Sunday, November 30, 2008

Reader Question: Can the Executive Director be an independent contractor?

The answer is: Probably not.

I would err on the side of caution and say no, an executive director should not be an independent contractor. This is because they would likely fail multiple questions of the IRS's 20 Factor Test. The most obvious one that comes to mind is #3 on the 20 Factor Test- Integration. The IRS says that if the services that someone is providing for an organization are vital and ongoing for the organization's success (i.e. they are providing continuing day-to-day work) then they are probably not an independent contractor.

The only circumstance that they might be able to be an independent contractor is when they are serving as an acting or interim executive director.

To understand more about the difference between independent contractors and employees, read Independent Contractor vs. Employee Part I.

To learn about the process of transitioning an independent contractor to an employee, read Independent Contractor vs. Employee Part II.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Donor vs. Donation

As everyone is putting together their 2009 Development Plans and plotting ways to meet their annual goals for 2008, we all need to remember what the difference between a donor and a donation is.

Donations can be easy to come by. Co-workers, volunteers, and committed supporters need only to ask their friends, family, and acquaintances for a donation. Those people may give again, or they may not. But they aren't donors.

Donors are those that are committed to your cause and feel vested in your organization's success. They give almost every year. They are your volunteers, employees, and committed supporters. They also are the ones you should be focusing on and are ripe for planned giving.

Many organizations make the fatal mistake of focusing heavily on the "new donor" when they should be cultivating the donors they already have. New donors are important, but organizations need to understand the difference between a new donor and a new donation. Getting someone to give once to buy tickets to an event, and then never give again doesn't help your organization in the long run. While only focusing on donations can be necessary in tough times, it should never be the primary strategy. So, as you are putting together your 2009 Development Plans remember this and focus on getting more donors.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

A word about Nonprofit URLs

One of the most important things about your organization's website is having a guessable URL. If your organization is called The Hope Shelter, don't get a domain (URL) name of Domains are extremely inexpensive ranging from $7-$10 per year from Go Daddy, and they are worth the investment. I recommend not only buying the .org, but also the .com of your URL. It's much better to buy it now, then to wait a few years to find that someone else has scooped up your domain. There are a lot of cybersquatters out there.

Nonprofit Marketing Resources

Here are a few helpful resources to help marketing at your organization:

Monday, November 17, 2008

Tips for Effective Nonprofit Partnerships

With limited funding and increased demand, many nonprofits are looking for ways to be more effective. Partnering with another nonprofit organization, business or unit of government is a great way to pool resources and make a bigger difference. Plus, foundations love to see collaboration.

Here are a few tips for creating effective partnerships:

  • Create a plan with goals and processes aligned with partners
  • Make sure the project will be self-sustaining over time
  • Balance power and ensure good governance
  • Define what success looks like for the partnership
  • Ensure that everyone involved feels included and is educated on pertinent topics
  • When possible, partner with like organizations- don't duplicate
  • Think long-term!

When partnering with a nonprofit organization, business, or government it can be helpful to use a partnership agreement that outlines the terms and expectations of the partnership. Here and is a sample partnership agreement, and this website talks about different types of partnerships that your organization can do.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Grant Writing Resources

While there are hundreds of blogs that deal with aspects of nonprofit life, one that I particularly enjoy is 79 Grant Writing Resources. This blog is useful for anyone is useful for anyone that writes grants. Posts include obvious tips like check out the foundations 990 (#61), to more obscure resources like "SMART Maps for Grant Writers" (#55) and very useful posts like "Thirteen Proofreading Tips for Grant Writers" (#52). I highly recommend you check it out!

Friday, November 7, 2008

Evaluation Technology Survey

Please take a minute to take a short, 3 question survey about evaluation technology.

Click Here to take the survey

This survey will be used to help fuel future posts about evaluation technology.

Thank you for your help!

Thursday, November 6, 2008

The Consent Agenda

I am a strong proponent of the use of consent agendas in board meetings. They allow boards to have items that do not require discussion or debate to be approved quickly. Consent agendas can help speed up meetings and cut off unnecessary discussion. They allow boards to focus and spend time on the things that require meaningful discussion.

Here are some of the things that should be on consent agendas:

  • Approval of minutes
  • Uncontested board elections
  • Committee appointments
  • Items that have already been discussed via email, or have been discussed at previous meetings and do not need any further discussion
  • Reports

If your board doesn't use a consent agenda right now, consider giving it a try and see how much time it saves you!

Monday, November 3, 2008

Vote Tomorrow!

This could be the most important election of our lifetime. At the times of this post, the US Debt is approximately $10,545,152187,483.12. This will impact our schools, families, nonprofits- pretty much every facet of our lives. So, please make sure to read about the candidates and vote tomorrow.