Sentari Minor

Nonprofits Pitch for Big Awards

posted by
Sentari Minor
Director of Engagement
and Education,
Social Venture
Partners Arizona

Nonprofit leaders know that storytelling is paramount to advancing their organization’s mission. The ability to tell potential volunteers, donors, and champions your story in a succinct and cogent manner is as invaluable as it is daunting.

But SVP Arizona Fast Pitch presented by Social Venture Partners Arizona (SVPAZ) helps select Valley nonprofits do just that.
Fast Pitch is a fun-filled evening where local nonprofits give three-minute pitches about their nonprofits.
Organizations, selected for their entrepreneurial approach to creating social change and the ability to powerfully communicate their vision, will compete for cash awards. Now in its fourth year, Fast Pitch has attracted both a diverse group of nonprofits to compete and a steadfast pool of funders eager to help innovative groups working in the Valley.

Through an intensive two-month training on how to hone their pitch, 20 nonprofits work with mentors from the community to get their story down to the length of a pop song with the ultimate goal of “pitching” to the audience at Tempe Center for the Arts on March 26. 

Board Governance Versus Management: Where the Board Duties End

posted by
Sentari Minor,
Development Officer,
Arizona Humane
Society

The more I work with boards of directors, the more the topic of board governance versus management comes up. That is, there seems to be an ever-present issue of organizations navigating the very sensitive notion of where board responsibilities end and where the executive director’s duties begin. It is obvious that many boards are unclear of their role within an organization.

We’ve all heard horror stories about members of the board coming into organizations and managing and/or directing staff. While staff interaction with the board should be encouraged, those aforementioned instances are wildly inappropriate. It is absolutely imperative that the board realize its role in an organization, and that role is not to manage employees or to be involved in any of the day-to-day operations of a nonprofit, but to steer the organization in accordance to its mission; to govern.

Peter C. Brinckerhoff, in The Mission Based Management Newsletter writes, "The executive director works for the board. All the other employees work for the executive director. Period." It’s simple: the only employee of an organization that reports to the board of directors is the executive director, no one else. While board members are obviously valuable and insightful, that venerability should be used to govern and not to guide staff or their roles. Not only is it confusing for a staff member for a member of the board to walk into a nonprofit and manage, but it also devalues and derails the authority of the executive director.

So what are the roles of each the board, the ED, and the staff? The topic of nonprofit roles can fill an entire post on its own but below is a quick look of duties at each level (focusing more on the board) that should clarify potential confusion: The board of directors is set in place to guide the vision, strategic planning and overall oversight of an organization. There are also responsible for the legal, financial, and fiduciary responsibility.

Networking

posted by
Sentari Minor,
Program Specialist,
The Rodel Foundation
of Arizona

Networking. We’ve all heard the term, had workshops and classes on it, gone to seminars, digested it— but why? Why has this notion demanded so much attention and effort and become a “must have” skill for our professional wheelhouses? It’s simple: networking is necessary to progress at any level in business and is especially paramount for nonprofit leaders.

Networking helps build a professional reputation backed by a cadre of supporters and believers. It is this network that can corroborate your credentials and solidify your standing with other interested parties. These are the people who cannot only help you find jobs or partnerships, but can potentially recommend you to employers and connect you with donors. With nonprofits fighting for resources, it only makes sense that we would want to meet as many people who can connect us to donors, funders and experts in the field.

With that said, every one of our contacts is a potential client, a potential resource and if treated well, a potential partner or donor. I’ve heard innumerable stories of people transitioning casual contacts to loyal clients or invaluable assets to their personal brand. People like to be connectors, they like to be of importance and they love to see their facilitation yield fruition. However, no matter how altruistic we want to believe we are, people also like reciprocity and that means making a contact might generate something advantageous in the future.

Engaging and Retaining Skilled (and Key) Volunteers

posted by
Sentari Minor,
Program Specialist,
The Rodel Foundation
of Arizona

In these hard economic times, nonprofits are famously struggling—fighting for funding and fighting for resources. Now, more than ever, it is important for nonprofits to play smart while building capacity. At the heart of this notion is leveraging volunteers.

In her blog post, “Don't Be Afraid To Ask,” Stephanie La Loggia says, "recruiting volunteers is one of the most important jobs in most nonprofit organizations.” And that’s true - the recruitment process is crucial but it’s also imperative to engage and retain those who can be, or who already are, key volunteers.

Ostensibly, volunteers are a source for one-time, episodic projects; free labor to tackle those tasks our organizations simply don’t have the time (or resources) to do. However, I've learned from both serving on boards and being a volunteer myself, that volunteers can easily become invaluable assets to an organization. Key volunteers are the most dedicated and skilled of your organization’s volunteers who can essentially take on the duties of staff when resources are limited.