Things you’ll need to apply for a Paycheck Protection Loan

You'll need to gather the following documents before you apply for your coronavirus stimulus Paycheck Protection Loan which is an SBA loan that helps businesses and nonprofits keep their workforce employed during the Coronavirus (COVID-19) crisis.

  • Payroll reports from April '19 through March '20 – both the total payroll numbers for those months and each month separately, as you have to load them individually
  • A picture of the principle owner's government ID
  • Date organization founded
  • Proof of EIN
  • NAICS number
  • CEO’s date of birth, Social Security Number, home address, and cell phone number
  • Documentation of health insurance paid and life insurance policies paid into
  • The last 4 quarters of 941 tax documentation


Emergency Grants for Operations Available

March 26, 2020

To our Friends and Partners,

I know that we all have received a huge amount of information in the last days about government support of the small business and non-profit community.

For Maryland non-profits with budgets of less than $5 million and less than 50 employees, we suggest that you take a look at the Maryland Small Business Covid-19 Emergency Relief Fund.  The State has allocated $75 million for direct payments of up to $10,000 to help organizations respond to Covid-19's impact.

https://onestop.md.gov/licenses?utf8=%E2%9C%93&q=emergency+small+business+grant

You will need to set up a registration before starting the application.  If we at Capacity Partners can be helpful to you in the process, please let me know.

Best wishes,

Barbara Wille, Partner Consultant


Leading a Nonprofit in a Pandemic

March 16, 2020

When times are tough, leaders step up. And these are unprecedented times. We are each called to be a leader now, whether in our roles as nonprofit executive directors, fundraisers, business owners, parents of young children, or children of older parents.

The path forward is unclear but the one thing I do know with absolute certainty is that the unique strengths of nonprofits and your steadfast commitment to serving our community will enable us to weather this crisis. Our nonprofit organizations will serve as bastions of strength in a wobbly world, and Capacity Partners is prepared to help you in any way we can. Our job, quite simply, is to help you do yours in this extraordinary moment in history.

How do you maintain community while social distancing? What are the best practices for donor stewardship during a pandemic? Are there tips to help employees, who now have children home for weeks, do their work effectively? How do you turn a live event into a virtual one?  Because the situation is incredibly fluid, solutions devised on Monday may be outdated by Thursday.

Below are some thoughts and ideas from some of our team members that we hope will help you.  Please keep sending me your questions at mary@capacitypartners.com, and we will respond.

Additionally, to assist our nonprofit clients, Capacity Partners would like to offer a free hour of consulting with one of our team members during the coronavirus pandemic. If you’re interested, please send me an email at mary@capacitypartners.com.  

Mary RobinsonCapacity Partners Founder & President

Ideas and tips for managing a nonprofit during this pandemic

The Capacity Partners team put their heads together (virtually, of course) and developed these suggestions for development, donor stewardship, communication, and management.

Donor Stewardship and Communication

  • The one lesson of the Great Recession is the importance of staying in touch with your donors. Email them, or better yet, call. Ask how they are doing. What do they need? Can your organization support them? If so, how?
  • Be in direct personal contact with your most important donors with a brief overview of the basics, including if you are closed, how staff is working, if your service area is directly affected, how you are maintaining the highest level of service possible, etc. Remember it is fine to admit you don’t have a particular answer or that your organization is still working to solve a problem. Asking your donors for advice will also keep them engaged.
  • During this difficult time, start gathering and collecting the stories of how your constituents are making a difference in others’ lives. You’ll want to share these stories in any post-crisis reports and in your annual report. The crisis will pass, but these stories of help, determination, and endurance will live on.
  • Most people want access and information — and if your organization can manage to give your closest friends important information it can strengthen your connection to them.
  • Be prepared for the question “What can I do to help” with both a volunteer option and a financial support option.

Industry-Specific Advice

While each organization has its own unique mission, here are some industry-specific tips for keeping your donors and stakeholders informed and engaged.

  • Healthcare and human services organization – Tell your community how you are responding and supporting the community through the COVID-19 pandemic.  Ask your donors to help you continue to serve our community during this stressful time when your services are more important than ever.
  • Arts organization – Can you uplift your community through social media or sharing performance videos on your website? If you have had to cancel performances, ask your ticket buyers to support the arts by donating the cost of their ticket instead.
  • Education – Discuss how you are transitioning learning to online platforms and ask your community to support this complex endeavor.
  • Environment – Give actionable and timely advice and tips for how our community can save, conserve, and share resources even in an unknown and shifting world. Remind donors the importance of your mission in good times and in bad.
  • Association – Provide timely support, news, and helpful resources to your members during this time. If appropriate, ask for support, but if your members are also nonprofit organizations, think about how you can help them increase their fundraising.

Fundraising

  • Be transparent and ask for financial support for what you truly need at this time – keeping people employed, emergency needs, etc. We’ve seen that if the request is for immediate, essential expenditures, organizations have been successful.
  • People are looking for ways to help, and when they can donate online, it can give them the opportunity to do something positive and community-centered. Giving to a cause they care about can provide a feeling of control during a situation that seems quite out of control.
  • How do you raise money when people are nervous? Many of your donors are watching their stock portfolios rise and fall with each new day. At the first turn of national good news — when the media announces a reduction in cases, when people begin to recover and return to public life from social isolation — that’s the time to be ready with your message:  “We are encouraged … our organization is even more committed to … we hope you will join us in … thank you for your continued support … etc.” Sensitivity, empathy, and timing are critical to ensure you get your contributions back on track.

Management

  • Communicate schedules and availability ahead of time, and if possible, try to find times each day to connect virtually with staff. Don’t forget to include your board, too.
  • Be creative in working with other organizations. Now is not the time to compete; now is the time to collaborate.
  • Lean on your trusted advisors – ask questions, test ideas, think long-term, and listen to feedback.
  • R​ely on the passions and instincts that brought you to this work and has kept you in it.
  • Use the time to plan and get done all those tasks that never seem to make it to the top of your list.
    • Make phone calls you’ve been meaning to make—thank you to board members, to a community friend who offered ideas or resources for a recent project; check ins with community members who’ve reached out are just some examples.
    • Dust off that strategic plan to evaluate the progress you’ve made and identify next steps.
    • Revisit your governance structure and update those board policies, bylaws, and succession plans.
    • Book that introductory phone call with an executive coach.
    • Send a hand-written note to a thought leader you admire who might just find your organization the cause she’s been looking for to support.


The M&Ms of Corporate Fundraising

Your house may be like mine. Every holiday, we have baskets of M&Ms all over the house. At Thanksgiving, we have orange and brown M&Ms; at Christmas, green and red. And this past Valentine’s Day…you guessed it, red and pink M&Ms. Even though they all taste the same, except when you venture into peanut, peanut-butter, mint, caramel and hazelnut, I credit Mars with making the ubiquitous little chocolates our go-to candy throughout the year.

There is a lesson here for nonprofit corporate support. Hint:  it is NOT to deluge your corporate sponsors with M&Ms. Although that may be a strategy for retention, you must first master the M&Ms of nonprofit corporate partnerships.

Although the marketing of your mission and message through various media merits mentioning as does your mindset, mentors, and the mind-numbing miscellaneous minutiae of macros and modifiers, more and more there are only two M’s that matter the most.

Metrics. Corporations love to show positive numbers. Everything is measured. If you have not yet embraced the power of metrics, this is a good time to do it. How many people do you reach, this year’s program completion rate compared to last year, how many different ethnicities, what are the results of your intervention, etc. These and other measures can determine not just how well your program is doing but also how well you will be funded. Outcomes based philanthropy means that everything – every program, event, volunteer training, publication – must reflect the measured accomplishment of your work.

Mirrors. Corporate branding increasingly means helping the company look good to its broadest constituency base. When corporate philanthropists place  your organization in the mirror, they insist that it must enhance their brand and reinforce their values. They report to their own board, investors, suppliers, employees, and above all, customers. They will carefully evaluate whether your organization can accommodate their branding needs. To the extent that you can help them look into that mirror with confidence, you have ensured that your organization stands a greater chance to retain their all-important support.

Metrics and mirrors. These concepts matter to the companies you are hoping to reach, and they will likely matter for many years in the future. When you remain close to your corporate partners, you will find more creative and relevant ways to market your mission and learn how to adapt your fundraising strategies to meet their seasonal needs, just as the flavors and colors of M&Ms adapt to each season. But if you prioritize your metrics and mirror M&Ms, you will fund your corporate stakeholders to be among your most loyal donors.


Encouraging your Board to Fundraise

We all want board members to help our organizations grow and thrive, and raising funds is central to every nonprofit's success. However, while our board members typically embrace their governing role, they are less frequently comfortable with fundraising responsibilities. It is not unusual to hear board members say they don't like asking for money, especially from their friends. Below are some ideas for helping your board understand that fundraising is more than just "asking" and everyone can play a role in successful revenue generation. These ideas are intended to help shift your board's perspective on fundraising and help them understand it’s something they can – and must – do.

1) Outline Expectations: Set clear expectations from the outset, beginning with recruitment of board members. Your Board Roles and Responsibilities document should clearly state that in addition to governance there is a financial responsibility of serving on the board. Include a goal dollar amount, either for each individual or for the board as a whole. You will need to work with your development committee to identify this amount and recommend it to the board.

2) Recruit Champions: Recruit people who are truly champions of your organization and who are respected in the community. These are the people whom others look to for leadership, have wide networks, and can provide validation for your cause. Find lots of opportunities to engage and showcase your enthusiastic board members. Enthusiasm is contagious.

3) Inform and Excite: Your board members said "yes" to serving on your board, so they have already demonstrated their enthusiasm for your mission. Board meetings can get weighed down with the business but be sure to dedicate a part of your meetings to something mission-related. Tell a story, show a video (taken on a smart phone), or bring a special guest to speak about the work. Be sure to keep your board engaged and up-to-date between meetings. Send a monthly update with highlights, stories or links to relevant work in the news. Board members are busy and having your organization top of mind helps them be better prepared to be a champion.

4) Make it Tangible: It’s easy to ignore fundraising when it appears all funds are for a general purpose. Yes, unrestricted dollars are critical. However, often board members and prospective donors need to have a better grasp on what can happen with dollars given. For instance, provide a tangible example: “If we can raise $50,000 then we can pilot the new program x that we’ve all been talking about.”

5) Make it Personal and Be Specific: Meet with each board member individually to set personal goals and outline specific projects they will work on. Everyone should have a fundraising responsibility, no matter what committee they serve. If everyone on the board is engaged in fundraising activities, and those activities entail roles they are comfortable with, it will become clear that fundraising is more than just asking… and fundraising becomes progressively less intimidating. You can work with each board member on the specifics, but roles can include:

  • A personal financial commitment
  • Hosting a "friendraising" event – work with the board member to set objectives and goals including the of number of attendees, specific follow up tactics and provide them the support they need to make the event and the outcomes successful
  • Accompanying staff to fundraising meetings
  • Making strategic introductions – staff can help brainstorm ideas and keep a running prospect list for each board member
  • Pro-bono support, if it relieves a budget item for your organization
  • Making thank you calls and writing thank you notes

6) Be Supportive: Be available to help your board members achieve their personal goals. Fundraising is hard. Don't let them get discouraged; give them the tools they need to be successful and don't expect them to be successful if they aren't supported.

7) Give them Ideas: Provide a funding prospect list to your board to scan through (ensure it is kept confidential) and see if they know anyone. If they do, ask if they will join you for a coffee with that person.

8) Share Gratitude: Say thank you. A lot. When a board member helps with an introduction, a solicitation, an event, or a project, say a very personal thank you to that individual and a public one at your board meeting too.

Remember, your board is there because they believe in your mission. Together, you can generate enthusiasm and revenue to achieve that mission. There really is no other way.


Strategic Direction: The Heart of the Matter

Capacity Partners has a unique and successful approach to strategic planning with four key phases:

  • FOUNDATION:  Mission, Vision, Values
  • CURRENT SITUATION:  External trends, opportunities and threats; internal strengths and weaknesses; understanding of constituent needs
  • STRATEGIC DIRECTION:  Short-term vision, goals, strategies and timeframe
  • IMPLEMENTATION:  Annual objectives, budget, work plan

The heart of strategic planning is strategic direction, but what is strategic direction? More than just another planning term, it paints a compelling vision of the future and addresses the key questions “where are we going and how are we going to get there?” Incorporating your mission, vision, and culture, ideology and values, it is an essential part of reaching your grand and important goals.

Strategic direction includes:

  1. A one to two-year strategic plan statement (i.e., strategic vision) that describes where the organization wants to go and what it will look like at the end of the plan period and how stakeholders will be affected. It is a word picture that energizes your stakeholders and describes what you expect to achieve.
  2. Five to seven broad goals that articulates the top critical priorities and what needs to be accomplished to realize the vision.
  3. Strategies, to explain how the organization will achieve each goal.

Together, these components form the strategic direction that will guide your organization for the upcoming 3 years.

For example, in its recent strategic plan, the Montgomery Coalition for Adult English Literacy (MCAEL) set a bold goal of “21,000 by 2021” with this strategic vision statement: “While the coalition of adult ESOL providers remains committed to maintain the quality of programs and instruction and the number of adult learners it serves has increased over the past 6 years, there continue to be tens of thousands of learners who are limited in their English proficiency. By 2021, MCAEL will increase the number of learners who are on a pathway to proficiency from 15,000 to 21,000.”

This ambitious three-year vision drove goals related to increasing numbers of new highly-trained instructors, training new staff, expanding partnerships to enable access to a range of new workplace programs, and enhancing other types of instructional opportunities for English learners.

MCAEL Executive Director Kathy Stevens said, “Capacity Partners is key to our planning and implementation process since the expert help we receive helps us translate the big strategic direction into tangible action steps.”


Embrace Conflict and Get Creative

Nobody likes conflict. Some people are even proud to say they are “conflict averse.” But if you are in a for-profit business, or a non-profit business, or a family, or any business that includes other people, you are in the conflict business. In fact, being happy and successful is a matter of deciding that a conflict is an opportunity to get smarter and more competent. Anger is a natural reaction to behavior that offends, but getting mad is literally crazy. Don’t get mad; get creative.

Terry, the board chair of a medium-sized nonprofit, had started to worry about whether they had made a mistake putting Quinn on the board. In each of the last three board meetings, he had disrupted discussions with long arguments that were, at best, peripherally important. It was beginning to be bad for morale.

Even as she drove to the next meeting, Terry still hadn’t figured out what she would do about Quinn. The agenda included a decision to launch a capital campaign. Terry needed it to end with high enthusiasm.

Luckily, Quinn arrived early to the meeting. Terry smiled, offered him a cup of coffee, and said, “Did you have a nice weekend?”

“Yes. We watched ‘To Kill a Mockingbird’ again.”

“I love that movie,” said Terry. “I’ve watched it three times.

“I know. I have, too.”

Then, with a big smile, Terry said: “You’re a lawyer, aren’t you?”

“Well, no. I wanted to be a lawyer, but my parents pushed me toward banking, so that’s what I did.”

“Still, I do see a lawyer in you.”

Then other people started to arrive.

Early in the meeting, Quinn made a short, constructive observation, and Terry said, “Excellent argument, counselor.” They both smiled.

A few minutes later, Quinn interrupted another trustee and began to take the discussion off track. With a smile, Terry cut Quinn’s pontification short with, “Contempt of court, counselor.”

Quinn participated constructively with no more interruptions for the rest of the meeting. They launched the capital campaign, and in the course of the next three years, they became close partners.

Every relationship is either a conflict or an incipient conflict. Our success or failure depends on continuing to build our conflict repertoire. Conflict aversion is a disability.

So, if you find your hand clenched in a fist, remember five things …

1) Pre-forgive the person.

2) Find common interests.

3) Provide feedback that is hearable, seeable and doable.

4) Think creatively together.

5) Go into a conflict knowing your best move if your adversary is committed to being your adversary.

...and your hand will be open, ready to shake hands.

Guest columnist Rick Ackerly is a nationally recognized educator and speaker with 45 years of experience working in and for schools. With a master’s in education from Harvard University, Rick has devoted his career to building thriving learning communities.  He has served as headmaster of four independent schools and has been a consultant and coach to teachers, school leaders and parents for many years.


Three Steps to Cultivate a Major Gifts Prospect

If you are like most of us, the major gifts prospect list that sits on your desk stares at you and foils your boldest strategies. Those one hundred names have enough wealth to build an entire university campus several times over. Of course, you don’t know any of them, and your Development Committee hasn’t responded to your requests for introduction, despite your pleas.

Whatever the minimum major gift threshold for your organization, ten annual contributions from your top donors for the next several years with a solid annual retention rate means significant support for your organization.  So what’s a development director to do?

Here are three steps to a successful major gifts program.

  1.  Learn/Rank. Read the bios, the giving history, the speeches, and other information of the people on your prospect list. Explore the networks of these accomplished and generous individuals. As you identify their related giving and their relationships, however tenuous and distant, with your own board members, the ranking of your prospects will take shape. You will soon have drawn a web of connections between your people and those top prospects.
  2. Push/Pull. A major gifts team usually consists of board members and development committee members. Among those leaders, there is likely a small percentage who have agreed to enthusiastically reach out to their networks. Those are your favorite people, right? They are also the most time-challenged, and they often find it hard to fulfill their promises to talk with their contacts. Try push/pull. First, push them to do their work, to fit those calls and referrals into their jam-packed schedules. Of course, be creative and nice in your approach. Second, pull plenty of data and research in order to equip them with the information they need to successfully reach their goals. Pulling the appropriate data will make your board and committee members feel more comfortable when you do your push. Don’t forget to track not only the progress of your prospect but also the progress of your board advocate.
  3. First/Second. With your first layer of top donor prospects safely in the hands of your most committed volunteer leaders, it’s smart strategy for you to cultivate the second layer - the network that surrounds those prospects. Identify and cultivate those people; if even a small percentage respond, you are on your way to meeting your fundraising goals.

A strong major gifts program lifts an organization and unleashes the potential of your organization’s vision. And a successful major gifts program is only three steps away.


Walk and Talk

The relationship between a nonprofit’s executive director and board chair sets the stage for the effectiveness and energy of the organization.

What are the most important characteristics of a good working relationship between a nonprofit’s executive director and its board chair? Communication, trust, and candor.

Executive leaders and board chairs can attain their most productive levels of management and governance by regularly and honestly assessing the current status of the organization, by deeply understanding their roles and responsibilities, by respecting the guidelines of best practices, and by working on those three qualities of communication, trust, and candor.

To develop those strengths, first understand how organizations and boards grow and change. (Watch for an upcoming CP Connector article on the stages of board development.) To determine where your organization stands in the lifecycle of boards, ask yourselves if board members:

  • offer their own program ideas?
  • focus on day-to-day operations of the nonprofit?
  • recruit new board members?
  • act as philanthropic leaders?

With an understanding of where your organization is in the board lifecycle, begin to hone the roles and responsibilities of the executive leader and the board.

The executive director/chief executive office is responsible for:

  • overseeing day-to-day operation of the organization
  • developing programming
  • creating a budget with input from the board
  • overseeing marketing and communications

The board chair guides the work of the board to:

  • determine strategic direction
  • hire the ED/CEO and delegate operations
  • provide oversight (legal, financial, and managerial) and set policies
  • partner with ED and staff to raise funds to actualize the strategic plan
  • serve as passionate ambassadors for the nonprofit’s mission and vision

The board chair also takes on the responsibility for evaluating the executive and for leading the board’s self-evaluation. Far from being onerous, these are critical opportunities to reflect on the health and well-being of the organization and the relationships between executive leaders and their boards.

Clarity about the development stage of the board and about roles and responsibilities provides the groundwork for strong communication, trust, and candor. These qualities may emerge naturally if there is already a good fit. But usually they must be developed intentionally through purposeful outreach and communication:

  • Some EDs report talking to board chairs several times a week, or meeting once a month at a favorite café, or local lunch spot, or scheduling regular walking meetings à la Steve Jobs (exercise the brain and body).
  • Whether you are an ED or board chair, consider meeting one-on-one with other board members.
  • Make sure board documents to or from the ED are accurate to avoid misunderstanding or embarrassment.
  • Choose the right timing for conversations—what days or times offer the most relaxed and open interactions?
  • Institute a clear orientation process for a new ED and for board members to give new people a sense of the lay of the land and to clarify expectations.
  • Commit to a culture of “no surprises” to develop open and honest communication.

The ED and board chair create the best balance in their work for the organization when they can communicate openly and honestly and embrace their shared leadership. So, next time you have a chance, take a walk and talk.

If you’d like to talk to Capacity Partners about a board development, please don’t hesitate to email Margo Reid at margo@capacitypartners.com


Mary Robinson discusses corporate social responsibility on What's Working in Washington

Mary Robinson, President of Capacity Partners, and Shannon White, a partner with Guidehouse, discuss the ways corporations can be a net positive for communities and have a purpose beyond just making a profit on What's Working in Washington. 

Listen to this interesting and informative podcast here.