All posts by kmclarkstaging

How to Build the Most Impactful Board for Your Nonprofit

How to Build the Most Impactful Board for Your Nonprofit

We understand it can be really tough to know where to start when building a nonprofit board and recruiting new board members. You want to find individuals with the right skills and experience, but you also need people who will be committed to building a sustainable nonprofit and helping move the cause forward. It’s a tough balance to find, especially in today’s world.

Without the right people on your board, though, your nonprofit will struggle. Board members are responsible for making decisions that impact the entire organization. So, you have to make sure you’re picking the right people for the job.

We’re gonna give you tips we use at our nonprofit consulting agency to help you as you look for new board members! By recruiting individuals with valuable experience, connections, and personal attributes, you can create a board that is truly impactful for your nonprofit!

Look for Passionate People

Passion should be at the top of your list of qualities to look for in potential board members, along with community connections and expertise. Passionate people are excited to learn about the organization and its mission. They’re also more likely to serve on committees and put extra effort into board meetings and meeting prep. You know what they say about surrounding yourself with people with a shared vision, right? When you are building a nonprofit board, this becomes even more important because you’ll be spending a lot of time with the individuals you choose.

Consider Their Personality

Personality is always important, but what kind of personality should your board members have? They should be passionate, with lots of expertise and great connections, but they should also have great people skills! Board members need to be accountable, amiable and confident. They also need a good degree of flexibility, because they might be asked to take on different roles on committees or in fundraising.

Make Sure They Have the Time

When building a sustainable nonprofit board, the most desirable board members are likely to have busy schedules, which is fine up to a point. What we don’t want is a great board member who ends up being too busy to carry out their responsibilities. Remind your candidates about the time commitment and ask them if they can do that. Great questions to ask look like:

  • Can you commit the time necessary to be an effective board member?
  • Have you been a board member before?
  • How did that go?
  • How many other boards have you served on?
  • If you were accepted to this board, how will you balance the responsibilities of your other boards and your time as a board member?
  • What sorts of things do you enjoy doing in your free time?
  • Do any of those activities conflict with your responsibilities to this board?

Consider their answers before you make a decision, because your board members will need to commit a significant amount of time, energy, and effort for your nonprofit to be successful.

See What Skills They Can Offer

One of the best ways to find a great board member is by checking their resume. You want someone with the skills and knowledge needed for your organization, but it’s important they share in its passion too! If you see things like financial management, fundraising, or strategic planning on their resume, that’s a great sign because these skills will prove to be invaluable for your organization.

Recruit Existing Board Members to Help

The best way to find new board members is by asking your current board members for referrals. Chances are, they know at least a few people who would be great additions to the board. You can also ask them about the skills and work experience they think the board will need. This is a great way to get a sense of what kind of people you should be targeting.

Nonprofit Consulting for Growth and Sustainability

Struggling to find the right people to help your nonprofit grow? KM Clark Consulting Group can help! We offer a variety of nonprofit consulting services to help you build a board that is both qualified and passionate about your cause. Let us remove some of that burden off your shoulders. We’re excited to get started on this journey with you.

A strong, qualified board is essential for any nonprofit organization. With our help, you can find the right people who will support your mission and vision for years to come. Board members are an important part of any organization – let us show you how to find the best ones for your nonprofit.

Contact us today to learn more about our nonprofit consulting services!

Are Grant Search Platforms Worth the Money?

Are Grant Search Platforms Worth the Money?

I’ve been writing grants for the last 13 years. It’s a love hate relationship. The thrill of the hunt, the anxiety of deadlines, waiting for an answer, the elation of receiving funding and the new anxiety of following through. There is not a novice or experienced grant writer that hasn’t looked for an easier way. From templates, tracking systems, and grant search engines, we have all googled for a quicker return on investment.

The search for funders

Finding funders and the right request for proposal is often a dance between relationship building and research. As all grant writers, I have a process for researching and uncovering funding options for clients. It is often tedious scanning over IRS forms, calling past grantees, and reading through qualification lists. I have tried grant search companies in the past. In fact, I am still on several of their listservs today. Yet I have always found that the grants “found” for me were fairly basic or not well matched for our clients.

A few years ago, overwhelmed by the amount of people in need of grant writing assistance, I decided to circle back and look at grant search platforms. This time I used my own grant research process to test the platforms. I simply took a client that I had created a grant options portfolio for and proceeded to see if the platforms would be able to pull the same in-depth portfolio.

Here are some things I found:

  • The platforms have gotten more in depth – That said they are only as good as the information you put in as the user. If you have ever used accounting software, you have heard the saying, “Crap in means crap out”. If you are not starting with solid information on the needs, location, etc of the hopeful recipient then you are not going to get clear results.
  • Things change quickly – Even with the best platforms, you still need to do some follow ups to ensure it is the right funder and the right time. Especially with the pandemic, funders are pivoting now more than ever. Make sure to research generated leads before writing or presenting to a client.
  • Quality if not guaranteed – More money does not equal a better product, but you also get what you pay for. Test them out. Many offer at least a month free as a trial run. Also know that some grant platforms are simply just going to give you a listing of grants where others will assist with matching grants to a specific non-profit.

The Verdict

So is a grant search platform worth the money? In my opinion, yes! With the platform that works best for your needs. Some options we suggest are Instrumentl, Grant Gopher and Foundation Directory.

After researching and testing, our team invested in Instrumentl, which I have used for two years, saving time and money. In comparing it to my research, the platform located the same options I did and was substantially faster. I had to follow up to ensure accuracy, but in the end I cut a 40 hour process by at least half depending on the client. This has created more efficiency resulting in satisfied clients and an increased capacity for more.

If you are seeking funding, definitely give grant search platforms another look. Download our Grant Platform Resource for a quick comparison of these options.

Check out these additional links to platform comparisons:

The Importance of Looking Back

From Year-End Reviews to Strategic Planning for the New Year

Evaluating your year is important, especially as a nonprofit organization. Today we will discuss who to do your evaluation with, how to do it, including prompts and templates, ways to use your year-end review and how to move forward in the coming year.

Who should be involved

Make it a group effort! Your leadership, staff, board members, and other volunteers are of the utmost importance in conducting a year-end review. Give them the chance to share their experience of the year and provide a safe environment for them to do so.

How to do it

The best part about this one… it’s easy! Gather a list of prompts, questions like… “On a scale from 1-10 (10 being very successful), what would you rate the level of success of the organization and why?” or “What has been our greatest loss/challenge as an organization this year?”

Prompts are there to help lead the conversation, but they don’t have to stifle other discussions that come up. Let the conversation flow naturally – at least if you’re doing this in person or as a virtual group!

If your organization is currently not meeting in person or you’d rather let them have time to think about their answers, think about setting up an online survey to send out via email. If you take this option just make sure to give plenty of time to fill it out and provide a deadline for them.

Ways to Present

Now we don’t just do year-end reviews for nothing! Your organization has done the hard work, now let it work for you.
Here are a few options we like:

  • Make it the highlight of your December or January newsletter
  • Send via email to funders or by mail with a handwritten note
  • For those involved in any successes of the year, send them a copy with a thank you note or present
  • Send to potential funders
  • Create a small social media campaign or write a blog with condensed information.

Keep the information simple by using our Year-End Review Template. Get the download as PDF or Docx.

Moving Forward.

Take time to review all of the feedback and give leadership time to do the same. Ask questions of the feedback like, “Was the leadership surprised by any of the comments?” “Were they different from yours?” or “What changes do you want to make moving forward?”

As nonprofit leaders work is never done. There is always an emerging issue to address or a person in need to care for. This is why intentionality with our work is so important.

By integrating a year-end review now, you are setting the organization up to easily transition into strategic planning. Strategic planning doesn’t have to be long retreats or an overwhelming SWOT analysis. It can be as simple as gathering information.

Got questions? Reach out to KM for a free discovery call to find out how to integrate effective strategic planning into your organization that increases engagement and accountability for future success.

Looking for more? Watch our full webinar on this topic for free here.

Don’t forget to download our Year-End Review template as PDF or Docx.

KM Clark Team Book Review

Who Moved My Cheese? – Book Review

Who Moved My Cheese? is a recent read for me. This year, while being quarantined, I made the decision to read more. I mean, who didn’t make that goal or at least a similar type of goal?

My husband recently read Who Moved My Cheese? and recommended it to me. With its 94 page length, I figured, why not? I ended up reading the entire book in one night because it was short and captivating from the start.

I love this book because its lessons transcend your personal life and your professional.

If you’ve never read the book, there are four main characters: Sniff, Scurry, Hem and Haw who are looking for “cheese” inside of a maze. Each character enters the maze and they find cheese together, but eventually the cheese supply runs low forcing the characters to make a decision. Some of them decide to go deeper into the maze in search of more cheese while others stay behind wondering where the cheese went, surely it will come back! The rest of the book follows along to see the decisions of each character and the outcome.

This is obviously a very simplified version of the story, but the meaning behind the story is very deep. For me in particular, I have a hard time making decisions and moving comfortably when change is required. This book made me think into those characteristics of myself and ask “Why?”

As the book gets into, change is inevitably and usually bringing out a lot of good in your life as well. We can get stuck in our everyday situations because we think they are easy and overall, good. However, what can come on the other side, even if the road to get there is rock and difficult, can be the best thing we’ve ever discovered.

How do you deal with change? Do you cower and run at the thought or puff out your chest and take it head on? Or maybe somewhere in between?

Either way, I would highly recommend reading this short book. It would also make a great gift for your team, other employees you know or even a friend who may struggle with change in their life.

Let us know if you’ve read it by commenting your favorite thing about the book below and let us know if you gift this for the holidays!

xo Alex

Make Your Virtual Meeting Worth It!

Make Your Virtual Meeting Worth It!

Another meeting that could have accomplished its goal easily by email, phone, or even text. In the wake of the pandemic with the pivot to virtual meetings, as least from where I sit, the epidemic of ineffective meetings has only increased. Just because you can meet virtually doesn’t mean you should. Look, I get it! We are all looking to connect with the people we are used to working with daily, to keep up with clients, and check in with staff but if we don’t do it correctly, we are wasting time and decreasing morale and connectivity

So how do we make a virtual meeting worth it? Here are our top 4 tips!

1. Decide if you need actually need a meeting.
Do you even need a meeting? Ask yourself and/or team if decisions need to be made at this time and if multiple people are needed for those decisions. You may need to do a strategic planning session for a project. If this is true than a meeting is necessary. If you are doing a meeting just for updates, is it something that could be done via email weekly and then you meet biweekly or quarterly for support and decisions. Meetings just to report out are not necessary or productive in the majority of situation. Simply ask yourself if the meeting could be accomplished with an email if so, it is time to pivot.

2. Identify the goal of the meeting.
Have a clearly defined agenda and make sure attendees get it in advance. If you know questions you will be asking or have information that needs to be reviewed, send it out prior to the meeting. This is even more crucial in a virtual setting when people can not easily read body language or brief each other before the meeting.

3. Be intentional about fostering relationships.
Part of the power of team partner/client meetings is they build comradery usually with the niceties and updating that come before and after meetings. If you are hosting a meeting, get on at least 15 min early and welcome people as they come in, play music, ask about their family, etc. Be intentional! Give people roles ahead of time so more than one person is leading the meeting.

4. Be Ready with Plan A, B, and C!
Think through how you can facilitate the same meeting in different ways. If the pandemic has taught us anything it is that we need a plan A, B, and C. Technology will fail us at some point and you need to be ready, but also some types of facilitation practices might not work with the given audience in the virtual setting the way you would have done in person. Your goal is for maximum engagement so being able to transition quickly to a new tactic is important. For instance, if a larger group is not providing the feedback needed, be ready to quickly break them out into groups with a task to solicit the needed feedback. If you planned breakouts and the technology is failing to allow the break outs to happen have facilitation questions ready and start strategically calling on key stakeholders.

The point of meetings is to get work done and collaborate. Being strategic about what needs to be achieved and doing the proper planning work up front will ensure your meetings are effective virtually. Remember the more productive your meetings the more people will be engaged and look forward to doing the work!

Kristina Clark
KM Clark Consulting Group
President & Founder