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Delaware Nonprofits: Endless Discoveries
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DANA's new President and CEO Sheila Bravo reflects on her discovery of DANA and the nonprofit sector in Delaware.

 

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It is Time

Posted By Sheila Bravo, Monday, February 6, 2017

Delaware Nonprofit Board Members and Leaders: It is Time

These past few weeks have left many social impact leaders feeling anxious and uncertain about what is ahead for the people and causes they serve.  Swift changes enacted by the new Trump Administration, and promises of even greater change in the future, are raising many questions.  The challenges our State leaders face with an escalating annual budget gap adds to the tumultuous feeling.  In times like these, some may think it is best to stay focused on the present, get the work done, and wait this out.  

You can’t.  It is time to act.

Now is the time to check the resiliency of your organization to weather possible shifts in regulation and funding.  Is your funding diversified well enough to absorb shifts in grants and contracts?  Will your clients be able to access your services if the changes you anticipate occur? 

Now is the time to sharpen the case for support as government and donors set priorities for allocating their dollars.  Remind them how your organization creates jobs, impacts tourism, creates a community that attracts businesses, saves lives, educates children, reduces recidivism, saves tax payer dollars, creates a better future for our kids, (add in your impact here!).

Now is the time to reach out to your local, state and federal representatives and senators to educate them on the important cause you support, and the impact regulatory or funding changes could have on your organization’s ability to serve, or your client’s ability to access your services.

Now is the time to encourage other volunteers in the organization to do the same.  To share the meaningful work they do, and the lives they positively impact.

Now is the time to ask your partners to join you in highlighting how your alliance has a multiplying effect in achieving outcomes.  Together you and your partner’s staff, volunteers and clients represent a sizeable portion of your community, and can raise attention to your representatives the importance of sustaining your work.

Now is the time to speak up about possible changes to the charitable gift deduction – a stimulus to encourage giving for individuals which is at risk with the pending tax code re-write; to speak up about possible federal spending reductions that impact your mission and the people you support; to raise awareness on the need to increase revenue sources at the State level to finance the investments required to achieve the desired quality of life here in Delaware.

Once the regulations are passed, once the tax code is rewritten, the funding allocations are set.  It will be too late.

~Sheila


Tags:  Board Member  Budget  Calendar  DEFAC  Government 

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New Years Tip: Create an Organizational Calendar

Posted By Sheila Bravo, Monday, December 28, 2015

Imagine these scenarios:

  • A nonprofit submits a request for funding only to be turned down due to failure to meet prior grant requirements.
  • A nonprofit cannot reapply for a contract because they did not turn in the necessary reports. 
  • A nonprofit learns they lost their tax-deductible status since they did follow IRS rules for filing.

It may sound surprising, but it happens, and not that infrequently. In many of the cases above, leadership transitions resulted in the loss of internal accountability for following up on the commitments the organization made in order to receive funding, get a contract, or even retain their nonprofit status. Or, in the throws of being focused on day-to-day operations, the nonprofit forgot they made a commitment to a grant maker to report on the results of the initiative that was funded. 

A simple solution to all this is to create an organizational calendar. Creating such a document helps nonprofit boards and executive staff stay on top of critical milestones. This not only includes board meeting dates, or special event dates, but also key activities that the organization must follow through on to meet commitments and monitor its mission.

One of the top concerns I heard by grant makers and government funders is the lack of follow-through on the part of nonprofits in providing timely reports on progress made possible by their financial support. This is not just a strict protocol, but a real requirement in which they have to report to their board, or in the case of the government, to other government officials on the use of funds. When a nonprofit fails to submit their information in a timely manner, they negatively impact the very people who are financially supporting them.

Here are some ideas on what to include in an organizational calendar:

  • Board meeting dates
  • Annual meeting, including the date when the annual budget is passed and evaluation of organizational progress towards the strategic plan takes place
  • Date to file and pay franchise tax
  • Date to file the appropriate IRS form 990
  • Date to report back to a grant maker or a contractor on program/project progress
  • Date to review the Executive Director
  • Special fundraising event dates
  • Date for new board member orientation
  • Date for board self-evaluation
  • Date to review personnel policies to ensure they are compliant with state and federal laws
  • Date for the annual DANA conference, or the gatherings of other professional organizations of which your nonprofit is a member

Once completed, the calendar should be readily available for all board members and staff to review.  Board Chairs can regularly reference the calendar, and request confirmation that the scheduled initiative was indeed followed through on. This one document can help your organization stay on top, helping to support your mission in 2016.

Happy New Year!

Sheila

Tags:  Board Member  Board of Directors  Calendar  Delaware  nonprofits 

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