Archive for March, 2011

The Case For Giving During Tough Times

Posted on March 31, 2011. Filed under: Uncategorized |

Mal Warwick is a professional fundraiser and the author of Fundraising When Money Is Tight: A Strategic and Practical Guide to Surviving Tough Times and Thriving in the Future, (Jossey-Bass; 2009).  In this practical book, Warwick says “Although many of us in the social sector believe the public owes us a living—we’ve nobly accepted lower pay and longer hours, after all—money doesn’t just materialize. It has to be earned. And there’s nothing better than a recession to drive this point home.”

Fundraising can be a challenge in these tough economic times.  If it has been several years since your key people have been trained in grant writing, it may be time to brush up.  How  can they learn to write more compelling requests?  What part of your presentations can be improved? It is crucial that you don’t lose sight of your goals and objectives. The Grantmanship Center ( is offering a five day, hands-on workshop in Harlem from  April 18-22.  The workshop will show you how to create well-planned fundraising programs and create proposals that will convince foundation and corporate grantmakers to support your mission.  For more information about the Harlem workshop, contact Stephanie Chen: (212) 477-9450 or

“Warwick adds,”Take the opportunity to reexamine your case for giving. And be certain your donors understand both the more urgent need for your services during tough times and the many concrete steps you’re taking to increase your efficiency and effectiveness. Just be careful not to make a big deal about how your organization’s fundraising efforts are suffering.”

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Recruiting and Managing Volunteers

Posted on March 21, 2011. Filed under: Uncategorized |

Carolyn A. Butts is the Executive Director of African Voices Communications, Inc., (, a New York City based non-profit organization founded in 1992 to foster cultural understanding and awareness through literature and the arts. African Voices has a history of providing leadership within the arts community through its magazine and the following public programs: Reel Sisters of the Diaspora Film Festival & Lecture Series, a festival for women filmmakers; Rhymes, Rhythms & Rituals, an outdoor poetry concert in the park series; Cultural Circle Conference, a writer’s conference; and Get Your Read On! (GYRO!), which is a family literacy program. Carolyn manages to produce all of these highly acclaimed programs with a skeleton staff and a very strong volunteer program. She hopes that sharing her methods will help other organizations survive with their mission intact during these tough, economic times.

HR4: What is the structure of your program?

CAB: African Voices has two volunteer tracks: one are community volunteers who assist us with specific programs throughout the year such as the Reel Sisters Film Festival and the literary magazine. These core volunteers are given staff titles and have specific roles in helping the organization meet its goals. The second track are college students or interns who tend to be younger and are attracted by the training to build their resume and careers. The interns are short term volunteers who may be with the organization for a few months or weeks to fulfill their college requirements.

HR4: How do you find volunteers?
CAB: We use every tool at our disposal to recruit volunteers: word-of-mouth, college announcements in the Career Divisions, e-blasts, Twitter, Facebook and the African Voices website For us, the Black Literature or Black Studies Department at many colleges and the Film/Media Arts Departments have worked well. People within those departments either recommend students or simply spread the word. We have a process in place where once our volunteer coordinator is contacted, she sends out a volunteer application, which asks them about their skills and what areas in which they would like to serve and participate (Reel Sisters, Magazine, General Programs, etc.). They submit a resume with the returned form. It really helps us make sure that our volunteers are well matched with the needs we have in each area.
HR4: How do you build a team?

CAB: The most important elements of building a strong volunteer team for your non-profit organization is knowing exactly what you want from your volunteers. You also need to have a Volunteer Coordinator or Manager in place before you start recruiting. Engage your volunteers in your programs and make them feel appreciated by offering whatever perks you can to thank them for their dedication. We reward our volunteers with small gifts whenever we can (a free organization t-shirt or tote bag, tickets to a free play or free admittance to one of our events where they are not working, etc.). We also do our best to thank them publicly at the events and in our program journals.

HR4: Why do many volunteer initiatives fail?
CAB: The reason many volunteer programs miss the mark is because there is no supervision in place before recruitment starts. Volunteer coordinators are responsible for keeping volunteers engaged and on-track. If volunteers do not feel that their skills are being used or if there is a lack of organization, they move on.

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Leadership Lessons from Mark Zuckerberg – Facebook Founder

Posted on March 1, 2011. Filed under: Leadership |

I am a huge fan of Mark Zuckerberg.  I love his genius, naïveté, fearlessness, inexperience and expertise which all conspire together to challenge us to greater heights of leadership and innovation.

Mark Zuckerberg was named Time Magazine’s 2010 person of the year.   Why should current and aspiring leaders care about this recognition?  At the center of Zuckerberg’s meteoric success are three (3) lessons for leaders:

  1. Unyielding belief in a vision. Mark Zuckerberg epitomized this leadership quality.  He never gave up.  Unyielding belief in a vision demands passionately defending your vision to naysayers and cynics.  When you plan to do something that has not been done before, the critics are going to come out of every crack, cranny and crevice.  Welcome them because their resistance and opposition will generate feedback and data to enable you to sharpen and refine your vision.  Use their agitation to feed and fuel your determination to succeed.
  2. Where’s my millennial? This is the question all leaders should ask.  Mark Zuckerberg is a millennial and every company that is serious about competing and growing should have a few or an army of them.  Every leader who is serious about influencing significant change should have a 17-29 year old out-of-the box, brilliant and curious thinker at the table.   Millennials possess critical thinking genius to create new trends, tension and templates.  Invite, support and celebrate them.
  3. Keep trying something new.  If there is anything that is predictable about Facebook, it is the certainty that they are going to upgrade, tweak, adjust or add a feature.  With each feature enhancement, there is value added.  In this post recessionary period, to remain relevant and competitive, you have to keep trying something new.  This does not mean you metaphorically throw spaghetti on the wall to see what sticks.  This does not necessarily mean that you depart from your mission, but it does mean that you may need to broaden the application of your mission.

Mark Zuckerberg,  Thank you for Facebook. Thank you for connecting people around the world.

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