What does it mean to be a good nonprofit manager or leader?
And why would you want to be one?
When it came to getting a nonprofit job, I had bad manager after bad manager. As for nonprofit leadership? Well, nobody was stepping up!
My managers didn’t know anything about fundraising, or how to manage a fundraiser. I worked under who embezzled nonprofit funds multiple times and got investigated by the Department of Justice.
One manager who was in the office one day a week and running a political campaign the other 4 days, and still paying themselves a full salary. People who gave me no database, no budget, and no metrics to hit. Then they screamed at me that I wasn’t doing well enough, when I was bringing in more, in grants, appeal letters, sponsorships, and earned media, and event attendance than ever before.
I didn’t know how to deal with the lack of clear guidelines, metrics, and resources that I needed. Nonprofit management can make or break your organization. I want to see you get better managers and leaders.During this frustrating time, I had to ask myself, is it me? Is it them?
And if it’s THEM, what can I do about it?
So I wrote a book on how to fundraise. It took me two years, but when I finished it, I realized how ignorant I was. It barely scratched the surface of fundraising.
Then I wrote 10 in-depth e-courses on specific fundraising topics, such as writing enewsletters, writing appeal letters, getting grants, getting a bigger sponsorship, fundraising with volunteers, finding new donors, keeping your donors, and making a fundraising plan. Then I wrote one about crowdfunding and online fundraising.
That still didn’t feel like enough, so next I ran online conferences on Nonprofit Leadership.
Over the last three years, we’ve had over 250 people go through the Nonprofit Leadership Summit, learning everything from how to get Major Donors on the phone, to how to manage your good fundraisers. even how to help your board fundraise, and what metrics you should be using to make sure you keep your donor pipeline full. There’s so much to learn.
Now I help nonprofit leaders learn how to manage their fundraising and their fundraising staff more effectively.
If you’d like to get some support in the complex job of executive director, learn how to fundraise or manage staff doing fundraising (Even if they aren’t doing it yet) I would love to help you.
If you’re not sure how to hire a consultant, I’ve written a handy article about How to hire a fundraising consultant. It also has a list of experts I trust, their specialties, and questions to ask before you begin.
In the meantime, if you want to get a sense of what it’s going to take to be a more effective nonprofit manager, here are some articles to help you be a better manager, and learn how to fundraise as a nonprofit leader. I’ve also got some in-depth interviews with experts over the last 3 years to share with you. Stay tuned to the end of the page to read those.
- Becoming a Nonprofit Leader
- Becoming a better Nonprofit Manager
- Managing a Fundraising Team
- Feminist Nonprofit Leadership
- Sexism at Work
- Leadership Empowerment
- Women and Workaholism
- Women and Emotional labor
- Recruiting board members
- Board meetings that don’t suck
- Board relationships-how to improve them
- Hiring Staff
- Motivating Staff
- Firing people
- Building Trust
- Modeling good work boundaries
- Positive Management Interviews
- Managing Change Interviews
- Creating Systems Interviews
Becoming a Nonprofit Leader
Becoming a Better Nonprofit Manager
Octavia Butler on Leadership
Here are some good quotes from Octavia Butler, on leadership. To motivate you!
Shackleton is an arctic explorer who we can learn from. Leadership lessons from Shackleton inside this article!
Managing a Fundraising Team
I would say yes! So, figure out what you need.
Feminist Nonprofit Leadership:
Feminism is awesome! We have so many women and woman-identified folks inside our nonprofits. 70-80% of the sector is women. Unfortunately less than 50% of the top leadership in the sector is women. So, sexism rears its ugly head! Even though many of us are natural leaders, we are still getting passed over for leadership roles. And when we are in leadership roles, we are not allowed to make as many mistakes, and come under far greater scrutiny than our male counterparts.
What can we do? Well, let’s first name and claim what’s going on.
Sexism at Work
In the era of the #MeToo movement, we have a huge problem at our nonprofits. Fundraisers are often chosen for their ability to smile, be polite, gregarious, and get along with others. This can be translated into mixed signals when it comes to donors, staff or board members.
Maria Ramos-Chertok is a lawyer who specializes in workplace harassment. Her JD is from California, so her examples come from there. However, her ideas on how to protect yourself and document your case can be applied to other areas of the country (as long as you check with local legal advice).
This article is in response to a post from the AFP blog entitled “Where are all the men?” posted on International Women’s Day?!? It claims reverse sexism. What is reverse sexism? It’s supposedly when someone who would be good for a job is turned down because he is a man. But there are some funny jokes and videos in this article that I think you will like.
Sadly, this still happens. In this article I talk about my story of a board member harassing me. I also talk about being sexually harassed as a consultant, and some tips to counteract workplace harassment.
Women’s Leadership Empowerment!
Women and Workaholism:
Women and Nonprofit Work- With Bonus Emotional Labor
Building a more resilient nonprofit as a leader
This article riffs on the ideas in the book Antifragile by Nassim Nicolas Taleb. Taleb looks at market trends and writes books informed by his study of history. If your nonprofit is strong, it has multiple streams on income that don’t depend on the financial market. If it is fragile, it has one or two major donors supporting payroll. If you want to be less fragile, read on!
To sustain your nonprofit in the future, I interviewed a variety of nonprofit leaders, to figure out what to do in times of great economic uncertainty. As we come into an economic downturn, we have to look beyond traditional models, what’s worked before is NOT going to work now. So how do we innovate and be nimble in the face of change?
Failure is CRUCIAL to your nonprofit success! Don’t believe me? It’s true. The more you talk about your mistakes, the more you’ll be able to gain the trust of your donors and stakeholders. People who act perfect never are. So why not just be open about your failures? Your funders will thank you for it. Your donors will appreciate your candor. And you’ll get more donations than ever.
Planning For Nonprofit Success:
Good leaders WOOP! Are you a good planner? If not, just try WOOPing to get your nonprofit back on track! What does WOOP stand for? Read on!
Kenita is the CEO and founder of HOPE Inc, a nonprofit in Greater Atlanta, GA, that helps single parents finish college. She tripled her nonprofit income in 3 years through this incredible technique that she shares with you.
Board Member Recruitment:
Board Meetings That Don’t Suck – It is possible!
Board Relationships -How to Improve them!
This is a big one! Why would you lie to your board? And how can you fix the lies that you told?
If you’re afraid you might be biased in hiring, don’t worry, you probably are. We all are. But there are ways around bias in hiring. Read here to figure out how to be a better nonprofit leader and manager when you hire people.
This article is one of the most popular articles on my blog. In it, I break down how much money you’re actually losing each time you lose a nonprofit staff person. EVERY good nonprofit leader and nonprofit manager needs to know the TRUE COST of turnover. Hang onto your good people! It costs over 105% of their salary to replace them! And that’s if the position is only empty for a month!
Make your nonprofit stop bleeding money: Interview with Pamela Uppal
Along with fragility in terms of money, you might also want to look at your people. The loss of a fundraiser, especially for 2 to 3 years in a row, can make your nonprofit extremely fragile. Pamela Uppal leads the research on Decent Work for Women at the Ontario Nonprofit Network. In her research and listening circles across Canada, she has brought women together to talk about what they’ve noticed about the sector, its challenges, and what would make them feel more supported.
So often, I hear older folks complaining about younger folks. They say things like, “Gen Y is so entitled! Gen Z is unbelievably selfish! Who is gonna take those avocado toasts out of their hands?” well, take a moment to understand the historical context they live in, and you’ll soon have new insight.
Questions are tremendously important. These questions come from a book by Shawn Hayashi. Being a good nonprofit leader and manager means ASKING THE RIGHT QUESTIONS. If you really want people to support your organization to succeed, you have to ask them what motivates them.
In this post, you can see what’s underneath our interactions with each other at work. The masks we wear at work are often unconscious. But we do wear them. Here’s how you can step out from behind your mask.
You might think that praise would be the right response when someone does well. And you would be wrong. Praise can be part of it, but you also want to keep giving people new challenges. THIS article talks about how to build in a mindset of challenge being welcomed, rather than challenge being associated with failure.
Firing People-Part of a leader’s job:
Modeling Good Work Boundaries = Being a Better Leader
The fish rots from the head! So learn how to get your head right, before you step in and make a toxic environment.
What does the Charitable Industrial Complex mean? It’s a play on the term Prison Industrial Complex. It means that when we don’t pay our people enough, when we don’t give them flexible working time, or vacations, we are helping recreate oppressive systems and structures that we are ostensibly fighting OUTSIDE of our organizations. And a related post:
Encourage your people NOT to answer emails after hours, NOT to take work home with them, and NOT to work on the weekends, either. Because we have email and laptops now, our office can go with us everywhere. EVERY email can be answered, even when it should not be answered. This post helps you triage your email time so you can get more done!
POSITIVE MANAGEMENT-Nonprofit Leadership Interviews
In this first set of interviews, we look at how to manage major gift fundraising effectively through 7 opportunity stages. It will help you get more major donors! We also look at why we lose 50% of our donors every year, and how to be a better manager.
MANAGING CHANGE-Nonprofit Leadership Interviews
The theme for these interviews is managing change. We’ve seen a big shift in the sector over the last several years;
- The rise in 1200+ crowdfunding platforms,
- For-profit newspapers taking our grants,
- People’s urgent medical needs,
- A new tax law that interferes with nonprofit tax write-offs,
- Our charitable status coming under attack,
- An economic slow-down, and falling global financial markets.
So I asked a bunch of nonprofit experts what we can do to prepare for a world with greatly increased fundraising competition and pressures.
Managing Change with National Organizations
SYSTEMS-Nonprofit Leadership Interviews
The theme of these interviews is how to create systems, and automate more in your nonprofit to help you take pressure off yourself and your fundraisers. We also look at structural racism and the underpinnings of our sector.
Down here at the bottom and still looking for something to do?
Get more leadership and management support with recordings from the Nonprofit Leadership Summit!
You can view all of the BEST presentations from the last three years of the Nonprofit Leadership Summit. Just click here to get access to them.
Want more hands on help? I would love to help you with nonprofit leadership and nonprofit management!