Tips & Tools

  • 11 May 2012 2:51 PM | Deleted user
    An experiment conducted by behavioral scientists, discovered that problem solving procedures were inhibiting creative thought. The traditional method begins with a detailed assessment of the current situation and clarification of specific problems. Researchers assessed the enthusiasm and effectiveness of problem solving groups by measuring room sound in decibels and counting the number of negative/positive adjectives used during discussions. They also rated the merit of proposed solutions. This experiment proved that when imagination is applied before rational thinking begins (by creating a vision of the preferred future) better decisions are made and participants become committed.  

    Activity #1 Imagine success:  Before trying to solve a problem, imagine and discuss what it would look like once your problem has been resolved. Talk as though success has already happened. What is different now? How are you feeling about the accomplishment? 

    During the second world war, an eminent social scientist Kert Lewin, was asked to help overcome the reluctance that soldiers had about eating powdered eggs. Lewin created a simple yet effective problem solving process called force field analysis. This useful tool identifies “what is” by recording contributors (forces that help move towards a goal) and resistors (forces working against movement towards a goal). He determined that the status quo exists because contributing and resisting forces are in balance. Add a contributor or remove a resistor and the current situation (status quo) will change.

    Activity #2 Document what is:  Record a summary of your imagined “preferred future.” Under your summary, draw a vertical line down the center of the page. Title this line “status quo”. Title the left half of the page “contributors.” Underline this heading with an arrow pointing towards the status quo. Title the right half “resistors” and underline with an arrow pointing towards the status quo. List forces that will help you move towards your goal in the contributor column and list what could hold you back under resistors. What emerges is a clear picture of your ideal, the current reality, and what needs to be done to close the gap. 
    Those of us who have tried to survive a rigid diet, have experienced the shoot yourself in the foot syndrome. It happens because we try to control behavior with contributors (i.e. rules, punishment, or incentives). The rebellious child residing in all of us, resents being “should on” and will eventually lash out. Lewin’s break through was in discovering that people can move towards a goal without risking an unpredictable backlash. The key success factor is to remove roadblocks or minimize their impactundefinedrather than add contributors. When rules, rewards, or punishments are overdone, the rebellious child will resist and even sabotage their honorable intentions. 

    Activity #3 Eliminate the impact of resistors:  To begin moving towards your goal, rank order resistors in terms of their negative impact.  Eliminate the easy ones first, then develop an action plan for the rest. 

    And yes, Lewin resolved the Army’s powdered egg issue. He determined that the problem wasn’t taste or texture… the primary resistor was the soldiers’ thought of having to eat “processed” eggs. Lewin’s surprisingly effective solution was to have the manufacturer throw a few egg shells into the mix.

  • 26 Apr 2012 11:19 AM | Deleted user

    The Volunteer Dating Game: 6 tips for getting your relationship with volunteers started off on the right foot.

    Sometimes nothing beats curling up on the couch and watching a classic romantic comedy. Like the one where the man pushes the damsel in distress out of the way of a moving car and they fall in love at first sight? Or the one where they just happen to meet at the top of the Empire State Building? Meeting that special someone is a piece of cake, right?

    Let's get real, people. It isn't easy to find your perfect match, and the same goes for recruiting volunteers. Just like a first date, you want your relationship with your volunteer to get off on the right foot and last well into the future.

    Here are six ways you can appropriately ask, engage, and hold onto your volunteers. Chances are that if you are a good "first date," your association will benefit by recruiting and retaining members dedicated to helping further its mission.  

    • Don't play the "he said, she said" game: Be direct and personal. Ask potential volunteers to share their time and energy personally and directly. Clear invitations are the most effective method of asking potential volunteers to get involved, with the least chance of getting turned down.
    • "You want how many kids?": Know their motivations. From the get go, find out what motivates your volunteers and what they want to get out of the experience in order to meet their expectations and yours, expand on their talents, and keep them engaged. Knowing their long-term goals will enable your association to carve out a detailed volunteer path for them to progressively get more involved in activities that will enhance your business.
    • Casual dinner at 7 p.m. sharp: Provide detailed expectations. Give your volunteers clear guidelines so that they know what your association needs and wants, and you know what your volunteers need and want; it's a two-way street. Also take into account volunteer demographics, the type of volunteer opportunity, and the audience's current level of familiarity and engagement with association.
    • "Did you just Facebook message me for my phone number?": Don't be passive. You want what potential volunteers have to offer, so make your message loud and clear. Show you're interested in them and reinforce this message however you can, via the web, social media, in-person events, and recruitment incentives for current members. (Important note: An approach this aggressive may not be recommended in the real-life dating game.)
    • Always hold the door open: Be responsive. It's important that you be friendly, responsive, and always follow through with your volunteers. The easier it is for your volunteers to get what they need from your organization, the more satisfied they will be, and the more likely they will be to come back for a second date
    • Flowers are always nice: Recognize appropriately. Determine the most appropriate way to highlight your volunteers' accomplishments and recognize how their work affects your association's larger mission. It could be as simple as a thank-you note or as grand as a standing ovation onsite at a conference; if you know their motivation, you will know how to reward them.
  • 18 Apr 2012 2:55 PM | James Ranieri (Administrator)
    The Lowe's Charitable and Educational Foundation is dedicated to enhancing the quality of life in the communities where Lowe's operates stores and distribution centers throughout the United States. Community Grants ranging from $5,000 to $25,000 are provided for community improvement initiatives and K-12 public education projects. Funding priorities for community improvement initiatives include park, neighborhood, and community facility enhancements; outdoor learning programs; and community clean-ups. Funding priorities for public education projects include construction-related education initiatives; playground enhancements; clean-up, landscaping, and painting projects; and minor repair of public school buildings. Requests may be submitted at any time. Visit the company’s website to take the eligibility test and submit an online application.
  • 03 Apr 2012 11:35 AM | James Ranieri (Administrator)
    The purpose of the Newman's Own Awards Program is to recognize volunteer and nonprofit organizations supporting our nation's military families. Eligible applicants must be comprised primarily of volunteers or be a nonprofit organization, and be working with the families of Active Duty, National Guard, or Reserve units and/or veterans. Applying organizations will be evaluated on their innovative plans for improving the quality of life for members of the military and their families. Grants of up to $25,000 are provided. The application deadline is May 1, 2012. Visit the program’s website to submit an online application:
  • 28 Feb 2012 9:35 AM | James Ranieri (Administrator)
    The RGK Foundation endeavors to be a catalyst for progressive change in humanitarian concerns by providing support to nonprofit organizations throughout the US. The Foundation’s focus is on innovative programs in the following categories:
    • Education: priorities include programs that focus on K-12 education (particularly mathematics, science, and reading); teacher development; literacy; and higher education.
    • Medicine/Health: programs that promote the health and well-being of children and programs that increase access to health services.
    • Community: targets a broad range of human services, community improvement, abuse prevention, and youth development programs.
    Interested applicants may submit an online letter of inquiry via the Foundation’s website throughout the year; invited proposals are reviewed quarterly. Visit the Foundation’s website for details on the grant categories and the application process.

    Website: RGK Foundation
  • 17 Feb 2012 10:44 AM | James Ranieri (Administrator)
    The TKF Foundation supports the creation of public green spaces that offer temporary sanctuary, encourage reflection, provide solace, and engender peace and well being. The Foundation's Open Spaces Sacred Places National Awards Initiative funds the development of significant new public green spaces in urban settings that demonstrate a combination of high quality design-build and rigorous research about user impacts. The initiative’s final Request for Proposals (RFP) will support cross-disciplinary teams that are able to 1) conceptualize, plan, design, and implement an open and sacred green space, 2) conduct an associated research study(ies), and 3) communicate scientific findings. Funded projects should serve as potential models for urban areas across the United States. A total of $4 million is available through this RFP. The application deadline is June 29, 2012. Visit the Foundation’s website to learn more about the National Awards Initiative and review the RFP.
  • 23 Jan 2012 1:12 PM | James Ranieri (Administrator)
    A must-read: An Executive Director's Guide to Financial Leadership.  Very extensive resource that every ED should read, and practice.  This would be good reading for those heavily involved in non-profit work on boards or certainly Finance Committee volunteers.
  • 17 Jan 2012 12:06 PM | James Ranieri (Administrator)
    It is that great time of year --- time to file those 1099-MISCs.  If you are still struggling with those paper copies, 2012 is the year to drop that and go online and e-file.  My personal recommendation is - I found their system to be very reasonable, easy to use and professional in format.

    This year's filings were a breeze and took me about 25% of the time.  Better yet, next year will be even easier as all of the info is stored in their system!

    Happy filing.
  • 09 Jan 2012 12:18 PM | James Ranieri (Administrator)

    Southern Partners Fund is a Foundation created to serve Southern communities and organizations seeking social, economic and environmental justice by providing them with financial resources, technical assistance and training, and access to systems of information and power.

    Based on the Fund’s new Southern Organizing Strategy, priority will be given to organizations that address voter rights, immigrant rights, or education reform.

    Applications must be received by email or postmarked by January 31, 2012.

    Click here for information/application.

  • 09 Jan 2012 10:14 AM | James Ranieri (Administrator)
    Today I'd like to direct you to an interesting article about what not to do, how not to lead.  Forbes presents 7 habits of spectacularly unsuccessful executives. Note: character, respect, team building, open minded, these are traits you will not see on their list! Check it out:

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