Books: 'Nonprofit Management 101'
In the introduction to his new book, "Nonprofit Management 101," Darian Rodriguez Heyman, managing partner at the CODE Green Agency and former executive director of the Craigslist Foundation, shares a story about Bill Cosby.
Apparently, at one point while pursuing his master's degree, Cosby and his master- and doctorate-level classmates spent a frustrating afternoon debating the age-old quagmire, "Is the glass half full or half empty?" Afterward, he shared his frustration with his grandmother.
"Without missing a beat," Heyman writes, "his grandmother, with all of a third-grade education, hit him with a zinger he'd never forget: 'Well, that's easy. It depends on whether you're pouring or drinking.'
"They say that perception defines reality. I share this story with current and would-be fundraisers because I think all too often in nonprofit work, we think of ourselves as the drinkers, begging for alms so that we can go on about our work," he continues. "When in fact, we are the pourers, the nurturers of society — we do our supporters a great favor by providing them with a worthy philanthropic outlet for their positive intentions."
Here, Heyman talks more about the book.
FundRaising Success: Give us the "elevator speech" for this book.
Darian Rodriguez Heyman: "Nonprofit Management 101" offers practical tips and tools from 50 leading experts across 35 topics. It covers all aspects of nonprofit management and provides actionable, easy-to-implement solutions by practitioners, for practitioners. Instead of heady concepts and theory, it's full of clear, concise ideas intended for actual use.
FS: What was the impetus for compiling the book?
DRH: It's based on my time as executive director of Craigslist Foundation, where I helped start Nonprofit Boot Camp, a one-day conference that covered all aspects of starting and running a nonprofit. It became clear to me that there was a huge need to provide the 1.5 million-plus registered nonprofits in the country with practical tips and tools that would help them be more effective and efficient at building stronger communities, and perhaps more importantly that there was a huge network of capacity-building players out there that emerging leaders were unaware of.
Connecting emerging leaders to established resources was a huge focus of the Boot Camp, and the book is an extension of that. It's Nonprofit Boot Camp as a book, and just like the conference, I created a framework and a focus on practical solutions and then recruited the most dynamic, well-recognized experts to provide the content — with me serving as moderator.
FS: What are some takeaways nonfundraisers will glean from this book?
DRH: There's a great chapter on getting your board to fundraise by the late, great Bob Zimmerman. Specifically, one of my favorite tips of his is organizing a call-a-thon to engage board members in fundraising and help ease them into the notion that all board members need to support the organization's development efforts. That doesn't always need to be engaging in an ask, and thanking existing donors is a great way to get them on the field and building relationships with key supporters, who are used to only hearing from groups when they want more money.
Tori O'Neal-McElrath's chapter on foundation fundraising is also full of practical insights, including the commonly overlooked idea that you should never send in a grant request without first making contact with the organization. Although we like to tell ourselves that it's all about a fit with their program areas, the truth is relationships play a huge role in determining who gets funding.
Simply cold calling or, ideally, setting up a meeting to identify which of your programs is the best fit for their funding priorities, how much money to ask for, ideal language and positioning to use, and even asking the program officer to review a draft of your proposal before you formally submit it can increase success rates by 1,000 percent!
Finally, there are a variety of online fundraising, social-media and storytelling 2.0 chapters in the book, and Network for Good's Katya Andresen and Rebecca Higman highlight Google Grants, which is an amazing, free resource that just about every nonprofit should take advantage of.
FS: What trends around nonprofit fundraising emerge from the book?
DRH: It's crucial for fundraisers to learn the ropes of social media and Web 2.0. Facebook has more than 600 million active users now, making it the third largest country in the world, and more and more of the 83 percent of total funding that comes from individual donors is making its way online. Understanding how to leverage Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, etc., as well as integrate photos, videos and blogs into your outreach efforts, is increasingly important.
Another big theme throughout the seven chapters in the fundraising section is the need for fundraisers to map impact to donations. As Kay Sprinkel Grace notes in her chapter full of nuggets, "People don't give to you, they give through you." The idea is that it's not about asking for funds for your organization — it's about helping the donor or prospect understand the potential impact of their gift on the community they care about. We're simply a vehicle for that.
FS: What will fundraisers learn from the book that is surprising?
DRH: The real money is in raising money from individuals like you and me — 83 percent of philanthropic dollars come from people, not foundations or companies. The lion's share of that money comes in increments of $100 or less, from people making less than $100,000 a year.
Fundraising via social media really isn't that complicated — the book does a great job of breaking down the ins and outs of how to leverage new media and new technologies to put numbers on the board.
There's more support out there than you realize. Each chapter in the book contains a resource review of related tools, many of which are free, where readers can go for more information or help. These are posted online at nonprofits101.org/resources.
FS: What is the relationship between the development staff at a nonprofit and management?
DRH: Development cannot happen in isolation. In order to be successful, an organization must integrate fundraising into all aspects of its operations, including management and the board. Everyone must play a role, whether it's as an asker or an ambassador, and systems that help to establish organizational intelligence and an integrated sense of who the people are that support you are key. FS