Aspiration News

Nonprofit Operations Brown Bag Lunch-Board Development

Join us for an interactive Nonprofit Operations Brown Bag Lunch discussion about best practices for Board Recruitment and Development.

Come learn and share best practices for Board Recruitment and Development and receive sample board docs—board job descriptions and policies.

Check out the Nonprofit Operations wiki where notes from the brown bag lunch discussion will be posted immediately following the event.

This Brown Bag lunch discussion will take place on Wednesday, January 31st from 12-1 PM at the San Francisco Nonprofit Technology Center, 1370 Mission St., 4th Floor, San Francisco, CA 94103. Map link. Questions/Topic Suggestions 415-839-6456.

Two New Nonprofit Studies

1. Thanks to the Mission Based Management Blog for making me aware of this! The Center for Civil Society at Johns Hopkins University just released a report by Lester M. Salamon titled, "Employment in America’s Charities: A Profile." The Center’s website also includes links to other great reports from their Nonprofit Employment Data Project.

2. The Center for Nonprofit Leadership at Arizona State University has a new Initial Self Assessment Tool for nonprofits which is part of their, "Principles of Effectiveness in Nonprofit Organizations program." The 10 core principles are focused on:

Career Counseling For Nonprofit Graduate Students

In August 2005, I utilized Dr. Roseanne Mirabella's Nonprofit Management Education Program website which includes a list of U.S. based Colleges and Universities that offer at least 1 nonprofit graduate course. I then e-mailed each contact on the list to find out who provides the career counseling to the nonprofit graduate students.

This research has been sitting on my hard drive for several years. However, recently American Humanics launched an Initiative for Nonprofit Sector Careers with one component focusing on training career counselors about preparing students for careers in the nonprofit sector.  So, I thought this research that I conducted in 2005 may be interesting or useful to some folks.

Strategic Planning for Nonprofits

A Strategic Plan is a multi-year planning document which focuses on the entire organization and not just one specific program or component. Although there are many ways to write a strategic plan, I learned how to write a strategic plan including these key components:

STEP Analysis (An analysis of all the external factors that effect the organization.)

  • Socio-cultural factors
  • Technological factors
  • Economic Forces
  • Political/Legal Forces
<p class="MsoNormal">Porters Five Forces (Also describing the external forces that effect the organization).</p>

A New Years Resolution

Someone said to me, "Good leaders are never stressed." Do you agree?  I'm not sure I do...

I think that different peoples personalities determine how they will respond to stress and there are many factors that determine a "good leader."

In the New Year I would like to be able to handle stress better, but I know I can't remove the fact that sometimes I get stressed. Receiving all of the W-9 information on-time this week from my independent contractors is making me a little stressed...and I'm sure next week there will be something else. 

My Nonprofit Operations Preparations for 2007

2007 is fast approaching. Here are six specific nonprofit operations steps I take to prepare for each new year.

1. Create 2007 fiscal/vendor folders and put my 2005 fiscal/vendor folders in a file storage box to store. (I do not store my 2006 fiscal/vendor folders because I usually have to access those files periodically throughout the year.)

2. Put all my e-mail folders into a 2006 file and create new 2007 e-mail folders.

3. Verify that I have all my vendor/independent contractor's tax-id's or Social Security numbers so I can send them their 1099 forms in early 2007.

Wikipedia's Fundraising Strategy Today

Wikipedia is doing a cool fundraising thing today. Today someone is matching all the donations that Wikipedia receives. So, on Wikipedia's home page they have a thermometer which shows the total donations they are receiving. The amount is increasing quickly! I can also click and see who has donated and how much. They call it "live" donations.

I realize most nonprofits don't have the amount of traffic to their website as Wikipedia does, however this is a great online fundraising example!  

What I'm learning about Fiscal Sponsorship for Nonprofits-Part 2

In continuation to my earlier post about Fiscal Sponsorship, here is additional information that I learned recently.

Projects and Organizations looking for a fiscal sponsor: 

1. The Foundation Center has a great fiscal sponsorship tutorial for anyone interested in learning more about fiscal sponsorship. 

2. The Community Resource Center in Colorado also has a great step-by-step explanation about fiscal sponsorship and the difference between the term "fiscal agent" and "fiscal sponsor."

My Personal Struggle--the GRE

In this blog I have shared what I am learning on my job, here is something I am personally struggling with.

I have always struggled with standardized tests. Can anyone relate? I've taken classes, studied with a variety of test prep books, done online and CD prep, and spent time with test prep tutors but to no avail. I have not been able to raise my standardized test scores.

In high school I had a SAT tutor for years, however I barely earned a score of 1000. Ironically, my SAT score didn't seem to affect my ability to do well at San Diego State University and earn my degree.

Tagging for Nonprofit Operations

I am lagging on entering nonprofit operations links into Capaciteria. However, I just learned how to tag all my favorite Nonprofit Operations links in Check it out.

I created a username and password at and then downloaded their tagging software which allows me to right click a link and tag it or click on the tag button on my browser.

I now associate my favorite nonprofit operations links with the following tags.

Podcast of the Week at Craigslist Foundation

Jennifer Chien and I presented in August at the Craigslist Foundation's Bootcamp. Our session, "How to Improve Your Operations in Less than Two Months," is featured as the Craigslist Foundation's podcast of the week.

Carnival of Nonprofit Consultants #22

The blog carnival is here again. Although this week was an open call for posts, I noticed a theme--all the posts relate to planning for 2007. Hopefully through this advice, we can all become better nonprofits in 2007.

1. Gene Tagaki of the Nonprofit Law blog discusses the, "IRS Exempt Organizations Division 2007 Priorities," in his post.

2. Alan at the California Association of Nonprofits shares the, "2007 mileage reimbursement rates set forth by the IRS," in his Nonprofit Accounting Bootcamp blog.

3. Nancy Swartz of the Getting Attention blog, discusses the importance of putting your tag line in your e-mail signature, in her "Your World, Your Chance to Make it Better," blog post.

4. "Cause related marketing comes of age," in Paul Jones's cause related marking blog.

5. Tracy of Frequence Inc. blog entry shares about the, "Top Ten Ways to Prevent Employee Theft in your Organization."

6. Holly at the NTEN Connect blog post is called, "Protect Your .org."

7. Jeff of the Donor Power Blog, shares with us how to focus on our donors and not ourselves in his, "The Invisible Donor" blog post.

The Bamboo Project will be hosting next week's Blog Carnival of Nonprofit Consultants.

Aspiration leads facilitation at Telecentre Leaders' Forum in Benin, West Africa

Event Date(s): 
November 27, 2006 to December 2, 2006

Aspiration was delighted to lead the facilitation at the Africa Telecentre Leaders' Forum 2006. The event convened telecentre practitioners, network leaders, researchers and development partners from across Africa and took place at Centre Songhai in Port Novo in Benin from November 28 - December 2, 2006. The Africa TLF was jointly organized by Centre Songhai, IDRC, Microsoft, OKN, SDC and UNESCO under the banner of

The primary goals of the event were to

  • Develop a spirit of networking, learning and collaboration within the African telecentre movement.
  • Provide leaders of telecentres and other Community ICT Centres a chance to gain practical skills and learn about new services that can be used in their own networks and telecentres.
  • Search for common solutions to challenges faced by African Community ICT Centres such as sustainability, content, services, connectivity and impact.
  • Encourage the development of concrete collaborative activities that offer solutions to these challenges.

Aspiration guided a 1-day facilitator training before the main event, and then collaborated with a team of 12 facilitators from all walks of telecentre life as they guided discussions and collaborative sessions. Interactive SpeekGeeks and Spectrograms kept the proceedings lively, and the agenda content was designed in large part by the participants at the Forum. The event was facilitated in a fully bilingual format, balancing French and English discourse and demonstration.

Complete information about the event can be found on the web site.
This is a Flickr badge showing public photos from Flickr tagged with AfricaTLF. Make your own badge here.

Hosting Nonprofit Blog Carnival This Monday

I'm hosting the Carnival of Nonprofit Consultants this week.

Please submit one good nonprofit oriented blog post--today--Friday, December 1st--by 5PM PT to or you can submit your entry online

Then I'll be posting my 7 favorite entries here on Monday, December 4th.

Nonprofit Operations Wiki

Today was the second Nonprofit Operations Brown Bag Lunch discussion. The topic we discussed today was Risk Management. It was interesting to learn about all the different types of risk there is within any nonprofit.

Notes from this discussion as well as the first discussion about Mass E-mail for Nonprofits can be found in the wiki that I created. If you are interested you can log on to the Nonprofit Operations wiki and add resources and or nonprofit operations suggestions. I created the wiki so that folks who are not able to attend the Nonprofit Operations Brown Bag Lunch discussions can still participate and read the notes from the discussions. 

Nonprofit Research Rocks! ARNOVA Conference

I recently attended the Association for Research on Nonprofits and Voluntary Action (ARNOVA) conference in Chicago. (My alma mater--North Park University was one of the host colleges.) This conference was a great gathering of Nonprofit Professors, Researchers and Practitioners who presented relevant research findings and presentations about the Nonprofit Sector.

I especially enjoyed the session about Nonprofit Fraud which reported about some nonprofit fraud statistics as well as provided suggestions how to prevent it. Some of the suggestions included:


Event Date(s): 
November 17, 2006

The Sunlight Foundation invited Aspiration to design and facilitate the agenda for their first-ever Open(Data)/Open[Gov] meeting. The event, co-hosted by the Mitchell Kapor Foundation, brought together a diverse group of 60 practitioners focused on various aspects of making government data more open to citizens. The group spent the day wrestling with the challenges and opportunities facing activists and technologists working to open up and demystify publicly available data for the average web users. Sessions addressed how to create successful developer networks, how to facilitate open exchange between Congress and citizens, and a look at various APIs, microformats and possible mashups. Also addressed were gaps in existing data sets, sustainable business models for this type of work, and the unintended consequences of transparency.

Announcing the San Francisco Nonprofit Technology Center

Earlier this summer, Aspiration opened the San Francisco Nonprofit Technology Center, located in the South of Market district. The center provides collaborative office and meeting space for nonprofits and consultants working with technology for social change in the Bay Area.

eAdvocacy Training Program

Aspiration has developed an eAdvocacy training program for grassroots nonprofits and we're offering trainings all over California and beyond!

Funded by Community Technology Foundation of California (CTFC) and designed in partnership with Radical Designs and ScoutSeven, the trainings seek to demystify the fast-evolving world of online organizing by explaining how to integrate internet tools into existing organizational campaigns and programs.

If you’d like more information about the trainings, please contact us! The library of materials can be viewed on the Aspiration web site, and we heartily encourage their reuse and enhancement! 

Report From the Road

Aspiration is delighted to have facilitated events all around the globe over the past few months. From London to Rio De Janiero to Toronto and back to San Francisco again, we've been amazed at the passion and innovation of so many folks applying technology as they work for social change.

Here are some notes from the road, starting right in our own back yard...


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