Archive for the ‘Hot Topics’ Category

Don’t Just Scale, Retrofit!

In two recent posts from the Stanford Social Innovation Review, John Brothers, Senior Fellow at the Support Center, reacts to the concept of “scaling” proposing that the nonprofit sector focus more on “retrofitting”, or updating old or outdated processes or structures, rather than focusing on scaling. Scaling, in John’s opinion, only applies to a small number of nonprofits who are ready to take on the challenge. In contrast, retrofitting can be used by a much larger group of small to medium-sized organizations to increase their effectiveness and impact on their constituents. We’d love to hear your thoughts, please leave a comment.

Categories: Hot Topics, John Brothers

A Summit Grows in Brooklyn

Notes from the field from Dart Westphal, Senior Associate at the Support Center

The Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce hosted its first-ever Nonprofit Summit just a few weeks ago in June. As an attendee and speaker, and as a supporter (that is, the Support Center as a supporter!), I was energized by the dynamic nonprofit professionals I met, the conversations in the halls, and sessions I participated in. Through those interactions, a few clear trending themes emerged:

•   The first is how eager nonprofit leaders are to learn with their peers. The organizers were originally hoping for 100 attendees for this inaugural effort, but three times that many people were there. The sessions on leadership, one that I was honored to be a part of, and the sessions on fund raising and partnership with boards were uniformly excellent (present company excluded of course). But beyond that, the attendees were clearly energized to be among friends and colleagues, away from the daily grind, but still serving their organizations.

•   Secondly, change is constant, but sometimes it’s a bit more urgent. Now is one of those times. Greater scrutiny from everywhere, more work for boards of directors and more demands from strapped funders have all hit us at once.  Nonprofit leaders want to do the right thing, but what the right thing is differs among funders and other decision makers. Such a situation makes peer interaction more important than ever.

•  Thirdly, we need to do a better job as a sector making sure the general population knows how important the nonprofit world is. And I am not just talking about the world of the 501(c)(3) “charitable” sector. I mean the whole part of the economy that is mission rather than profit driven. That includes coops, and fraternal organizations, and credit unions and membership associations. Some people still don’t really understand who we are and what we do. The people who do this work need to be understood and appreciated in a new way. We are not just providing a nice ‘extra’ or a good deed outside the mainstream of doing ‘business’. Nonprofits are as much a part of the way the country works as General Motors. It’s just that they exist for the sake of a mission, not for profit!

The hunger for networking and learning was clear. Hopefully these nonprofits and others like them, and their funders, will continue to provide opportunities that foster learning and “growing” among nonprofit professionals on the front lines!

Nonprofit Coordinating Committee of NY’s (NPCC) 2012 Employee Benefits Survey

If you’ve ever wondered what benefits to offer your employees or how you compare to other groups, you probably turned to NPCC’s Employee Benefits survey results. NPCC’s tri-annual survey of benefits offered to nonprofit employees is an incredibly important and useful tool for nonprofit executives. If your organization has paid employees, your participation in the 2012 survey will help accurately represent what benefits nonprofits offer their employees. Please help NPCC help your organization and all New York nonprofits by completing the survey here. Surveys must be sent by July 27th. Include your email address so that you will receive a copy when the survey is published.  If you have questions contact Dan Myers ( or Marcia Brown(

Categories: Hot Topics

Calling All Development and Executive Directors in NY: Participate in New Study on the Development Director’s Role

Community Resource Exchange (CRE) is partnering with CompassPoint Nonprofit Services and the Evelyn & Walter Haas Jr. Fund on an exciting new national study exploring the development director role in nonprofit organizations.

We encourage your participation in this research by completing the online survey if you are an Executive Director/CEO in a nonprofit that has a senior level fund development position on staff or a Senior Level Development staff person.

New York Executive Directors and Senior Level Development Staff who complete the survey will be eligible to win one of two $150 American Express giftcards. To enter the drawing, complete the survey and then email your name, organization, email address, and phone number to

Categories: Hot Topics

NYMAC – Fostering Nonprofit Mergers, Acquisitions & Collaborations in New York City

SeaChange Capital Partners has announced the launch of the New York Merger, Acquisition, and Collaboration Fund (NYMAC), a new initiative that encourages and enable mergers, acquisitions, and other types of formal, long-term collaborations between nonprofit organizations working in New York City.  The goal of NYMAC is to provide vital support to a diverse set of nonprofit organizations as they navigate a very challenging operating environment, supporting leaders willing to make difficult mission-driven decisions, and encouraging innovation and best practices in the nonprofit sector.

NYMAC will support organizations that already have a serious interest either in coming together in some way, or in exploring how they might, and will make grants to help cover a portion of the one-time costs required to explore or complete the transaction. As a neutral, credible, and experienced outside party willing to invest time and money, NYMAC will work constructively and confidentially with the funders, boards, and leaders of the organizations considering a transaction as a catalyst for sensible action. In addition to making grants in support of particular transactions, NYMAC will work with foundations, government agencies, and umbrella groups to encourage New York’s nonprofits to more proactively explore the various ways in which they might collaborate with one another. The initial $1.2 million fund will finance approximately 10 to 15 collaborations. Learn more about the Fund at its new website.

What Komen Taught Us About Communications

Susan G. Komen for the CureRegardless of where you stand on the recent Susan G. Komen debacle, we can all agree that it taught the sector some important lessons in communication.Here is a insightful post by Michael J. Rosen that sums up the opinions of several nonprofit communications experts.

Further insight is gained from Beth Kanter covering the importance of tracking your brand on social media. She also points to fascinating research from the Pew Research Center’s Project on Excellence in Journalism’s tracking of the response to Komen’s actions on Twitter after their announcement to defund Planned Parenthood.

So how do we all learn from the Komen story and improve our communications? We can start by listening to our audiences and honing our communications skills. Below we have gathered a few resources that can help.
Categories: Hot Topics