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PhD Residency—Nonprofit Management Day Three

by Carrie Roberts, CEO

I started this day off running to throw up in a trash can close to one of the classrooms and ended the day walking through the park next to the hotel, looking at pictures of giant roosters stuck on cars IMG 2283 224x300 PhD Residency—Nonprofit Management Day Three, listening to blues music in the park, and watching nature’s own lightning show.  In between these bookends I learned a lot of valuable stuff.

Today we focused less on social change and more on the internal processes that make change happen. Specifically writing, writing, and more writing. I picked up some great tips and in the near future I will put together a new webinar with tips and techniques to maximize your grant writing efforts.

You probably don’t want to know about the 2-and-a-half-hour session I spent learning about APA models and how to cite sources properly.  I did glean a couple of useful tips that I’ll share in that super duper new writing webinar.

Tomorrow’s plenary will be with a leader of a new and vibrant nonprofit organization.  I’ll share what I learned during that session.  For now, I’ll leave you and go listen to the thunder and rain, I’ll and watch the lightning storm from my hotel window.

signaturecarrie PhD Residency—Nonprofit Management Day Three


Day Two—Nonprofit Management Residency

by Carrie Roberts, CEO

How does social change happen in the world? I spent the day talking to other students, scholar practitioners who were are all here to solve problems confronting us in today’s world.  The problems overwhelmed me. The amount of suffering, the level of need, and how far we need to go can make me want to run and hide under a rock.

But there was so much hope in my classroom.  Hope that the research that we are doing can make a difference; that concerned individuals can make an impact in our world.  This is the stance of the nonprofit and NGO sector, that step by step, together, scholars and practitioners, we can carve away at social problems and change the world.

I’m learning what it means to be a scholar practitioner. My hope is that everything I learn can be transmitted to the nonprofit sector in a very practical and meaningful manner. Here is my main take away from day two: When working on a doctoral degree, it really isn’t about smarts and intelligence. It is about persistence and staying the path; never ever giving up. You CANNOT GIVE UP! None of us can give up.

signaturecarrie Day Two—Nonprofit Management Residency


PhD Residency–Nonprofit Management Day One

by Carrie Roberts, CEO

Many of you probably don’t know that I am working on a PhD in Public Policy with an emphasis on Nonprofit Management and Leadership. Today I started a five day residency in Houston, Texas, focusing on what it means to be a doctoral scholar—practioner. I figured most of this week would be very academic in nature, but I really wanted to blog about my experience, because one of the reasons I’m doing this PhD is to bring my passion for nonprofits together with my love of academic learning. I’m hoping that this collision results in good results for those working in the nonprofit sector. My classes are at Walden University, and right away today, in the opening session, I received confirmation that I am in the right place, doing the right thing.

Walden wants to train scholar-practioners who are interested in social change.  My whole career has been about social change, as that is what typifies the nonprofit sector. During the opening session we watched a video of a woman who earned her PhD in public health policy and used her training to go to the remote Watu tribe in Tanzaniza, Africa. She provided dental and health programs for the local peoples. I was touched beyond belief.

Yes, I’ll be learning about correct APA citations, accessing appropriate databases, using correct statistical formulas and tests – but to what end? That is the important question.  I’m not completing my PhD for the sake of knowledge, but to bring about social change. For me, it’s about…

  • …helping to strengthen the nonprofit sector
  • …helping the sector access needed capacity-building funds
  • …finding corporate funding partners that align with the work of the nonprofit sector

This is my mission.  This is the mission of For the Charitable Community, Inc.

Stay tuned.  The next few days will be interesting.  We all might learn a lot.  I know I will.

signaturecarrie PhD Residency  Nonprofit Management Day One


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Nonprofit Development: Choose Your Board of Directors Carefully!

by Carrie Roberts

People engaged in their own nonprofit development ask me all the time: What is the most important thing to do when putting a nonprofit together? There are many things to consider, but choosing a board of directors is, perhaps, one of the most important. The board of directors has fiduciary and legal responsibility for the well being of the nonprofit, so chose individuals that are competent and business savvy!

Conflict of interest becomes an important concern for nonprofits especially when dealing with their board of directors. Simply put, you cannot compensate your board members in any manner for their service on the board of directors. It is best practice for a nonprofit not to award contracts for service to board members; accept only donated services and products from board members. If there is any exchange of money between your nonprofit and its board member, you are likely to have problems.

Development of Your Nonprofit’s Board

When recruiting board members, look for folks with varied talents. I recommend that every board have at least one attorney and one CPA/accountant sitting on it to provide legal and fiscal guidance. Look for individuals in your community who have interest in your cause and time to dedicate to it. It is important that you have a working board, and not just names on a piece of paper.

A couple of other tidbits to note:  it is best to have seven or nine members on your board; you want to have an uneven number to ensure that you can break a tie vote.  Also, no more than 2/3rds of your members should be related.  However, I think it is best if no one on your board is related to anyone else on it; this way, the board appears better to represent the community.

Take your time choosing your board of directors as this can make or break your nonprofit. Ask everyone you know for recommendations, and choose wisely!

The Financially Empowered Nonprofit

by Carrie Roberts

Today I had to write about Financially Empowered Nonprofits for a nonprofit management class as part of my PhD work at Walden University (  This assignment made me stop and really think about how many nonprofits I encounter each day, and whether the nonprofits I work with are financially empowered.

First, you may ask, what does it mean to be a financially empowered nonprofit? According to Brinckerhoff (2009) a financially empowered nonprofit is one that has the money available to pay for its mission. That is a powerful statement!  Does your organization have the money available to pay for your mission? A lot of nonprofits quite frankly don’t.

It isn’t that a nonprofit should be controlled by money, but if your nonprofit doesn’t have a plan to obtain funds, it gets stuck in a game of survival. A nonprofit necessarily uses money to provide programs for its constituents. Brinckerhoff goes on to state an obvious but really compelling edict for nonprofits: “If you want to be around doing good service in ten years, you had better work toward financially empowering your organization, starting today.” (pg. 196)

Nonprofit Development Requires Financial Empowerment

In my estimation many organizations don’t take the time and energy to focus enough on proper financial empowerment. They continue to struggle fiscally, and never really actualize their services at optimum levels.

Becoming financially empowered as a nonprofit is not easy, and it takes the commitment of all involved.  It’s unfortunate that so many nonprofits are unable to see the value in being fiscally empowered and how that helps them create better programs.  With myopic focus on program delivery, a nonprofit overlooks its own fiscal health. It’s a shame because doing this well – empowering itself financially – is so critical to the long term success of the nonprofit.


Brinckerhoff, P. (2009) Mission based management: leading your not-for-profit in the 21st century. 3rd ed. New York: Wiley.

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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