean up. Now with all Aspiration events we hire a caterer. I usually pick one who charges between $15-$18 per person (including tax) for breakfast and lunch combined.

Now that I have the extra time that I don't have to focus on food purchasing or preparation, I focus my attention on the important aspects of the event like posting notes to the event Wiki like http://www.advocacydev.aspirationtech.org and contributing to the sessions.

Working with Vendors/Consultants/Contractors

I have worked with a lot of vendors/consultants/contractors ranging from Copy Machine vendors, phone/wiring vendors,  to accountants, web designers, and more. So I thought I'd write a post about 4 steps I follow when working with vendors.

1. When researching vendors I get multiple quotes to make a comparison of prices and services and always ask for a list of nonprofit specific client references. Then I call the references. A lot of vendors say they work with nonprofits, however I like to verify that they have many nonprofit clients and those clients are happy with their work.

Bookkeeping Workshop

I attended a quickbooks bookkeeping workshop by Karen Schiller at Compasspoint www.compasspoint.org recently, it was very helpful.

Here are some helpful tips that I took away from the workshop:

1. When recording classes in Quickbooks you don’t have to record classes with asset or liability accounts.

2. Membership is a support service defined by the IRS.

3. Administration (or Management and General) expenses include: Bank Charges, Legal Fees, Accounting Fees, General overview of time spend managing the organization, and time spent negotiating govt. contracts.

Blogging about Nonprofit Operations and sharing resources

Since I started working at Aspiration, I have learned about how to blog for my nonprofit and some exciting new things have come about in the last month.

<p class="MsoNormal"><span>1. Thanks to NTEN <a href="http://www.nten.org/">www.nten.org</a> I have been able to start a Nonprofit Affinity Group. <a href="mailto:NonprofitOperations@groups.nten.org">NonprofitOperations@groups.nten.org</a> This e-mail discussion group is an exciting outlet for me to share Nonprofit Operations tips and participate in nonprofit operations discussions.&nbsp; </span></p> <p class="MsoNormal"><span>2. I also have also had the opportunity to get more active with the Young Nonprofit Professionals Network (YNPN) <a href="http://www.ynpn.org/">www.ynpn.org</a> and post Nonprofit Operations resources to the members only resources section of their website. I just joined their membership committee and took on a new role as list maven.&nbsp; &nbsp;</span></p>

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