Author Archive

Your Nonprofit Resource on the Fritz

We apologize. Our error has frustrated people who have tried to attend our weekly free webinars. People have clicked the “Attend” buttons on our website, found our Webex page, but then have not been able to join the webinars. Please forgive us. Here’s the short story:

Tweaking to Provide Better Nonprofit Resources

We used Webex when we started our free webinar series and we put in a lot of time and energy trying to use it in ways that it was never intended. Once we got a webinar underway, things generally went smoothly. But the things Webex can’t do finally convinced us we needed to use a different service.

We tried MeetingBurner and it works fine. Plus, it offers features that you can get in Webex only if you hire a programmer or rent additional services from other companies. We decided to switch and we set up our webinars in MeetingBurner. Unfortunately, we had already scheduled several of those webinars in Webex and pointed our Attend buttons to them. It never occurred to us to point the buttons at MeetingBurner after we switched! The webinars took place, but our buttons sent people to the wrong service.

Only after this week’s webinar did we realize the error. Coincidentally, we were adding new webinars to take us into May. Oh, and we agreed to call our free webinar series, Nonprofit Tune-ups.

We’ve Scheduled More Nonprofit Tune-ups

Please have a look at upcoming webinars. You’ll find new titles and, when you decide to attend, clicking an Attend button will take you to our registration page in Eventbrite. Once you register, we’ll send an email explaining how to log in when the webinar begins.

Again: we apologize for the aggravation and we hope you’ll join us at upcoming Nonprofit Tune-ups. Also, please visit the Past Webinars page in our Resources section to find the webinars you missed. You should be able to stream them from our website or download them to review even when you’re offline.

Putting the Pieces Together-Nonprofit Development

by Carrie Roberts

Growing a nonprofit is the title for a podcast series we will produce in coming months.  There is a real need for nuts and bolts information for people starting out in the sector; most nonprofit startups need help with management and development.  According to a Stanford study, over 50,000 nonprofits start up every year  That is a whole lot of folks, many in pursuit of causes without knowing much at all about starting companies.

Some people don’t realize that a nonprofit organization is actually a corporation; it is a corporation that doesn’t make a profit.  A nonprofit is indeed a business that must conform to rules specific to the state in which you do business. You need to complete the following paperwork to start a nonprofit legally:

Articles of Incorporation


Board of Directors Roster

IRS Exemption Application (Form 1023)

State Exemption Forms

Operating Budget

Mission Statement

Program Outlines

We will discuss each of these in-depth in future blog posts and podcasts. We’ll explain the importance of each form and how to complete it. If, in the meantime, you have questions or concerns regarding startup of a nonprofit, please contact us.

Keep up the good work…what you do really does matter!

signaturecarrie Putting the Pieces Together Nonprofit Development


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Free, Short Nonprofit Development Webinars

For The Charitable Community, Inc. produces weekly webinars to help with your nonprofit development efforts. This webinar series delivers small doses of potent business management savvy to help with all aspects of lifting your nonprofit to higher levels.

Nonprofit Development in 15 to 20 Minutes

Our webinars discuss fundraising, business management, marketing, accounting, legal, human resources, payroll, evaluation, collaboration, outreach, coordinating volunteers, leveraging the Internet, simplifying with technology, and even delivering services and products. Some are simply inspirational to provide a pick-me-up when the challenges of running a nonprofit become overwhelming.

Our webinars are short because your time is valuable. Spend just 15 to 20 minutes with us each week—a coffee break or part of a lunch break—and pick up a few tidbits to help keep your nonprofit on track.

Our webinars are free because we understand that many, many nonprofits run on shoestring budgets.

Join For The Charitable Community, Inc. each Tuesday at 11 AM Pacific time, 1 PM Eastern. We’ve listed the scheduled webinars in the right sidebar of our website and our blog. Click the register button next to a title to reserve a space for that webinar.

Upcoming webinar topics include:

  • Fundraising Fundamentals
  • Using Media for Fundraising
  • Research: Finding Donors Online

We’ll update the list as we schedule further topics.

Premium Webinars about Nonprofit Development

Some topics are too big for fifteen minute webinars, but they are vital to anyone running a nonprofit or public-sector business. We produce in-depth webinars to teach such complex subjects or delve deep into topics we’ve introduced in our weekly free programs. We schedule these webinars to run for an hour with additional time for questions and answers.

Our next premium webinar titled, Harnessing Media to Maximize Fundraising Efforts, will run on February 23. We’ll provide more information as we finalize details.

If you’d like to receive updates about this and other upcoming events, follow this link and add your name to our email list.

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Nonprofit Marketing: Your Elevator Pitch Is Your Mantra

by Shelley M. Johnson

We’ve all heard the phrase, “keep it simple.” Many people know it better as the KISS principle. This is a guideline which many sales people have successfully used for years to keep their products in focus. Simplicity is one of most important words people in nonprofit marketing can harness. It provides clarity. It provides impact. It eliminates confusion. It turns thoughts into action. And it keeps your nonprofit on track for an effective ask.

Can You Promote Your Nonprofit in Under 60 Seconds?

skyscraperboston Nonprofit Marketing: Your Elevator Pitch Is Your Mantra

You’re about to ride the elevator in that skyscraper and, coincidentally, a famous wealthy philanthropist will be in the elevator with you. You’ll have 40 seconds to win over that philanthropist. Are you ready? Can you do it?

When you promote your organization to your donors and to the people you serve, you should be able to describe what you do in a couple of sentences or less. This abbreviated description is an elevator pitch. It is a brief statement of who you are, what you do, and what makes your organization special.

The elevator pitch comes from the notion that you might meet someone important on an elevator where you only have 30 to 60 seconds to gain their attention and keep it. Obviously, the term is a metaphor, but a good elevator pitch is a highly effective marketing device. It offers sales people, marketers, and others a simple template to follow when presenting an idea or product to another person.

How would you describe your nonprofit in 60 or fewer seconds? (That’s usually no more than 10 sentences). Could you board an elevator on the first floor of a building and tell someone what’s great about your organization before you leave the elevator on the 20th floor? If your pitch is longer than that, you need to refine it.

Punchy Nonprofit Marketing

Elevators are faster today than they used to be! Keep things simple. Talk about the most important points of your nonprofit. This empowers your marketing message and ensures your express ride to the top. Brevity has power. 60 seconds may not seem like a lot of time, but few television ads are that long. Many Internet advertisements are even shorter… lasting only15 seconds. Such a short pitch requires a bare bones and powerful message.

If you always think of your organizational message as an elevator pitch, it will be much easier when you contact people to get the donation you want. Time is money and people don’t want to waste it. You have to grab them in the first 20 seconds of a conversation. A simple, well-worded description keeps them listening and makes their call to action much easier. It also keeps their objections to a minimum.

Create Empathy

Get your donors to like you. To quote James S. O’Rourke, professor of management at Notre Dame, an elevator pitch is NOT, “an opportunity to exploit, use, bore, or terrorize someone trapped in an elevator with you.” Be sincere in your elevator pitch. Couch it in a way that ensures the empathy and support you are seeking. Don’t alienate. You need to be likeable… not notorious. That will keep supporters coming back.

An O’Rourke caveat says it well. “If they don’t like you, they might just take the stairs next time.”

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Nonprofit Sticker Shock

by Carrie Roberts

I learned something new today from a good friend of mine in the business world, and I thought it might be useful for us in the nonprofit sector.  My friend works for a big high tech company, and when his company puts out a bid for services, they purposely inflate their prices to cause sticker shock.  “Why do they do that?” you might ask, as I did.  They do it to show value.

Once the company establishes their high value, they negotiate with the client and come up with a mutually agreeable price—sometimes lower than the original quote. Inflate price to show value…. that is such a different paradigm from what 99% of us in the nonprofit sector do.

Could Sticker Shock Win Resources for your Nonprofit?

After my head stopped spinning, I gave the practice some good thought.  Many times—in fact most of the time—I tell nonprofits that they UNDERVALUE their services and their work.  Why are we so quick to request LESS than we need; to be modest about our ask? Do we prove our worthiness to funders by trying to do more for less?

I understand there are limited funds available to nonprofit organizations; I get that.  I also understand that it is a competition, and that fundraising is really sales.  However, maybe it’s time for the nonprofit sector to take a look, for even just a second, at how the corporate sector works.  We might find some valuable lessons and tools.

Ask for the Resources your Nonprofit Needs

I’m still pondering how we weave sticker shock into our asks, but I’m sure that funders want us to ask for what we truly need. Overvaluing our work may not be to our benefit, but undervaluing makes us resentful and bitter of those who don’t support us at the level we need. From that equation comes the answer: we MUST ask for what we really need to do the work.  It may be a difficult and uncomfortable proposition, but it’s what we need to do to bring the appropriate resources and value to the table.
signaturecarrie Nonprofit Sticker Shock

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Webinar: Leverage Media for Nonprofit Development

Please note that this webinar ran on January 26, 2012.

Getting attention from traditional media—newspapers, magazines, radio, and television—can give your nonprofit’s development efforts a huge boost. For The Charitable Community, Inc. is holding a webinar to help you get noticed by the media.

Join us on Thursday, January 26 at 10 AM Pacific Time to learn from nonprofits that have learned to get attention from traditional media.

Create Media Buzz to Maximize Donations

Our webinar, Create Media Buzz to Maximize Donations, features three guests who have had great success with the media:

Lisa Rodriguez – Marketing/Communications Manager for the Greater Austin Hispanic Chamber of Commerce.

Kenny Jahng – Media & Innovation Pastor, Liquid Church.

Nicole Dunn – Creative Producer, Dunn Pellier Media, Los Angeles.

All drive outreach activities that have received coverage in local markets as well as in national news outlets—CNN, Fox, ABC, CNN, and more.

Our own Shelley M. Johnson will moderate. Find out more about this webinar on our resources page: For The Charitable Community, Inc.


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Lost and Found and Nonprofit Consulting

by Carrie Roberts

Have you ever been lost? Like really lost? I’m talking physically lost; unsure of your geography. Not spiritually lost, or any other kinds of lost, but unsure of where you are and where you need to go.

I got lost today on the metro in downtown D.C. and I got scared; really scared.  In fact I sort of had a meltdown because I did not know how to get back to my hotel.  I knew I was lost when I saw the Washington Monument and the Capitol Building go by. I knew I was even further lost when I took train after train to get back to my original location and kept getting farther and farther away from where I needed to go. Not even looking at a metro map helped because, apparently, I didn’t know what side of the metro station I needed to be on to get on the right train.

I thought I was super smart: downloading an iphone app. Yeah, big help. Eventually, after a bout of tears and asking metro employees, I found my way back two hours later than expected.

The day taught me a valuable lesson; one I probably didn’t expect to learn: when you’re lost, sometimes it’s important to stop and ask, get guidance and directions, and not try to be a pioneer figuring this stuff out on your own.

The lesson applies for those in nonprofits as well.

Top-Notch Nonprofit Consulting

I met with a client this week struggling under a mountain of paperwork. For him, the work was monumental, and in fact he was “lost.” He was unable to provide the services he wanted to because of obstacles in his way.

For the Charitable Community, Inc. provides road maps, and guidance to help nonprofit organizations find their ways; maneuver through rough spots; and handle their fears recruiting board members, raising money, and evaluating programs.

You might need some tears and crying for help along the way. Remember that we are here to help. Our experienced associates have navigated these choppy waters for over 20 years. We may not know all the answers, but we know where to find the resources you need. Moreover, we will not just provide you with information but will help you implement and execute your plans.

Hand-holding can be a very nice thing when you’re lost.

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Nonprofit Development with Facebook: Privacy

by Daniel Gasteiger

I spoke briefly to a collection of program directors who were just beginning to consider Facebook as a platform for nonprofit development. They raised a concern that I hear again and again: How do I keep people I know through work out of my personal stuff on Facebook? It’s a question with several good answers, the easiest of which is: Don’t.

Don’t Make Facebook Personal

photo credit: New Outhouse by andyarthur, on Flickr6501013537 237cda4aa1 Nonprofit Development with Facebook: Privacy

That thing that happened on your annual winter cabin sleepover in 2003! If you wouldn’t tell the story to a room full of potential benefactors at a fundraising banquet, don’t create an electronic record of it… and most definitely don’t post it on Facebook.

As you get started on Facebook, create your personal profile and make a profound decision: You will never post anything on Facebook that you wouldn’t share with total strangers. The decision liberates you to invite the world in and simplifies how you manage your Facebook activities.

Facebook lets you manage all kinds of personal information. And, to help you feel safe, Facebook provides robust security for that information. You can determine who among your Facebook friends has access to any minutia you publish on the service.

Here’s the rub: Do the sensibilities of people with whom you might share information on Facebook match your sensibilities? Do they match exactly? Can you be certain that an off-color joke you post to 5 close friends will never pass from one of them on to a different circle of their friends with your name attached?

I know people who share their own passwords with friends, and who get on each others’ Facebook accounts and post silly comments and photos. If your embarrassing post is in the news feed of such a person, it might end up in a lot of other news feeds as well.

Why take such chances? If you so desperately need to share intimate information, be old-fashioned about it: phone, visit, write a letter, send email (being aware that an email is easy to copy and paste into a Facebook status update), but don’t post it on Facebook.

Don’t Separate You from Your Job

If you never post personal, embarrassing content on Facebook, then you’re free to friend people who you know only through work. Of course, you can also friend your friends and family, and you’ll post a mixture of comments and photos that are sometimes personal, sometimes business, and sometimes specific to your hobbies and other interests.

To your business acquaintances, you are human as well as a businessperson. If you’re not an offensive human, this should not hurt your business relationships.

To your personal acquaintances, your work-related blather will simply scroll past. They’ll easily recognize when your posts are about them rather than about your job.

If you want to give everyone a break, you can organize your Facebook friends into lists: Family, Work, Soccer Team, Whatever. Then when you post, choose which list gets to see the post. This will decrease the amount of inappropriate information that makes it to your business friends or your family friends. But whatever you do, don’t post embarrassing personal stuff to any of them.

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Fundraising—Energize for Success!

by Carrie Roberts

I’m visiting Washington, D.C. this week.  I’m always awestruck when I come here.  I get the same feeling in NYC, the feeling of people on the go, moving fast, lots happening, and lots to accomplish.  In Southern California we lock that energy in cars as we race down freeways to get to work and appointments; you almost never see the people.  How does this have anything to do with nonprofits and fundraising?

Fundraising—creating bonds and allegiances with donors—is a universal constant for everyone involved in this sector, no matter where we live.  We simply cannot exist without the goodwill of others.  The IRS saw fit to make it this way in that we are not beholden to any one benefactor but instead we are community benefits; we are supported by members of the community.

Energy is Key to Nonprofit Development

I often see nonprofits lock up all their energy, passion, and importance—as if in a car: hidden from everyone.  Cars are important for transportation, but they are not the most engaging way to move large numbers of people.  Sometimes we are scared to get our message out to the community, to let them know what we are doing. Perhaps we fear they’ll question us, or somehow prove us unworthy of support.

Fundraising needs to be full of energy and passion.  Engaging members of the community is critical.  You have to tell your story in a manner that others can hear.  For the Charitable Community is proud to offer several upcoming webinars that will help you engage in energized fundraising, and tell your story more effectively.

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Never Underestimate Your Value as a Nonprofit

By Shelley M. Johnson

As you go through your day-to-day activities, facing the growing challenges of today’s economy, financial hurdles may seem untenable. Volunteers and staff can become disillusioned or discouraged. Before you fall into that self-defeating abyss, stop for a moment and think about what your community would lose if you were not around.

The value of nonprofits today is more important than ever. They provide a safety net to battered women, shelter for homeless people, food pantries and clothing for the hungry, walking trails and parks that everyone enjoys, toys for children at Christmas time, local symphonies, libraries, and educational opportunities. The list goes on and on. The general public often takes these things for granted, but they shouldn’t. If nonprofits did not exist, society would not exist as we now know it.

Nonprofit Growth Has Been Phenomenal

According to, the growth in nonprofit annual revenue, employment, and property holdings has exceeded that of both the business and public sectors in recent years. One nonprofit sector mentioned by AmericaMagazine, helps over 250,000 people annually by managing homeless shelters, soup kitchens, foster care programs, after-school programs, senior centers, and schools for disabled children. And they do it on a budget that would make most businesses cringe.

Nonprofits Provide a Better ROI with Less Investment

To quote Dr. Judith Smith, president and CEO of Hands-On Jacksonville, “Entirely too few people have a good understanding of our nonprofit community, the good that it does, and the miniscule budgets with which this good is generally accomplished.  I would challenge any government administration to accomplish as much with as little as most nonprofit organizations manage to do.”

The tremendous reach of nonprofits touches at least one in seven people. It is a high probability you know at least someone in your neighborhood who has directly benefitted from a nonprofit’s efforts… maybe even your neighbor.

Stay Firm and Focused

After you ponder all of the ways nonprofits enrich the lives of our community—providing basic survival and sustenance—you should never question the value of what you are doing. If your organization failed, part of your community simply would not survive.

So, as you start your day, thank everyone in your organization for their diligence and dedication. Thank yourself for your devotion and steadfast determination. Remember your value and how important you truly are. It will be easier to achieve your funding initiatives and carry out your organization’s mission.

This realization will bring your organization’s value fully into focus, making your mission that much easier to accomplish. Our world is a better place because of nonprofits like yours. You put a face on the concept of caring. Without you, we would lose a national treasure. You are a monument to the strength of the human spirit.

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For the Charitable Community

Beverly Molander of Unity Online Radio interviewed Carrie Roberts on the air. Carrie talked about the financial challenges that nonprofits face and she explained important issues for nonprofit start-ups. Carrie and Beverly discussed the mission of For The Charitable Community, and Carrie explained what makes the upcoming Fearless Fundraising webinar unique. Listen here: Unity Online Radio Interview.

For The Charitable Community in the news: Our own Carrie Roberts was a guest on The Jerry Doyle Show. Listen here: Jerry Doyle interviews Carrie Roberts.

Carrie Roberts interviewed on Blog Talk Radio: Social Networking for Women. Learn more about our mission.

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