Training

 training


Motivate Monday
Monday, November 19, 1:00 PM ET

How are nonprofit professionals jumpstarting their week with purpose? Join us for Motivate Monday where:

  • Every Monday we share your wins
  • Feature a special guest with a quick tip to get your week started right
  • And close with a Q&A session

Register


Online Tools that Help Nonprofits Learn, Listen & Engage
Tuesday, November 20, 10:30 AM Et

Every day you learn about a new mobile app or piece of software that will “change your life.” There’s so much coming at you, it sometimes feels like you’re drinking through a fire hose.

Learn how to make technology your friend. In his most revealing session, Jay takes you behind the curtain to show, in real-time, which tools he uses to manage his online presence and why. You’ll learn:

  • Which social media platforms you should care about.
  • 5 tools to help master your online world.
  • Listening tools.
  • Engagement tools.
  • How to master your online presence in less than 15 minutes per day.

Register


New
Simple Development Fundraising Systems
Tuesday, November 20, Noon ET

Are you dizzily reeling from golf outings to 5K runs to galas to a holiday concert to…Casino Night? Does your fundraising consist of Amazon Smile, local restaurant nights and a “dear friend” year-end fundraising letter? Are you constantly engaged in “spray and pray” fundraising, looking to see what sticks? There IS a better way. Join us for Simple Development Systems where you’ll discover a road-map to creating sustainable fundraising revenue throughout the year.

Register


Using Storytelling to Boost Your Nonprofit’s Communications
Thursday, November 22 at 1:00 PM ET

Storytelling: you know it’s important and you know that it’s effective. But all of the buzz around storytelling in recent years (though it’s anything but new) can make it feel like yet another “latest thing” to pile on to your already full plate. Are you feeling the pressure?

For more information and to register


The Tech Effect: Discover the Simple Solution that 1000s of Organizations Are Using to Grow Membership in Today’s World
Thursday, November 22, 2:00 PM

Have you noticed that it’s getting harder and harder to grow your membership?

In this free 1-hour webinar, you’ll learn:

  • All about The Tech Effect, the hidden threat that is making things harder for you to grow
  • 5 proven strategies to address The Tech Effect and attract new members right away
  • How an easy tech solution can save you hours of administrative work every day

Register


Motivate Monday
Monday, November 26, 1:00 PM ET

How are nonprofit professionals jumpstarting their week with purpose? Join us for Motivate Monday where:

  • Every Monday we share your wins
  • Feature a special guest with a quick tip to get your week started right
  • And close with a Q&A session

Register


New
Where are the Monarchs and Milkweeds?
Tuesday, November 27, 2:00 PM ET

From a few hundred records to nearly 50,000, over the last few years, the Xerces Society and partners have built an interactive, publicly accessible database of monarch and milkweed records across the western U.S. They use crowd-sourcing and existing databases as well as conducting coordinated field surveys and engaging citizen scientists to quickly fill information gaps about where and when monarchs and their habitat are found. The database has already been used to create and improve habitat suitability models for monarchs across seven states which are being incorporated into many conservation planning and monitoring efforts. Other uses of the database include the creation of region-specific nectar guides, a better understanding of where to (and not to) plant milkweed, and influencing the prioritization of on-the-ground restoration efforts. Help us keep gathering data and putting it to good use for western monarch conservation!

Register


Core Mission Support: Re-visioning Overhead
Wednesday, November 28th, 12:00 PM CT

Nonprofit overhead is not a piece of the budget pie we should try to make smaller, but rather it is core mission support critical to program and mission success. How can we reflect this in our financial charts? We’ll show you the tool we’ve created to transform the conversation from overhead to core mission support and demonstrate how you can use this new re-visioning template at your nonprofit.

Learn more and register


Essential Nonprofit Financial Governance
Wednesday, November 28, 11:30 AM ET

Are financial governance duties clearly understood and performed by the board, finance committee, and executive committee(s)?

This webinar will help Executive Directors, Finance Directors, and your board members to define, document, and execute crucial responsibilities.  Avoid complacency and confusion by clearly defining and communicating expectations. Savvy nonprofit leaders know that a dynamic board can be the difference between good and great performance.

How would you answer the following questions:

  • What are the typical financial responsibilities and misunderstandings of board members?
  • What are the essential financial governance responsibilities for nonprofit board and its members?
  • What are the nonprofit financial governance basics and misperceptions that board and nonprofit leaders need to know?

We will answer this and more.  We will review and take a financial acumen quiz to reinforce leadership learning and address the confusions of financial governance.

Register


10 Strategies for Success with Digital Fundraising
Thursday, November 29, 1:00 PM ET

Digital fundraising is about using all the digital channels at your disposal in an integrated way to reach and expand your audiences, spark engagement, and grow your giving opportunities. Developing a digital fundraising strategy is particularly helpful to reach beyond your local community and engage a broader audience interested in supporting your cause.

In this webinar, we will learn how to make your website donor-ready, improve your donation pages, choose the right donor platform, create powerful email fundraising campaigns, promote monthly giving, use social media techniques to grow your email list, and invest in digital advertising to raise money online. We will also address organizational readiness and capacity as a factor in your success.

Upon completion of this webinar you should be able to:

  • Assess the best digital fundraising strategies for your organization
  • Ascertain your organization’s readiness to grow your digital fundraising program
  • Apply Proven digital strategies in your upcoming fundraising campaigns.
  • Advocate for digital fundraising within your organization

Register


The Drivers of Greater Donor Behavior
Thursday, November 29, 1:00 PM ET

The research results are in! Come join us at our free webinar to learn about the key findings for how you can help strengthen your organization’s donor appeal.

Sector3Insights has recently completed a unique North American study, across hundreds of charities, to explore what drives donors to greater charitable behaviour. This webinar will present key findings from the study, which will highlight the most important characteristics for stronger donation motivation.

This one-hour webinar by the researchers presents “lessons learned” about:

  • The role and (limited) importance of the charity’s mission, and how well it performs.
  • The role of emotions, which types, and which ones in particular. – Not all emotions are equal.
  • The top, most important characteristic to drive behaviour (even more important than emotions!)
  • The role of direct solicitation; how much does it matter?
  • How charities generally perform (and under-perform) on key drivers.

Register


This is How Our Most Successful Clients Fill Their Events
Thursday, November 29, 2:00 PM ET

Have you found that it’s getting harder or taking longer to fill up your events?

Are you sick of waiting for checks in the mail?

Exhausted from processing registration forms?

In this free 45-minute webinar, you’ll learn:

  • 3 recent trends preventing people from registering for your events
  • One simple way to avoid event-related cash flow problems
  • A proven 3-step process to fill events fast and cut your workload in half

Register


First Impressions: Revisiting Your Customer Journey (Post-Visit)
Thursday, November 29, 4:00 PM ET

Riddle time! How is managing the visitor experience like hitting a golf ball? Follow-through is everything. How is your post-visit follow-up game? Setting the stage properly and earning visits is a huge mission accomplished, but the war for their loyalty isn’t over yet.

And that’s it, folks! If you know of any other free nonprofit webinars happening in November, please email me at mtatiana [at] wildapricot.com and I’ll add them to the list.

Register


Engaging the Volunteer of the Future
Tuesday, December 4, 2:00 PM ET

This webinar will start with a review of some of the things that we know about what volunteers are looking for in an opportunity. It will then help you use this information to start designing volunteer opportunities and determining who is the “right” volunteer for your program. You’ll also learn how “word of mouth” plays such a large role in attracting volunteers to your organization and how social media makes this even more important.

Register


Creating a Culture of Volunteer Engagement
Thursday, December 4, 2:00 PM ET

It’s important to create a culture of inclusion and engagement of volunteers within your organization. But, it can be hard to recognize what your current culture says to volunteers, or identify how to make changes to help volunteers feel more welcome. This webinar will help you identify how your organization’s current culture is shaping or limiting what volunteers do, and provide steps you can take to start to create more understanding, respect, and appreciation for engaging volunteers.

Register


New
Using Advocacy to Raise More Money

Wednesday, December 5, 1:00 PM ET

The election is over—now what? With so much focus on Nov. 6, are you ready for what comes next? Do you have a plan to harness this energy to raise more money? How are you engaging your members and supporters to strengthen your organization?

Topics: Busting Advocacy Myths; How Advocacy Improves Fundraising; Engaging Your Board of Directors and Leaders in Advocacy; Using Advocacy to Fundraise

Register


Fundraising with Volunteers
Wednesday, December 5, 1:00 PM ET

Volunteers give 10x more money than those who don’t volunteer, but 1 in 3 volunteers do not volunteer the next year. You can change this.

In this webinar, you’ll learn:

  • Where to find, reach, motivate and retain volunteers that will help you fundraise.
  • How to create a compelling volunteer job description that gets results.
  • Example tasks volunteers can perform.
  • How to turn your board into fundraising superheroes.
  • How to use volunteers for a successful phone-a-thon.

Register


Successful Volunteer Interview Strategies
Tuesday, December 11, 2:00 PM ET

Interviewing each prospective volunteer can seem overwhelming, but it’s one of the best ways to ensure that the volunteers you recruit are the volunteers you need. This webinar introduces a variety of question types used in volunteer interviews and offers strategies for honing your interview skills. Materials will be provided to help you implement this process in your organization, as well as a training syllabus so you can learn how to recruit and train a volunteer staff to assist with prospective volunteer interviews.

Register



Advocacy and Community Organizing: Evaluation and Capacity Building
Thursday, December 13, 2:00 PM ET

Recent changes in the political climate at the national, state, and local levels have put pressure on organizations to engage in intense advocacy and community organizing. We know that even in times of political upheaval, the most effective advocacy and…

Learn more and register


New
Nature Play!

Thursday, December 13, 2:00 PM ET

Genie Moore, Environmental Education Specialist, at the Don Edwards San Francisco Bay National Wildlife Refuge will share her journey in setting up a nature play area, and incorporating nature play into school field trip programs, summer camps and other daily activities at the refuge. In addition, you will hear from Bonnie Hasson, a local nature preschool owner, who runs her pre-school in local nature areas multiple days each week. Bonnie will share her knowledge and experiences via pre-recorded videos (since she has a preschool to operate!).

Genie and Bonnie will share ways to set up a nature play area for little or no cost, they will also share methods to engage children in the nature play experience, and ways to incorporate nature play into your programming.

To register for the webinar go to Department of the Interior WebEx Events and locate “Environmental Education Update Webinar Series.” Click the Register link next to the webinar.


12 Golden Rules of Finance
Wednesday, December 19th, 12:00 PM CT

Finance is one of your nonprofit’s most valuable tools, not a subject to be scared of. We’ll walk through real nonprofit examples and reports to help you become more comfortable with terminology, accounting rules, roles and responsibilities, and procedures and policies.

Learn more and register


Developing Effective Dashboard and Key Performance Indicators
Thursday, December 27, 11:30 AM ET

Do you have a dashboard and know what your key performance indicators (KPI’s) are for your organization?

Nonprofits are complex organizations that are built around mission and outcomes, which must be supported by the right revenue and expense models. Dashboards are one way to simply communicate and give an overview of the organization by using a graphical summary of important information. It is an easy way for decision-makers to see where and whether the organization is on the planned financial path, and additionally can be used with funders and stakeholders to transparently show progress towards desired goals.

But a dashboard without metrics is useless to the organization, it is important to develop the associated metrics and constantly review to ensure you are measuring success for the organization.

Register

Partnerships that are Just Right

goldilocks2Just like Goldilocks searching for the just right porridge, chair or bed; partnerships need to be just right.

Some partnerships require little trust, some a little more, and others a lot.
Some partnerships need a little time, others a little more, and others even more.

Some partnerships only share information and others share everything.
Some partnership have a very loose structure while others are highly formalized.

Just like Goldilocks your organization needs to find what is just right for you. Unlike Goldilocks if both partners agree on what is just right for them there is no need to run, you want to stay around.

The right partnership depends on:

  • Reason for forming the partnership
  • Trust between the partners
  • Time available to invest in the partnership
  • Willingness to share turf
  • Structure for the groups’ interaction
  • Decision-making process
  • Ability to share resources
  • Benefits to each organization

Partnerships move along a continuum from informal networking to collaboration, where partners share their resources to accomplish a mutual goal. Your position on the continuum depends on what you want to accomplish. As the partners increase their trust in each others competencies they tend to move towards integrating decision-making authority. (See table)

The partnership between a community group, such as Friends, and a government agencies comes with challenges. The organizations often have divergent needs and cultures. However, that is why the partnership is so beneficial. Friends are part of the community and have the potential to access resources not readily available to government agencies. The Service brings their competency and passion for wildlife management. Together they enhance each others capacity to achieve their mission and joint vision.

Creating and maintaining a successful partnership takes planning. The trust, time and effort each organization contributes moves the partnership towards collaboration. It is not practical for every partnership to aim for collaboration, what is necessary is finding that sweet spot were both partners know whatever form of partnership they have is just right for them.

The following table provides guidance on the different forms of partnerships, their purpose, necessary trust levels, time commitment, and resource sharing. It outlines the structure of the partnership, joint decision-making and benefits. This research helps you determine where your organization is on the partnership continuum and what is needed to get to that “just right” spot for you and your partner.

Partnership Continuum

line

Partnership Continuum table

Adapted from Collaboration (Lessons Learned Series). AASL, Fall, 1996.
Bernard Bull, The Difference Between Networking, Coordinating, Cooperating, and Collaborating

http://www.northeastcapt.org/products/srategies/collaboration/collaborationpaper.html
http://www.buildinitiative.org/Portals/0/Uploads/Documents/resource-center/community-systems-development/1B%201%20Types%20of%20Partnerships%20Continuum%20of%20Coordination.pdf

Thomas Kayser, True Collaboration Is a Partnership: Six Ingredients for Making it So

Joan Patterson currently serves on the board of Friends of the Duck Stamp/Migratory Bird and was the former Director of Grassroots Outreach of the National Wildlife Refuge Association and board member for the Friends of Tualatin River NWR and the Friends of Potomac River Refuges.

Resources:
http://www.strengtheningnonprofits.org/resources/guidebooks/Partnerships.pdf
Public Lands Alliance,
Best Practices Establishing a Partnership Model for America’s Public Lands
Stephen M. R. Covey,
The Speed of Trust

When You Hit a Wall

Screenshot_2017-04-24_14-37-11

Coming together is a beginning, staying together is progress, and working together is success.”             Henry Ford

After leaving high-tech I had a chance to pursue a passion, team-building. In the outskirts of Kansas City, I worked on a ropes-course helping kids and corporations develop their team-building skills.

One Spring morning I faced a dilemma, a group of fifth graders, each determined to climb an eight-foot wall on their own. Mind you, the challenge was for the entire team to ascend the wall with the stipulation that anyone who had ascend could not descend the wall to boost up remaining team members. They weren’t succeeding.

My dilemma was, do I let the kids face possible humiliation at the end of the day when the various groups typically compare how many challenges they completed or do I guide them towards the creation of a process that would allow them to succeed on the wall and other challenges.

Over the next two-hours the kids worked on building their problem-solving skills at the wall. As their facilitator it was my responsibility to introduce them to a problem-solving process, help them develop their competencies, demonstrate my belief in the process and more importantly my belief in them, and mentor them as they repeatedly implemented the problem-solving loop.

loop Screenshot_2017-04-24_14-43-36

At times, their frustration was palatable, but with a little nudging they recognized and admitted their failures, learned, and grew. They SUCCEEDED!

During the process they abandoned their individual goals and worked together to achieve a common goal. The end result was everyone did more than they could ever do on their own and were incredibly proud of their accomplishment. The team completed other challenges with ease.

The kids succeeded because they doubled-down on communication including clearly articulating their goal, soliciting ideas, listening, coming up with plans, and a willingness to revamp those plans. Every attempt brought them closer to achieving their goal and with every attempt their trust in each other increased. They built trust by making and keeping their commitment to get everyone over the wall and building their competency in the problem-solving process and wall climbing.

The success of a partnership depends on these same factors. If you find your partnership stuck, ask yourself these questions:

  • Is the purpose of the partnership clear?

  • What commitments are we making to support the partnership?

  • Is there an adequate level of trust to sustain the partnership?

  • Have we determined a clear working arrangement?

  • Are we accountable for our performance?

  • What have we learned from the partnership and how are we applying it to enhance the partnership?

There is a solution for every wall, sometimes you just need to dig a little deeper to find it.

Joan Patterson currently serves on the board of Friends of the Duck Stamp/Migratory Bird and was the former Director of Grassroots Outreach of the National Wildlife Refuge Association and board member for the Friends of Tualatin River NWR and the Friends of Potomac River Refuges.

Resources:
http://www.strengtheningnonprofits.org/resources/guidebooks/Partnerships.pdf
Public Lands Alliance,
Best Practices Establishing a Partnership Model for America’s Public Lands
Stephen M. R. Covey,
The Speed of Trust

The Partnership Dance

The other week Tim Blount and I were discussing the take over of Malheur National Wildlife Refuge and the lessons learned about partnerships created during the occupation. Our discussion caused me to reflect on a 67-year partnership that had incredible results. You see 67 was my Dad’s favorite number, it was the number of years he was married to Mom. A little over a month ago Dad passed away, just 371 days after his beloved bride. So when I think about successful partnerships I can’t help but think of them.

Dad would boast that together they could do anything. They grew up during the Depression and their union made possible immeasurable blessings for both of them, their family, and friends. When Betty and Jerry said their “I do’s” in 1948 they were committed to a long-term partnership. For their union to be successful they realized they needed to be flexible. Their marriage evolved as they learned how to effectively manage their household, build their capacity to support their family, and shared valuable experiences.

These are the same elements that every organizations wants to achieve when working with a partner. The value of partnering with others is that each organization is able to achieve more than they could working alone. A successful collaboration requires commitment, flexibility, and an organic approach because the relationship evolves over time as each party learns to effectively manage, build capacity and gain valuable experience.

For a partnership to be successful each party must be willing to learn and evolve. As my philosophical Dad would say his best teachers were his wife and kids, my mother would smile and graciously nod in agreement.

So Friends as we look at partnerships, whether with the Service or other organizations there are some common themes that I have learned from research that identifies critical factors for success:

  • Working persistently to create a balance between working within the requirements of your partnership arrangement and maintaining the flexibility to do what is needed.

  • Building a solid understanding for the partnership including purpose, vision, goals, values, roles, decision-making, communications and accountability.

  • Understanding that partnerships have life-cycles just like organizations and they are impacted by what is going on in your environment.

As you consider forging or enhancing a partnership it’s imperative that your board and potential partner:

  • Identify what you want to achieve.

  • Determine what factors will make the partnership successful.

  • Identify potential barriers.

  • Recognize and accept any dependency on specific individuals to achieve the goals of the partnership.

  • Focus on how your partnership adds value and show that you appreciate your partner.

  • Recognize the strengths and assets of each partner that can contribute to achieving your common goal(s).

Your board needs to have frank discussions about these components.

A successful partnership offers immeasurable benefits such as increasing your organization’s exposure, ability to provide services, decrease costs and increase your organization’s credibility in the community. Plus your stellar partnership will inspire others and attract resources to support your mission. That’s what my folks did. Even in their later years, they would hold hands as they walked around the neighborhood. Their neighbors told us that simple symbol of their partnership inspired them to hold their partner’s hand a little tighter as reaffirmation of their partnership.

Friends embrace your partners. Grab their hand ask them to dance and keep on dancing. Be open, flexible, understanding and enjoy!

Joan Patterson currently serves on the board of Friends of the Duck Stamp/Migratory Bird and was the former Director of Grassroots Outreach of the National Wildlife Refuge Association and board member for the Friends of Tualatin River NWR and the Friends of Potomac River Refuges.

Your comments are welcome.

Look for future post on:
Types of partnerships at the local and national level
Managing successful partnerships
Creating collaborative work plans
Evaluating and monitoring partnerships
Partnership life cycles
Relationship versus Agreement

Sources:
https://boardsource.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/02/3-Questions-Collaborating.pdf
http://www.strengtheningnonprofits.org/resources/guidebooks/Partnerships.pdf

Stand Up, Speak Out

A little over a year ago we woke to the unthinkable, a militia group was occupying the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge. Fortunately the occupation ended and this week four more defendants go on trial. But the assault on public lands continues.

town-meeting-feature-imageSome members of Congress with extreme views on public lands are proposing more formidable threats in the form of legislation and thankfully the Refuge Association’s Action Alerts keeps us informed. We as Friends need to take action, we need to get in front of your legislators.

I’ve been fortunate to hear from hundreds of Friends members and you all have at least one thing in common – you are passionate about your refuge. I saw this passion in Tim Blount, when as the Executive Director of the Friends of Malheur, went to the Hill last January and spoke to his congressional team and the natural resources and judiciary committees. He demonstrated that his commitment to the refuge went far beyond its boundaries to include the community and the entire Refuge System.

Like Tim we all need to speak up for our refuge, community, and the Refuge System. Next week members of Congress will be in their districts for a week-long recess. Please join in contacting their offices and ask him/her when and where their next town hall forum will be. If they don’t know, ask to be added to their email list so you’ll get notices of future meetings. If you need their phone numbers go to Senate and/or Representative.

Gather a few Friends and go to the town hall forum. We can make a difference. Ask them questions to solicit their support for public lands and in particular for your refuge. We can use the message the Refuge Association sent on February 7th to formulate a question such as:

I and many of your constituents value our public lands and urge you to oppose any legislation that seeks to transfer the title or management of our public lands or legislation that would harm the National Wildlife Refuge System. These lands, like our local ______ National Wildlife Refuge, are incredibly important not just for wildlife, but also for all Americans to whom they belong. Will you commit to voting to keep our public lands public and our Refuge System safe and secure?

Try to get a video of their response and please post your experience on Coalition of Refuge Friends and Advocates Facebook group. This information will be helpful as we work together to support the Refuge System.

Fellow Friends members please make sure you are receiving the Refuge Association’s Action Alerts and GO to your representatives town hall forum and STAND up for you refuge. Let your representatives and everyone else at the forum know how important these public lands are to you and your community. Thanks.

 Joan Patterson is the former Director of Grassroots Outreach of the National Wildlife Refuge Association and has served on the Friends boards at Tualatin River, Potomac River and the Duck Stamp/Migratory Bird.

What We Friends Can Do: Part 2

Across the country, nonprofit sector leaders from many different areas (conservation. child welfare, health care, arts, education, etc.) are working overtime to make sure that all nonprofit board members everywhere understand that advocacy is an important strategy for achieving their mission. (Find out more about the national campaign at the Stand For Your Mission website here.) The right to provide information to our elected leaders is fundamental in America, and 501(3)(3) organizations absolutely share in that right. Advocacy – including lobbying at the national, state, and local levels –  is a critical part of our role as Friends. Remember, there are limits on what our Service colleagues can do to advocate for the refuges we love. If attacks on public lands continue or gain traction, it will be up to us to mount the defense.  So what can we do to get ready?  Here are my thoughts.

Clarify your mission.  If you haven’t already done so, please read the blog Joan Patterson posted on November 5 regarding the mission of Friends groups. Share it with your colleagues on the board and ask for time on the next meeting agenda. Ask yourself and each other: “If the administration proposes or supports actions that threaten the refuge system, are we ready to oppose it?” “Is our mission to support the refuge or the organization that manages it?” “Do we as a board believe that a threat to any refuge is a threat to us here?” “Is it part of our mission to defend Vieques, Arctic, Monomoy or Loxahatchee?” Have those discussions internally and know where your group stands before the time comes.

2013-11-12-12-05-18

Cathy Allen with Senator Sherrod Brown of Ohio in his DC office

Know Your Rights.  There is a lot of confusion about the laws governing nonprofit advocacy. Misinformation abounds. Since my days as Executive Director of Ohio League of Conservation Voters, I have successfully relied on The Bolder Advocacy Initiative of the Alliance for Justice (AFJ). They provide legal information, tools for effective advocacy, even a technical assistance hotline for getting your questions answered. Their attorneys want us to engage in vigorous conservation advocacy without crossing legal lines.  They are an excellent resource. Click through to learn more.

Establish an Advocacy Policy. AFJ and others recommend that all organizations put a policy in place governing their practices, stating what issues they would take up (or not) and what activities they will engage in (or not.) The Friends of the Carr Refuge adopted such a policy a few months ago, thereby empowering me as advocacy champion to take quick action when an issue emerges. I know exactly what my board colleagues want me to do and not do, and I can use my title and the name of the organization within those parameters without any risk of getting ahead of the group.  We will make adjustments as we go, but we are ready.  To download the policy we created, click here.

2013-11-12-14-05-22

Joan Patterson and Cathy Allen on Capitol Hill

Sign up for action alerts.  If you don’t already receive the action alerts Desire Sorenson-Groves sends from the National Wildlife Refuge Association, please visit their website and sign up.  She and her team provide a quick and easy way to stay up to date on the issues in Washington, and the Refuge Association’s stance on them. They craft position papers on everything from the budget to species conservation to threats against individual refuges.  Together with the Cooperative Alliance for Refuge Enhancement, they kick out a great deal of information about how to lobby, the positions taken by individual members of congress, and how we can best help. If you do talk to a representative or senator, make sure to feed that information back to Desiree. It all helps. 

Participate in coalition activities.  As refuge Friends groups we are not alone. Many other organizations stand with us in the fight to defend our public lands. There are Friends groups at national parks, state parks, and local land trusts, as well as conservation-minded organizations like The Nature Conservancy, Trust for Public Land, Audubon, League of Conservation Voters, and many more. Many savvy and experienced advocates are out there waiting for us to add our voices to ongoing efforts. If there is a local coalition or network in your area, make sure you are part of it.  If there isn’t, call a meeting. There is strength in numbers.

Much as we Friends love being in close partnership with our Service partners, on the question of advocacy we must be on our own.  Let’s use this forum for open discussion among ourselves.  Please comment and share widely.

Cathy Allen is a nonprofit organizational development consultant in Florida who is also a passionate lover of wildlife refuges.  A former president at Friends of Ottawa NWR (Ohio), she currently serves on the board at Friends of the Carr Refuge.

 

It’s Time for a Hug (and Some Work)

bears-hugging

I’ve been thinking a great deal lately about the transition to a new administration and what it might mean for the National Wildlife Refuge System. It is clear to me that our national discussion about the value of public lands will be as important as ever. I know there are hopeful signs, and I agree with those who say we don’t need to hit the panic button yet. Still, the wise women in my family always said “Expect the best, but plan for the worst.” So, what can we Friends do to make sure we can participate in that national dialogue and be as strong as we can be in case we are called upon to defend our refuges? Here is my list. I’d be glad to know what Friends around the country are thinking or working on.

Hug a member of your Refuge staff. Some federal employees may be quite worried – for themselves, their families, and the refuges they love so well. The expected hiring freeze has many moving around these last few weeks. New leaders are coming to fill those top jobs. Let’s make sure we show our staff how much we appreciate all that they do and stand for. Tell them that you will be there to support the refuge, that you will always be in communication, and always working for the values you share. At a recent gathering of the USFWS directorate here in Florida, we were able to hold a reception and include Friends from nine different refuges. I know it made these leaders feel better, seeing that we were with them, and it helped strengthen our bonds of friendship.

Strengthen your organization. If you are not operating at full capacity, now is the time to get organized. Learn about nonprofit legal requirements and best practices in governance and organizational development and start taking steps to improve. Find your state affiliate of the National Council of Nonprofits, a local nonprofit resource center, or a consultant, and get their assistance. Find the treasure trove of great resources at the National Wildlife Refuge Association’s www.RefugeFriendsConnect.org. Think through what kinds of skills and talents you need on your board and recruit people, orient them, and integrate them into the existing team.

Develop contingency plans. During the government shut down of 2014, the Friends of Ottawa NWR found that we were unable to get to our computers, files, lists, phone messages, mail,and more. Everything related to the running of our organization was at the refuge, and we were prohibited from going there. Other groups have experienced the sudden departure of a treasurer or web master and all the related passwords were lost. In the electronic age there is no excuse for that. If your records and operating systems are not cloud-based, set that up and make sure multiple board members can access everything from home. Set up a post office box in town and start shifting your incoming mail to it. Recycle the telephone answering machine and invest in voicemail.

Make sure you are communicating with members. Your members may be even more interested than usual in knowing what is happening and how they can help. Do your best to gather all forms of contact information from members, donors, supporters, visitors to the refuge, anyone you can. Make sure you have a good contact management system. Send out electronic newsletters. Get people used to seeing you in their inbox. Get on the mailing lists of some of the other Friends groups and see how they are doing it. There are some Friends volunteers out there who are doing super inspiring and creative things with electronic media.

Build outreach efforts. In addition to beefing up our websites and social media efforts, this is an excellent time to begin seeking opportunities to present information about our refuges and their friends in schools, libraries, churches, civic organizations, and service clubs. Invite community leaders to the refuge and give them a great tour. Set up a media day and invite all the reporters. Provide them with information and make sure they know how to contact you if they have further questions.

I have other ideas that are more specifically related to advocacy and lobbying, so watch for those next week. Meanwhile, I will be working locally to make sure we have as much in place as we can if the time comes when we really have to be on the hustings. If that time doesn’t come – great! Our organizations will be stronger and able to accomplish even more. Thanks for listening. Feel free to contact me if you want to discuss this offline or on.

Cathy Allen is a nonprofit organizational development consultant in Florida who is also a passionate lover of wildlife refuges.  A former president at Friends of Ottawa NWR (Ohio), she currently serves on the board at Friends of the Carr Refuge.

Your Mission Matters

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Your Mission Matters
by Joan Patterson

Many years ago one of the founders of the Friends of Tualatin River National Wildlife Refuge proposed amending the group’s bylaws to change its mission from supporting the Service to supporting the refuge. I am so thankful that the membership had the foresight to approve the amendment.

You see this particular founder was a leading advocate for the creation of the refuge and even donated 12-acres to get the refuge established. She and others in the area saw the refuge as a community asset. However, twenty plus years ago a refuge in a metropolitan area was controversial and some members of the community had a nagging concerns that the Service might pull the plug on the project.

Thankfully that did not happen and the refuge is now one of the Refuge System’s leading urban refuges.

In the case of Tualatin River changing the wording of the Friends’ mission from “Service” to “refuge” ensured the Friends’ ongoing support for the refuge’s natural, cultural, educational, and recreational resources. In the original mission statement, the word “Service” referred to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service organization and not the Service’s mission which is “…working with others to conserve, protect, and enhance fish, wildlife, plants, and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American people.” This change to the group’s mission is even more important today than it was then.

The Refuge System is faced with external and internal threats. Historically, Friends have spoken up against external threats such as: militants occupying Malheur National Wildlife Refuge (NWR), language in the Puerto Rico debt relief bill to transfer ownership of a portion of Vieques NWR, and current legislation to transfer portions of Desert and Monomoy refuges out of the System. The National Wildlife Refuge Association keeps Friends informed of these threats.

Proposals or actions by an Administration can create predicaments for Friends. For example, the current GOP platform (and I’m not saying which party I support), calls for the transfer of federal lands to states. It declares,“Congress shall immediately pass universal legislation providing for a timely and orderly mechanism requiring the federal government to convey certain federally controlled public lands to states.” Imagine a future Administration implementing this provision – YOUR national wildlife refuge could easily be turned over to the state and thus no longer protected under the Refuge System Administration Act or Refuge System Improvement Act – both ensure lands and waters in the System are managed for biodiversity and wildlife dependent public use. As federal employees who work for such an Administration, Refuge System staff would have to support such a proposal, but Friends who support the mission of their refuge, the Refuge System, or the Service’s mission (instead of the Service organization) could take action against such a proposal. However, if your group’s mission supported the Service, you would also have to support the Administration’s proposal.

There may be times that Friends will disagree with an action proposed by the Service. This year the Service began discussions about potential support of legislation to transfer the National Bison Range in Montana to the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes. Transfer of this national wildlife refuge would require legislative action by the U.S. Congress. The National Environmental Policy Act requires proposed legislation that has a significant effect to include an environmental impact statement (EIS). The Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility and others believe that this transfer proposal would have a significant effect and, therefore, the Service must conduct an environmental analysis. However, the initial legislation that the Department of the Interior helped draft specifies that the transfer is not a major federal action and therefore does not require environmental analysis. Or take another example when in a previous Administration: the Service was supportive of the de-designation of wilderness at the Izembek National Wildlife Refuge in Alaska and subsequent transfer of lands to the state in order to build a road through the heart of the refuge. Or yet again during a previous Administration when the Service supported drilling for oil in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.

Regardless of whether the proposed transfer at the National Bison Range might be appropriate, the Service needs to adhere to the National Environmental Policy Act and adhere to regulations of the President’s Council on Environmental Quality. An EIS would provide a transparent, public forum for the Service to explain its proposed transfer and alternatives to it, and discuss the relative impacts of such actions. Hopefully the Service will not support legislation that will bypass Federal environmental requirements that would chastise another agencies for attempting to avoid. Additionally, while the draft legislation states that this transfer should not be viewed as precedent for any other federal properties or facilities, in fact it would establish a dangerous political precedent. This is a difficult situation tied up in history and culture and hopefully whatever the resolution is will ensure the protection of the wildlife the Range currently protects.

If a future Administration were to implement the transfer of federal lands to willing states, I just can’t imagine supporting the removal of the Tualatin River NWR from the Refuge System. My family and I, like so many community members, dedicated so much time and energy to getting that refuge established and open to the public so everyone can experience the wonders of nature.

So I am very thankful that one of the leading advocates for the creation of the Tualatin River NWR had the foresight to propose amending the bylaws and more importantly having discussions with the board, members, and the Refuge employees on the importance of supporting the refuge, its resources, and the entire Refuge System versus the Service organization. It was important for both parties to discuss what the term “Service” means.

That discussion at Tualatin about our mission enhanced the partnership between the Friends and Refuge employees. It affirmed our joint commitment to conserving and restoring habitat for the benefit of wildlife, the surrounding communities, and the nation. This affirmation recognized our common vision and acknowledged that both organizations could support the vision through different means. Friends and Refuge employees knew that based upon our shared vision we would work together and on those rare occasions when either party’s policy or action conflicted with the shared vision, Friends and the Service had the capacity to respectfully disagree.

I urge you – if you haven’t yet – to have this mission conversation with your Friends board. Ensure that you can always be a powerful voice for your refuge, your community, and for your National Wildlife Refuge System. Our voices supporting public lands is more important now than ever.

Friends of Loxahatchee Need Your Help!

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J. Kleen, USFWS

Now another refuge needs your help! The State of Florida is proceeding to terminate its lease with the Loxahatchee National Wildlife Refuge because of invasive exotics. The Friends of Loxahatchee are appealing to you for help.

The Friends of Arthur R. Marshall Loxahatchee National Wildlife Refuge believes that the South Florida Water Management District (SFWMD) is proceeding to the next step in the process of terminating the 50-year lease agreement under which the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service operates the Refuge.  SFWMD wants to terminate the lease because of invasive exotics. There is not sufficient federal funding to control the spread of invasive exotic plants. Invasive exotics, like melaleuca trees and especially Old World climbing fern, smother the native plants that native wildlife depend on for survival. Federal funding that is dependent on Congress has always been problematic, but in recent years the state and federal governments have been working in partnership to fund the treatment of exotics. In August, however, the state issued a notice of intent to terminate the lease if the federal government cannot provide all of the funding needed.

The National Wildlife Refuge Association, the Florida Wildlife Federation, the National Wildlife Federation, Audubon Florida, the Everglades Coalition, members of the Florida Congressional delegation and, of course, the Friends of the Arthur R. Marshall Loxahatchee National Wildlife Refuge have all spoken out in support of keeping the Refuge and increasing both state and federal funding for the treatment of exotics. They’re now asking for other Friends groups and their members to speak in support of keeping the Refuge and increasing both state and federal funding for the treatment of exotics.

The Refuge Association has a blog providing information on the agreement between U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the state’s South Florida Water Management District and the exotics issue.

The Friends have written letters to the editor, to Congress, to Florida Governor Rick Scott, to Department of the Interior Secretary Sally Jewel and to the Director of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Dan Ashe. We need to keep the Refuge System hold! Please make you voice heard and speak up in support of the Refuge.

Please contact Governor Rick Scott at www.flgov.com/contact-governor and urge him to continue to work with the federal government in a cooperative partnership to control the exotics and preserve the refuge that attracts visitors from around the country and the world. A sample letter is available below this blog  and the password to access it is, Gov letter.

If you live in Florida please contact your Members of Congress:
– Representative: go to www.house.gov, type your zip code at the top of the screen and click “Go”, then click on your Representative’s name.
– Senators: go to www.senate.gov, select Florida and click “Go” next to the “Find Your Senators” box at the top of the screen. A sample letter is available below this blog and the password to access it is, MOC letter.

Thank you for your support of a sister refuge facing an uncertain future.