Ryan Bridges is a contributing writer and media specialist for the Presentation Training Institute. He regularly produces content for a variety of business and presentation blogs, based around the transitional challenges which comes with communication and public speaking.
Written by Ryan Bridges
“Use your words.” This directive is given to children to help them learn to express their feelings verbally instead of through temper tantrums. In modern society, words are only the start of how people let each other know what they are thinking and feeling. Effective communication drives the business world as well as healthy interpersonal relationships.
Today’s youth have grown up with access to instant communication technologies such as texting. Communication may be able to move at lightning speed, but informal methods of sharing information can lead to breakdowns in the intention of a message just as quickly. Learning how to connect with others in a respectful and efficient manner is key.
Keep a Record
It is tempting to believe your memory is infallible for facts and deadlines, but distractions and a heavy workload may impair your skills. Writing down highlights from meetings will reduce the time it takes to accomplish your objectives and will reduce your stress level. Use an organization system so you can easily find what you’ve recorded again.
Listen with Intention
Anyone who has given a speech knows the feeling of eyes staring blankly as you try to gauge whether anyone is paying attention to you. As a listener, indicate your presence by maintaining proper eye contact. This includes taking short breaks to look down at your notes as well as nodding when you agree. Ask specific questions that reflect on what has just been said to indicate you are tracking ideas. Rephrase words to make it clear you are absorbing the content being presented.
Determine the Best Method of Communication
Reach your audience in a targeted manner. Use texting if you are approaching a deadline or need a quick response to a simple query. Send an email if you have a lot to share or need to discuss complex policies or procedures. Be sure that you address the recipient, sign your name, and write out words fully. If you are in a hurry but are also facing a situation that needs delicate deliberation, call the person. It may be helpful to follow up a phone call with an email to document what you discussed.
Your phone battery ran out in the middle of a text conversation with your significant other. After charging, the screen is flooded with text after text. Rather than copying this type of behavior, pause in conversations to allow time for others to respond. People may get interrupted, leaving them unable to reply to you immediately. Make only benign assumptions about their intentions. Check in if a significant amount of time has passed by asking where things are at in the process. Finish communication chains by stating your next step and providing a time frame in which you plan to reply.
One Word at a Time
Let others complete their thoughts rather than interrupting or finishing their sentences. Walking all over people verbally often leaves them feeling like you did not hear them. Put away unnecessary communication devices while others are sharing ideas in order to provide them with your total attention.
Prepare Before Delivery
If communicating an idea was like a dish of food, make sure it’s marinated and fully cooked before presenting it. This means outlining what you intend to say before meeting with someone and reviewing your notes ahead of time. Edit any written work for grammar and spelling errors. Accomplish this is by reading your writing aloud.
Healthy communication skills lead to each person concluding a conversation feeling heard and understood. They can take time to perfect and master. Through preparation, the right method of communication and respectful listening, you will be able to not only get your point across but you will also achieve your goals with a smile on your face.
Kim Mitchell is often recognized for her fresh perspective on innovative philanthropy, social entrepreneurship and stakeholder and community engagement. Kim has decades of experience in leadership positions in philanthropy, human resources, and consulting while at JPMorgan Chase & Co. and Xerox Corporation.
Written by Kim Mitchell
In an environment of shifting priorities and shrinking philanthropic and government dollars, amidst a season of increasing demand for programs and services, competition for funding is fierce! The competition is not just the familiar legacy nonprofits who have been stalwart program providers trying to solve what seem to be intractable problems. Now the competition includes a wave of new organizations and social enterprises that are creating a range of solutions to emerging issues like food, justice, and climate change.
One of the strategies that can be a differentiator is Storytelling. The truth is, most people love a good story and there is an abundance of literature that speaks to its power. As Greg Satell wrote in Forbes Magazine in August of 2015, “A compelling story can evolve into a narrative that inspires a shared mission. That, in turn, can lead to a long and great legacy.” For years the Disney Leadership Institute has used the power of story to illuminate the leadership values and behaviors of Walt Disney. The examples they share during the program speak to the company’s legacy, strong culture, and deep belief in “happiness and pixie dust” as its product.
As further evidence of the power of story, The Nonprofit Storytelling Conference is an annual event that attracts thousands of nonprofit leaders and marketing experts to strengthen their competency and storytelling prowess. The sole purpose of this conference is to help organizations tell better stories to raise more money. The testimonials from past participants are powerful stories themselves and in fact, there are examples of the practical and tangible tools that generate proven results. “1 story, 1 month, 1 million dollars” is one of many examples of the conference’s impact. They promote the notion that “With better stories, you can raise more money.” (nonprofitstorytellingconference.com)
Last November, the Support Center attended the conference and experienced firsthand the benefits of the expertise of presenters and panelists whose presentations, examples and instructions aimed to strengthen our storytelling skills. The staff walked away with a wealth of information that has enhanced our digital media and marketing strategy in addition to the nuggets captured below. We hope they inspire you to sharpen your storytelling capabilities, increase your recognition, strengthen your brand and attract more funders. Things to consider when developing your story:
- Write from your own tender spot
- Convey what’s your why
- Cultivate intrigue
- All stories must lead to action
- Create “Sneezers” – create sound bite of stories that spread the virus and generate contagious enthusiasm
This can be a game changer for small organizations. Some of the testimonials describe increases in funding, participation rates and the diversity of the donor base. There is an old expression often used that says it’s not just who you know, but who knows you….so how about it…? Do the right people know you and the work you do? What are the stories people should know? What’s the tender spot? How do you capture the hearts and minds of the community of funders and donors who will support your work? As we all work to master the art of our storytelling, let’s do so with the goal to “make a dent in the universe” (Steve Jobs) and accelerate positive social change.
For more information on storytelling and how it can help your organization, contact Marleni Marte, Communications Manager. Or visit our full events calendar for upcoming workshops related to storytelling and other communication topics.
Laurel Molloy began teaching public workshops at the Support Center back in 2001. Since then, she has expanded her involvement to include a wide variety of customized on-site trainings and ongoing consulting engagements. She is Founder and CEO of Innovations Quantified (IQ), a consulting firm that has been helping organizations increase their impact since 1999.
Written by Laurel Molloy
Nonprofits often think the key to successful outcome measurement is hiring someone whose sole responsibility is data management. But that is not necessarily true.
During my 20+ years working on this important issue, I have found the most successful efforts engage staff members from across the organization.
Here are some specific ways key staff members can positively influence the outcome measurement process within their agency.
Executive Director: must prioritize, support, and reinforce
- Makes tracking and reviewing results a clear organizational priority. Even in the face of competing obligations, gives staff the time and resources they need to do the work.
- Does not dominate the process. Recognizes the importance of many voices – to build buy-in and develop a reasonable measurement plan – and therefore asks the staff at all levels to contribute throughout.
- Reinforces good institutional habits. Ensures outcome discussions are regularly incorporated into meetings, reports, retreats, trainings, and other forums.
- Emphasizes learning first. Conveys that it is more important to review and learn from the data than to have results that demonstrate a “perfect” program.
Program Leaders and Line Staff: must focus, commit, and utilize
- Help ensure efforts are focused on the right things. Speak up to ensure outcomes, indicators, and measures are truly reflective of the work.
- Collect data regularly. Realize data can be useful in informing their work, so make a point to capture it consistently.
- Review and consider data. Work together to review and interpret findings, determine how to address emerging issues, and build upon successes. In other words, own the data.
Measurement Coordinator: must facilitate, motivate, and adapt
- Takes many forms. Whether a dedicated “evaluation” person or simply a program leader, serves as primary coordinator of the outcome measurement and management process.
- Champions the effort. Helps ensure everyone, including the Executive Director, keeps outcomes top of mind.
- Assists staff in tracking, compiling and reviewing results. Advocates for needed resources (e.g., outside help, new database, a simplified process) and provides support to staff, but doesn’t do everything for them.
Becoming a more outcome-focused organization is an ongoing process, which often requires steadfast commitment and follow through to create the new institutional habits. Having various people play a role – rather than expecting one person to do it all – can help organizations not only develop meaningful plans but also stick to them for the long haul.
For more information on change consultant and how agents of your organization can contribute to the process of outcome measurement contact Carolyn Champ, Associate Executive Director. Or visit our full events calendar for upcoming workshops related to outcome measurement.
Pat Richter has been affiliated with the Support Center since 2002 in many capacities, including as a volunteer facilitator of workshops, affiliated consultant, C.O.O. interim, and most recently the Interim Director of Consulting. She consults with nonprofits and foundations both large and small. She has worked with a multitude of organizations to complete organizational assessment, including the PSEG Foundation and the Horizon Foundation.
Written by Pat Richter
It takes a long time to master proposal writing, especially if you are a program manager newly encouraged to be part of the development team. Without a mentor or some workshops to understand the art and science of it, streams of rejections are in your future. But how about some tips about the most common mistakes newly minted ‘grant writers’ make? At least you can avoid these!
Mistake number one – being a bad fit with the priorities of the funder. The odds are slim that you can convince, on paper, a foundation to fund something that is not in their DNA to fund. Maybe with a strong personal connection, it’s possible, but trying to fit a square peg into a round hole will get your proposal deep-sixed fast.
Mistake number two – making a weak case for the project. Just because your organization wants to provide a service does not automatically infer a community need. Losing funding (especially from a government source) and needing a band-aid is not a compelling reason for a funder to jump to the rescue. Another common ‘needs assessment’ misfire is using this section to explain what the organization wants to do rather than share evidence of people suffering, community deficits, or unrealized potential. Lastly, overly general statistics will not lead to the funder to respect your organization’s deep understanding of an issue and its impact.
Mistake number three – using the same style, tone, and content across the board with all types of funders. There are differences in the ‘cultures’ of corporate foundations, family foundations, and private foundations and varying methods of reviewing and choosing the best ideas. Learn as much as you can about the kinds of projects that excite prospective funders based on their track record and learn to present your case in several different ways depending on the audience.
Mistake number four – rambling and vague goals and objectives. While many funders misuse these terms, our job is not to educate them but to figure out what they mean and what they want. Goals and objectives are one sentence each. Goals show vision (like mission statements) and are not measurable, but inspirational. Objectives describe the results or impacts of a project or program.
Mistake number five – budget trip-ups. Many funders are impatient with math errors in budgets, items included that were clearly listed as not allowable, and surprise items that were not mentioned in the project implementation section. Make the budget tell a story in numbers, and the methods section tells that same story in words; two formats for telling a similar story in harmony with each other.
These are the big five, but other mistakes include applying for funding even though your type of organization is not eligible, not following directions, using an obvious boiler-plated proposal, or creating a proposal that is exhausting to read.
Here are two real-life examples from program staff tasked with writing proposals:
Early on, I spent almost no time trying to understand the “fit” between the way our organization matched up with the type of organizations and programs the funder wanted to fund. I wasted so much time writing proposals that weren’t even seriously considered. We are a domestic violence agency providing shelter for battered women but we don’t do “advocacy”. On one occasion, I wasted time and submitted twice to a foundation that only funded “advocacy” in the domestic violence arena, but not services. Once I understood this and spent more time on the upfront research to determine our fit, I wasted a lot less time and saw much better results.
On several occasions, my proposals were rejected because the funder didn’t understand why certain expenses were included in my budget. I realized that I sometimes did not discuss all expense elements in my methods section (e.g. In one proposal I didn’t discuss the outreach component of my project in the proposal, so the funder did not understand why I had expenses in for media advertising and flyers). Now I make sure to go back to be sure to match all budget elements to the methods and, where possible, I include a budget narrative to further clarify how expenses match project activities.
To learn more about grant proposal writing mistakes and workshops on mastering proposal writing from the Support Center, contact Carolyn Champ, Associate Executive Director. Or visit our full events calendar for upcoming workshops related to outcome measurement.
Over the course of the past year in addition to sharing updates about our respective organizations and looking for more opportunities to collaborate, the Ahead of the Curve Coalition also talked a lot about risk. We’ve spoken about language and whether terms such as “risk management” make talking about risk less appealing. We’ve talked about the many facets of risk ranging from funding to staffing to advocacy and fundraising and who in an organization is responsible for monitoring risk. And if talking about language and accountability is this complicated, how do we actually do the work?
Building off of last year’s initial discussion defining risk management and focus on the practical, “how-to” information, the Ahead of the Curve Consortium held its 2nd annual symposium titled: Stay Ahead of the Curve: How to Proactively Navigate Risk, Opportunity & Uncertainty. The day included a panel moderated by Ted Bilich, CEO of Risk Alternatives and the discussion was centered around real-life risks and opportunities a few of our peers face and manage every day. Some of the gems provided from the conversation included shifting the perspective of how we view risk, the approach to having internal conversations about risk management and how to be more aware and equipped to address risk. After the discussion, we had the chance to roll up our sleeves and engage in scenario planning with tools that can be used by the organization in attendance as well as those who can access the resources via the website: www.aheadofthecurve.nyc. Collectively we talked about strategies, tools, tips, and our own experiences – because the reality is, each of us manages risk and opportunity every day.
To view photos from the event, please visit our Facebook page at www.facebook.com/SupportCenterNY.
The New Strategies in Grantmaking panel returned last Thursday, July 20th to PSEG Newark. With “Leading Together” serving as the theme for the event, grantmakers and nonprofit leaders explored new ways of thinking about business practices and leadership in professional settings. The interactive panel provided participants with the opportunity to discuss, reflect and apply the leadership principles observed to bring constructive change to their communities. The featured panelists included:
- Crystal Dundas, Vice President, Program and Communications Officer, Wells Fargo Regional Foundation
- Kathy Durante, Executive Director, OceanFirst Foundation
- Margarethe Laurenzi, Director of Leadership Grantmaking & Engagement, Community Foundation of New Jersey
- Edward Laporte, Executive Director, Office of Faith Based Initiatives
During the mid-panel break, attendees participated in a short workshop led by the world-class musicians of the New Jersey Symphony Orchestra. By examining the rehearsal process, the string quartet illustrated the different types of leadership skills used in musical preparation—collaboration, communication, and trust. Audience members drew parallels between performing arts and nonprofit management, sharing ways they could creatively incorporate these techniques into their workplace. The Leadership Quartet took apart the components of a working team, explored them from multiple perspectives and then reassembled them into a finished product – a great musical performance.
The event concluded with a series of questions moderated by Craig Drinkard, Associate Director of Operations at Victoria Foundation. Some of the questions included: “how do grantmakers think about leadership?” and “what are the key elements that corporate, foundation and other grantmakers look for when seeking out well-led organizations?” The panelists discussed their strategies for accessing grantees and highlighted key factors for successfully securing grants within their organizations.
What did your fellow nonprofit leaders think?
“In my 20 plus years in grantsmanship, I thought this was very forward thinking in program design and topic selection. It gave us new insight into the thought process from the grant makers perspective. Very helpful information to bring back to our team.” – Pat Levins, Caldwell University
“This was a relevant topic, both in terms of organizational leadership and fundraising. The panelists were real and direct, while still being personable and informative.” – Jane Kurek, The Provident Bank Foundation
Stronger Together: Focusing on Nurturing Collaborative Leadership
Building on the success of last year’s first-ever Stronger Together Symposium, DYCD, Support Center and Community Resource Exchange hosted its second annual symposium to help nonprofit leaders build collaboration skills, meet new partners, and learn from experts. This year’s theme was focused on empowering nonprofit leaders to facilitate social and economic change through collaborative partnership.
Our Keynote Speaker, Arthur T. Himmelman, focused his address on community organizing and collaborative leadership for working together in service and for justice.
Panelist included: Keith Timko, Executive Director, Support Center; Jess Cavagnero, Partner, SeaChange Capital Partners; and Partners from the CRE Collaboration Lab: Robert Taylor, Executive Director of Youth Action/Youth Build and Craig Willingham, Deputy Director, CUNY Urban Food Policy Institute
Participants had an opportunity to choose from the options below for the morning workshop:
- Growing a Partnership: Learn about the developmental stages of strategic partnerships such as: creating the foundation, building it out, agreeing on how to work, fortifying and sustaining of existing partnerships.
- Is This Worth All the Effort: Discover assessment tools to help you start a collaborative effort and other resources to assess if partnerships are working well.
- Community Engagement in the Decision-Making Process: Hear from the keynote speaker on ways to ensure respectful and meaningful exchange of ideas for change and mutually beneficial power-sharing.
- Strategic Partnerships Panel Discussion: Join representatives from multiple city agencies for a panel discussion about capacity building initiatives created to increase strategic partnerships.
- Open Space: Think, connect with willing partners and gain access to experts in the room to guide or answer questions.
Over lunch, participants worked in small groups that consisted of at least three organizations and they worked together to solve a community challenge presented. Here are some pictures from the Collaboration Challenge:
The day ended with participants in groups based on boroughs and neighborhoods, allowing them to learn more about the organizations and decision makers present. They were also given an opportunity to assess challenges and explore ways to start, sustain or manage strategic partnerships. Office hours were set up at the Support Center HQ to continue working on fostering future collaborations.
The Support Center is currently in its third year of partnering with the Horizon Foundation for New Jersey to provide a series of workshops for all NJ grantees and targeted capacity building services for a subset of organizations. Mainstage Center for the Arts in Blackwood was one of six Horizon Foundation grantees to receive a $9,500 grant in 2016-17 for a six-month consulting engagement through the Support Center. Founded in 1989 as a summer theater program, Mainstage uses performing arts as a catalyst for individual expression and growth in youth and adults, and has become an integral part of South Jersey’s cultural scene. Through its Performing Arts Academy, School of Dance, Show Choirs and Summer Stage program, Mainstage serves over 800 young people and entertains more than 28,000 annually, with performances and events that include five fully staged musicals, three musical reviews and 20 short films.
A preliminary organizational assessment pointed to a need to grow and diversify the organization’s sources of revenue and prepare the Board for a greater role in fundraising. Mainstage currently derives around 87% of its $800,000 budget from earned revenue (ticket sales, classes, etc.), and fund development has historically taken a back seat to program development. Consultant Regina Podhorin worked with executive director Joe Bretschneider and the fund development committee to create a three-year development plan that aims to increase the proportion of individual and foundation funders to 20% of income by year three, an ambitious but attainable goal. Bretschneider says the timing of the Horizon grant and the work with the Support Center was “fortuitous,” as they had already begun a strategic planning process for the organization as a whole. The fund development plan will dovetail nicely with the strategic plan and will be a living document that can be adjusted in accordance with organizational needs. Bretschneider says he gained a lot of clarity about the process of putting a development plan together, adding that Podhorin “really got us” and was methodical and thorough in her approach.
Other Horizon Foundation grantees receiving capacity building support in 2016-17 are Hopeworks N’Camden, Kindersmile Foundation, Jewish Renaissance Medical Center, Partnership for a Drug-Free New Jersey and UrbanPromise Ministries.
New Strategies in Grantmaking “Leading Together”
Grantmakers and nonprofits are deepening their work together to bring constructive change to our communities. It is often said that grantmakers invest in leaders as well as organizations and that a well-led organization is the key to grantmaking success. But how do grantmakers think about leadership? What are the key elements that corporate, foundation, and other grantmakers look for when seeking out well-led organizations? Join us for this interactive panel conversation and fun workshop session with NJSO to learn more and contribute to the thinking!
Thursday, July 20, 9:00 AM to 1:00 PM
PSEG, 80 Park Plaza, Newark, NJ 07102
Nonprofit Leaders and their team, Executive Directors, Board Members, Development Directors, Senior Leaders & Managers
Craig Drinkard, Associate Director for Operations, Victoria Foundation
Kathy Durante, OceanFirst Foundation
Margarethe Laurenzi, Director of Leadership Grantmaking & Engagement, Community Foundation of New Jersey
Crystal Dundas, Vice President, Program and Communications Officer, Wells Fargo Regional Foundation
Special Performance By:
Join us, and if you can, bring your team to our panel conversation with New Jersey grantmakers, At this session, during our mid-panel break, we will have a short workshop experience led by the world-class musicians of the New Jersey Symphony Orchestra. By examining the rehearsal process, a string quartet will illustrate the different types of leadership skills used in musical preparation—teamwork, problem solving, creative negotiation, compromise and decision- making—and show how these same skills can be applied to a professional setting.
While musicians may not seem to have much in common with nonprofit leaders, we all share the same needs for clear communication, professionalism and inspiration to achieve specific goals on deadline. The Leadership Quartet takes apart the components of a working team, explores them from multiple perspectives and then reassembles them into a finished product—a great musical performance.
This interactive workshop explores new ways of thinking about business practices and leadership in professional settings. It provides the participants with the opportunity to discuss, reflect on and apply the leadership principles observed. The mid-panel session will conclude with a performance of the featured work.
8:30AM – 9:00AM Arrival, registration, continental breakfast
9:00AM – 10:10AM Moderated Panel
10:10AM – 10:20AM Short intermission
10:20AM – 11:15AM NJSO Leadership Quartet
11:30AM – 12:30PM Reconvene Panel – Panel Q&A
12:30PM – 1:00PM Conclusion/Networking/Close
Last year, groups participated in the the Marshmallow Challenge to help boost creativity and build collaboration.
Building on the success of last year’s first-ever Stronger Together Symposium, DYCD, Support Center and Community Resource Exchange will host a second symposium to help nonprofit leaders build collaboration skills, meet new partners, and learn from experts. This year’s theme is focused on strengthening the ability of nonprofit leaders to start, sustain or manage strategic partnerships. Nonprofit leaders who are able to leverage long-standing, trusting relationships are more likely to be resilient and overcome significant challenges, which is crucial given today’s fickle funding environment. Nonprofit leaders who collaborate regularly have stronger programs, more motivated staff and deeper resources to draw from in times of need.
The one-day institute for small nonprofits or specific programs of larger organizations will help leaders identify, manage, evaluate and renew various ways to partner from sharing back-office resources to joint programming. Participants will learn about best practice from leaders of foundations, nonprofit umbrella organizations, government agencies, strategy experts and experienced practitioners.
Theme: Empowering nonprofit leaders to facilitate social and economic change through collaborative partnership
- Identify concrete strategies and best practices for collaborating;
- Meet other nonprofits interested in partnering or sharing resources particularly by geography; and
- Learn from experts in the field on the various options and identify concrete next steps that your organization can take.
Target Audience: Executive directors, board members, and senior leadership
Date: June 22nd
Location: UJA-Federation of New York; 130 East 59th Street, New York, NY 10022
8:30AM – 9:00AM (Registration, Breakfast & Networking)
9:15AM – 10:00AM (Keynote Address from Arthur T. Himmelman: Community organizing and collaborative leadership for working together in service and for justice.)
10:00AM – 10:45AM
Panel Discussion: The value of collaborative partnerships and best practices on how to nurture them.
Keith Timko, Executive Director of Support Center
Jack Krauskopf, Distinguished Lecturer and Director, Center for Nonprofit Strategy and Management at Baruch College’s Austin W. Marxe School of Public and International Affairs
Jess Cavagnero, Partner, SeaChange Capital Partners
Partners from CRE Collaboration Lab
Robert Taylor, Executive Director of Youth Action/Youth Build and Craig Willingham, Deputy Director, CUNY Urban Food Policy Institute
11:00AM – 12:00PM (Workshop breakouts)
- Session 1: Growing a Partnership: The Lifecycle
Learn about the developmental stages of strategic partnerships such as: creating the foundation, building it out, agreeing on how to work, fortifying and sustaining of existing partnerships.
- Session 2: Open Space
Think and connect with willing partners and gain access to experts in the room to guide or answer questions.
- Session 3: Is This Worth All the Effort
Discover assessment tools to help you start a collaborative effort and other resources to assess if partnerships are working well.
- Session 4: Community Engagement in the Decision Making Process
Hear from the keynote speaker on ways to insure respectful and meaningful exchange of ideas for change and mutually beneficial power-sharing.
- Session 5: Strategic Partnerships Panel Discussion
Join representatives from multiple city agencies for a panel discussion about capacity building initiatives created to increase strategic partnerships.
12:00PM – 1PM (Lunch and Collaboration Challenge Game)
1:15PM – 2:15PM (Workshop breakouts – by borough | Moving into ACTION – participants will be separated by borough to explore partnership opportunities and put ideas gleaned from event into action.)
2:30PM – 3:00PM (You be the judge | Winners from the Collaboration Challenge Game are announced and given a prize)
3:00PM – 3:30pm (Closing / Next Steps)