Archive for the ‘Public Service’ Category

The Most Important Committees for Non Profits

Monday, August 19th, 2013

Nominating/Membership and Marketing/Communications/PR Rule the Roost

By Joseph John

I recently conducted a workshop for a group of State Coordinators at the Sister Cities International Annual Conference.  During my two hour workshop, my topics always found their way back to a major premise I have always held for non profit organizations — yes, I did use the workshop as my soapbox. I have always believed that the two most important committees are 1) the Nominating/Membership Committee and 2) the Marketing/Communications/PR committee.

All forward-thinking non profit organizations find the best-of-the-best to sit on the board of directors, as well as finding the “critical mass” needed to build the membership base required to keep the organization vibrant, exciting, and growing. Plus, those forward-thinking non profit organizations require a committee that understands the mechanics and nuances of communication and marketing. Theoretically, if you’re communicating properly then you’re marketing the organization. The inverse of that statement is de facto. As your board members embark on fund raising campaigns, volunteer for special events and speak at public gatherings, they are communicating AND marketing.

For this article, however, allow me to focus on the “front door” approach for bringing quality people into your boardroom — and that begins with the nominating committee. That committee is charged with finding qualified people (and those with passion) to add to your board.

I’ve mentioned in other articles the necessity of turning on one of the most famous radio stations in the world: WIIFM (What’s In It For Me). Your nominating committee must take many of the questions that a potential board member should be asking him/herself and then craft those questions into screening questions for the prospective board member:

Question: Do you want recognition, or do you really want to serve and give back to the community? (egoism versus altruism).

If you can move past that question, then you must ask some even more direct and thought-provoking questions. Those additional questions include:

1) CAN you/WILL you grow as a board member and add value to the board?

2) CAN you/WILL you become a valuable asset to the community?

3) CAN you/WILL you learn to “play nice” and become a team player with a group of people who also are contributing their free time to serve?

4) CAN you/WILL you articulate your belief in the organization and be credible out in public?

Those questions can be rewritten so that your nominating committee may use them as part of the interviewing process for potential candidates. Of course, there are many, many more tough love and necessary questions you and your committee should ask.

Your non profit board needs to be comprised of people, of all ages—Boomers, Gen Xer’s and Yer’s — who are both donors and doers. The board member must be willing to donate financially to the organization while doing projects for the betterment of the organization. Remember that many boards don’t have many people to delegate to, so board members must be willing to roll up their sleeves and become doers.

Your nominating committee should create a checklist of personality traits that can be used in the interviewing process. Just some of those traits would include:

  • Accountability — it’s not a dirty word.
  • Accessibility — answer the phone, your emails, and be ready to serve.
  • Personal commitment — sign up, then be ready to serve.
  • People-oriented and outgoing
  • Leadership and Listening skills
  • Responsiveness and Reliability

And the list continues.

The nominating committee should always be searching for the ideal candidate — it’s not a temporary committee assignment — rather, it’s an active committee assignment. The committee must always comb the community to find the best people to become board members. And why? Simply because there will always be board member attrition. And that’s why the committee must be proactive in in order to build a strong bench. My manager used to say “recruit or die.” And that’s what can happen to a non profit board if the nominating committee isn’t out looking for candidates all the time. Believe me, by being proactive your organization will eliminate knee-jerk and “desperation mode” board member appointments.

I think you’ll agree that if you have a nominating committee that is always searching for talented, energetic people to sit on your board, you’ll have a non profit organization that will be defined as dynamic and capable of achieving lofty goals.

Loaned Executives Reap Non Profit Benefits

Thursday, January 3rd, 2013

Proven pipeline for quality non profit board members and future donors!

By Joseph John

In one of my previous articles, I asked the following questions: What is your non profit organization’s game plan for recruiting and retaining new board members? Who in the community are you approaching to fill the pipeline for a steady stream of quality board members — and future donors?

Where are the X and Y generations? How can organizations expect to keep boards dynamic and growing if they don’t “seed” the boards with the future leaders — and those future leaders, and in many cases, current leaders in the community, are X and Y gens.

Well, I believe I can provide one method for “filling the pipeline” — and it will pay dividends.

I have always been impressed with several Non Profit Loaned Executive Programs. Unfortunately, many non profit organizations do not have the same local, national, and economic exposure (and clout) that some of the larger organizations possess that employ the Loaned Executive program. However, and let me add another “HOWEVER”, I recently introduced a modified loaned executive concept to a local non profit board. Modifying a template from several non profit agencies in the area, the program was restructured and then positioned in the following manner:

[Please note: I have eliminated the name of the organization and use “organization” generically]

The approach to a local corporation in your community begins with a teaser statement:

Does your company pride itself on being a part of the community? Are your employees not only engaged in their work but also in their passions? Do you see the benefit in broadening their skills through hands on experience with local nonprofit organizations?

We then continue with an explanation of the program:

The purpose of the [Organization Name] Loaned Executive initiative is to tap the expertise of an individual, usually a middle management employee, for a set period of time each week. This person will be asked to assist us in expanding our organization, communicating our vision and mission, as well as providing leadership skills to our board of directors. We are looking for fresh ideas, creativity, and the willingness to network throughout the local and international communities.

And, of course, being the sales people we need to be in ANY non profit organization, we continue with the BENEFITS:

We believe that this position creates a winning situation for everyone: your loaned executive works hand-in-hand with a nonprofit board of directors to hone his/her skills in communication, negotiation and networking with both local and international groups.

In turn, your company is not only directly engaged in the community and enhancing its corporate image, but it offers a unique opportunity to its employees, allowing them to develop skills which can be used in the workplace and to contribute to an organization that provides an array of benefits within our society. And, service work of this nature will be a positive for the employee’s resume.

And then we talk about the joint venture between the organization and the company:

This is not a full-time position and does not require the employee’s relocation or moving from his/her job. It does require a small time commitment from both the candidate and the company to be “loaned” to

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our organization for Board Meetings, special events, fund raising campaigns, presentations, and leadership programs.

This is a high visibility position in the community. Loaned Executives are non-voting board members and will assist the organization in planning and implementing fundraising strategies that aid in furthering the mission of our organization.

Being a Loaned Executive is an excellent opportunity to develop as a leader, network professionally, build relationships with local companies and organizations — locally and world-wide.

And finally, some of the job requirements (not all inclusive) with a call-to-action to submit an application:

  • Motivated, self-starter, enthusiastic, and creative
  • Possessing a true team player attitude
  • Excellent communicator with good presentation skills
  • Computer skills including most common social media programs
  • Adept at fundraising (or the willingness to learn)
  • A persuasive and honest presentation-style for small and large group presentations

The preceding job requirement list is, of course, adaptable to meet the specific needs of a non profit organization.

Finally, don’t forget the all-important final piece of initiating a program of this nature — an additional source of funding from a local company:

A donation from your organization and/or membership fee is required to help

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continue this valuable program that will benefit you and your selected employees

The minimal cost to the company is typically just the corporate membership/sponsorship fee for the organization — many organizations have levels such as a “silver,” “gold,” or “platinum” corporate level. I am sure this program, modified for other non profits, can be a “win-win-win-win” for all parties concerned:

  • A “win” for the company that supports the program and encourages its employees to “give back” to the community — thus becoming good corporate citizens.
  • A “win” for the employee, who gains valuable experience (and lends valuable experience) to the non profit sector.
  • A “win” for the organization that is the recipient of new talent and new ideas. A “win” by always having an ongoing source of positive energy to keep the organization forward-thinking.

And the final “win”

  • A “win” for the community(ies) the organization serves, because it is receiving support that goes beyond the servicing organization.

Employ a modified “loaned executive” program for your non profit organization and you will see new vitality and growth in your organization, an increased pipeline of membership, and of course, future donors.

Peyton Manning “Manningmania” and Public Relations

Tuesday, April 3rd, 2012

Mile-High Peyton Manning: Manningmania in Denver is a lesson in great public relations

By Peg McRoy Glover

Peyton ManningPeyton Manning, previously the quarterback for the Indianapolis Colts, recently signed a contract with the Denver Broncos. To say that his entry into the Mile-High City was an extraordinary media splash is to only mildly skim the surface what has been reported and written about this man.

In the interest of full disclosure: I am a native Hoosier who was relocated to Denver more than eight years ago due to a job transfer. It is hard not to love Colorado and all of the great athletic and entertainment opportunities one can desire. I have embraced all there is to enjoy in Colorado but my heart just couldn’t leave the Colts with Peyton Manning as quarterback.

So, on the morning of Tuesday, March 20, 2012, as I picked up the Denver Post, my heart leaped a bit when I saw Peyton Manning on the front page, above the fold and below, with the headline “Changing Horses,” (which was a nice nod to the West) with the subtitle, “Ex-Colts quarterback sidelined Tebowmania as Denver dreams big.”

Of course the front-page headline was an eye-catcher but it was the coverage of Manning in Section CC in that day’s paper that really grabbed my heart. On page 3CC there was a picture of Manning in 2005 embracing Josh Schmitt, a young man who played football for Cathedral High School in Indianapolis. Schmitt, his family and friends, had just lost his brother, Jeramy Schmitt, who suddenly passed away during football practice a few days earlier. It is easily discernible in the picture that Manning feels deeply this family’s loss.

The title of the article reads: “A mighty heart.” “Manning built a reputation as a hardworking player and dedicated humanitarian.”

The article also addressed his exemplary work ethic. John Henderson of The Denver Post observed: “His work ethic will put desperate rookies to shame, and his value as a superstar will send the Broncos’ franchise climbing up Forbes’ most valuable teams list. But Manning’s list of philanthropy glitters as much as his MVP trophies.”

It extolls his unflinching dedication to his PeyBack Foundation that includes such a significant donation to St. Vincent Health from the PeyBack Foundation that it remains undisclosed to this day.

Bob Kravitz, a columnist with the Indianapolis Star who has been reporting on Manning for the last 12 years, writes about Manning’s philanthropic endeavors, “Whatever you read about (Manning), he does 10, 20, 30 times more things that you never read about. I can’t tell you the number of e-mails I’ve gotten from people who said that Peyton did this, that or the other thing for a child or for a sick person that never made the news-paper, that wasn’t part of the PeyBack Foundation, that was just a random act of kindness.”

Being a current Denverite and native Hoosier, I received many calls, emails and social media contacts regarding Manning’s move. Arlene Jones-Street, who attended school with

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me in Indiana, posted on my Facebook page, “Please welcome Peyton Manning to your great state! You have gotten a wonderful human being.”

(Please note that her comment focused on what a wonderful human being Peyton Manning has proven himself to be over the years and didn’t focus on his exemplary QB performances.)

Of course in Denver there were Manning detractors who were very disapproving of Manning’s $96 million Bronco contract. One objector editorialized that Manning should give some of his millions to hungry kids.

Freelance columnist Mike Rosen jumped to Manning’s defense in an editorial published in The Denver Post on Thursday, March 29, 2012 with:

Actually, he’s (Manning) given far more than a few million dollars to fund

governmental social programs over his career, and the IRS will take about $30

million out of that Bronco’s contract. Manning is one of those rich 1 percenters in

the top bracket that account for 37 percent of all federal income taxes paid by

individuals. And then there are the millions he has given through the Peyton

Manning Peyback Foundation, supporting disadvantaged kids in Louisiana,

Tennessee and Indiana.

So if public relations is about inspiring others to tell your story, then Peyton Manning is not only a shining example of gridiron excellence and sportsmanship, he is also the high-standard benchmark in giving back emotionally, mentally and financially to communities.

Should you join a non profit board?

Monday, March 26th, 2012

Non profit invitation: turn on that personal station WIIFM and decide for yourself

By Joseph John

non profit boardYou’ve had your interview for the board, and during the process you most likely have conducted your personal due diligence on the non profit organization. That due diligence includes items such as the organization’s impact on the community, programs, finances, structure of the board, bylaws, fund raising, and most importantly, board member responsibilities.

And now? Well, now you’ve just been asked to join the non profit organization and become a board member. You’re flattered and ready to join. But before you say “yes,” you should turn on a famous radio station: WIIFM (what’s in it for me).

Yes, even though you probably asked great questions about the non profit organization and got the answers you were seeking, you really do need to switch the dial to WIIFM — it’s a station only YOU can tune into.

Now, before you get upset at me that I’m condoning ego trips and major league boosts to your resume, let me explain why WIIFM is not a negative. It can be a helpful station that filters out all of the personal traits that are counter to altruism.

Just What’s In It For Me to become a board member?  Begin with truthful responses, so begin with the most basic one: Do I want recognition, or do I really want to serve and give back to the community? (egoism versus altruism).

O.K. If you can get past that first set of questions, here are some other questions to consider (not in any specific order). And by the way, as you read each question, remember Socrates’ famous words — “know thyself:”

  1. Can serving on this non profit board enrich my life while developing passion for the organization’s cause?
  2. Can I grow as a board member and add value to the board?
  3. Can I move out of my “comfort zone” and learn new skills?
  4. Can I become a valuable asset to the community?
  5. Can I place the non profit organization’s interests above my own and serve the organization’s needs?
  6. Can I network with those like me who are serving, to broaden my horizons and sharpen my people skills?
  7. Can I learn to “play nice” and become a TEAM player with a group of people who also are contributing their free time to serve?
  8. Can I make a difference?
  9. Can I commit to self-improvement while helping to improve the non profit organization?
  10. Can I be empathetic, accountable, and ethical?


The preceding questions, not all-inclusive, comprise a WIIFM exercise NOT designed to assess potential materialistic or power gains. The true nature of the exercise is to determine if you can serve an organization that needs you and one where you cannot nor will expect payback — other than the satisfaction of serving others.

I asked an associate of mine to read this article before posting. After reading it, he told me that he was creating a rating scale of 1-5 for the WIIFM questions — just so he could re-assess his commitment to the organization(s) he serves. What a GREAT idea.

So if you’re approached to serve on a non profit board, proceed with the necessary due diligence, ask the questions you need to ask about them, and then step back, turn on WIIFM, and listen to yourself.

2012 Non Profit Board Resolutions

Tuesday, January 17th, 2012

It’s Not Too Late to Make and Keep Non Profit Board Resolutions

It’s 2012. We’re two weeks into the New Year. Only 9 more weeks until spring! So what’s the status of your New Year’s resolutions? How many

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have been kept and how many have been broken?

The treadmills in the fitness centers are burning up. The smoke cessation and diet clinics are going non-stop. And what’s happening in non-profit organizations? Were there ANY formalized resolutions for 2012? Were there ANY commitments from board members to contribute to the organization’s growth, health, and well-being? Did ANYONE on the board make a list of resolutions for the board?

Twenty-Twelve. There still remains a lot of time — 50 weeks — in the New Year to re-make and re-shape your board. And NO, you don’t need 20 resolutions – nor 12 – but that does have a nice ring to it, doesn’t it? However, what you need are manageable resolutions that will encourage board commitment AND follow-through during the entire year.

You’ve probably seen dozens of resolutions before, but let’s reinforce some of the ones below that you and your non profit organization board can and should make. These are resolutions that will ultimately make a difference to the community you serve.

Friend (member) raise. Light a fire under yourself and other board members and begin reaching out to friends, neighbors, and associates. Tell them great stories and vignettes about the incredible accomplishments of your organization and the impact it has made on the community. Remember the axiom: “Friend raising comes before fund raising.”

Open the box. Now seal it! Don’t get back into that organizational box. Yes, it’s a matter of getting outside of the box and doing things creatively. Be different. Be unique. Make people say “now that’s a unique and creative organization.”

Raise communication awareness internally. Start talking to each other — board members and staff members. Everyone is important in your organization. Rip off the “shoulder boards” of rank and talk to everyone who works to make a difference in your non profit organization. Resolve to communicate better among yourselves. If you can’t communicate clearly among yourselves, then the next resolution is going to fall flat on its face.

Raise communication awareness in the community. Again, “open the box” and start thinking of unique ways that will generation POSITIVE communication throughout the community. Create a “Communications Go Box.” Develop a belief statement and a “lift” speech. Start inviting yourself to community events and talk about your non profit organization and how it benefits those around you.

Raise your hand. That’s right! Don’t sit on your hands. You joined the board as a volunteer — so VOLUNTEER. Don’t shun responsibilities and duties that you should be doing as a board member. Non profit board members MUST always be “doers.” When you start leaning towards delegation, delegate to yourself first.

Raise the bar. Set some higher goals for friend raising, fund raising, and other initiatives that require going that “extra mile”. Sure, times are tough, the economy is tough, but the community you serve needs your willingness to tough it out and set the standards higher — they need your 100% effort.

Dust off the bylaws, vision, mission, and values statements. Make sure the drivers of your organization are fine-tuned. Challenge, if need be. Change or modify them if necessary. DON’T wait until next year.

Take ownership. “It’s Your Board.” Make yourself an owner of the organization and begin pushing for excellence, unity, and most importantly trust.

Sow the seeds of board recruitment. Recruit and groom new talent on the board and that means looking towards the “X” and “Y” generations so they can become the future leaders on your board and great community spokespersons.

Try a fresh coat of paint. You do it around your house — a fresh coat of paint or wallpapering seems to breathe new life into your home. Do the same for your non profit organization. Look at your logo, your brand, and your marketing language. Determine if your organization’s image needs a fresh coat of paint to create a brand new and vibrant organization to the community.

Plan for the future. Begin working on creative long-term fundraising, i.e., planned giving, programs. Focus on the here-and-now with an eye for keeping the pipeline of future funding open for your organization.

Say “thank you”. Two little words are two HUGE words. Get in the habit of saying “thank you” to board members, staff members, volunteers, contributors, friends, and more. “Thank you” is one of the greatest ice-breakers, which leads right into friend-raising.

Well guess what — I just listed twelve (12) resolutions for 2012. Go ahead and rank-order the ones that you and your fellow non profit board members can work on immediately. Commit to excellence. Resolve to keep your resolutions for 2012. Remember that keeping your resolutions will result in benefits for you, your non profit organization, and the communities you serve.

By Joseph John

Non Profit “Getting to Know You” Board Meeting

Tuesday, December 20th, 2011

Have Fun While Learning Something Interesting About Your Associates

non profit boardWhen is the last time you had some FUN at a non profit board meeting? Huh? What? Fun? We’re allowed to have FUN? Is that in the by-laws?

Just WHEN is the last time you learned something interesting — some personal factoids — about your fellow associates? As a matter of fact, do you know ANYTHING about your fellow non profit board members that reveals a lot more than just the person you see once a month at the meetings? A monthly meeting convenes and then “POOF”, your board associates disappear for another month. Just WHO were those people?

I’ve been fortunate over the years to be involved in some groups that have used getting to know you exercises in the past, and they all begin with some GREAT questions — let’s call them ice breakers. These questions are designed to get board members talking so that they can share some REAL insights about themselves, while having fun doing it. Trust me; you won’t believe the quantity of ice that melts, the barriers that drop, and the bonding that will take place when some of these questions are posed in this exercise.

By the way, I’m not sure who or what organization to credit for some of these questions — many groups and individuals have used them for years and modified them. Let me just say that they work, they break the ice, and the exercise will give your upcoming New Year a fresh new look by creating better non profit board member relationships.

So, here are some ice-breakers. The first two will really get the group going and engaged in this great exercise. I encourage you to send these questions out to the board members prior to the next board meeting — it’s a way to ensure the creative juices begin to flow. Believe me, it’s FUN and it works, and really helps towards team building!

The first two are some of my favorites because they set the stage for people to open up in front of their peers:

1. Write five statements about yourself, one of which is FALSE. We’ll get the rest of the group to determine which one of the statements is false.

2. Write one fact about yourself you believe the group would never have known about you, like you were a member of the Hell’s Angels, or you were a nun in your prior life.

3. What do you do to have fun?

4. Sum up your life philosophy in three words

5. Would you rather be a genius or incredibly good looking? [This generates a lot of fun comments.]

6. If you had the chance to go back and change your degree(s) and move into a different career, what would they be?

7. What one piece of advice would you pass along for posterity?

8. You will be quoted on national TV. What are you going to say?

9. You are running for President. What is your campaign slogan?

10. What is the best book you never read, but always meant to?

11. You can avoid doing one onerous task for the rest of your life. What would you select?

12. What would your Indian name be? (i.e. Dances with Wolves, Runs with Scissors, etc.)

These are just some of my favorite ice breakers. Get creative and generate some of your own for your next non profit board meeting and try them at your first board meeting in 2012. Enjoy, and yes, you’re allowed to have fun at board meetings.

by Joseph R. John

Non Profits: Membership or Fundraising?

Wednesday, September 7th, 2011

Fund raising is NOT the same as “Member Raising.”

It appears that non-profit organizations, and I’m referring to those from the non-service sector, have a tendency to combine fundraising and membership drives as one-and-the-same. Nothing could be further from the truth. Fund raising is NOT the same as “Member Raising”.

The purpose of fundraising is to generate money for the organization.

The purpose of a membership drive is to generate “bodies” — PEOPLE — people who will build the organization and sustain it. People who will provide the inertia for the organization so it can achieve its goals, objectives, and strive for the ultimate vision of the organization.

People can create fund drives, but fund drives don’t create people!

A membership drive must focus on the prospective member as a potential customer! What? A Customer? Yes, a customer. “Customer” and “Member” can be used

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interchangeably when describing the organizational relationship to people. How so?

Remember that a customer doesn’t need you — you need them. The customer, the potential member, asks: so what does your organization do? What’s in it for me? What are the benefits of becoming part of your organization? How do I sign up? What do I do after I become a member? What can I, the member, provide the organization and what will the organization provide me?

Before you embark on any membership drives, put on your marketing hat! Consider that membership drives will cost your organization money, people resources, and its reputation.

Think through some of the following questions and commit the answers to paper to assist you in creating a campaign:

1. As silly as it sounds, do you really know why you want members?

2. HOW MANY members are enough and how will you retain them?

3. What type of “drive” will be effective? Will it be ongoing or a special “one-time” event? What are the costs and what will be the process(es) used to initiate the campaign?

4. What is the perceived value of the membership drive for the new member?

5. What are the measures of success? How will you know you succeeded and received “value” from your efforts in the campaign.

If you think of a member begin a customer, you will create a healthier mindset for your organization on how to look for and retain that special person you want in your organization.

Oh, and one last thought: Membership drives need not be strictly for new members. What have you done recently for the dedicated, loyal, dues-paying members who have stood by your organization for so many years? What value package have they received…hopefully not a dull, ordinary non-personal letter from the president requesting membership dues and/or donations.

by Joseph R. John