Archive for December, 2011

‘Tis The Season For Giving

Posted on December 14, 2011. Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , |

With just a few days left before Christmas 2011, many people are still hurrying around to buy those last minute gifts.  Family and friends have exchanged wish lists and items are being checked off, one by one.  However, before the books are closed on this year’s season of giving, there is also still time to give to the charity of your choice.  But with so many worthy causes, how do you decide on the best one for you? 

“Choose issues with your heart and choose organizations with your head” is the motto of Philanthropedia ( ), a California-based nonprofit organization whose mission is to “improve nonprofit effectiveness by directing money to and facilitating discussion about expert recommended high-impact nonprofits.”  Philanthropedia advises donors that it is important to give to causes that they care deeply about for personal, intellectual, ideological reasons or otherwise, and to support nonprofits within those areas that are having the biggest impact and doing the most good. 

 Adrian Sargeant, the Robert F. Hartsook Professor of Fundraising at the Center on Philanthropy at Indiana University and an expert in fund-raising research, donor loyalty and retention, recently participated in a live chat with the Chronicle of Philanthropy ( ) on the topic of year-end giving.  She says that “Many folks around the world derive a lot of pleasure from their holiday giving and many make it a family event, inviting children to get involved selecting a cause or causes that they care about and making a holiday gift.”  Jen Shang, an assistant professor at the School of Public and Environmental Affairs at Indiana University, a philanthropic psychologist and also a contributor to the live chat says you should give to “something that you care enough about so that you would not only give once, but give continuously.  This should also be something that you would care enough about that you would follow its development, and not simply give money.”

 For donors who chose to make financial contributions in particular, a little front end homework will go a long way.  Keep in mind that not all of your dollars will reach the community or people the nonprofit is organized to serve.  Jen Shang says, “A charity cannot be effective without overhead.  So, the real question [that donors should ask] is, what is the overhead spent on?”  Donors should also not hesitate to ask about other ways they can help an organization.  Not everyone will be able to give hundreds or thousands of dollars but “there are other ways to serve the social good [such as through] smart volunteering, board service [and] raising money from friends” says Shang.  She also suggests that for donors who make smaller contributions, looking for organizations that have matching programs is a good idea.  Jacob Harold of the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, and third contributor to the live chat, emphasizes that “We all have a toolbox for social good — money’s an important part of that, but time, energy, creativity and relationships are essential tools, too.

Many people already know the causes and specific nonprofit organizations to which they will donate.  But for those who have not yet decided, Harold suggests starting with organizational websites that allow you to search for trustworthy nonprofits in your specific local area as well as national and international nonprofits, such as Great Nonprofits ( ), Philanthropedia ( and Modest Needs ( ).   Also, don’t forget faith-based and religious organizations and programs in your community. 

 Once you have determined the cause and organization to which you would like to contribute, you can follow up with a telephone call to ask specific questions and get more information.  Many charitable organizations accept hand-delivered, telephone and mail-in donations, as well as online credit card donations.  If you are contacted by an organization that is soliciting a contribution, exercise caution and make sure it is a reputable and trustworthy organization.  If you are not comfortable giving credit card information to telephone solicitors, ask them to send the information to your mailing address.  There are only a few days left until December 31, 2011 but there is still enough time to donate to a charitable cause. 

For a free consultation and more information on charitable giving, call the HR4NON-PROFITS team at 630.830.4443 or visit our website at Follow us on Facebook and Twitter.

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Management Service Organizations: Lightening the Load of Back-Office Business

Posted on December 1, 2011. Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , |

Nonprofit organizations are in the business of providing services to people and communities.  And while passion for a cause may ignite the organization’s desire to serve, the truth is that administrative functions are also necessary in order for the organization’s services to be propelled forward to reach the community.  Financial accounting, information technology, and human resources are just a few of the administrative functions that all nonprofit organizations must consider in order to remain sustainable.  Yet, the solo operations of many nonprofit organizations often mean limited resources, which can translate into inaccurate financial accounting, outdated information technology, and ineffective human resources.  One solution to the problem is Management Service Organizations.

A Management Service Organization (MSO) “is a collection of nonprofits who come together to share back-office functions and at the same time, they maintain their separate identities, governing structures and programs”, says Jean M. Butzen, founder of Mission Plus Strategy Consulting, (, a Chicago-based company whose focus is on strategic restructuring strategies such as mergers, partnerships and alliances for delivering social value.

The concept of MSO’s has been around for quite some time; however, there has been renewed interest and attention from nonprofit organizations in light of the current economy’s call for restructuring.  An MSO is a “new organization created to integrate administrative functions, and thereby to increase the participating organizations’ efficiency,” states Bill Coy and Vance Yoshida, Senior Associates at La Piana Associates (, whose headquarters are in Emeryville, California.  In their article on “Administrative Collaborations, Consolidations, and MSOs”, Coy and Yoshida stated, “As nonprofits experience the benefits of programmatic collaboration, they are more willing to try administrative collaboration, and even the creation of a new organization for shared functions: a management service organization”.

Coy and Yoshida further proposed that successful MSO’s have clients whose annual revenues are less than $500,000 and whose back-office needs are fairly straightforward.  Generally, MSO’s achieve economies of scale by providing a standardized menu of services for a set fee, plus optional services priced separately.  They also tend to use one set of systems and procedures to provide their services and have a mission that is related to serving a specific community and assisting in the capacity-building efforts of organizations in that community.

Nonprofit organizations who are considering MSO’s should keep in mind that an MSO is a collaborative effort; therefore, the participant must be willing and able to work together.  An MSO is only one option for managing back-office functions and the nonprofit organization must exercise due diligence to be sure that an MSO is the right option for its organization.

For a free consultation and more information on management service organizations, call the HR4NON-PROFITS team at 630.830.4443 or visit our website at Follow us on Facebook and Twitter.

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