Tuesday, June 30, 2009

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. She can be reached at stacyj@shoestringgroup.com

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Summit Focuses on Economy and Partnerships

The annual Summit onPhilanthropy conference, which is a gathering in New York of 200 top execs from a cross section of nonprofits, corporate social engagement, grantmaking foundations and philanthropists, was held recently.

Some highlights: Ali Velshi gave the keynote address offering his own take (not CNN’s, he made clear) that the Obama administration’s aggressive stimulus response to the economic downturn was being effective, and improvement in the economy was on the horizon, perhaps by late summer.

Taking questions from the audience, Velshi stressed that the focus of the media should still be on the people who need jobs and homes, or need help keeping them. Despite the attention paid to exorbitant executive pay packages, he declared them a “distraction,” that deserved to be visited and fixed, but that current human needs were a priority. Among his observations of particular relevance to this audience: workers laid off from auto manufacturing and other industries should be retrained to fill growing needs in healthcare, especially, and other social sector jobs.

The themes for the day were sounded by Mike Hoffman, Chairman of Changing Our World, Inc. who declared that by coming together and sharing ideas, Summit attendees could explore opportunities for collaboration and innovation, which should emerge from the nonprofit sector in the current economic crisis. Citing a meeting convened by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation in Davos, he said philanthropists will increasingly seek to leverage their giving by engaging partners to multiply the effect of their resources.

The program’s focus on the economic state of the nonprofit sector was further developed in the plenary address by Clara Miller, President of the Nonprofit Finance Fund. She warned against accumulating illiquid assets - real estate, restricted endowment - and made the interesting point that fundraising is not the biggest revenue slice in the nonprofit pie - it's actually earned income. She urged the audience to think creatively and strategically (she cited an example of the dance troupe that posts their performances on YouTube, tracks in which city it has the most hits/views, and travels to that city to perform for a live audience as an example of an arts group using a new, free medium to gain exposure).

The Summit program also included three panel discussions. Read more here about the outcomes of the conference.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Oneida and Herkimer Steering Committee Meeting

Monday, June 15th at 4pm

Amy Turner, Mohawk Valley Community Action Agency, Inc. (MVCAA)
Cornelia E. Brown, MAMI Interpreters
Rev. Bill Dodge, Rescue Mission
Cassandra Sheets, Mohawk Valley Council of Alcoholism/Addictions

The participants discussed what the next steps should be regarding the ED Group, especially after the recent economic impact panel discussion. After hearing updates on other ED Group efforts around nonprofit economic impact in Binghamton and Syracuse, the Committee decided to set a follow up meeting to further discuss undertaking an economic impact study and to hear from other directors in Binghamton and possibly Syracuse.

The Committee also discussed the need to gather and communicate nonprofit impact information to the community, elected officials, and other audiences. They specifically discussed visiting the Utica Common Council, and presenting a joint presentation about local nonprofits.

Next steps:
  • Set a follow up Steering Committee meeting to discuss economic impact
  • Discuss possible ideas for September’s program meeting

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Lack of jobs for teens opportunity for nonprofits

WKTV featured a story on teens trying to find employment this summer and the difficulty in doing so. The story below highlights a great opportunity for nonprofits to offer unique experiences to teens looking for summer work or learning experiences.

As WKTV relates, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the unemployment rate for 16 to 19 year olds is now at 21.7%. That's up 15.8% from this time last year.

Teens also have another hurdle to cross; competing for low-paying jobs with people who have been recently laid off.

"(Teens) don't have the work experience, they don't have the work maturity and they don't have the work ethic an adult would bring to the job," said David Mathis, the director of Oneida County Workforce Development.

Teens who start looking for a summer job now might have a tougher time then teens who started the search months ago, he said.

But there are ways to make your teen more marketable. Mathis said to make sure your teen networks with potential employers and other teens. He said talking with peers helps teens learn how to find jobs best suited for them.

Mathis also suggested teens practice their interviewing skills, and continue to work and build their resume.

If your teen still can't find a job, Mathis said look to volunteering.

"Work for a non-profit or community agency. What you want to do is build your resume, you want to have something that's positive," he said.

"I know you want to make a paycheck, I know you want to have some money, but more than likely the experience will help you next year or the year after."

Numbers to Know:
Working Solutions:Oneida County- (315) 793-2229 Herkimer County- (315) 867-1400 Madison County- (315) 363-2400www.working-solutions.org
Herkimer County Youth Bureau: (315) 867-1213

State often late in getting funds to local nonprofits

The Utica OD reported on a recent report released by the state's Comptroller's Office that highlights the lengthy waiting time nonprofits face for state funds.

Nonprofits can wait months or even years, depending on the state agency that is responsible for the funding, officials said.

Examples in the report include:
  • The state was 1,624 days late -- or nearly 4 ½ years – in getting $75,000 in funds for general operating support and multicultural outreach to the Utica Symphony.
  • The state delayed getting $140,000 in contracts to the Herkimer Area Resource Center for 597 days.
  • Utica College had to wait 709 days for $675,000 in funds for a new building.
  • And the delay in getting $200,000 to Mohawk Valley EDGE to fight the New York Regional Interconnect power line? Nearly 1,200 days, or more than three years.

“There is a lot of time from commitment to contract,” said Steve DiMeo, executive director of Mohawk Valley EDGE, an economic development agency. “It’s a difficult way to do business when various bureaucracies take different amounts of time to distribute funds.”

DiMeo said the way the state processes paper is part of the problem. “In the interest of transparency, more and more departments have to sign off on contracts,” DiMeo said. “It’s gotten a lot worse. The state can do a far better job in terms of streamlining things.”

State agencies report that state contracts with nonprofit organizations were approved late 63 percent of the time. The new audit by the Comptroller’s Office, however, shows the rate of late contracts might reach 87 percent.

Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli is proposing regulations to ensure nonprofits are paid interest required by law when their contracts are processed late.

“Not-for-profits operate on very thin margins,” DiNapoli said in a statement. “Those margins can disappear completely when contracts for services are held up. New York has an implicit compact with these organizations. They provide vital services for vulnerable New Yorkers and the state should ensure they get their funding on time. It’s time for the state to live up to its end of the bargain.”

The Legal Aid Society of Mid-New York had to wait 377 days for $75,000 worth of funds to assist and represent indigent persons in civil matters.

“The high numbers are not surprising,” said Executive Director Paul Lupia said. “It makes it very difficult to plan financially, and for us to have a balanced budget.”

“Even though you know the money is coming, you still have to pay staff and all of your bills,” Lupia said. “The delay does affect our cash flow severely.”

William Holicky is executive director of The House of the Good Shepherd, which had to wait 272 days for $150,000 worth of funding.

“This is nothing new for nonprofits,” Holicky said. “When we have to wait a long time, we might have to borrow money, and interest adds up”

Nonprofits provide services through grant contracts, such as health care clinics, work force development and mortgage foreclosure programs. The state currently has 30,764 active contracts with nonprofits totaling $14.6 billion. Read more here.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

$50,000 training grants available for area businesses

The Utica OD reported that Mohawk Valley businesses with at least four or more employees have until 4 p.m. Monday, July 20, to apply for money to train those workers. About $5 million has been set aside for companies to train employees through the Building Skills in New York State program. Businesses can apply for up to $50,000 from the state Department of Labor.

There is no minimum award amount. Contracts for training will be awarded for up to six months.

Mario Musolino, executive deputy commissioner of the state Labor Department, and U.S. Rep. Michael Arcuri, D-Utica, on Monday at a news conference encouraged area businesses to take advantage of the program.

More than 5,000 Mohawk Valley businesses are potentially eligible to apply, they said. The criteria includes that the business must:
  • Be a private sector, for-profit, or nonprofit business, and have four or more employees; or a consortium of two or more such businesses that have the same training needs.
  • Be headquartered or have at least one physical location in the state at the time the proposal is submitted. Money awarded to business applicants must be used for employees working at the applicant’s New York facilities.
  • Have contacted their local work force investment agency. The area contact is the Workforce Investment Board of Herkimer, Madison and Oneida counties.
For more information, to download an application or to see the full criteria, visit the state Department of Labor’s Web site at www.labor.ny.gov.

Genesis Group General Meeting June 18th

All are welcome to attend this week's Genesis General Meeting, set for Thursday June 18th at 7:30am
Holiday Inn Utica/NewHartford
1777 Burrstone Rd.
New Hartford
The meeting is FREE and includes complimentary coffee and pastries.


"Brochure Exchange"
Area Tourism Officials will speak about "what to do & where to go" this summer in the Mohawk Valley region.
Speakers include representatives: Town of Webb/Old Forge, Oneida County Convention & Visitors Bureau, and various attractions and special events in Oneida and Herkimer counties.

"Boilermaker Pavilion"
Mohawk Valley EDGE Officials will discuss opportunities available at the "Call Mohawk Valley Home Pavilion" at this year's Boilermaker Health & Fitness Expo in July.
Come and learn how your company or organization can participate in our region's largest event!

"Infrastructure Project"
Steve Devan, O.C. Commissioner of Water Quality/Water Pollution Control; and Karl Schrantz, P.E.,
of Shumaker Engineeering will inform us on a massive multi-year project that will affect 15 communities
with-in the region.

"Mohawk Valley Matters/Regional Projects"
We'll receive updates from committee chairs on regional projects in areas of Education, Healthcare,
The College Community Network and Technology.

"Community Announcements"
Come and share good news and positive information about your company, a special project or an upcoming event!

Raymond J. Durso, Jr.
Executive Director

The Genesis Group
PO Box 3050
Utica, New York 13504
315.797-1280 Fax

Friday, June 12, 2009

Boilermaker will help non-profits

News Channel 10 reported that there's a new twist to the Boilermaker's Corporate Cup Competition, which may benefit non-profit organizations.

The Corporate Cup is a race between companies within the larger Boilermaker race. This year, participating companies will be able to select a non-profit organization, which will be placed in a drawing. At the end of the race, three of these organizations will be randomly selected and awarded $500 each.

"It was a way for us to have our friendly competition and still be able to do something good for our community. So that's an aspect that we're especially excited about to benefit our community at the same time have a good time," said Corporate Cup coordinator Cosmo Castellano.

The Corporate Cup Competition began in 1984. It's being sponsored this year by Excellus Blue Cross Blue Shield. Watch the video report here.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Genesis Group General Meeting June 18th

Thursday June 18th - 7:30am
at the Holiday Inn Utica/New Hartford
1777 Burrstone Rd., New Hartford

On the Agenda:

- Important information in areas of Education, College Community Network,
Healthcare, Technology, Discovery Tours
- "Summer Fun" in the Mohawk Valley Region, (places to go, things to see, etc) Guests include Tourism Representatives from area countiesthroughout the region

The meeting/event is FREE and anyone can attend!
For reservations, contact Ray Durso, Jr., by calling 792-7187 or by email, info@thegenesisgroup.org

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Volunteer effort lands $2.6M for region in tax funds

The OD reported that efforts to promote the availability of the federal Earned Income Tax refund generated more than $2.6 million for the Mohawk Valley.

The Resource Center for Independent Living partnered with the United Way of the Valley & Greater Utica Area in the area.

“This is an outstanding accomplishment for RCIL’s Mohawk Valley Asset-Building Coalition program and this entire community,” said Phil Hayne, executive director of the United Way.

“We believe that it is important to focus on strategies to help families become more financially stable, build assets and strengthen their families.”

Research shows that each year, at least $7 million goes unclaimed in Earned Income Tax dollars.. This year, the effort brought in about $2.67 million, most in the form of tax refunds and the rest in the form of waived tax preparation fees.More than 100 volunteers committed more than 2,000 hours to support the effort, which reached 1,444 individuals and families.

Broadway Theatre League names new leader

The Broadway Theatre League has announced the appointment of New York City resident Christopher McDonald as its newest executive director.

Thirty-nine-year-old McDonald will succeed former executive director Robert Lewis, who is retiring after 17 years at the helm.

McDonald, who is set to begin on Monday, was chosen from 100 applicants based on his past work experience. That experience includes production work for Nickelodeon, “The Montel Williams Show” and the Broadway production of “Mary Poppins.”

“We wanted to make sure the person we selected would be a good steward of our organization,” said league Vice President Eileen Pronobis.

“Bob Lewis has been such a good steward, we wanted to make sure we had someone at that level to take his place.” Read more here.

Observer Dispatch Offers Monthly Nonprofit Wish List

A great idea and very helpful to local nonprofits, the OD offers this list of items that are needed by area agencies and ministries.

Stamps, copy paper, blue bags, bathroom paper products, liquid detergent, air deodorizer, AA batteries

Needed: facilitators for weekly meeting of 14-20 year old youth who are working through issues concerning sexual orientation and gender identity ; office receptionist in Utica office.

New or gently used wigs and turbans.

Pre-school vision screeners. Training available.

Catholic Charities Herkimer County DOMESTIC VIOLENCE 866-0458
For infants/children: clothing, shampoo, conditioner, baby hygiene items. For emergency purchases : store cards from WalMart, Hannaford, K-Mart

Small desktop calculators, stamps

HOSPICE INC 735-6484 X249
Gift bags, assorted cards

Softball equipment and gloves, ping pong table, men's hygiene items and products.

Volunteer opportunities.

SIEGENTHALER CENTER (hospice) 735-6484
New glass tumblers, long distance phone cards, travel size toiletries, small size solid colored gift bags.

Many volunteer opportunities.

HOPE HOUSE 793-3723
Left-overs from your catered dinner ! Plant a row for us in your garden ! Canned juices, coffee/tea/creamer/sugar/sweetener; salad dressings, condiments, low salt broth. Hygiene products.NEWS FLASH ! June 3rd to 6th Bag lunches will be served.

Non-perishable canned, boxed, bagged foods. Household goods, pillows, sheets, blankets.

SSM FOOD PANTRY at Grace Church 733-7575 X236
Boxed, bagged, canned foods. Bathroom/kitchen paper goods.. Toiletries.

Non-perishables for food pantry; clothing for the entire family.

THEA BOWMAN (Lafayette St.) 797-0748
Clothes for the entire family. Food to stock our pantry

Weekly needs :soup, canned/frozen/fresh vegetables, cold cuts, coffee/de-caf, volunteers, musical instruments.

Needed every week : soup, vegetables, cold cuts, coffee/de-caf. Volunteers

Food pantry needs: boxed, canned, bagged foods; pots/pans, kitchenware

FAMILY NURTURING CENTER The Family Place 798-9164
Clients nave furniture and household needs (call if you have something). PAPER goods :plates/cups/napkins/toilet/towels; seasonal clothes for kids; garbage bags; coffee/creamer/sugar; office supplies; arts and crafts.

Volunteers : Young Scholars mentors; Bill Payer Program. In Rome: F.A.S.T. Families and Schools Together.

For the kitchen : table/chairs, pots/pans, utensils.

Wish List will be published the first Sunday of the month. This is an opportunity to help those in need in the area. Donors or volunteers should contact the number representing the program that they wish to help. Wish Listers should submit the name of their program, address, phone, contact person and no more than five wishes and mail them to: J.B. Smith, 47 Jordan Road, New Hartford, NY 13413.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

ADHD & Autism Advocates Offers First Annual Conference Oct 1-2

This event will feature national experts in ADHD, Autism, and related disorders. These experts will present on scientific‐based strategies and will provide workshops with practical, hands‐on training. We hope you will join us for this unique and enjoyable learning experience!

Who Should Attend: Anyone interested increasing knowledge and acquiring specific intervention skills related to ADHD, Autism and related disorders. This includes, but is not limited to, parents; teachers; mental health professionals; occupational, physical, and speech therapists; social workers, pediatricians/nurses, psychologists, and psychiatrists.

Conference Location Details: Conference will be held at the Turning Stone Resort Casino
5218 Patrick Road
Verona, NY13478

Conference Information and Registration Details: Please contact Andrea or Kayla at ADHD& Autism Advocates (315) 732‐3431.