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Celebrating 21 Years of Serving Manager of Volunteers
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~ September 2004 ~ Topics

Do You Remember?

The year is 1998 – Do You Remember...

  • lawn darts are banned by the Consumer Product Safety Commission
  • Wayne Gretsky is traded by the Edmonton Oilers to the Los Angeles Kings
  • The Morris Worm is unleashed on the Internet
  • Iran Air Flight 655 is shot down by U.S.S. Vincennes off Korean Coast
  • Anthony Kennedy is appointed to the United States Supreme Court

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September and October 21st Anniversary Celebration Sales

  • Bundle #5: $62.00
    1. Building a Bridge from Dream to Reality: Basic Volunteer Management, by Sue Vineyard
    2. Building Effective Volunteer Committees, by Nancy Macduff
    3. Designing Programs for the Volunteer Sector, by Nancy Macduff
  • Bundle #6: $43.00
    1. Volunteer Screening: An Audio Workbook, by Nancy Macduff
    2. Building Better Relationships with Volunteers, by Nan Hawthorne
    3. Care for the Caregiver, by Sue Vineyard
    4. Surviving Burnout, by Sue Vineyard

Check out this great opportunity to save 21% off publications from MBA Publishing. To order, go to the Volunteer Today Bookstore. Our September issue brings new books bundles; don't forget to check back often.

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Nonprofits and For-Profits Can Still Learn About Management from Each Other

Remember the days when we used the telephone or letters to reach people, and you thought twice about spending money on overnight mail? The days when faxes were printed on thermal paper? When an office of 15 people relied on one stand-alone computer and a handful of typewriters? When no one had heard of the Internet or cell phones? When caring about the cause was enough to get you a job – regardless of skill? When managing for results was something the corporate world was striving for through trendy quick fixes like "Total Quality Management?" When nonprofit boards thought "fundraising" was someone else’s job?

A short 20 years ago it was essential to teach nonprofits that the structure and discipline of corporate management was the best way to get beyond the "mom-and-pop shop" and the "we're only a nonprofit (so we shouldn’t be held to high performance standards)" mentality. The corporate sector also needed to learn from the nonprofit management style to focus on serving customers (clients or patients) and motivating staff (volunteers) in order to grow profits. Nonprofits and for-profits can still learn about management from each other, but the balance has changed. Nonprofits now have a place in the "social sector" as equal partners, and sometimes equal competitors, with the corporate sector. Nonprofits and corporations have learned to motivate staff and volunteers for success. Nonprofits and corporations have learned to focus on long term strategy instead of short term gain. Nonprofits and corporations have embraced the "doing well by doing good" motto, to the benefit of both. Whether you are nonprofit or for profit (and sometimes it is hard for consumers to tell the difference), you must practice good management – motivating qualified staff for results, controlling profit margins, using the latest technology, and serving the customer (client), while establishing a reputation for quality.

As scrutiny of corporate America increases, so does scrutiny of nonprofits. The Enron scandal and subsequent passage of the Sarbanes–Oxley Act ushered in a new era of accountability for corporate America that is spreading to the social sector. Accountability, transparency and ethics are more important than ever. Board members with financial savvy now carefully exercise their fiduciary duties. Funders expect accountability and professionalism from nonprofits. "We’re a poor nonprofit" is no longer a compelling reason for funding. "Partner with us to accomplish our strategic mission" is the way to get the funding. Boards must actively participate in fundraising.

The internet now makes it easy to review an organization's 990 tax form, strategic plan, and annual report. The explosion of e-mail list serves allows the smallest organizations to learn from the largest. It's easy to find answers to questions like "How do we incorporate?" "How should we set up our accounts?" Most importantly, it's easy to find role models among the most successful nonprofit organizations. Conflict of interest and corporate relations policies, and codes of ethics are in effect and models are shared on list serves or by resource organizations. The Better Business Bureau and the Charitable Standards Bureau joined forces, creating the Wise Giving Alliance, which developed standards for all nonprofits to strive for and abide by.

Nonprofits, increasingly involved in writing and publishing information, must maintain their objectivity. They are the source for reliable, verified information that is not tainted by corporate advertising. As the link between experts and consumers or clients, the nonprofit is the only one who can serve as an objective, reliable resource. Carefully thought-out collaborations between corporations and nonprofits can benefit both. Cause marketing relationships, sponsorships, and shared executives further the mission of a nonprofit and improve the image of a corporation.

Staff must also live up to higher standards and be held accountable. The successful nonprofit of today can't afford staff who don't perform, or who aren't fully qualified. As Jim Collins says in Good to Great (HarperCollins 2001) "People are not your most important asset. The right people are." It’s no longer acceptable (or advisable) to "carry" a person whose heart is in the right place – but whose skills are substandard.

As the social sector grows into multi-million dollar agencies, the start-up must move even more quickly beyond the Founder's image, and out of the Founder's home, to become an accountable, professional agency. As competition among nonprofits increases, service quality and accountability must increase. More affordable technology, such as computers, cell phones, voice mail, databases, web sites, and e-mail/list serve services are a requirement for all nonprofits. The nonprofit that doesn't invest, and keep investing, in the latest technology will be invisible to much of its potential audience. But, the technology that helps the small start-up look big must be backed up with high quality service.

Nonprofits are now capable of facing the future and planning for change, instead of being caught unaware. As the "safety net" deteriorates and more people depend on the services of nonprofits, only the well-managed can survive and thrive.

This month's author is Heller An Shapiro, the Executive Director at the Osteogenesis Imperfecta Foundation in Gaithersburg, Maryland.

See our online bookstore for Nan Hawthorne's books: Building Better Relationships with Volunteers, Managing Volunteers in Record Time and Recognizing Volunteers: Right From the Start.

Building Better Book Image Managing Book Image Recognizing Book Image

Ask Connie’s "Out Takes"

Connie Pirtle, of Ask Connie fame, answers questions from the basic to the penetrating on just about anything related to volunteerism. She has the greatest network of people and resources who know everything about volunteerism - and all its many twists and turns. But, the web invites participation and since beginning her column she has been contacted by people who sure did not understand her mission in life. She has shared with VT's senior editor a small collection of questions that tickle her funny bone and made her wonder why the person sent it in the first place. In the spirit of our celebration of 21 years of history we are sharing a few of those inquiries each month. We want you to see how challenging her job is and maybe give you a few smiles for the day. More next month. (All spelling, punctuation, and grammar are those of the authors of these emails.)

Is Connie a Math Genius?

"I hope you could answer some statistics questions I have below:

  • Suppose you have two sets of numerical data. How would you show that these two data sets are the same?
  • How would you distinguish between the error of the mean and the spread of the data?
  • What is the formula for and significance of the error of the correlation coefficient?
  • What is the difference between the least-squares method and the Chi-square method?"

Connie Takes Up Working for Dell or AOL

"Can you please explain to me why my PC has gone on to Broadband, Also how do I get it back to normal, This is worrying as I shall only be paying £15.99 per month and broad band is $36,which I can not afford"

and another...

"cud you please tell me how I get message back from my personal file cabinet?????"

Or Maybe Connie is Hotels.com?

Dear connie,
I am looking for bed and breakfast in the notingham area for around £25 can you help yours faithfully

All spelling, punctuation, and grammar are those of the authors of these emails.


Washington State University offers a Volunteer Management Certification Program through the Internet. Individuals around the world can earn a certificate in managing or coordinating volunteers, without leaving home. For more information, visit Volunteer Today's Portal site, Internet Resources. Look for the Washington State University listing. There is a hot link to their Web site.

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