Monday, December 1, 2014

Ten Fascinating Facts About California Nonprofits

The California Association of Nonprofits recently released Causes Count, a report on the impact of the nonprofit sector throughout the state. Here are ten fascinating (and sometimes surprising) facts I gleaned from the report to share with you:

     1) Nonprofits represent a significant part of the California economy: 15% of California's Gross State Product (a measurement of the state's total economic output) comes from the nonprofit sector.
     2) There are 170,783 nonprofit agencies in the state: Of these, 72,000 are 501(c)(3)s - charitable organizations operated exclusively for exempt purposes and eligible to receive tax-deductible contributions in according with IRS tax codes.
     3) Almost 1 million people work for a nonprofit organization: This means that 6% of all state jobs are in the nonprofit sector, with the largest percentage in health care and education.
     4) The nonprofit sector is the 4th largest industry in the state (based on number of jobs): That's more than construction, finance, and real estate. Nonprofit job numbers are topped only by the leisure/hospitality industry, retail businesses, and manufacturing.
     5) Just about every nonprofit relies on volunteers: Whether large corporate-style agencies or small grassroots organizations, all nonprofits utilize volunteers and all of them have more volunteers than paid staff.
     6) Volunteers contribute $24.7 billion in unpaid volunteer labor annually: That's the equivalent of 450,000 full-time employees. A whopping 86% of these volunteers say they love what they do.
     7) And they're not just stuffing envelopes: More than half of these volunteers do significant work in the areas of fundraising and deliverance of core programs.
     8) Plus 400,000 people sit on nonprofit boards: That means one out of every hundred people you know contributed time and expertise as a proud member of a Board of Directors.
     9) That brouhaha about nonprofit mismanagement and excessive overhead costs has very little basis: On average, nonprofits spend 89% of their total budget on program expenses, with just 10% designated to management and a mere 1% to fundraising. Of the folks polled by the California Association of Nonprofits, 80% were confident that California's nonprofits deliver quality services and operate ethically to serve the public's benefit.
     10) Nonprofits pay taxes: Contrary to popular belief, nonprofits actually pay a significant amount in state and federal taxes - $37 billion annually, largely in payroll taxes.

Looks like good work turns out to be darn good for the economy and for the state.

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Two Essential Words: Thank You

Have you thanked anyone this week? If not, it's about time you did. Expressing your appreciation for your staff, board members, volunteers, and donors is an essential element in building organizational capacity and sustaining relationships with the folks who support your work. Here are some basic guidelines:
  • Thank everyone: Yep - I mean everyone, including the donor who contributes a mere $10 and the volunteer who puts in an hour of time and the board member you can't stand and the staff person who is slacking. Do it not only because it's prudent practice - donors who receive prompt thank you letters give more, volunteers who are thanked are more likely to return for more hours, board members and staffers who are appreciated work harder. Do it because it's the right thing to do.
  • Thank promptly: When someone donates, your acknowledgement should be sent out immediately - no more than a week after receipt of the donation. If a donor has to call to check and see if you received a contribution, you have really blown it - and you run the risk of losing future donations.
  • Make it personal: It might sound downright old-fashioned, but an actual handwritten letter or postcard or a personal phone call beats a form letter (or even worse, a form email) any day. At the very least, be sure to add a handwritten note (it can be as simple as "thanks for your continuing support; it really makes a difference!"), especially to important longtime donors and volunteers.
  • Do it right: This may sound stupid, but make sure you send the appropriate letter with the correct salutation to the right address. Just last week I received a thank you letter for someone named Jane. I returned the letter to the nonprofit with a note, but not everyone is going to be so helpful. And make sure you have the correct language in your letters to donors. Here's what to include for cash donations: "This letter acknowledges receipt of a gift in cash, for which there were no goods or services provided in consideration, in whole or in part, or for which the goods and services provided were of insubstantial value." Note that if you did provide goods/services of value, you need to indicate how much they are worth and deduct that amount from the acknowledged charitable donation. For gifts of stock you need to include the number of shares, name of the stock, date the gift was received, and the value of the gift on that date.
  • Stay in touch: Don't make that thank you letter the last thing your donors or volunteers hear from you until they get your next year's solicitation letter. Be sure to put them on your email list for newsletters, send them invites to special events, call significant donors and volunteers to share important news, and plan fun annual volunteer and donor appreciation events.
By the way - thanks to all of you who continue reading these blog posts, sending me emails with feedback, and letting me know that my posts have helped you in your nonprofit work!

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Five Questions to Ask Before You Write That Grant

So you have a budget shortfall. Your board looks at the financials, panics, points to the Executive Director, and says, "Why don't you just write a grant?" I'm guessing this scenario sounds pretty familiar. But before you write that grant, it's important to stop and evaluate whether it's worth your valuable time to do so:

1) Are the foundation priorities a fit with your organizational mission?
  • You don't want to waste your time writing a proposal that has little prospect of being funded. Take the time to determine if the funders' goals and objectives are a match for your organization.
  • Look at the website for funding priorities as well as lists of previous grants to get a sense of what they are looking for and what kinds of organizations they like to support.
  • That said, never create a project for a grant proposal simply because it fits into the parameters of a particular foundation unless it represents a clearly defined and authentic effort to meet new needs for your constituency within your stated charitable purpose.
2) What are the odds of actually getting funded?
  • Be sure the foundation gives grants in your geographic area, accepts unsolicited proposals, makes grants of a size that is within an appropriate scale for your organization, and actually gives the kind of funding (operating support, capital campaigns, scholarships, ongoing programs, etc.) you need.
3) What's your game plan for the day after the grant period is completed?
  • I know you are all looking for ongoing operating support, but don't kid yourself - those kinds of grants are pie in the sky in our current climate. Know that most grants will be for time-limited project support, although you can usually budget a small percentage (typically no more than 10%) for administrative costs in project grants.
  • So - assume that any grant will be for one year only and plan accordingly, particularly if your project involves any significant increase in staff and programming.
4) Will this grant contribute to an income stream that is diverse?
  • Always seek for a diversity of funding sources, both overall and within income categories (grants, earned income, contributed income).
  • Avoid the trap of becoming dependent on one donor for key support, whether it be an individual or a foundation. Some of the worst financial messes I've seen nonprofits get into were precipitated when a long-time donor or foundation stopped providing funding due to a change in priorities or an economic downturn such as we just experienced.
5) Is writing this grant application the best use of your time?
  • Don't forge to weigh the benefit of receiving a project grant against the extra work required, including not only time spent writing the grant but also written narrative and financial reports.
  • Finally - remember that 75% of charitable dollars in the U.S. comes from individuals (83% if you include bequests and family foundations). A paltry 12.5% comes from foundations. Given your staffing level and/or board engagement, you might be better served strengthening your major donor fundraising efforts.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Five Tips for Building Donor Relationships

So you have a base of donors for your organization. Now the question is how you plan to sustain and build relationships over time with your donors that will continue to support your good work. Here are five tips about how to do just that:
  1. Get to know them: Do this through data - and on a personal basis. First gather as much information about them as possible and put it into your database - name, address, phone, cell phone, email, salutation, giving history, direct participation in your organization, special interests, etc. But you also need to take the time through direct personal contact to know them as people - their family, what they care about deeply, why they are interested in your cause.
  2. Stay in touch: According to Rockefeller Foundation research, 9% of donors stop giving because they had no memory of supporting that nonprofit. You need to stay in touch about their membership status and gently remind them if their membership has lapsed. You need to stay in touch with reports on your progress and successes through handwritten notes, enewsletters, personal phone calls, and one-on-one meetings. You need to stay in touch sometimes even when you don't want money, simply to maintain your connection, update them on your programs, and solicit their feedback.
  3. Communicate effectively: Here's more telling information from the Rockefeller Foundation about donors who stop giving - 5% thought the charity did not need their support, 8% felt they didn't get enough information about how their charitable dollars were being used, and 18% felt communication was poor. Donors want to know where their donations go and what impact your work is having. Be sure to emphasize impact in all of your communications, with a focus on using stories, videos, and photographs to highlight your achievements.
  4. Invite participation: Offer them tickets to upcoming events. Invite them for a tour of your facility. Ask them to visit when an exciting program is scheduled. Include them in conference calls. And consider inviting them to volunteer. According to a Fidelity Charitable Gift Fund report, 67% of volunteers make charitable gifts to the organization they volunteer with, and they give 10% more than non-volunteers.
  5. Thank them promptly: I cannot emphasize this enough - 13% of lapsed donors were never thanked for their donations. And statistics consistently show that donors who are thanked in a timely fashion give more generously over time. So get those handwritten thank-you letters out. Always express appreciation for their support when you talk to them personally. And be sure to plan an annual appreciation event that is fun, has great food, and is appropriate for your organizational culture.
Think of your relationships with donors as if they are friendships. Treat them respectfully, stay in touch regularly, and communicate honestly and authentically. In doing so, you will strengthen their loyalty to your nonprofit - and you may just find (as I did) that you have also forged true friendships.

Saturday, August 2, 2014

Fundraising Takeaways: Giving USA 2013 Charitable Giving Report

The good news is that Americans contributed $335 billion to nonprofit causes in 2013 - a 3% increase over 2012 - and the expectation is that this trend will continue in 2014.

The bad news is that most nonprofit organizations have struggled over the past six years since the economic downturn simply to raise as much as they did beforehand. Compared to previous recessions, this was quite a long recuperation period.

Wealthy donors were the primary source of this increase. These folks donate out of investments and assets rather than income; stock market gains over the past six years fueled the upsurge in charitable contributions. Their favorite causes - donor-advised funds and colleges - benefitted. Additionally, many donors cut back their giving to an average of five organizations during the recession; now this has bounced back to the more customary five to ten.

Here's a breakdown of how each nonprofit sector fared in 2013:
  • Education: up 7.4%
  • Arts: up 6.3%
  • Public and society benefit: up 7%
  • Animals and environment: up 6%
  • Health: up 4.5%
  • Human Services: up a mere .7%
  • Religion: down 1.6%
  • International Affairs: down 8%
And here are two new strategies that seem to be working around the country:
  • Advertising specifically geared to younger folks: I particularly liked this successful fundraising slogan from the Communities Foundation of Texas - "You don't have to be a billionaire to be a philanthropist."
  • Programs that appeal to a broader range of the community: The Philbrook Museum of Art initiated free admission Second Saturdays plus increased programming for kids including a special MyMuseum box of art supplies, resulting in a big increase in donations from folks making moderately-sized gifts.
And the fundraising takeaways? The fundraising climate has improved, but it remains challenging - so you need to think strategically and creatively. Reach out to new audiences, clients, and donors. Find out what's working for other similar organizations. Develop a plan that addresses fundraising, messaging, and programming holistically - it's all connected.

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Whose Job Is It Anyway? Board vs. Staff Roles

Are you confused about how to determine Board vs. staff roles? Is there disagreement and tension between Board and staff in regard to who is in charge? Does your Executive Director feel that the Board is micromanaging implementation of organizational programs? Does your Board think the Executive Director is not doing enough fundraising?

You're not alone. Most nonprofits grapple with how to designate basic responsibilities, and want to know the "right" way to do it. But - there is no one correct model. Younger, smaller, more grassroots organizations typically have significant Board involvement in program management. Older, bigger organizations tend to move towards a model where the Board sets policies and oversees the work. As organizations grow and expand, Board and staff roles will keep changing. And conflicts frequently arise at moments when change is necessary. These moments - as hard as they may be - are often a gateway to positive and creative growth that can open new doors and build organizational capacity.

Here are some very basic guidelines that apply to most nonprofits:

The Board has primary responsibility for:
  • Hiring, evaluating, and firing the Executive Director
  • Understanding, analyzing, monitoring, and approving the annual budget
  • Recruiting Board members
  • Setting, approving, and reviewing organizational policies
  • Ensuring legal compliance
The Executive Director has primary responsibility for:
  • Hiring, managing, evaluating, and firing organizational staff
  • Overseeing and managing the day-to-day program and organizational decisions.
  • Providing accurate and timely information to the Board to support informed decision-making
That said, the Board should always respect and value the Executive Director's input, and the Executive Director should always respect and value the input of the Board.

Effective fundraising and public outreach go hand in hand - and require hard work from everyone. I am a firm believer that a strong, sustainable fundraising and outreach program requires active participation from both Board and staff. That means it's not okay for the Board to suggest, when money is short, that the Executive Director write a grant (or organize a fundraiser or find some new donors). And it's not okay for the Executive Director to whine about the Board's unwillingness to ask people for money without providing appropriate training and doing his/her part in making asks.

Scheduling an annual Board assessment, as well as using the annual Executive Director performance review positively and strategically, will help you to evaluate what's working and what's not. Your ongoing goal is a shared governance structure where the Board and staff work as a team, with an understanding that the balance of responsibilities will evolve and change over time.

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Seven Easy Ways to Increase Your Fundraising Capacity

The very best way to raise money is simple - ask! But here are a few tips you might not have thought about that can help enhance your fundraising efforts:

  1. Encourage monthly donations: Make sure your donation page prominently features an option to make monthly donations, either through credit cards or bank accounts. Actively encourage your board members and donors to participate. Monthly donations provide steady, unrestricted cash flow that is particularly welcome in the current economic climate.
  2. Look into employer and bank giving programs: Research and publicize corporations that match charitable donations (a few local ones include Chevron, Charles Schwab, and Agilent). This is a great way to double your money. Find out which banks and businesses in your area have charitable giving programs. Ask your board, volunteers, clients and staff to participate and/or help with a solicitation.
  3. Sign up for Amazon Smile: Everyone shops at Amazon - and each purchase can generate money for your organization when it's done through Amazon Smile. Amazon will donate .5% of eligible purchases to the charitable organization of choice, with no cost to the shopper. A good return depends on volume so the more people enrolled, the better; let your board, staff, volunteers and clients all know about this simple cost-free way to support your organization. Check it out at
  4. Personalize your asks: One of the easiest ways to increase donations - and to get board members and volunteers to help out - is to write personal notes on solicitation letters. Doing so will increase your chances of receiving a donation as well as increase the amount donated.
  5. Steal ideas: All of us receive endless fundraising appeals via email, mail, and Facebook. Don't just trash them. Take a quick look, identify the ones that work and those that don't, and steal good ideas to use in your own fundraising campaigns.
  6. Make your Donate button jump out: I can't repeat this enough - make sure your Donate button is visually appealing, prominent on every page of your website, and included on every email and newsletter you send out.
  7. Make online donating easy: Try being your own donor. Is it straightforward and simple to make a donation? Are all donation options clear? How many clicks are required? How long does it take? You want your busy donors to be able to make a contribution without confusion and without wasting their time.

Got any other good tips about simple fundraising strategies? Email me at or leave a comment on this page.

Monday, May 5, 2014

How to Get Your Board on the Fundraising Bandwagon

Do your Board members leave the room when you start talking about planning the annual fundraising campaign? Do they agree to ask folks for money but never follow through? Here are a few tips to help get them on the fundraising bandwagon:

  1. Make their board experience great: Board members volunteer because they want to make a difference doing work that matters. Structure meetings to focus on the impact of your organizational work by minimizing reporting and maximizing meaningful discussion. Make sure they know your mission, and communicate how fundraising relates to that mission. Be sure to encourage socializing, schmoozing, joking - people who laugh together work well together.
  2. Set clear expectations: Your Board job description and your recruitment process should make it clear that fundraising is a core Board responsibility. This includes making a significant gift, working as a team with staff on campaigns, developing and implementing a fundraising calendar, and identifying and soliciting donors.
  3. Ditch the standing committee: I'm betting not many of your Board members eagerly volunteer to serve on your Fundraising Committee. And who can blame them for dodging a commitment to work that will never end? Instead, break your fundraising up into bite-sized pieces, using ad hoc task forces with defined goals and a timeline of 3-6 months.
  4. Emphasize specific outcomes and results: Focus your Board's work on the results they need to accomplish to further their organizational work. Set feasible fundraising campaign goals - success is a great motivator. Emphasize that the outcome of asking for donations is not just money; it's also about public outreach as well as building relationships with donors.
  5. Show them all the many ways they can help out with fundraising: This runs the gamut from making asks to recruiting new Board members to writing thank you letters to using their social media networks to promote your organization.
  6. Train them to fundraise (and do it annually): It's a skill that can be learned! Help them overcome their fears and use their authentic passion for the organization to invite their friends and connections to support your organization. Educate them about the most effective strategies. Get Board members to tell personal stories about your organization's work and use those stories as a basis for connecting with donors.
  7. Pair them up: Fundraising doesn't have to be a solitary sport. Pair Board members up with fundraising mentors, and create a buddy system for making asks.
  8. Support them: Have your staff follow-up regularly - not to nag, but to encourage and support. Use phone calls, emails, and meetings to motivate your team and gently keep them on task raising money for your nonprofit.
  9. Reward and thank them:  Don't forget to thank your Board members for their work! Simple thank you gestures - cards, phone calls, a celebratory cake - really make a difference. Everyone feels better, happier and more willing to keep on fundraising when their efforts are appreciated.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

You Might As Well Laugh: More Nonprofit Jokes

Feeling worn down with worry about raising enough money to fund your programs? Or burnt out by problem board members? Take this short timeout to laugh - I promise it will make you feel better.

     How many board members does it take to change a light bulb? It totally depends on the composition and skill set of your board. 
     If there is an electrician or handyman on the board, it only requires one. 
     But if there's a founder on board, the founder will probably insist that the old bulb is perfectly good and there is no need to change it, so you'll need a second member to create a diversion. 
     And if your board operates by consensus, you're going to need everyone to participate in order to change the darn bulb.

     A development director goes to a very devout donor and asks that he give what he can as God directs. 
     The donor says, "Give me a minute while I pray about this," and goes off into a corner to pray. He comes back and says, "God has told me to give $2,000." 
     The development director says, "May I pray for a moment as well?" and goes to same corner and prays. After five minutes she returns and says, "God wants to talk with you again."

     Benny's dog has died and he goes to see his Orthodox rabbi. "Rabbi, I wonder whether you could find the time to say a special blessing at my dog's grave?"
     The rabbi replies, "I'm afraid it isn't possible, Benny. In fact, the rules don't really make any allowance for animals."
      Benny says, "But I'm really upset, rabbi."
     "So maybe you should go to see the Reform rabbi over the road," suggests the rabbi.      
      As Benny walks away dejectedly, he turns to the rabbi and says, "What a shame. I was willing to donate $1,000 for such as service."
     At which point the rabbi shouts, "Come back, come back!"
     Benny turns around and says, "I thought you couldn't help me."
     "Ah," says the rabbi, "but you didn't tell me your dog was Orthodox."

Try these at your next board or staff meeting - it's remarkable how a moment of frivolity and laughter can really promote cooperation and teamwork. Have any good nonprofit jokes or stories of your own? I'd love to add them to my collection! Post one in the comments section, or email me at

Saturday, March 1, 2014

Seven Fascinating Facts About Nonprofit History in the U.S.

I'm a history buff, as well as a nonprofit consultant. So, for your pleasure and entertainment, here are seven fascinating facts about the history of nonprofit organizations in the United States:
  • When was the first nonprofit board in American formed? The first board dates back to the earliest settlers. The Massachusetts Bay Company's charter created that board, whose members were to be chosen for their "honesty, wisdom, and expertise."
  • Who wrote the first documented fundraising appeal? Henry Dunster, Harvard's president, wrote the first written appeal for funds in 1643. He solicited wealthy and charitable Puritans living in England to support the American experiment.
  • Who was the first fundraising consultant? It was Benjamin Franklin! Here is some of his spot-on advice for the Reverend Gilbert Tennant who was trying to raise funds for a new meeting house: "I advise you to apply to all those whom you know will give something; next, to those whom you are uncertain whether they will give anything or not, and show them the list of who have given; and lastly, do not neglect those who you are sure will give nothing, for in some of those you may be mistaken." By the way, Reverend Tennant more than met his goal and was able to build a big, elegant building for his congregation.
  • What was the first big appeal for funds to help out in a disaster? In 1846, Americans gave generously for Irish famine relief during the big potato blight.
  • When were the first tax deductions instituted? First, Congress had to establish the income tax - this happened in 1913, when the 16th Amendment to the Constitution was ratified. Later that year, the Revenue Act exempted organizations "organized and operated exclusively for religious, charitable, scientific, or educational purposes" from paying taxes. And in 1918, new laws permitted individuals to deduct charitable contributions that were up to 15% of their taxable income.
  • When and where were the first Girl Scout cookies sold? That would be Muskogee, Oklahoma in 1918 where the Mistletoe Troop sold their home-baked cookies as a service project. Here's the recipe: Cream one cup of butter and one cup of sugar; add two well-beaten eggs, two tablespoons of milk, one teaspoon of vanilla, two cups of flour, one teaspoon of salt, and two teaspoons of baking powder. Refrigerate for one hour. Roll out the dough, cut into shapes, sprinkle sugar on top, and bake at 375 for 8 to 10 minutes.
  • What big scandal rocked the nonprofit world in 1995? William Aramony, who was lauded as a visionary for his leadership of United Way from 1970 to 1992, was convicted on 23 counts of felony charges including conspiracy, fraud and filing false tax returns (apparently he used United Way funds to pay for his extramarital affairs). This scandal ushered in a whole new era of scrutiny, laws, and IRS regulations about nonprofit finance and governance.
Way back in 1835, Alexis de Tocqueville marveled at the great number of American voluntary organizations dedicated to providing charitable relief to the needy as well as offering solutions to society's problems. Many of our most well-known national nonprofits (from Planned Parenthood to the ACLU to Big Brothers Big Sisters) were founded in the early 1900's. By 1950 there were 50,000 nonprofits up and running in the U.S.; 250,000 by 1965; and a million by 1985. 

And today? Count yourself proud to be among the one and a half million plus nonprofits working to make this world a better place.

Saturday, February 1, 2014

Top Three Fundraising Tips for 2014

According to Atlas of Giving, preliminary reports indicate a 12.9% increase in charitable gifts in 2013. Here are three suggestions for ways to keep your fundraising momentum going in 2014:
  1. Market monthly donations: Do you have an easy option for donors to make monthly contributions? Your supporters - especially those who are younger - might have a hard time coming up with an annual $100 donation, but if you ask them for $10 a month it instantly becomes doable. After all, that's about the cost of two lattes at Starbucks and less than it costs to see a movie. Of course, you'll want to provide plenty of giving options, listing dollar amounts from large to small. And don't forget to thank your monthly donors at the end of the fiscal year with a personalized letter acknowledging their total annual contribution. The best two things about monthly donations? They are unrestricted and provide secure ongoing cash flow.
  2. Know your donors: Does your donor wish to remain anonymous? Hate phone call asks? Love to give funds for scholarships? Volunteer regularly? Only like to give once a year? All of this information - and more - should be noted in your database. The more you know about your donors, the more effective your fundraising efforts will be. And here's the other thing - you also need to know your donor personally, through regular contacts via phone, email, meetings, invites to events, conference calls. Building a donor is like building a friendship and should be treated as such.
  3. Tell your story: Face it - it's a digital world, and people have short attention spans. If you want folks to contribute to your cause, you need to capture them quickly and personally. And the best way to do this is with a (very short) story. People quickly tune out when you're reciting facts and figures; a personal story draws them in, invites their empathy, and motivates them to take action. I started using storying as part of my fundraising training sessions after a conference in which I was asked to recount how I got involved in the nonprofit world - in 90 seconds. It's amazing how focused you get when you have a time limit, and how much information can be packed into that minute and a half. It's also amazing how engaged the listener comes. Now I use this technique to train nonprofit boards and staff in making fundraising asks. I have participants practice telling a story about why they care about their organization or about a special success story. You should use the vehicle of story not just in direct personal contacts but also through video on your emails and website.
One crazy note: Atlas of Giving and Giving USA are in the midst of an amusing internet quarrel about who has bragging rights for charitable giving statistics. So - we may see different numbers in upcoming weeks, though both agree that giving has indeed increased. Stay tuned...

Friday, January 3, 2014

Get Organized for the New Year

It's that time of year for New Year's resolutions. Is one of yours to be more organized and productive at work? Here are a few out of the box suggestions for you:

  1. Exercise: Take a short brisk walk, do some yoga stretches, do a quick workout. Exercise reduces stress, and when you're less stressed you are better able to focus and get your work done efficiently. Researchers in Sweden discovered that people who take exercise breaks are more productive even when they work fewer hours. They are also healthier (sitting for extended times is not great for your health), and this translates into reduced rates of absence due to illness.
  2. Schmooze: Turns out folks who develop friendships with work colleagues are happier, communicate better, and work harder. A study from Tel Aviv University found that people who socialize at work are not only more productive, their bodies release hormones that contribute to better health. So go ahead - chat with your co-workers, tell a joke, share a potluck lunch - it's good for you and for your nonprofit.
  3. Stand up: When you stand, whether while talking on the phone or at meetings, you get to the point faster and make decisions more efficiently. And your meetings and phone calls will be shorter. You could even try the latest fad - a standup desk.
  4. Listen to music: Believe it or not, research from the Journal of the American Medical Association shows that listening to your favorite music improves job performance - because it makes you feel happier plus drowns out external noise and commotion. Case in point: problem solving and accuracy improves when surgeons listen to their own favorite soundtracks.
  5. Break things down: Do you tend to put big difficult tasks at the bottom of your to-do list? All of us have jobs we just don't like to do, or that feel too daunting to begin. Don't put them off forever. Instead, get motivated by breaking challenging jobs into smaller, more manageable pieces. All of a sudden, that big job will begin to feel possible - and you'll get the satisfaction of crossing something off your list.
  6. Manage your emails: Are you drowning in email? Send fewer emails - and you'll get fewer in return Do you check your emails constantly throughout the day? Plan designated time slots for checking email, and resist that compelling email ding at all other times. Resolve to be specific and strategic about your email communications this year. Don't let email manage you - manage your email so you can focus on important jobs and goals to further your nonprofit mission.

Happy newly organized New Year to you all!