Editor’s Note

Happy summer, Avocados!

While for many, the season represents outdoor barbeques and long vacations, we in the world of not-for-profit know that summer is no time for ease. Fiscal years may have just begun, and that means a whole new set of strategic goals to get underway. As we learned from our last issue, having a good strategic plan can help with this process, but there's still lots of work to do.

Ask Rita: Sound answers to human resource questions

Dear Ask Rita in HR: In order to foster a culture of giving, my nonprofit organization requires employees to give an annual gift each year. While I agree that we should support the work of our organization, I object to the idea that I am forced to donate. It's gone so far that my supervisor will stand over my desk and ask me to write a check. Is this legal? What are my options for saying no?

Signed, X

Two free webinars help take your organization to the next level

Of course it would be great to be one of those organizations that has tons of resources to attend conferences throughout the year and plan long, leisurely retreats to learn the latest best practices. But we live in the real world - one where we're often picking cheese puffs off the floor of our car as we drive from one obligation to the next. Using money to follow best practices means there are fewer dollars available for other priorities (like paying the staff or buying paper for the printer, for example).

That's why the free webinars we're offering are so valuable. Not only can you enjoy them from the comfort of your office, but the price means you'll be able to sign up board members and key staff members as well!

Whose nonprofit is it anyway?

An all-too-common tale

Allow me to share a story about a small, community nonprofit. The organization, which used cultural immersion experiences as an educational tool, was founded by a dedicated woman who had worked for decades as a school teacher and then began the 501(c)(3) as her passion project. To make it sustainable, she spent three years serving as its unpaid executive director and board president.

Toolkit: Everyday accessibility: How your organization can be more ADA compliant

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, almost one out of every five Americans has a disability. Awareness around reaching people with disabilities, and the fact that more grant funding is tied to an organization's compliance with the Americans with Disability Act (ADA), makes understanding and implementing ADA compliance extremely important.

While most agree that pursuing increased access is the right choice, planning for accessibility can feel overwhelming to small staffs with limited resources. However, having an inclusive model doesn't solely equate with expensive site rehabilitations, and making changes to extend your reach needn't be for ADA compliance alone. Accommodating people with disabilities is not only the law, it's good for your organization.

Financial focus: You told us

In our April issue, we asked you to offer your thoughts on how the current political landscape will affect your organization's funding.

Your answers weren't surprising, but they weren't optimistic either.

That's understandable. It's tough to make sense of the world when the daily news includes the President pulling out of the Paris Climate Accord, the previous FBI Director testifying about lies from the Oval Office, healthcare in limbo, and a budget proposal that eliminates the National Endowment for the Arts, Corporation for Public Broadcasting, and the National Endowment for Humanities.

However, understanding the problem is the first step to finding solutions. In order to deliver services in the long-term, we need to make sure our organizations stay focused and have a financial plan.

These survey results underscore the need to remain focused by asking your organization's leadership and board the difficult questions.

Data Visualization: User-Centered Design

Our partner organization, Your Part-Time Controller, offers helpful advice on how U/X and user-centered design methods can better communicate visual stories in a way that advances the mission of your organization.

How to use data visualizations

Data visualizations are very useful for displaying data in a summarized and understandable way. When designed correctly, they can be aesthetically pleasing and helpful for explaining what is going on. When creating a visualization, what is the most important thing to keep in mind? The user. You are creating these visualizations for your audience so it is essential that their needs and requirements are met.

In the boardroom: Asked to join that board?

Asked to join that board? Here's what to look for before you sign on the dotted line

Most board recruitment is relationship-based. Often a friend or colleague, already serving on a board, will recruit you to join their Community Benefit Organization (CBO) board. They'll offer lofty visions of how your service can change the world, while simultaneously suggesting a manageable commitment.

Being asked to join a board is an honor. If asked, you are right to feel flattered. But before you agree, I suggest you engage in a thorough due diligence process to know exactly what will be expected and to determine if the organization fits for you.