Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Help Your Nonprofit Advocacy?

A co-worker recently sent me this website, http://www.helpyourhospital.org/. This advocacy website was started in response to Governor Paterson's proposed budget cuts. When you visit the site, you are prompted to enter your zip code. The website then relates how much your regional hospitals stand to lose in funding cuts. The website delivers an immediate and powerful message. What do you think about developing a website like this for the Oneida and Herkimer nonprofit sector? Can you see the value in this resource as a response to proposed tax or service fees by the city of Utica or the Oneida and Herkimer county governments? Share your thoughts here.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Area charities see donations drop

The Observer-Dispatch featured an article on how area charities are finding themselves short of their fundraising goals this season, yet facing even more need than in years past. The article also relates how some past donors are now even seeking assistance from organizations. How is your nonprofit responding to these challenges?

Friday, December 19, 2008

Proposed Budget Impact on Your Nonprofit?

How are nonprofits responding to recent budget announcements and proposed cuts? What is the reaction in your local community? Advocacy is more important than ever for the nonprofit sector, especially when facing growing needs and significant cutbacks. Some are even criticizing the Governor for not making larger budget decreases, as this recent editorial in The NY Post relates. The author highlights funding areas, like the New York State Council on the Arts, as missed opportunities for savings. NYSCA is a statewide funder that supports arts and museums throughout NY. Interested in sharing your feedback? Post your comment here.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

NYS 2009 Budget Announced

Gov. Paterson released a $121 billion budget today that proposes $4 billion in new fees and taxes. Examples are:
  • An "iPod tax" that charges state and local sales tax for "digitally delivered entertainment services" - in other words, that new song you download.
  • State sales tax at movie theaters, sporting events, taxis, buses, limousines and cable and satellite TV and radio.
  • Costlier driving with the repeal of the 8-cents-per-gallon sales tax cap on motor and diesel motor fuel, plus and increase in the auto rental tax.
  • Tuition increases as SUNY and CUNY, $620 and $600 a year respectively.
  • A 50 cent tax on cigars. The current tax is equal to 37% of the wholesale price, or 34 cents a cigar.
  • No more sales tax break on clothes and shoes worth $110 or less, except during two weeks a year.
  • Higher taxes on wine, beer and flavored malt beverages. He would also impose an 18% tax on non-nutritional drinks like soda.
  • The rich would pay more for luxury items through an additional 5% tax imposed on cars costing more than $60,000, aircraft costing more than $500,000, yachts costing at least $200,000 and jewelry and furs costing in excess of $20,000.
  • In addition, a host of a fees, including those related to motor vehicle licensing and registration, parks and auto insurance, would go up, as would various state-imposed fines.

Read more about the budget in today's Observer-Dispatch.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Uticas Not Dead!

I recently received this e-mail below concerning the group Utica's Not Dead that met this evening. Is anyone aware of this effort or other groups like it? Social networks like this might be a good connection for nonprofits to connect to or approach. Any other thoughts?

Hey All,
Just a reminder the meeting for U.N.D. is today Tuesday December 9, 2008 at 5PM at The Tramontane Cafe. I have an agenda and will try to have a couple copies available today . Hope to see you there!
PS. After the meeting (which will not be as long as the first) if you are looking for some excitement UTICA COLLEGE HOCKEY at 7PM just might do the trick!
Katie Giacovelli
Utica's Not Dead

Monday, December 8, 2008

Succession Planning Survey

Hello Everyone,

I have recently been accepted as a Fellow in a Program call "Ladder to Leadership" - sponsored by the Robert Woods Johnson Foundation. This is a 16 month program and our group has chosen to work on Succession Planning. As we begin to formulate our project it is essential to see where our community is with succession planning in their organizations. Below please find a link to a survey to help us gather this information. The survey will take 10-15 minutes of your time and the information will be greatly appreciated.


Thank you for your time and if you have any questions, please feel free to contact me.

Cassandra Sheets, LMSW
Executive Director
Mohawk Valley Council on Alcoholism/Addictions, Inc.
502 Court Street
Utica, NY 13502

Sunday, December 7, 2008

December 3rd ED Meeting Recap

The final meeting for 2008 was held on December 3rd at Mid-York Child Care Coordinating Council. Twelve participants joined in a discussion and overview of the ED skill inventory project the Group recently implemented. Participants each took an opportunity to go over their answers from the inventory and highlight additional information. Some of the input shared at the meeting included Rescue Mission's Bill Dodge and his overview of available staff training, such as workplace violence training. Other feedback was related by Brenda Episcopo from Peacemaker Program, who discussed their child advocacy and dispute resolution skill areas. Peacemaker Program staff also work in 4 areas of conflict resolution, which include: conflict in the workplace; family and generational conflict, kids and teens conflict; and conflict among younger children. Examples of other nonprofit skill areas discussed were: RCIL's Sylvia Bunce and strategic planning; Junior Junction, Inc.'s Debbie George and Mid-York Child Care Coordinating Council's Lorraine Kinney-Kitchen and time management and multi-tasking; Central NY Labor Agency's Debra Hagenbuch and general employee training and support; and Sonia Martinez and Mohawk Valley Latino Association, Inc. and community organizing and advocacy.

Interested in seeing the inventory results so far? Click here. The response to the inventory has been very positive, and the Group will continue to collect input and refine this working document. If you haven't completed the survey yet, do so here.

The ED meeting wrapped up with a discussion of possible 2009 program ideas. Ideas discussed were:
  • 990 revision
  • Personnel policy manual and employee issues
  • Strategic planning templates/strategic vision
  • Board recruitment and development
  • Team building

Have other suggestions for programs? Share them here.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Virtual Golf Tournament Anyone?

As nonprofits make plans for 2009 fundraising events and activities, are organizations thinking about new approaches of raising money? A news announcement by MVPNetwork.com, a company that develops online multi-player games, brought this question to mind. The company has developed Golden Fairway, a video golf game simulator with real 18 hole online multiplayer game competition. The interesting idea is that charity fundraiser golf events are held at Golden Fairway on a regular basis. Could this be the future of golf tournaments and other special events? Would an event like this be feasible? If you are thinking about a new or different approach for 2009, share your feedback.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

ED Compensation Discussion

BoardSource featured a discussion on their website titled "Chief Executive Compensation: How Should Your Board Determine Compensation?" The article by Brian H. Vogel and Charles W. Quatt, Ph.D. gives some good information to work and consider when you addressing this issue.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Executive Director Job

Munson-Williams-Proctor Arts Institute is seeking a President/CEO. Based in Utica, New York, MWPAI is a fine arts center with three program divisions - Museum of Art, Performing Arts, and School of Art / PrattMWP. It attracts more than 175,000 visitors annually and is a recent recipient of the New York State Governor's Arts Award.

We seek a proven leader whose experience in running large, complex organizations with multiple and diverse internal and external constituencies has been characterized by a passion for the arts and a commitment of service to community. This person must be an exceptional communicator, someone whose accomplishments are clearly the result of his or her talent in enabling a highly competent, interdisciplinary management team to succeed while ensuring that they reach stated goals. We seek a leader who can demonstrate success in generating philanthropic income and who will be an innovative marketer able to grow visibility for MWPAI.

Career experience in a top leadership position in an arts organization (museum, art school, performing arts, etc.) is preferred but equivalent leadership in other nonprofit organizations (foundations, universities, civic organizations, etc.) is also acceptable. Service in voluntary leadership capacities on local, regional or national levels, such as nonprofit governing boards, United Way, etc., is also highly desirable. For information please contact Rhyan M. Zweifler, Principal, Kittleman & Associates, 29 North Wacker Drive, Suite 200, Chicago, IL 60606 Email: mwpai-pres@kittleman.net or for more information go to http://www.kittleman.net/jobsDetail.php?_page=jobs&id=76.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

New Study Released on Rural Economic Development in the New Economy

The Carsey Institute at the University of New Hampshire published Measures and Methods: Four Tenets for Rural Economic Development in the New Economy. The studies authors, Anita Brown-Graham and William Lambe, examine how rural communities are creating jobs, business and wealth in the face of economic challenges. As they relate:

In the past, much of rural economic development relied on exploiting natural resources or recruiting industry, often marketing cheap land and labor as community assets. In an era of global competition, those old approaches no longer yield sustainable results. This article offers four tenets for rethinking methods and measures that promote effective economic development in the twenty-first century.
  • Innovation is key to driving growth and prosperity in today’s global economy
  • Significant capital investments are required to put innovations to use
  • Development efforts must seek to protect valuable natural assets
  • Development is a “contact sport,” best pursued through dense networks of personal contacts.

Read more here.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Ideas for Helping Charities

Read an editorial here from the Observer-Dispatch on ideas for helping charities during these challenging times. Are there other ideas out there? Maybe a brainstorming session on this topic should be added to the ED Group meeting.

Make Marketing a Board Priority

Marketing is often an afterthought for many nonprofits, and convincing a board of directors of its importance can be a challenging task.

Ann, an executive director from a Central New York nonprofit relates just how challenging this can be. "My board is never very supportive of our marketing efforts and they don't see how important this can be to our success," she says. "It's a challenge to approve the budget to create materials and the website we so desperately need. I'm frustrated because at each board meeting it's discussed how we need to secure more donors, the big-time donors, and have better turn out at our events. My board just doesn't make the connection that without marketing ourselves, people don't really know who we are or our impact on the community."

Here are some steps to help a board of directors make marketing a priority:

Hold board training
Utilize a communications consultant to train the board to understand the benefits of developing marketing strategies to promote the impact and message of the organization.
Sometimes an outside perspective is necessary for the board to understand the value of marketing and for added support of the CEO or executive director's ideas.

Diversify the board of directors
Seek out new board members from the private sector that either have a marketing and communications background or that utilize marketing effectively in their businesses.
Diversifying the board can help with marketing, fund development, finance and many other challenges that nonprofits face.

Develop a marketing plan
Work with the board to develop a marketing plan for the organization to lay the foundation for marketing efforts. Don't forget to include marketing in the overall organizational strategic plan.

Include communications in grant proposals
Always include a communications piece in all grant proposals to help build a marketing budget. Also, seek local business support to help underwrite marketing efforts.

Show concrete results
Relate the impact of marketing efforts in a language boards can understand. Instead of stating a goal to increase the awareness of XYZ nonprofit, state the goal in a measurable way. Through marketing efforts, as determined in the marketing plan, XYZ nonprofit will develop 4 new media contacts this year, increase foundation support by 20 percent and have 150 attendees at an event. Keep the Board updated on the progress and evaluate whether the marketing strategies utilized are effective. Most importantly, show the return on investment of marketing efforts.

Stacy Jones is a nonprofit marketing consultant based in Troy, N.Y. and a Shoestring Creative Group Network Affiliate. Stacy can be reached at stacyj@shoestringgroup.com or 518-365-2153

Friday, November 7, 2008

Governor Holds Central NY Budget Meeting and Launches Budget Website

The Governor is conducting a Budget Town Hall meeting for citizens in Central New York next Tuesday, November 11th from 3:00PM - 4:00 PM. The meeting will be moderated and taped by WCNY-TV24 for broadcast later that evening. At the meeting, the Governor will discuss the State's budget situation and is interested in a real dialogue with constituents.

There is no limit on how many can attend, but you must register on the email site provided below. Registrations must be submitted by 5:00 PM on Monday, November 10. All participants need to arrive one- hour before the actual event.

Registration is required in advance if you wish to attend. To register, please send your name, address, telephone number and e-mail address to: BudgetTownHall@budget.state.ny.us and cc:

Additionally, if you wish to submit a question or suggestion for the Governor you may do so at the time you register.

  • Participants at the Town Hall meeting will have an opportunity to
    submit a question or suggestion for the Governor prior to the beginning of
    the meeting.
  • WCNY-TV 24 will select the questions and suggestions that will be
    read to the Governor.
  • The Governor will take as many questions and suggestions as time
    will allow.
  • For those who cannot attend, or to share your views on the State Budget with Governor Paterson in writing, please visit: www.reducenyspending.gov

Mohawk Valley Chamber of Commerce
200 Genesee Street
Utica, NY 13502
724-3177 (fax)

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Cultural Blueprints Explores Regional Priorities

The New York State Council on the Arts (NYSCA) convened a Cultural Blueprint session in Utica this week. Hosted by the newly renovated Stanley Center for the Arts, this session, like others already implemented throughout NY, was held to gather input from the Mohawk Valley on arts and culture and economic development. The info from these public forums will help create strategies and opportunities for the arts to serve as a "catalyst for cultural, economic and community development."

On the surface this meeting may have focused on the arts, but the topics were applicable to all nonprofits. Brainstorming discussions were held on: infrastructure; intellectual capital and workforce development; international; investment and financial models; and image/identity. Partnerships and collaborations were a clear theme, and NYSCA will be posting the other outcomes and suggested action ideas on the Cultural Blueprint blog. This information will be invaluable to the Oneida and Herkimer ED Group in their future efforts.

Take a look at this resource and share any thoughts on ideas that the Group may want to explore.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Nonprofit Executive Director Skill Inventory

The Steering Committee meeting conversation today focused on what the upcoming Dec 3rd meeting should focus on and what 2009 priorities should be. A suggestion was made to revisit previous program ideas and discussion from the MVCC program. The Committee discussed a need to get more info from each other in order to better coordinate efforts and programs. Such efforts will help the Group meet around emerging nonprofit and community needs, such as the current food shortage, economic issues, or possible funding cutbacks. The Committee also discussed outreach efforts and the need to need a basic promotional piece for the ED Group.

December 3 Program Focus:
In advance of the upcoming meeting, the Committee plans to implement a survey of executive directors' skills and expertise in Oneida and Herkimer Counties. This survey will also include relevant staff skills. This inventory will aid directors in the ED Group to be aware of possible resources for their organizations and their staff.

The Dec 3rd meeting will feature the results of this survey, which will be distributed. The meeting will also focus on setting the program dates and focus for 2009. The meeting is set for 8:30 am and will be hosted by Mid-York Child Care Coordinating Council located at 121 Second St in Oriskany.


Monday, October 20, 2008

40 Below summit draws 550 people

40 Below had their summit on over the week end. Here is a link to press coverage. This Group of 40 and younger professionals from the Syracuse region continues to evolve in focus and activities. More importantly, there is a tremendous value in such a Group for the nonprofit community. Such groups can offer nonprofits access to potential board members, volunteers, or even donations. Locally, the Genesis Young Professionals are active, and have an upcoming event, Strive Conference: Why We Call the Mohawk Valley Home!, taking place on October 23rd. Stay tuned for more updates.

Nonprofits Fear Lean Times

Here is a NY Times article relating how museums are contemplating the impact of the economy. The article discusses the sense of worry among museums, but not much in detail on how they are preparing. It would be fair to say that all nonprofits are contemplating the same issues. In fact, a recent survey of Connecticut nonprofits shows active cutbacks and hiring freezes. Facing budget cuts and a possible decrease in donations, how are you proactively addressing these issues? How do organizations replace decreasing funding sources?

How about some ideas to prime the pump? Not one to reinvent the wheel, read John Haydon's CorporateDollar.org blog post about this topic. And one more suggestion: Network for Good's Katya Andresen offers Six Ways to Survive the Economic Storm. Or Joanne Fritz's article, The Nonprofit Hard Times Survival Guide. Take a look at http://delicious.com and search the tag tougheconomy for other articles that we've began tagging. Join us in tagging or post your suggestions here.

On a side note about funding, in recent years Peer-to-Peer Lending companies have become a growing trend. Basically, these sites build on the idea of social networking. At the very foundation, these online companies allow individuals to solicit loans and on the other side, individuals to make loans. Have any nonprofits investigated these sources for lending or financing? Here is recent post about Peer-to-Peer Lending companies from Brad Stone, author of the Bits Blog (Business Innovation Technology Society) with the NY Times.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Economic troubles affect non-profits

The Evening Telegram featured an article recently about the economy's impact on local nonprofits. As nonprofits in Oneida and Herkimer Counties prepare for budget impacts, what are ways that organizations can work together to address these challenges? Should this be a topic for discussion at the next program meeting.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Report on Outlook for Foundation Giving

With the economic downturn causing belt tightening across the US, many nonprofit executive directors are worried about the impact on their organizations. One of the main issues of concern is funding. A recent report issued by the Foundation Center gives some hope that there won't necessarily be a big decline in grants from foundations. You can read The Chronicle of Philanthropy's perspective on this report here.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Bailout Bill and Tax Extenders Become Law: IRA Charitable Rollover Extended

Posted from NCNA policy update:

On October 3, President Bush signed into law the Emergency Economic Stabilization Act of 2008 (HR 1424), the highly controversial $700 billion bailout bill that also became the vehicle for resolving the long-standing Senate and House stalemate on paying for the tax extenders. The Senate tacked the $150 billion tax extenders package on to the bailout bill, which the House then passed with - among other things - the critical one year patch for the alternative minimum tax (AMT) to prevent taxes from increasing on many higher income families never intended to be covered by the AMT.

The tax extenders package included the IRA Charitable Rollover which allows taxpayers to make tax-free contributions from their IRA plans to qualified charitable organizations. Other charitable giving incentives extended include a charitable deduction for business contributions of food inventories; and enhanced charitable deductions for contributions of book inventories and qualified computer contributions. The bill extends these provisions through 2009, effective for distributions after December 31, 2007.

Midwest flood disaster relief included temporary tax relief provisions ending on December 31, 2008, that mirrored the Katrina relief: providing for enhanced corporate and individual charitable contribution deductions, an enhanced charitable mileage rate at 70% of the standard mileage rate, and an income tax exclusion for volunteer mileage reimbursements - but the latter two are limited exclusively to volunteers providing relief in ten Midwestern states due to floods, tornadoes, or severe storms that occurred between May 20 and August 1, 2008.

Friday, October 3, 2008

HR Advice: Internal Candidates

Human resources and employee retention have been topics of discussion amongst the Group this year. We are always looking for advice and resources that can help in the hiring employees. When a position opens, do you look internally first? This recent article from Bridgestar discusses the associated issues when considering an internal candidate for a management level position in your nonprofit. Do you have any advice or feedback about looking at internal candidates? Share your feedback here.

Nonprofits Listed on UticaOD.com?

Would The Observer-Dispatch consider a venue on their website for nonprofits to share information and resources with their readers? A recent article relates how this very thing has happened with the Houston Chronicle. This newspaper, by utilizing technology from good2gether, has launched the Do Good Channel on Chron.com. good2gether is a CCSNYS partner, and Founder/CEO Greg McHale was the keynote speaker at our annual Money for Mission conference. The development of this resource is a huge success for nonprofits. It validates nonprofits as essential resources and sources of information for everyday readers. A win-win for everybody, nonprofits gain tremendous exposure and the Houston Chronicle has more content and resources to provide their readers.

Our recent media panel program has opened a new door between nonprofits and our regional media. Does our future have the possibility of a Do Good Channel in The Observer-Dispatch? Or how about a video channel for nonprofits with WKTV? Let's bring this idea to the attention of our media, and show how we can make this a win-win for everyone.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Learning and Performance Conference

With the Group's recent discussions about employee management and retention, this upcoming November 04 program in Syracuse may be of interest. The program is being hosted by Liberty Resources Workforce Solutions, and includes subject matter experts who will engage, inform and inspire you with the latest research impacting effective workplace learning and performance today. Click here for more information. Do you think there is an interest for this type of program?

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Dealing with Nonprofit Negativity in the Blogosphere?

Our recent media program raised a number of issues, and is generating some great questions. Here is a recent question from an executive director about a recent online discovery:

Last night during a google search I discovered a blog that has some erroneous and damaging opinions about our organization.
At our recent media panel event, we briefly discussed the media responses to stories in this format in the newspaper and TV, but we did not really get into the whole area of the blogosphere and non-profits.

Do you know whether other non-profits pay any attention to blogs where wrong perceptions and bad information is placed out there by people who don't bother to check their facts? Is it just best to ignore these things and not give them the light of day with a response? I guess if I can find them in a random google search, others can too, and some of the items expressed in those blogs are defamatory to our organization.

This is a great question, and an issue that anyone should be aware of as you explore the blogging world or plan to launch your own agency blog. We would like to offer the following advice: 1)Set up Google Alerts to help you track news and blog posts about your organization; 2)Recognize that any coverage, positive and negative, is a good thing (and an opportunity); and 3) Don't reinvent the wheel, so we offer the following advice from two good resources out there in the Web 2.0 world:

Rohit Bhargava responds to this issue in his Influential Marketing Blog. He offers 5 steps on how to respond to a "blog crisis." There are also some additional suggestions listed in the blog comments section.

Beth Kanter's blog features two blog posts on dealing with critcism and negativity, as well as moderating, in the blogosphere. Get her insight and suggestions:

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Media Panel Spurs Understanding and Future Ideas

The Oneida and Herkimer Nonprofit Directors Group's September 10th program meeting, generously hosted by Amy Turner and the Mohawk Valley Community Action Agency, was attended by over 30 participants and featured:

  • Anchor and News Host Jeff Monaski from WIBX 950, The Mohawk Valley's Big Talker
  • Assistant News Director David Dellecese from WKTV, the Utica-Rome area’s NBC affiliate station
  • Managing Editor Mike Kilian and Metro Editor Michelle Robison from The Observer-Dispatch

The discussion was moderated by Rev. Bill Dodge of the Rescue Mission and focused on the previously posted questions. An engaging discussion followed, ranging from how to get better media coverage to the connection (if any) between advertising and media coverage. Our panelists responded in an open and honest manner to questions, which was greatly appreciated. The panel also discussed the value of the ED Group and agreed that a connecting point to the local nonprofit executive directors is a great development and will be helpful for their news organizations. As WKTV's David Dellecese discussed at the end of the program, nonprofits are experts that can be called upon by the media to add supporting information and clarify details for news stories. Nonprofits are invaluable sources for the media, and we look forward to working more closely together, serving our communities, each in our own passionate ways.

What did you take away from the media program? We invite you to post and share your feedback. If you were unable to attend the program, a mp3 recording and two video clips are provided here.

Boomp3.com'>Listen to the mp3 here.

Watch the panel respond to the question: What does the media think about a nonprofit executive directors group?

Watch the panel respond to the question: What is the best way to get the media to present a balanced picture of nonprofits, especially when there is one that has drawn negative press coverage?

Friday, August 29, 2008

Media Panel Discussion Questions

The Steering Committee is finalizing the discussion questions for the media panel program, set for September 10th. The following questions will guide the program and help improve the relationship between nonprofits and the media. Have comments on the questions? Share your feedback.

1) Can you provide tips and suggestions for the following: best way to make a media request (e-mail, phone, press release, etc) and best times of the week or month to contact you?
2) What are effective ways of helping the media to understand the points nonprofits are trying to get across?
3) How can nonprofits make themselves more attractive to the media?
4) What is the best way to get the media to present a balanced picture of nonprofits, especially when there is one that has drawn negative press coverage?
5) What kind of information about nonprofits do you believe you have an obligation to report on?
6) What does the media think of a nonprofit executive directors group? Do you see value in such a group and are you willing to contact the group for information?
7) Does paid advertising by a nonprofit have an impact on the media coverage they may receive? Is there a code of ethics related to this issue?
8) What scenarios can you think of where nonprofits and media outlets could both benefit?

Friday, August 15, 2008

Planning Capital Campaigns

As you plan capital campaigns, what do you think of using the ED Group as a place to touch base with area organizations to see if there are other large campaigns planned for the same time? We were thinking that a point of connection might decrease the amount of overlap that sometimes occurs. Do you see the need for this kind of communication and planning? Do you think the ED Group is a good place for this? We were thinking that this might be a case where the blog calendar could be useful. Let us know what you think!

Thursday, August 7, 2008

What's the purpose of an editorial?

Responses to the media survey that we sent out were mostly focused on event coverage and advertising-- but what about opinion pieces? Editorials focusing on the nonprofit community have appeared in several local publications this summer and have left us with some questions: What's the goal of an editorial? Should you have the opportunity to give input before the piece is published? Is it appropriate to respond to an opinion piece? How would you go about doing so? What's the best way to continue discussion about a hot topic?
Here are two examples of opinion pieces that discuss nonprofits:

Even if your organization hasn't been the focus of an editorial, you probably have some opinions of your own in response the the questions raised. What do you think the purpose of an editorial is? Share your comments by clicking below.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Journalism Today

While planning the upcoming media panel, we have had the opportunity to chat with many different media representatives. It's been interesting to learn more about the perspectives of folks outside of the nonprofit community as we describe the program we are putting together. Although he will not be participating in the panel, Steve Waters, publisher of The Rome Sentinel, shared some of his big-picture ideas on the state of journalism today. He directed us to his essay on "Journalistic Indifference" where he explores the idea that "if journalism does not protect society it undermines its own existence." You can read more on his blog Just add Waters. While discussing responsible journalism, he also pointed us toward the book Less than Words Can Say by Richard Mitchell, the "Underground Grammarian."

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Media Panel Update

This morning the Steering Committee held a conference call to discuss the September 10th panel on Nonprofits & The Media. We are working to confirm representatives from local television, radio, and newspaper. As the group moves forward in the planning process, we will begin to put together questions and discussion topics. We will start with the questions and issues raised by the media survey that many of you responded to. If you have any suggestions for panel questions please leave a comment below or contact amarietta@ccsnys.org.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

We Are Media (!)

The Nonprofit Technology Network (NTEN) has launched a new project, We Are Media: Social Media Starter Kit for Nonprofits. Beth Kanter, the project's consultant and "evangelist", is collaborating with individuals interested in the nonprofit community's use of social media to put together a valuable online resource. The We Are Media community is working to create the "go-to place for vetted resources about social media strategies and nonprofits for individuals who work for or with nonprofits and need practical advice about getting started or to quickly access best practices, examples, or experience from other practitioners working in nonprofits."

The Social Media Starter Kit will consist of three tracks: Strategical, Tactical, and Resources. Examples of Modules within these tracks are "Why Should Your Nonprofit Embrace Social Media? (Or Not?)" and "Sharing Your Organization's Story in Multi-Media." All of the modules are in the process of being created right now- and you can be a part of it! Check out the project's site or Beth's Blog for more information and for updates on the project.

Monday, June 30, 2008

Media Survey

Thanks to everyone that has completed our Nonprofit Public Relations/Media Survey! If you havne't filled the survey out yet, please take the time to check it out. We have gathered some great feedback so far that we are using to plan our Wednesday, September 10th group program on Nonprofits and Media. The program will be held from 12-2pm at Mohawk Valley Community Action Agency.

One of the main concerns expressed in the survey was a lack of time. Many responses cited the lack of time that nonprofit staff have to focus on their media coverage and the time-crunch that reporters face as well. Hopefully our panel participants (representatives from local media outlets) will be able to engage in discussion with us about how we can all get the most out of the limited time investments that we can make.

Organizations seemed particularly interested in learning how to create situations where both the media and nonprofits could benefit. Many respondents had creative ideas about how to cultivate these win-win relationships, and even more expressed interest in discovering how to do so. One response summed up the sentiment expressed by many, saying that the organization could provide "Great stories, great visuals, great sources and great style. When they find us, they'll love us-- but we're out of their regular radar range... I'm workin' on it!"

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Utica City may impose nonprofit firms fee

An article appeared in The Observer-Dispatch on Friday raising the possibility that "charitable nonprofit agencies that have long been tax exempt might have to pay a service fee to the city as early as next year, city leaders said." The city is researching how it could implement a charge for all properties in Utica that receive services such as street cleaning, snow removal and street and sidewalk repairs. Read about it here. As budget constraints become more of an issue in the region, nonprofits will face more pressure from local and county government. The Steering Committee will be considering a response, and would like to invite your feedback and input.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Steering Committee Meeting: Nonprofits & The Media

On June 18th the Steering Committee held a phone conference to discuss upcoming programs. Our next group-wide meeting will be held September 10th from 12pm-2pm at Mohawk Valley Community Action Agency on River Road in Utica. The program will focus on the relationships between nonprofits and the media. We are planning a panel discussion with local media outlets on public relations (not marketing/paid advertising). We are hoping to have a discussion with local newspaper, radio, and television outlets on the larger issues that arise in the communications between nonprofits and the media. Example questions for the panel so far are:
-When there is a crisis involving a nonprofit, where do we start in addressing the media?
-What are 5 things that nonprofits do well for the media?
-What are 5 things that we don't do well when communicating with the media?

We've put together a survey in order to gain more feedback about what you'd like to focus on. Please take the time to click here and share your experiences.

Also, please remember to send us any events and trainings you might have scheduled so that we can add them to the calendar that will soon be up on this page. The calendar will be a place for you to stay updated on the events organized by Oneida & Herkimer nonprofits. If your organization is hosting a training session that you'd like to open up for other organizations, please send that along as well (even if there is an attendance cost). You can email your events to: asickles@ccsnys.org.

Looking ahead to the rest of the year, our last meeting will be in November/December and is tentatively focused on Board Retention and Recruitment.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

40 Below & Board Recruitment Methods

If you haven’t heard of 40 Below yet, take a minute to check out their site. The Syracuse-based group promotes “civic participation among young professionals in Central New York.” Pretty exciting stuff! Tonight over 90 nonprofit agencies will be attending their Involvement Fair from 5-9pm. The event is targeted towards young professionals who are interested in discovering opportunities to serve on a board of directors or volunteer.

In light of the interest in board recruitment that the group has recently expressed, it’s worth exploring opportunities like these. We’ll continue to discuss other creative ideas for board recruitment in the upcoming months; think about some of the successful recruitment your organization has done in the past and some ideas you’d like to try in the future.

Monday, June 16, 2008

"Beyond Charity": The Nonprofit Impact

Here is an interesting report on the D.C. area’s nonprofit community that focuses on measuring return on investment in order to show how valuable nonprofits are. Not only does the report talk about the economic impact of the organizations, it also focuses on the way nonprofits encourage civic engagement and generate social capital. The report uses programs to illustrate how the sector saves society money by focusing on prevention, finding untapped potential, and by utilizing volunteers and in-kind donations.

It’s no surprise to those of us working with nonprofits that the return on investment is significant and strengthens communities. However, many people have never considered thinking about, or evaluating, nonprofits in terms of their return on investment. Next time someone asks what your organization does for the region, you can provide a reply that goes deeper than your programming; remind them of the social capital generated, the way you maximize resources, and the money your nonprofit is saving them!

Monday, May 19, 2008

ED Group Meeting Discusses Events and Staff Retention

The Oneida and Herkimer Nonprofit Executive Directors Group held the May 14th program at the Herkimer Area Resource Center (HARC). The meeting was attended by eleven directors, who began the meeting with introductions and announcements. As each director introduced themselves, he or she announced upcoming special events. The Group found that golf tournaments are especially popular this time of year. This discovery spurred a discussion about the need for a master planning calendar that would list the major special events that Oneida and Herkimer nonprofits were planning. The calendar would allow directors to try to avoid event conflicts. The calendar also could be a collecting point for staff training that organizations were planning. These trainings could be of interest to other nonprofits. The Group decided that developing a calendar was a good next step. More information about this calendar will be available shortly.

The remainder of the program focused on the discussion of the climate assessment survey on staff retention. The Peacemaker Program's Brenda Episcopo facilitated a discussion of the summary report (available here) and her agency's experience of implementing this survey. Glenn Beville from Hospice & Palliative Care, Inc. also spoke about his organization's employee survey conducted early last year. Glenn has provided a copy of the survey here for the Group and related the following about the survey and examining the results:
The questions are not unique. We came up with some of our own,
borrowed from the internet and got some advice from a vendor company
that had previously conducted their own employee survey. As part
of the analysis process, the team categorized the responses to the 12 write
in questions into one of the following categories:
  • Communication
  • Leadership
  • Staffing
  • Wages & Benefits
  • Education
  • Space

    We used the categories as a basis to formulate actionable solutions. The second attached document is the "report card" that we used to communicate the actionable plans to staff and periodically report progress.

The Group continued discussion about action steps based on the survey data. The two most challenging areas revealed by the survey were: Factor 7 Recognition and Reward and Factor 9 Competitive Salary. The Group discussed the challenges of these factors, and Brenda shared some of The Peacemaker Program's responses. First, the agency examined salary levels, and created an informal study (available here). This information helped The Peacemaker Program restructure staff salaries. The organization also examined different ways of recognition and reward, creating the following research list:

  • job switch days (shadowing, mentoring)
  • job sharing
  • telecommuting
  • 360 degree feedback
  • Exit interviews
  • Surprise “spot” recognition for a job well done
  • Employee sport teams
  • Include family members in agency functions
  • Flexible schedules
  • Employee assistance programs
  • Ability to use pre-tax money for medical expenses or day care
  • Random days off (personal holidays)
  • Pension plans
The Peacemaker Program is continuing to examine this list for possible ideas to implement. The Group finished the program meeting with a discussion about other topic ideas and next steps. The Group discussed a follow up to this program on employee recognition and reward. Another topic idea mentioned was board retention and recruitment. The Steering Committee will be holding a follow up meeting to discuss setting the next program. Please share any additional ideas by e-mailing amarietta@ccsnys.org.

May 14th Program Participants:
Kevin Crosley, Herkimer Area Resource Center
Phyllis Spinner, Herkimer County HealthNet, Inc.
Glenn Beville, Hospice & Palliative Care, Inc.
Cornelia E. Brown, MAMI of CNY, Inc.
Lorraine Kinney-Kitchen, Mid-York Child Care Coordinating Council, Inc
Sylvia J Bunce, RCIL
Rev. Bill Dodge, Rescue Mission of Utica
Sue Casanova, Smoke-Free Mohawk Valley
Gail Miskowiec, The Arc, Oneida-Lewis Chapter, NYSARC
Jan Squadrito, The Community Foundation of Herkimer & Oneida Counties
Brenda Episcopo, The Peacemaker Program, Inc.

Friday, May 9, 2008

Life Lessons: Insurance applications are easy grant applications. You should love your broker and vice versa. You should win money for risk management

For the first time in a long time I am sitting in on a few insurance workshops being given by our own Peter Andrew of Council Services Plus (the CCSNYS insurance subsidiary). We're in our New York City office today, it's rainy and cold and windy but we've got about 20 people here intrested in risk management and insurance "secrets" for nonprofits.

Since you probably couldn't get away to the city today I wanted to pass on two things that I think are really easy to understand (ok, maybe three) and implement tomorrow. Many of you know I am like the Racheal Ray of Nonprofit Issues. I want solutions in 30-minutes (preferably less.) So, here we go:

  1. How much time would you spend on a $5k or $10k unrestricted grant? Fill out your next insurance application like you're filling out a grant application. Take your time with it. Tell the insurance company what you do to practice good risk management. It could be as easy as noting your policies and procedures, it could be staff training, it could be board training - there are many things you can do to make risk management a part of your nonprofit's daily life. If you are paying $5k, $10k, $25k for insurance and have the opportunity to save 10% to 30%, look at is as an unrestricted grant award!
What to do tomorrow? Take out your last application for General
Liability insurance. See if it looks like your organization spent time on it. What measures did you take to make the case for the risk management you practice? Going forward, every time you update policies, procedures, do training, get
certificates - put copies in the insurance file - so you remember to use them to
help support your proactive risk management the next time your up for renewal.
  1. You can't make these lawsuits up/Your broker should be your best friend. (ok - so I'm cheating and putting two together). If you think your nonprofit can't be sued take a look at this. I think #3 resonates with most nonprofits. How many of us do delivery, transportation or Meals on Wheels programs? Your broker needs to know what your risks are and be working to lower your rates and get you the coverage you need. If you only hear from your broker once a year about your insurance renewal - that's not good enough folks. Did you know they are making anywhere from 10% to 17% of the premium amount (generally speaking)? They need to be proactive in researching your needs and educating your staff on any changes or needs in insurance coverages.
What to do tomorrow: Here's a plug - and it's not shameless because I can
safely say it's the best service/advice you're gonna get. If you want to talk to
a broker who knows this stuff and will give you an honest answer about what
you should expect from your current provider, contact Council Services Plus at
(877) 501 - 4CSP or
fill out this little form and start getting some answers. Then call your own broker and set up a face to face meeting. Ask them the hard questions. Or call CS Plus in - they'll help you out.
Are you already doing some of this? If risk management is already a top priority at your organization, and you're already spending time on your applications, policies, procedures, training, working on a proactive level with a responsive broker - why not apply for the Nonprofit Risk Management Award - win $2,000 for your efforts?

Hope all is well in your organizations - it's exciting to see what's happening on the NYNED Blog. We know you're 'lurking' out there - remember - feel free to comment or ask questions. Aggressive sharing is good.

Other resources:

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Staff Retention Survey Results to be Discussed on May 14th

The Oneida and Herkimer Nonprofit Executive Directors Group's staff retention survey is now closed and is being collated for discussion at next week's May 14th meeting. The survey results will be presented, and the program will focus on the trends revealed and what nonprofits can learn from this data. The conversation will also focus on next steps for addressing staff retention in the local region.

The May 14th program is set for Herkimer Area Resource Center. This meeting is being generously hosted by HARC, which is located at 350 South Washington Street in Herkimer.
REGISTER NOW FOR MAY 14TH MEETING! If you have any questions, please e-mail or call (607) 436-3124.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Steering Committee Update and Staff Retention Survey

The Steering Committee is working to confirm the location for the May 14th meeting in Herkimer County. Also, the Committee discussed implementing a staff retention survey that was created by Steve Robinson, Director Alternative Dispute Resolution Services at The Peacemaker Program. This survey will provide a climate assessment for each participating nonprofit and the region as a whole.

The Committee will send an e-mail out to all Executive Directors in the Group inviting them to opt in to use the survey. If they agree, a survey link will be e-mailed to them to distribute to their particular staff. Steve has stated that the survey will be anonymous and this needs to be stressed to everyone. He has also suggested giving 5 days to complete the survey. The resulting data will be consolidated with Steve's help. The Committee can also provide the individual data to each participating organization if there is an interest. The individual organizations data will remain anonymous unless they agree to share their individual info. Please feel free to share any thoughts on the survey or this process.

If you are interested in implementing the survey for your organization, please let me know. I will send you an assigned letter code and the survey link for your employees. You can e-mail me at amarietta@ccsnys.org or call (607) 436-3124.

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Congrats to the Community Foundation!

The Community Foundation of Herkimer and Oneida Counties Inc. was named a silver award winner for excellence in communications by the 2008 Wilmer Shields Rich Awards Program. Read more here.

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Grants Given For Economic Development in Mohawk Valley

The Community Foundation of Herkimer and Oneida Counties recently gave grant funding to help two Mohawk Valley economic-development groups focus on enhancing the quality and size of the work force in the region. Read more here.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Program Generates Ideas for the Future!

The March 12th Group program was attended by 21 nonprofit executive directors. The program opened with a lively networking activity with directors introducing themselves and their organizations to each other. And many found they were doing so for the first time. The Group then split into 5 groups and discussed the five questions posed in the "Cycle of Collaboration" activity facilitated by Randall VanWagoner. The answers identified as most important are listed below for each question. The answers offer insight into the opportunities and areas of focus for the Group.

The Group finished the meeting with a discussion about next steps. The priority areas that were discussed include: Staff retention/development; Staff compensation/salary survey; Economic impact study; Database of training skills; and Group directory (now linked in the "About" section). A suggestion was made to formalize a mission and vision, and the Steering Committee plans to start this discussion. The Group is also looking to answer the question: What if we weren't here? One idea discussed was to focus on the economic impact by collecting the payroll, budget, and number of staff for each nonprofit.

The Group will be focusing on staff retention and development at the May 14th program. An online climate assessment survey will be created for distribution among the Group, and these results will set the agenda and discussion for the next Program. An announcement about the survey will be made shortly.

What are obstacles to collaborations and partnerships?

  • Think we need to compete (going after the same $ and clients)

  • Time commitment

  • Focus on self preservation (not community need)

  • Trust

  • Politics (backroom deals)

What are the resource benefits to partnering?

  • A joint training or shared space

  • Shared training- each agency open in-services to others

  • Eliminate duplication of services

  • Technology shared resources

  • Nonprofit resource center (online/directory)

What is our biggest benefit to the community?

  • Willingness to work with City to improve/solve problems (impact quality of life)

  • Common good- serving people

  • Economic impact, i.e. workforce, save the economy $$ (we are an economic benefit to the community)

  • Collaboration

  • Help nonprofits strategize efforts, planning and get outside view from each other to help us improve (better SWOTs)

What is a big idea for us to do together?

  • Resource pool for one another (directory of services/calendar of events)

  • Leadership development

  • Leadership succession

  • Staff development

  • Promote nonprofits’ benefit to the community (what if we didn’t exist?)

What are obstacles we all share?

  • Money

  • Lack of political influence

  • Lack of trust (personal agendas)

  • Human resources issues (small or large org- people wearing too many hats)

  • Too many 501c3s (there is disagreement on this)

  • Negative community self imageTalk-little action or spinning wheels

March 12th Program Feedback

What are some major trends effecting all of us?

  • State budget
  • Energy costs
  • Multiculturalism/demographics
  • Workforce
  • Health care coverage
  • Border/visa issues
  • Competition for money (not enough)
  • Growing needs (do more with less)
  • Board member profile
  • Volunteer base
  • Cost of visibility
  • Recruiting board
  • Technology needs
  • Multitasking
  • Focus on projects (money is more about projects than mission)
  • Cusp on change
  • Priority to collaborate
  • Still have hope and positive outlook

What are obstacles to collaborations and partnerships?

  • Think we need to compete (going after the same $ and clients)
  • Time commitment
  • Focus on self preservation (not community need)
  • Trust
  • Politics (backroom deals)
  • Ignorance of other organizations (finding the right partner)
  • Lack of networking/personal connections
  • Opposing different organizational philosophies/policies and procedures (different missions and different priorities and funding streams)
  • Geographical distances
  • Identify overriding (catalysts/challenges) that unite complimentary services
  • Knowledge how to make collaboration work
  • Media awareness
  • Rhythm of the year (finding the right time)
  • Transition and habit
  • Self-serving
  • Access to CEO’s
  • Less response from corporate America ($, programs)

What are the resource benefits to partnering?

  • A joint training or shared space
  • Shared training- each agency open in-services to others
  • Eliminate duplication of services
  • Technology shared resources
  • Nonprofit resource center (online/directory)
  • Expertise in serving specific populations (ex- help agency x better serve at risk kids, refugees, mentally ill)
  • Together we accomplish more
  • Save $
  • Combine staff and volunteer efforts
  • Highlight nonprofit contribution to community
  • Group purchase (discounts)
  • Alliance of nonprofits
  • Nonprofit resource center
  • Strength in numbers (improve visibility)
  • Synergies with complimentary programs
  • Specialty bank (human resources)
  • Homegrown resources
  • Shared financial expertise
  • Grant writing
  • Data sharing

What is our biggest benefit to the community?

  • Willingness to work with City to improve/solve problems (impact quality of life)
  • Common good- serving people
  • Economic impact, i.e. workforce, save the economy $$ (we are an economic benefit to the community)
  • Collaboration
  • Help nonprofits strategize efforts, planning and get outside view from each other to help us improve (better SWOTs)
  • Model of cooperation
  • Awareness of who is who
  • Sharing knowledge- best practices
  • Add quality of life
  • Maximize funding and all resources (shared)
  • Proactive voice for the area
  • Together we can serve more people
  • Better meet needs of community
  • Lots of different nonprofits filling niche needs
  • Info sharing= better collaboration and ED’s

What is a big idea for us to do together?

  • Resource pool for one another (directory of services/calendar of events)
  • Leadership development
  • Leadership succession
  • Staff development
  • Promote nonprofits’ benefit to the community (what if we didn’t exist?)
  • Get $$ together
  • Centralized menu of support services
  • 211 system (referrals to meet needs and provide info)
  • Pool of talent for boards
  • Resource to one another at Exec level
  • Annual Day of Nations
  • PR collaboration
  • Center for mediation
  • Volunteer pool- centralized volunteer screening, recruiting, opportunities
  • We have a promising future ahead working together
  • Structured partnerships
  • Build a training center

What are obstacles we all share?

  • Money
  • Lack of political influence
  • Lack of trust (personal agendas)
  • Human resources issues (small or large org- people wearing too many hats)
  • Too many 501c3s (there is disagreement on this)
  • Negative community self image
  • Talk-little action or spinning wheels
  • Fear
  • Loss of identity
  • Competition
  • Changing mission
  • Behind closed doors same faces
  • Complexity of serving people (the people have complex issues)
  • Pay/compensation equity
  • Competition for employees (small employee pool)
  • Hard to find qualified people
  • Changing workforce demographics
  • Knowing how to effectively collaborate
  • Lack of visibility in community
  • Understanding each other
  • Monolithic media (locally- 1 newspaper, 1 tv station)
  • Industry based-employment opps. (need more corporate support and need more volunteers)
  • Aging population is a plus and minus

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Nonprofits Scarce in Stimulus Planning

In the recent edition of The Nonprofit Quarterly, the article Nonprofits Scarce in Stimulus Planning, written by Rick Cohen, discusses the important role that the nonprofit sector plays in the economy and how they have not been present in the debate over the content of the economic stimulus package. And more importantly, what the nonprofit sector impact can be.

Friday, February 22, 2008

Get to Know Us Utica: Savings and Services through CCSNYS Membership

Whether you’re a member or not, we promise there will be something for you to learn about CCSNYS. Bring us your biggest problem – we’ll show you a way that membership in CCSNYS can help you! Presented by Andrew Marietta, CCSNYS, Inc. Central New York Regional Office
Date: April 16th, 2008
Time: 10:00am – 12:00pm
Location: The Community
Foundation of Herkimer and Oneida Counties, Inc.
1222 State Street
Utica, NY 13502
Cost: FREE - Open to CCSNYS Members and Non-members.

Cycle of Collaboration Questions

The Steering Committee has drafted the following 5 questions for a facilitated discussion activity at the Group meeting on March 12th.

1) What is our (Group) biggest benefit to the community?
2) What are the resource benefits to partnering?
3) What are obstacles we all share?
4) What are obstacles to collaborations and partnerships?
5) What is a big idea for us (Group) to do together?

Thursday, February 14, 2008

2008 Meeting Set for March 12th

The first 2008 meeting of the Oneida and Herkimer Nonprofit Executive Directors Group is set for Wednesday, March 12th at Mohawk Valley Community College. The program will begin at 8am with breakfast catered by the college. Breakfast will include an assortment of bagels and scones with accompaniments of fruit yogurt with granola, a bottled juice assortment of orange, apple and cranberry, coffee, and an assortment of fresh seasonal sliced fruit. The program agenda will start with a networking activity. The main program features the "Cycle of Collaboration" activity facilitated by Randall J. VanWagoner, MVCC. This activity will help the group examine key partnership questions and form action items for 2008.

Date: March 12, 2008
Time: 8:00am - 10:30am
Location: Mohawk Valley Community College
Room 225, Info and Tech Building
1101 Sherman Drive, Utica, NY 13501
Cost: $10.00

Register now!