Aspiration News

Types of Insurance for your nonprofit

<p class="MsoNormal">When I started working for Aspiration I went through a process of making sure that we had the necessary types of insurance needed to protect us as a nonprofit organization.&nbsp; It is interesting how many people I talk to who are interested in forming a nonprofit who don&rsquo;t think they &ldquo;need&rdquo; insurance or it isn&rsquo;t a priority to get insurance. &nbsp;</p>  <p class="MsoNormal">I always knew insurance was important, however I didn't realize how important having insurance is until I attended the Nonprofit Risk Management and Finance Conference in San Francisco, September 2005, and was shocked to hear statistics presented from the Insurance Alliance of California about the number of law suites against nonprofit organizations! </p>

How to improve your nonprofit operations in under two months!

<p class="MsoNormal">I had the opportunity to attend Tech Soup&rsquo;s Net Squared Conference in San Jose on May 30<sup>th</sup> and 31<sup>st </sup>2006.&nbsp; Aspiration&rsquo;s own Allen Gunn facilitated several sessions at the conference and I had the opportunity to learn a lot about Web 2.0 and all the exciting new things that nonprofits are and can do on the web <a href="http://www.netsquared.org/">www.netsquared.org</a>. </p>  <p class="MsoNormal">I also had the opportunity to lead a small Q &amp; A session during the Tips and Tricks part of the afternoon session titled <strong>&ldquo;How to improve your nonprofit operations in under two months.&rdquo;</strong>&nbsp; I came up for the title for my Q &amp; A session because I recently noticed a trend I take when I start working for an organization.&nbsp; I follow a sequence of steps during the first two months of working for an organization to improve its operations and ultimately save the organization MONEY. Its not that the organization is running their nonprofit poorly, its just the organization can do things to improve its operations, save the organization money, which in return will help it to better achieve its mission.&nbsp; </p>

Open Curriculum Convergence

Event Date(s): 
June 12, 2006 to June 13, 2006

Aspiration provided facilitation at this convening of open curriculum practitioners. The goal of the gathering was to discuss better approaches to peer production and collaborative development in the open curriculum space. This initial meeting allowed participants to share perspectives why they care about open curriculum, to map out what’s working and what’s not, posit visions and plans for open curriculum efforts, and zoom in on common ideas.

eRiders.net

Teresa Crawford writes, "The long awaited eRiders.net is nearing completion.  We have done alot with the new site and I think you all will be happy with the mountains of new content we have added."

A couple Nonprofit Start Up Links

Here are a couple of nonprofit start-up links that I found on some of the listservs that I subscribe to.

  • The Things You Gotta' Do to Start a Nonprofit Organization. The Checklist Project of The Nonprofit Coordinating Committee of New York (NPCC).
    http://www.npccny.org/checklist.htm
  • "From Vision to Reality" A great book from Community Resource Exchange. Through worksheets, model documents and plain spoken explanations, this 250-page handbook will guide you on how to design an effective program, create a budget, raise money, form a board of directors, hire staff and take all the steps you need to launch a successful nonprofit.
    http://www.crenyc.org/
     
<p class="MsoNormal">(Originally posted on nyc@lists.ynpn.org, http://www.ynpnnyc.org/)<a href="http://www.rain.org/mailman/listinfo/nonprofit"></a></p>

A few nonprofit accounting tips

I am certainly not a CPA but here are a few nonprofit bookkeeping tips and advice I have learned along the way.

1.  I am very glad that I can enter my programmatic budgets into Quickbooks. First, I associate each program with a class in QB. For example, Aspiration's Field Community Building program is a class. Second, I associate each project within each program as a subclass. For example within the Field Community Building program there is the Penguin Day class.

2. I also designate in QB each Foundation that funds my organization as a customer:job. 

3. Furthermore, I use the Unified Nonprofit Chart of Accounts that the California Assocation of Nonprofits provides http://www.canonprofits.org/  

Nonprofit Office Space Searching Tips

A few years ago when I had the task of finding a new office space for my previous organization, I jumped into that process I wondering what steps do I take?  I forged ahead and learned as I went along. However, I am now going through that process again with my current organization and wanted to provide a few tips to make it easier for nonprofits who are also currently looking for office space.

1. I signed up for the Northern California Community Loan Fund's (NCCLF) www.ncclf.org Space Matching service. NCCLF sends out a monthly Space Matching e-mail that lists office space specifically for nonprofits and also nonprofits looking for office space in the Bay Area. Mary McNamara administers this list.  I have been very happy with this service and "found" two offices through the list that have come to fruition.

2. I contacted my commercial real estate broker.  A couple of years ago I found Dave Berry from GVA Whitney Cressman http://www.gvawhitneycressman.com/x379.xml through Craigslist.org.  He frequently works with nonprofits and he helped Compumentor to find their current space.

Great Nonprofit Communications Toolkit

I recently revised Aspiration's communications plan.  During this process I found Cause Communication's "Communications Toolkit: A guide to navigating communications for the nonprofit world" to be a very helpful resource. I ordered my free copy of the book/binder on Cause Communication's website. www.causecommunications.org

I enjoy working with attorneys at my nonprofit

Being an Operations Manager I have come to appreciate working with lawyers.

I personally have benefited greatly from my lawyers' advice and council which has potentially prevented organizations I work for from expensive law suits or having to pay unnecessary fees if I tried to do certain legal things myself. Ultimately, I feel that I am saving my organization money by working with these attorneys.

I found my first lawyer, Linda Gulledge www.workinglaw.com (an employment law attorney) through the San Francisco Bar Association's www.sfbar.org Volunteer Legal Services Program. Linda helped my organization on a volunteer basis revise our personnel manual and keep it up to date with California employment law. I learned so much through this process, that I decided to retain Linda on a monthly basis to provide advice to my organization on employment related issues or situations.  She is so helpful, especially in stressful situations when I am trying to deal with disgruntled employees!

A few tips to know when looking for a Bank Account for your nonprofit

Recently one of the organizations that Aspiration fiscally sponsors asked me questions about finding a bank account. Here are a few tips, I told her.

You can get a Wells Fargo business credit card with just your nonprofit tax-id number. You don't even have to have a bank account there.  You do have to have positive net income on your 990 form from the previous two years, which may be challenging for some nonprofits who receive multi-year grants so one year net income is positive and another year it is negative.

Each Citibank branch gives money to local nonprofits so it is good to establish a relationship with your local Citibank branch manager.  In addition, Citibank has a great benefit and gives employees of any small business free financial planning and seminars through Citipro.

Bank fees are the killer, all banks have a minimum balance for Business Checking and Savings Accounts. Choose one bank and stick with it. I have hesitations about choosing small local banks, they may say they work with nonprofits in reality they are just saying that in hopes to get your business.

A couple Nonprofit Leadership links

Here are a couple of helpful leadership links I saw this week through the various listservs I subscribe to.

  • The Young and Restless in a Knowledge Economy
    A recent release from CEOs for Cities examines the importance of attracting college-educated workers between the ages of 25 and 35, whose unprecedented mobility enables them to relocate to cities which have the precise assets, ethos and opportunities that they seek. “In understanding these young, educated workers, cities have their best chance of succeeding in the most competitive economic environment in history.”  Download the full report at http://www.ceosforcities.org/ResearchandResources.htm.

(originally posted on AFTAEL-L@culturemail.org http://tinyurl.com/j9bm9 then forwarded to dcinfo@lists.ynpn.org http://lists.ynpn.org/lists/info/dcinfo)

A couple Nonprofit legal links

Here are a couple of nonprofit legal links that I found on some of the listservs that I subscribe to.

  • New: Grassroots.org Legal Resources Directory: Grassroots.org has launched a new legal resource directory for nonprofit organizations. This interactive directory features a wide array of online resources geared toward helping existing and new nonprofits tackle a multitude of legal issues. (http://apps.grassroots.org/legal_links/

(Originally posted on sfba_members@lists.ynpn.org http://www.ynpn.org/JoinList.asp)

A couple Nonprofit fundraising links

Here are a couple of nonprofit fundraising links that I found on some of the listservs that I subscribe to

<ul><li><strong>Fund Raising Forum Library </strong><br />45 helpful fundraising articles.<a href="http://www.raise-funds.com/library.html"><br />http://www.raise-funds.com/library.html</a> <br /></li></ul>(Originally posted on nonprofit@rain.org<a href="http://www.raise-funds.com/library.html"> http://www.rain.org/mailman/listinfo/nonprofit)

California eAdvocacy Training Road Show

Event Date(s): 
May 16, 2006 to May 19, 2006

Aspiration took its open eAdvocacy curriculum on the road to nonprofits all over California for a week of trainings in Sacramento, Los Angeles, San Diego and San Francisco. The one-day “Email For Advocacy and Community Organizing: Basics, Essentials, and Best Practices” training covers email campaigns, how to write effective email campaign messages, tracking open rates and responses, how to manage and sustain email lists, as well as best practices for privacy, security, and avoiding “spammer” status. The trainings were designed to enable grassroots nonprofits to learn effective process and tactics in using email in their campaigns and strategic work. The training materials have been prepared by Aspiration in partnership with Radical Designs and ScoutSeven, and funded by the Community Technology Foundation of California. All materials are being distributed under Creative Commons license.

Help Us Test the Social Source Commons!

Would you care to help Aspiration create a tool that helps you do your job better? We are implementing the Social Source Commons (SSC), a platform which will support mapping and documenting the landscape of software tools available for NPO/NGO (nonprofit and non-governmental organization) use.

LiveWire Summit

Event Date(s): 
April 20, 2006 to April 21, 2006

This two-day meeting, convened in partnership with SourceWatch , brought together a broad range of strategists, organizers and implementors working in online strategy and advocacy. Participants included staff and allies from SourceWatch, True Majority, Radical Designs, Democracy in Action, CitizenSpeak, Scout Seven, Greenpeace, Ruckus Society, SEIU, and others who met to discuss how to better get online activism tools into the hands of local activists. A range of capacity building concepts were brainstormed and discussed, from documentation to mentoring to turnkey services.

Shuttleworth Foundation Kusasa Project Sprint

Event Date(s): 
April 11, 2006 to April 13, 2006

Aspiration designed the agenda and facilitated this convening of educators and technologists meeting to discuss new approaches to teaching analytical skills through computer programming in the South African educational context. The goal was to consider how to develop a self taught, peer mentored program, which can be effectively evaluated without expert supervision, and to provide tools for analysis that will be general useful across the range of disciplines being taught at any given age. A range of leading thinkers, including Alan Kay, Guido Van Rossum, and Mark Shuttleworth, and a range of practitioners in computer software instruction met for 2 days to collaboratively advise the Foundation on project scope and direction.

Penguin Day Seattle

Event Date(s): 
March 25, 2006

Penguin Day Seattle took place on March 25th in downtown Seattle. Almost 90 participants joined in the festivities, which included a rich agenda. News Forge provided some excellent coverage and Deborah Elizabeth Finn offered a wonderful blog entry as well. Penguin Day Seattle pictures are posted on Flickr. The mischief makers over at PICnet also perpetrated a little pre-PD mischief. To stay informed about Penguin Day’s, join the mailing list at www.penguinday.org. We’re in the planning stages for inaugural Penguin Days in Boston and Washington DC, and well as the second PD San Francisco.

Heather Carpenter Joins Aspiration as Assistant Director

Aspiration is delighted to announce that Heather Carpenter has joined us as Assistant Director, effective immediately. For the past 5 years, Heather has served as Operations Manager and Accidental Techie for nonprofit organizations in the San Francisco Bay Area and Chicago. She earned her Bachelors of Science degree in Business Administration from San Diego State University and her Masters of Management in Nonprofit Administration from North Park University in Chicago, Illinois. Heather is a member of several San Francisco Bay Area Philanthropic groups and frequently volunteers.

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