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52 Tips in 52 Weeks: “This is the way it’s always been done!” – is this mentality stopping you from achieving excellence?

As frequent readers of this blog know, the Standards for Excellence: and Ethics Code for the Nonprofit Sector document is a consensus model for how the most well-managed and responsibly-governed nonprofits operate. This means that when nonprofit leaders review the tenets and benchmarks of the code, they generally agree with the benchmarks and principles.  But, on the other hand, there are many fewer organizations who can say that they live by every one of the sixty-seven Standards. Standards for[…]
By Amy Coates Madsen | November 30, 2020 Read More>

52 Tips in 52 Weeks: Ensure That You Do Not Fall Victim to Paying Invoices that should NOT be Paid…

There are few things that upset me more than people who steal from nonprofits or scam them out of valuable resources. Every time I read a story about a nonprofit that has fallen victim to a scam or impropriety, I am incensed. Two times in the last week, when I looked at the mail that arrived at my nonprofit’s office, I found documents that appeared to be invoices from official government agencies, but upon closer inspection, it became clear that these invoices were actually “solicitations” from[…]
By Amy Coates Madsen | November 23, 2020 Read More>

52 Tips in 52 Weeks: To Accept or Not To Accept - A Question For Campaign Leftovers

It’s been a week since the general election and there’s still a lot to take in. So much news in our 24/7 news cycle. I spoke with someone today who announced that she deliberately turned off all news outlets from November 2nd to November 9th. I was a bit taken aback by this statement. There are still quite a few lawn signs supporting candidates in the midst of the brightly colored fall leaves on the roads and byways in my community. What happens with everything that is left over after the[…]
By Amy Coates Madsen | November 13, 2020 Read More>

52 Tips in 52 Weeks: Take the time to check your list - and check it twice

So many lists in this time of year!  Whether I’m planning out my task list for the day, planning for Thanksgiving dinner, or trying to get a jump on my holiday shopping, I find myself sitting down with pen and paper to capture my thoughts.  Some days, I’ve got a plethora of lists and am not sure which list to check out first.Of course, there are also lists in the nonprofit sector that our leaders and staff members reference when they are working to meet their mission in the best possible ways.[…]
By Amy Coates Madsen | November 09, 2020 Read More>

52 Tips in 52 Weeks: Nonprofits and Issue Related Election Day Activity

As I was filling in my mail-in ballot earlier this week, I was struck by the number of ballot questions posed to voters in my county this year.  Questions about funding for public schools, preservation, refuse facilities, waterways and a state constitutional amendment were posed to voters-- just to name a few.  I was reminded of the line in the Public Awareness, Engagement and Advocacy Guiding Principle of the Standards for Excellence: An Ethics and Accountability Code for the Nonprofit Sector[…]
By Amy Coates Madsen | October 30, 2020 Read More>

52 Tips in 52 Weeks: Keeping the Mission Statement Front and Center

While preparing for an upcoming virtual seminar, I remembered how much I like using table tents during meetings. For years, I have encouraged nonprofit boards to use these low-tech tools (just a piece of cardstock paper folded in half) to help for board members learn one another’s names.  I also encouraged each board member to write their organization’s board-approved mission statement on the other side of the table tent.  That way, each time the board is discussing or voting on a specific item,[…]
By Amy Coates Madsen | October 23, 2020 Read More>

52 Tips in 52 Weeks: Charitable Giving

Good news! Charitable Giving is up in the First Half of 2020 – How will nonprofits respond to welcoming new donors?A recent report in the Chronicle of Philanthropy showed that charitable giving was up 7.5 percent in the first half of 2020 over the first half of 2019.  This growth in giving couldn’t have come at a better time in the life cycles of so many nonprofits—grappling to meet growing demands in an all-too challenging environment.  The Chronicle of Philanthropy article describing the[…]
By Amy Coates Madsen | October 16, 2020 Read More>

52 Tips in 52 Weeks: Sustainability Planning

The Johns Hopkins University Center for Civil Society Studies recently released the 2020 Nonprofit Employment Report. In this timely report by Lester Salamon and Chelsea L. Newhouse, with the technical assistance of S. Wojciech Sokolowski, we learn that the nonprofit sector remains the third largest workforce in any US industry, behind only retail trade and accommodations/food service. The report also looks at anticipated job losses due to the COVID-19 pandemic and calculates “a sizable 1.6[…]
By Amy Coates Madsen | October 09, 2020 Read More>

52 Tips in 52 Weeks: It’s Time to Review Your Organization’s Advocacy Policy

Advocacy efforts are front and center in these challenging times. For my colleagues who focus on advocacy efforts, 2020 has been a year with literally no downtime.  I am grateful to have the opportunity to work in the midst of folks that are dedicated to the Standards for Excellence principle: “working independently and in partnership, nonprofits should strive to influence public policies that affect the organization’s ability to achieve its mission.” Things seem to be moving quickly on so many[…]
By Amy Coates Madsen | October 05, 2020 Read More>

52 Tips in 52 Weeks: Investing in Volunteer Orientation

In these unusual times, sometimes the things that we cling to the most are the activities and programs that proceed as they would in non-COVID times.  I am truly grateful for individuals who volunteer their time to support our organization’s mission. I’m especially thankful for the volunteer interns that apply to become part of my organization’s team for a semester or two while they are in the midst of their own studies and academic pursuits. I have a special affinity for our volunteer interns[…]
By Amy Coates Madsen | September 25, 2020 Read More>
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