President Trump and 10 Questions for Non-Profit Boards to Answer

Good governance, and efficient and effective management play the most important role when facing an impending period of instability. As we enter into a transition of the presidency, there will doubtlessly be substantive changes to the operating environments.

This should not be too difficult for the organizations that made their ways through the Great Recession with difficulty. Some organizations also experienced a storm of disastrous factors as the number of their donors and audiences relatively decreased over an extended period. For others, it happened soon after they made a large capital commitment, which created the sense of plummeting into a hole they had dug and whose bottom they could not touch.

Today, we have a different set of circumstances, but one no less abrupt given the victory that surprised almost everyone.  There is now a president-elect, who has vowed to substantively change or dismantle a number of social programs leaving little or no time for the non-profit sector to prepare. Among other things, in his first 100 days he has promised to cancel support for climate-change prevention programs, cut off funding to sanctuary cities, and attempt to implement tax cuts that might, in the end, result in devastating cuts to what the government would spend for social welfare programs. It is now feared that some of these changes will stop or alter funding flows and the policy frameworks within which we have been functioning.

Assuming that all these fears are not unfounded, it is important that non profit boards take these next few weeks and months to consider the what-ifs as an organizational stress test. Whether the organization is self-knowledgeable enough, foresighted enough, fit enough, and connected enough to cross through an obstacle course with threats that are not known as yet? The only way organizations can gauge that is to begin self-questioning now and the questions should be:

  • Does your board have a common understanding of the business model of the organization? Are your board members able to track the critical metrics in that model with an easy to interpret dashboard?Do it now, if you have been putting it off.
  • Do you have enough liquidity?You should start now to open lines of credit, build out your cash reserves, and restrict unnecessary spending.
  • Does your organization have strategic connections with local, state and national networks so that you are first in line for advocacy and critical information?
  • Do you understand the regulations and policies at the federal and state levels that could change your operating position significantly?You should create an advocacy capacity at the board level that enables you to move quickly with community support and engagement.
  • Did you meet your private institutional and major individual donors to enable them process their own planning, which includes your organization in that narrative.
  • Looking around at your partner organizations—do you think that they need support that you might be able to lend and vice versa?This planning exercise might help you make new friends for your organization.
  • Have you lately reviewed your mission and margin matrix to ensure that you know the degree to which each program contributes to your mission and to the financial margin, as well? This examination is easier to undertake without the agonizing specter of looming budget cuts.
  • Have you ensured that your organization stays in close contact with its stakeholders and constituents so that they understand what might be at stake?
  • Do you have a constant and open enough conversation going with executive leadership to make sure that they feel supported through what might feel like an unstable period?
  • Does your board support the organization taking a leadership position on issues like racial justice, policing and criminal justice policy, and immigration policy, if these mission-oriented positions become confrontational with new federal initiatives?Like always, our nation depends on a brave and active civil society.

In this instance of anticipation and unpredictable but imminent change, boards have got a little time on their hands to prepare to be more nimble and engaging of community, while still observing the proper staff/board distinction.

Student-Debt-Free Future for the Nonprofit Workforce – Where It Stands Today

Student debt is one of those cumbersome burdens that make the choice of a non-profit career path for an indefinite time a lot harder for just about every individual. It hurts all the aspects and stages of this otherwise humanitarian career path, including recruitment, retention, as well as an employer’s effort to maintain diversity in the workforce. As per a survey estimate, more than 42 million people currently owe student debt going well over $1.3 trillion. A lot of it has been because of dropping investment in colleges by the government, leading to a surge in the cost of education, and subsequently higher accumulated student debt year after year.

There is good news too for all those who are affected by the surging student debt amounts. Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) is the latest program introduced by the federal government, which makes it easier for everyone who wants to work with non-profit organizations or in other ‘public service’ job. The surprising thing here is that very few people know about this plan till date. Under this program, if you continue to make your student debt payment for a period of 10 years (120 payments in total), you get your remaining debt written off – just like that!

Here’s What You Got to Do

If you have taken student loan, work with a non-profit and are still under debt after 10 years, you need to go through certain parameters, such as:

  • Determine if you have qualifying loans and if your payment plan qualifies under the PSLF program.
  • Make sure that your employer qualifies as eligible under the program conditions. To be eligible, the organization must be registered as either of the following:
  1. Government agency
  2. 501(c) (3) nonprofit organization
  3. Public child/family service agency
  4. Peace Corps/AmeriCorps
  5. Tribal college/university
  6. Others as listed in Section 4 of the ECF (Employment Certification Form)
  • Track progress by submitting ECF through your (non-profit) employer to FedLoan Servicing. You have to get one form from every organization you worked during the duration. This form will include details for your tenure, as well as what your average work hours were per week.
  • Submit an ECF every year, even when you are working with the same employer. You can also keep track of your payments by checking your FedLoan account every now and then.
  • Once you have completed 120 months, you need to file the Application for Loan Forgiveness. Since this plan only came into effect in October 2007, the application form will become available by October 2017 (when first 120 months duration will conclude).

To get details about this program as well as other associated programs for children and youth funding, buy your copy of Children and Youth Funding Report, a monthly newsletter by CD Publications, newsletter publishers since 1961.

Grant Professionals Association (GPA) Code of Ethics

The GPA is a nonprofit membership association which is committed to serve the greater public good by practicing the highest professional and ethical standards. It basically refers to the standards or rules concerning the conduct of an individual or members of a profession. Usually, ethics is linked to honesty; however, when it comes to grant writers, the issue is a bit more complex.

Ethics Basics

The basic ethics in grant writing is pretty simple. Be honest – always tell the truth, the complete truth. This applies to both budgets and narratives.

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Preparing to Survive an Audit

The word, “Audit” plays a very crucial role for a grant receiver. An organization can be prepared for audits or be penalized for not being compliant with the audit requirements. To be compliant to the audit requirements, it is required that prior to receiving grants, the organization should establish an internal control systems and have well-defined performance measures facilitating grant management. Granting organizations should have an effective post-award process to assess the grant results and to manage the performance of the grant recipient. The recipient organization needs to demonstrate compliance and accountability for the donor’s satisfaction.

Best Practices for Grants Management Audit

Proper audit preparation is the key factor that determines how successful an audit will be. Inadequate audit preparation leads to penalties, excessive audit fees, delays in report publication, and non-compliance. The key areas you need to focus on to prepare for an audit are:

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Checklist to a “Donor-Centered” Approach to Fundraising

Donors stop donating to the causes that they once adopted, and most of them do that before their giving becomes profitable. Donors abandon non-profits that do not spend wisely. However, donors remain connected to their philanthropy in spite of being frustration with many aspects of the modern-day fundraising. Donors stay loyal and donate generously to the any cause that meets their requirements.

The fool proof formula to keep a donor loyal to your non-profit, to make him stay, and to raise more money in the changing donor environment, is following the Donor-Centered Fundraising approach, which represents all that a donor wants. Donor-Centered Fundraising approach refers to fundraising that inspires donors to give generously and to remain loyal to your organization. It focuses on fulfilling the essential requirements of the donor organization, which are:

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Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act—Opportunities Galore for Fund-Seekers

President Obama signed the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) in July 2014 after it was passed with almost unanimous bipartisan support in Congress. It was the first update to the country’s core workforce training programs in the 16 years since the Workforce Investment Act (WIA) was first passed. There have been numerous changes since 1998 but the workforce system of our country has not kept up. Low-income and low-skilled workers have to face more hurdles than ever in securing an education and finding a decent job.

The purpose of passing the WIOA was to provide local and state areas the leverage to collaborate across systems in order to better address the skill and employment requirements of present jobseekers, employers and employees.

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How a Winning Program Design Section leads to a Winning Grant Proposal

Here’s a small but significant fact. Funders focus more on the program design or the plan of action section in your grant proposal. Therefore, careful planning and communication of the program design section is important in writing a winning grant proposal.

The Program Design section of grant proposal begins with a purpose statement. It is followed by a detailed description of your program, goals, objectives, and activities. It further includes an implementation timeline, and the management and evaluation plans. It ends with a sustainability statement.

What should a Winning Program Design include?

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7 Steps to Online Fundraising Success

With new technology and channels—like emails, Facebook, LinkedIn, funding sites, mobile phones, and web—non-profits have been exploring different opportunities to stay in touch with the people who are important to their organization.

Your non-profit organization might be well-established, but you need to update it to modern tools if you want to meet the latest fundraising goals. Technological option is convenient to the members. Many payment practices have moved online and your non-profit organization needs to be ready to keep up with it.

There is an increase in the number of people who prefer to pay money through online transactions. Studies have suggested that young people comprise of the largest group to have adopted this trend. To keep at par with this growing trend of online donations, the non-profit should have updated technology strategies. With small changes in your strategy, you can see a big difference in how your contacts judge you and how likely will they contribute.

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Easy Tips for a Winning Grant Application

Writing a winning grant proposal (one which provides you with the funds) is not an easy task. A huge amount of research and excellent writing expertise is required prior to development of a proposal. A lot of organizations lack an experienced grant writer for handling grant writing, management, editing and development. If you are not receiving any grants after putting a lot of effort in writing them, then there is something very crucial missing in your grant proposal.

Here are some tips which will assist you in writing effective grant proposals –

Take ample time

Everything that you plan takes longer than you estimate. No matter how meticulously you plan, there are many things to consider in a project, some that you might have missed to overlook in your plan, some more time-consuming than expected, all these factors are involved in submitting a proposal. Therefore, take your time in analyzing and researching prior to finalizing a project.

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4 Key Steps for Grant Writing Success

Writing effective Grant Submissions that might help you win Grants – however, most of us are deluded into the idea that grant writing is complex, tough, time consuming and difficult. It is not so!

Technically, yes, preparing grants is time consuming and you do have the risk of your application being turned down, but you can include some simple steps to become ahead of time, and make sure that you achieve success. We will discuss some of these points here:

Also read: Handling a Federal Grant Application Rejection Notice

Properly Prepare Files and Documents For Submission!

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