Tuesday, August 30, 2011

New Steering Committee Member Announced!

The Mohawk Valley Nonprofit Leaders Group Steering Committee would like to welcome Lucia Bliss, Executive Director of the Herkimer County Community College Foundation, to the Group! The Committee is happy to have Lucia on board.

Interested in joining the Steering Committee, or doing more with the Group? Contact us and let us know.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Mohawk Valley Nonprofit Leaders Group Steering Committee Meeting August 24th

Attended by:
C. Sonia Martinez, Mohawk Valley Latino Association, Inc.
Lorraine Kinney-Kitchen, Child Care Council of Cooperative Extension
Tim Trent, Future Development

2012 Program Focus
• Discussed Leadership topic focus for next year
o Should approach other organizations
 Mohawk Valley Leadership
• Need more focus on leadership
o Hold regional gathering of nonprofit leaders
o Identify nonprofit priorities for region
o Build visibility and better communication
o Develop middle management
o Other topics under leadership
 Governance
 Succession planning

Upcoming Program
• November 9th
• Partnering for Financial Success
o Will feature programs and organizations that have partnered and been successful
o Topic areas and suggested participants

 Merger
• Center for Family Life and Recovery (Cassandra Sheets)
• Child Care Council of Cooperative Extension (Lorraine Kinney-Kitchen)
• Otsego Land Trust (Peter Hujik)

 Coalition
• Literacy Coalition collaboration (Kathy Rinaldo)
o CONFIRMED by Lorraine

 Outsourcing/Shared Facility or Services
• JCTOD Outreach, Inc., aka Johnson Park Center (Joanne Golden)
• Parkway Senior Center (Kelly Walters)
• United Way of Delaware and Otsego Counties (Terry Capuano)

 Regionalization
• Planned Parenthood Mohawk Hudson (Margaret Roberts)
• American Cancer Society

o Will invite moderator
 Approaching John Zogby

Upcoming Dates
• Oct 12th Steering Committee
• November 9th Program: Partnering for Financial Success
• December 14th Steering Committee

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Fund Development Program Videos Now Available!

The Mohawk Valley Nonprofit Leaders Group held a program on July 21st that focused on fund development infrastructure. The agenda included an overview of the fund development committee and plan by the NY Council of Nonprofits. A panel discussion followed. Videos from the panel discussion are now available and feature the following topics (click below to watch):

The panel featured: Judith Reilly, Executive Director, Compeer of the Mohawk Valley; Frank B. DuRoss, Executive Director of Institutional Advancement, Mohawk Valley Community College MVCC; Steve Robinson, Director of Programs and Training, The Peacemaker Program, Inc; and Nancy M. Benz, Vice President for Fund Development, Planned Parenthood Mohawk Hudson, Inc.

KEYS positions available

Hi everyone!

Things are really rockin' here at KEYS, and our workshop series programs at KEYS are just exploding! We are hiring presenters to help us with our Music Make Cents workshops that we provide for our day care providers, staff and our KEYS families. We are spreading the word through people we know, because referrals are the best way to get the best people! I am sure you are all set, but if there is someone you know who may be a good fit, please send me their contact info, or have them contact us.

This is a parttime contractor position and we will be hiring at least 10 to 15 presenters in the next year. There is no musical experience necessary...we train all of our staff....we just look for people who have a great positive attitude and a desire to help others. This is a great position for college grads who are looking for work, as well as, other folks who would like to make some extra money, on a flexible schedule, while helping families in need. :)

If you know someone who would be interested, please have them contact Colleen Bennett at 315-363-6446 or by email at colleen@keysprogram.org.

Colleen & Dave

David & Colleen Bennett

KEYS Program Founders
308 Sherrill Road, Suite 100
Sherrill, NY 13461
Office Phone & FAX: (315) 363-6446
Colleen's Cell: (315)723-6627
David's Cell: (315) 723-8725

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

11 Ways To Use Technology To Thank Your Donors

Here is a helpful article from Idealware, a NYCON partner:

By Andrea Berry and Chris Bernard, August, 2011 This article was originally published in the August 2011 issue of The NonProfit Times.

Organizations use technology to engage donors, manage them in databases, and even accept their donation payments online. With a little creative thinking you can save staff time on this important step and increase the likelihood that donors will give again.

Such classic techniques as thank-you letters, phone calls, events and special gifts will never go out of style. Many of these translate surprisingly well to online or technology-enhanced techniques, providing both new ways to make donors feel appreciated and, in some cases, organizational savings.

Here are 11 ideas ranging from the simple to the high-tech to get started.
•Personalized Emails. Most organizations are already sending automatic emails to people who have donated online. A little creativity can increase the impact of those emails. Nonprofits with a small staff can pass around a list of donors and their email addresses and have a couple of different people send personal emails thanking them. Better yet, organizations that serve a certain populace, such as schoolchildren or artists, can line up a few of them to write personalized thank-yous that show people the power their gifts have to change lives. There’s no cost other than staff time.

•eNewsletters. Many nonprofits have newsletters. It’s easy to turn them into enewsletters to email to donors, or to create a periodic enewsletter exclusively for donors offering short articles about special projects they’ve funded. Asking celebrities or experts to write a guest article or answer questions can give a newsletter a bit of appeal, and compelling stories and interviews can be of real interest to donors.

•Online Profiles. Organizations can use their newsletters, blogs or websites to profile donors on an ongoing basis. To appeal to the widest possible audience, they can profile “typical” donors -- not necessarily the most generous or the ones who have been giving the most years running -- as a powerful thank-you. A profile of someone who gives a small amount despite their limited income because a nonprofit’s mission is near and dear to them, or who has a great personal story as to why they support an organization, can inspire other donors to give more.

•Online Gifts. Many nonprofits offer incentives such as T-shirts or coffee mugs to those who make a certain level of donation. What about online gifts of appreciation instead of, or in addition to, these real-world gifts? Offering donors access to a mission-related webinar provided by experts, or to an online Q&A with a “celebrity,” can be a rewarding thank you. Organizations can mine their networks for potential candidates -- people are often grateful for the opportunity to contribute if given the chance. Other ideas include a mobile app related to the organization or mission, or an online game. As opposed to physical gifts, many online gifts cost nearly the same whether they’re given to one person or to hundreds of thousands.

•Social Media Shout-Outs. It’s a good idea to thank people publicly, say in a list-wide email, because there’s a certain momentum to donations -- they can gather speed along with mass -- and because some people like the credit. But there’s a lot to be said for the perception of intimacy a personal contact can create, which is why the best campaigns incorporate both. Using multiple channels to give donors rolling shout-outs during an ongoing campaign can include Facebook, Twitter, email and a blog. For example, a “Donors of the Week” post on Facebook, or a thank-you can be tweeted every time someone gives more than a certain dollar amount, like bartenders ringing the bell for a big tip. Linking to donors’ own sites or blogs, if they have them, is another subtle means of thanking them.

•Highlight Early Donors. Approaching a set of major donors early in the campaign to seed a matching fund that would then be promoted to other prospects through emails and the website can work particularly well for corporate donors. It allows them to essentially “sponsor” the email and online fundraising campaign, and gives them publicity for their gifts.

•Website Leader Board. For friend-to-friend fundraising campaigns, in which supporters raise money from their own networks on behalf of an organization, it’s possible to create an online leader board where fundraisers “compete” good-naturedly against each other’s campaigns. These public rankings can be a powerful way to thank high performing teams and to incent others to do even more.

•Real Time Giving Updates. For live events where people are encouraged to give, with a little technical know-how, it’s easy to project the gifts onto a screen as they’re received. This can be as simple as typing the gifts into a document that’s projected from a laptop, to posting them in real time on Twitter and projecting the organization’s Twitter stream. Twitter also allows community members who aren’t there in person to vicariously experience the excitement -- and be inspired to give online.

•Videos and Photos. More and more organizations are harnessing the power of video to capture and convey emotion often lost in email, and with video capabilities now included in nearly every camera and phone, it’s never been easier. From a staff sing-along to a classroom full of children thanking donors for their gifts, the ideas are seemingly limitless. Videos can be fun, or they can be serious. It’s up to the nonprofit to set the tone. Photos can be used in a similar way, for example, as a slide-show set to music that shows constituents or events or the beneficiaries of funding. These can be posted on the website and sent to donors as links in their thank you emails.

•Interactive Thank You Pages. When donors click a button to donate online, they typically see a thank-you web page. Enhancing this page with something more compelling, like a Flash fireworks display or a thank-you video or slideshow, can provide a more exciting option. Since the donor’s name and information is already in the system, it’s possible to personalize the video, for example, by superimposing the donor’s name onto a “Thank You” sign held by a child served by the organization.

•QR Codes. Growing in popularity, QR codes are the black-and-white graphics that look like bar codes that link people to a website when they scan them with their smartphone cameras. Including a QR code in a thank-you mailing or email is an innovative way to send donors to one of the web pages or videos discussed earlier. It also provides tech savvy donors an easy way to follow a link, and doesn’t require anything but the space in the letter.

Most of these ideas can be executed for free by someone with a firm grasp of computers. Some might require an investment, some specialized knowledge, or the help of a programmer, writer or consultant. But donors are the lifeblood of your organization, making them feel appreciated is a good way to show gratitude and keep them donating.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Building bonds while raising funds

The OD featured a helpful article on fundraising for nonprofits stressing the importance of relationships, which is a good follow up to the recent program held at Herkimer County Community College. As the article relates:

As nonprofit organizations and professional fundraisers court today’s savvier donors, it’s not always about who can throw a bigger, splashier fundraiser or a swankier black-tie event.

“If you’re looking at events and things that are going to pull people out, the level of competition is the same (as before the recession began),” said Katherine Lowe, membership chair and member of the board of directors for the Central New York Chapter of the Association of Fundraising Professionals. Lowe also is community relations director of Meals on Wheels of Syracuse.

The real competition is in reaching donors with your mission, because that’s how they decide where to place their hard-earned dollars, Lowe said. Nonprofit organizations and fundraising professionals are focused on building long-lasting, solid bonds with individuals in their communities.

Giving them something different

Lowe emphasized that matching an event to an organization is a unique fit — what works for one organization may not work for another.

A volunteer-based organization may enjoy awards dinners that single out and honor a volunteer each year, but that wouldn’t work for everybody, she said. Instead, the trend is toward events that are tailored to the community, its desires and what it can support.

“I think it’s something you really look to your donors (for),” Lowe said.

Maria Alberico, regional director of Special Olympics New York, Central Region, agreed.
“It’s important to know your demographic,” she said. “You have to know what people are interested in.”

But when the Special Olympics of New York asked their fundraisers what they wanted, the answer was clear — something totally different.

Special Olympics responded by organizing events such as The Polar Plunge, where sponsored fundraisers take a winter’s dip into icy waters to raise money.

The event has become one of their most popular fundraisers. The Central Region had 400 participants last year.

“It’s that kind of wacky, thrilling, daredevil kind of event that doesn’t get lost in the walkathons,” she said.

The organization’s most recent event, Over the Edge, was held Thursday. It’s a fundraiser in which donors rappel over the side of a building to raise money. It had been successful in other areas of the state, Alberico said, with more than 150 participants in 2010.

In the event’s first year, 40 participants rappelled down the side of the Adirondack Bank Building on Genesee Street in Utica.

While events like Over the Edge or The Polar Plunge present unique opportunities for their participants, it’s important to make sure the connection is made between the event and the mission of the Special Olympics, Alberico said.

“We serve 51,809 athletes in the State of New York,” Alberico said. Nearly 7,000 of those athletes are in the Central New York region.

One of those athletes, basketball player Art Lindsey, went “Over the Edge” at a media day prior to the fundraiser, bringing attention back to the organization’s mission.

“In the end, this is why we do this. We have a great group of folks,” she said.

Making a connection

While Special Olympics of New York found in this case that donors were looking to walk on the wild side and raise money, Lowe said that’s not always the norm.

She said fundraising professionals are becoming cautious about planning “huge, splashy events.” They often are more expensive to put on and can cut into the net proceeds.

Stevens-Swan Humane Society has been able to effectively use its fundraisers to build upon the strong connection the community already feels to animals and the organization’s mission.

“It seems everybody has a connection with animals,” said Jerry Kraus, public relations director for the Stevens-Swan Humane Society. “So when we ask people to help us, and help our animals, it’s not really a tough sell for us because people identify with what we’re doing there: sheltering stray, homeless and abused animals.”

In fact, they identify with the organization’s mission to such a degree that community members frequently organize events and donate the proceeds to the humane society.

Last weekend, for example, the annual Animal for Animals benefit concert event took place. It was organized in memory of Ric “Animal” Morehouse by his stepson.

As a professional fundraiser, Lowe said, that is the ideal scenario: to have people who are willing to put together an event and donate the proceeds to your organization.

Whether they’re at an event organized by the humane society or helping out one of their many supporters, Kraus said the special events raise money but also highlight the work that the shelter is doing.

They bring shelter dogs the Wiggle Waggle Walkathon each September – even finding some of them homes at the event.

“When we get on the telethon, we’re bringing out some of the cases of abuse,” Kraus said. “So people know what we do at the shelter has some real, tangible results.”

And when it comes down to it, that’s what fundraising is all about, Lowe said.

“Fundraising, at its core, is really about relationship building,” Lowe said.

“It’s not about producing a one-shot deal,” she said. “It’s more about connecting to those individuals who are going to support your mission regardless of the economy.”

Thursday, August 11, 2011


In Central New York, our local not-for-profit organizations tend to feel the pinch of challenging economic times more acutely than their for-profit counterparts. Often, a simple increase in organizational capacity can help not-for-profits withstand the turbulence of the market and continue to achieve the goals of their missions. To facilitate this, The Community Foundation of Herkimer & Oneida Counties, Inc. is introducing a simplified mini-grant program.

This program is designed to help not-for-profits apply for funding of $20,000 or less that will be used for capacity-building purposes. For this process, capacity building is defined as something that “improves organizational capacity and competence;” this can include strengthening areas such as administrative systems, management, financial resources and governance. Historically, capacity-building grants have been invested in creating strategic or resource development plans, training and education for board and staff and purchasing new technology, to name but a few examples of activities that strengthens an organization’s foundation upon which its mission and programs rest.

The application for mini-grants is significantly shorter than the standard grant application.
This mini-grant program is a featured component of The Community Foundation’s competitive grantmaking. Capacity building grant requests for amounts over $20,000 may still be submitted, but are subject to the standard submission and review. Jan Squadrito is the Foundation staff contact for this program and all competitive grants. Interested parties should contact her at (315) 735-8212 or jsquadrito@foundationhoc.org for more information or to begin the application process.

The Community Foundation has been a force for improving lives and promoting philanthropy throughout Herkimer and Oneida counties since 1952. The Foundation has made more than 4,700 grants totaling over $37.2 million in support of causes ranging from education to health care, the arts to the environment. Grants are generated by the more than 285 funds that comprise The Foundation’s endowment, established and advanced by area individuals and families. For more information about The Community Foundation’s work in Herkimer and Oneida counties, visit www.foundationhoc.org or call (315) 735-8212.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Tell Governor Cuomo About Your Nonprofit!

Let's Tell Them About The Good Work Of Nonprofits
Submit Your Testimonial to NYCON & the Governor Today!

On August 3rd the Governor announced the formation of a task force charged with investigating executive compensation at nonprofit agencies (full announcement from Gov. Cuomo below).

NYCON is in agreement with the Governor that activities like those recently exposed in the NY Times that were the impetus to the formation of this task force, can have significant detrimental effects on the relationship between nonprofits and the public.

However, we also know that these types of activities are not solely a "nonprofit issue" and, furthermore, that there are many more positive stories than negative ones occurring in nonprofits.

We want to make sure the Governor realizes this too.

We are asking you to help us remind Governor Cuomo that nonprofits employ hard-working New Yorkers who provide much needed services in communities across our state.

Let the administration know the services you provide are essential and are delivered in an ethical, honest and efficient manner that rivals any successful for-profit company. Let's remind them, and all taxpayers, that we're delivering services at costs far below our private sector counterparts, and take on contractual obligations from the State that they would never agree to, often times to our own detriment - because we exist for our mission, not profit.

Please submit your stories here.

NYCON is creating a web page dedicated to publishing your testimonials, and we encourage you to submit your stories which will be shared online and with the Governor's press office. You can also submit your comments directly to the press office at: press.office@exec.ny.gov.

Please feel free to contact our membership office if you have any questions or comments.

Thank you again for all you do and for your continued dedication to the nonprofit sector and your community.

Doug's Signature

Doug Sauer

CEO, New York Council of Nonprofits, Inc.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Governor Orders Review of Executive Compensation at Nonprofits

From the Governor's Website

Albany, NY (August 3, 2011) Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced that he has created a new task force to investigate the executive and administrator compensation levels at not-for-profits that receive taxpayer support from the state. The task force will be led by the New York State Inspector General Ellen Biben, Secretary of State Cesar A. Perales, the Medicaid Inspector General Jim Cox, and the Superintendent of the Department of Financial Services Benjamin Lawsky.

"Not-for-profits that provide services to the poor and the needy have a special obligation to the taxpayers that support them. Executives at these not-for-profits should be using the taxpayer dollars they receive to help New Yorkers, not to line their own pockets. This task force will do a top-to-bottom review, not only to audit current compensation levels, but also to make recommendations for future rules to ensure taxpayer dollars are used to serve and support the people of this state, not pay for excessive salaries and compensation," Governor Cuomo said.

Governor Cuomo continued, "There is a whole range of compensation levels and extremes that have existed for too long and must be reviewed. The use of taxpayer dollars must be scrutinized at every level."

The Governor's task force will determine the protocol and scope of the investigation in order to target the audit to focus on ensuring that state taxpayer dollars meant to help and protect New Yorkers, particularly the poor and indigent, are going to that purpose and are not being diverted to compensation. It will also provide recommendations for State agency policies and procedures that will ensure that taxpayer dollars are not being diverted to excessive compensation.

Commissioners from the Department of Health, the Office of Mental Health, and OPWDD will also serve on the task force.

The Governor's action follows reports of startlingly excessive salaries and compensation packages for executives at not-for-profits that depended on state Medicaid funding through the Office of People With Developmental Disabilities (OPWDD) and other State agencies.

The State's Medicaid Inspector General has the authority necessary to exclude providers from participation in the Medicaid program if it is found that they have engaged in fraudulent or abusive practices.

There are currently no state rules governing executive and administrative compensation for not-for-profits that receive state support.

According to the Department of the Budget's January 2010 preliminary analysis of not-for-profit employees contracting with the mental hygiene agencies (Office of People With Developmental Disabilities, Office of Mental Health, and Office of Alcohol and Substance Abuse Services), there were approximately 1,926 employees with annual salaries greater than or equal to $100,000. The total value of their salaries was $324.6 million, with an average salary of $168,555.

NYCON Statement on Governor's
Review of Executive Compensation:

"NYCON supports IRS and state enforcement efforts to root out those relatively few and often large institutional nonprofits, especially in health care and higher education, where charitable resources are used for the private and personal gain of executives. Such abuses are a stain on the sector and the Governor is right, public trust is integral to the mission and work of our state's charities. The Internal Revenue Service already provides compensation guidelines as set forth in the federal tax code and we believe those guidelines should be upheld.

It needs to be emphasized, however, that these cases are very much the exception.

The vast majority of community-based nonprofit employees are doing hard and challenging work at compensation levels that are far below public employees and often the for-profit sector. It should also be noted that the phrase "taxpayer supported nonprofits" is misleading as the state government contracts to buy services from nonprofits, just as it contracts with the for-profit sector; except the nonprofit is often expected to unfairly perform at below the actual cost of doing business. Perhaps it is also time to order an extensive review of the executive compensation levels of "taxpayer supported for-profit businesses."

NYCON asks the Governor to take this opportunity to go beyond the immediate executive compensation issue and take a comprehensive look at how the state's overall regulatory and business relationship with the nonprofit sector can be improved in the interest of all concerned."

Doug Sauer, CEO, New York Council of Nonprofits, Inc.
1-800-515-5012, ext 103

Monday, August 1, 2011

Red Cross announces consolidation and new leadership

WKTV reported that effective July 28, 2011, the American Red Cross of the Mohawk Valley and Rome Area Chapters are consolidating into a single new chapter, which will retain the Mohawk Valley Chapter name.

The consolidated Chapter, which is part of the American Red Cross-Central New York Region, will continue to serve the communities of Oneida and Herkimer counties.

Rome Area Chapter Executive Victor Fariello will lead the new chapter. Fariello, who has been chapter executive in Rome for the past 3 years, has a long career in the nonprofit sector across the entire Mohawk Valley region. The new chapter will be headquartered at the current Mohawk Valley Chapter office at 1415 Genesee Street, Utica and will continue to maintain its presence and services in Rome, Utica and Herkimer.

The boards of the Rome and Mohawk Valley Chapters met recently and agreed upon the name of the Chapter. They continue to work on the process of consolidating into one chapter.

“A few years ago, the Utica and Mohawk Valley Chapters merged very successfully, resulting in greater efficiencies and more resources to provide programs and services to the community,” said Mohawk Valley Board Chair Stephanie Davis. “This consolidation results from the same rationale and we look forward to the potential of the new, merged Chapter.”

Sandra Latimer, Rome Chapter Board Chair, said “We’ve always had a strong, collaborative relationship with our neighboring chapter. I’m excited and optimistic
Red Cross Consolidation- page 2

about the opportunities this merger will present for our new chapter and the communities we serve.”

Programs and services will be unaffected by this change. The Red Cross will continue to respond to disasters, provide health and safety training, collect blood and provide services to military members and their families.

According to Fariello the consolidation is part of a nationwide effort by the Red Cross to reduce costs while maintaining vital services. Fariello adds that the organizational advances implemented so far have increased financial stability, created a stronger brand, invigorated fundraising systems and enhanced services and training programs for the public.

Read more here.

Membership of New Regional Economic Development Council

Members of the Mohawk Valley Regional Economic Development Council:

Co-chairs — Bjong Wolf Yeigh, president of SUNYIT, and Lawrence T. Gilroy III, president of Gilroy, Kernan & Gilroy, Inc.

General members — Charles Green, president & CEO, Assured Information Security, Inc.; Marianne W. Gaige, president & CEO, Cathedral Corporation; Nicholas O. Matt, president, Matt Brewing Company; V. Daniel Robinson II, president & CEO, New York Central Mutual Insurance Company; Richard C. Smith, president and CEO of Robison & Smith; William L. Keller III, president & CEO, Keymark Corp.; Nancy Pattarini, president & CEO, The Paige Group; Juanita Bass, owner, Juanita’s Soul Classics Inc.; Sheila Murphy, owner, Nunn’s Home Medical Equipment.

Frank DeRiso, president, United Food & Commercial Workers International Union; Randall VanWagoner, president, Mohawk Valley Community College; Margaret O’Shea, president & CEO, The Community Foundation of Herkimer & Oneida Counties; Mary Morse, owner, Kwik-Kut Mfg.; Richard Ball, owner, Schoharie Valley Farms/Carrot Barn; Steven DiMeo, president, Mohawk Valley EDGE (Economic Development Growth Enterprises Corporation); Michael J. Reese, president & CEO, Fulton County Economic Development Corporation; Deborah Auspelmyer, president, Montgomery Area Chamber of Commerce; Carolyn A. Lewis, economic developer, Otsego County Economic Development; Scott White, president, Bank of Cooperstown.

Elected officials (ex-officio) — Oneida County executive; chairmen of Montgomery Board of Supervisors, Fulton Board of Supervisors, Otsego Board of Supervisors, Herkimer County Legislature, and Schoharie County Legislature, respectively; mayors of Utica, Amsterdam and Gloversville. (Mayors are from the three largest municipalities in the region, with a limit of one municipal representative per county.)