Training

MARCH

 


Motivate Monday with Pamela Grow
Monday, March 25, 1:00 PM ET

Every Monday at 1:00 pm ET nonprofit professionals gather from around the world to share their most recent successes, learn from the top professionals in the sector, grab an easily implemented tip for the week, and get inspired!

Motivate Monday’s guest list reads like a “Who’s Who” of the nonprofit sector, with participants ranging from Ken Burnett to Tom Ahern to Gail Perry to John Haydon to Kivi Leroux Miller to Jay Love to Joan Garry…and YOU.


Everything We Know About Fundraising Is (Mostly) Wrong
March 25, 1:00PM

We often hear about concepts like the fundraising pyramid, donor prospecting, or the funnel approach to donor cultivation. But do these philosophical beliefs match up with reality? Join Steve MacLaughlin, vice president of data and analytics at Blackbaud and bestselling author of Data Driven Nonprofits, as he explores if what we think we know about fundraising is really true. This session will explore some of the most common myths about fundraising and how nonprofits can adjust to the new normal in giving.


Writing Accurate and Useful Volunteer Position Descriptions
March 26, 2:00PM

A good position description can make the recruitment and placement of volunteers so much easier, but this foundation component of a program is often overlooked or put into a folder and never used. This webinar will start with the basics of what should be included in a position description and will help you create or update position descriptions for all of your volunteer opportunities. Once those position descriptions are created – use them! Learn how accurate and up-to-date position descriptions can help you recruit and train volunteers, and how they can help with retention and the development of leadership positions within your volunteer engagement program.


Skills for Overcoming Burnout
March 26, 2:00PM

Too often, the fire that fuels those of us working in the social sector ends up becoming the fire that burns us out. Across the nonprofit world, organizations are perpetuating unhealthy work cultures, getting mired in conflict and divisions, and struggling to respond to systemic issues proactively instead of reactively. Nonprofit staff often end up feeling anxiety and hopelessness, working ineffectively in their teams, and traveling on the path to burnout. This live, online training will enable you to cultivate resilience-based practices in your own lives and in your organizations, to create a culture of sustainable activism. In the session, you will be guided through an assessment of your individual, team, and organizational resilience. You will learn how to develop effective methods of self and collective care, understand how stress and trauma impact individuals and teams, and learn strategies to cultivate stronger team communication to address conflicts and resolve tensions.

Upon completion of this webinar, you will be able to:

  • Identify and address the causes and impacts of stress and burnout for yourself and your organization
  • Evaluate your communication and conflict styles
  • Explain how team dynamics are affected by stress
  • Assess areas in which you and your organization can implement more resilient practices and select the relevant practices to apply

Monarchs in a Web of Life: Predators, Parasites, and Disease
March 26, 2:00 PM ET

Drs. Karen Oberhauser and Sonia Altizer will describe how monarchs interact with dozens of other species in diverse ecological communities through pollination, herbivory, competition, and as hosts or as prey to natural enemies. Monarchs are famous for sequestering toxins from their milkweed host plants, which protects them against some natural enemies. Despite this protection, monarchs can fall prey to predators, parasites, and pathogens at all stages of their life cycle. In fact, scientists estimate that only 5% of monarchs survive from egg to the adult stage in natural populations, in large part due to natural enemies. In this webinar, we tour the incredible diversity of animals and microbes that interact with monarchs in the wild. These agents can exert significant pressure on wild monarch populations, and have shaped monarch morphology, chemical defense, and possibly even their amazing migration. Human rearing of monarchs can protect them from some enemy attacks, but captive conditions and crowding can also expose monarchs to new threats. Because many predators and parasites are part of monarch’s natural ecology, it is important to protect and restore the diverse ecological communities that monarchs are a part of. Finally, this webinar will provide ideas for how you can think beyond monarchs as a single species, and engage with and conserve their remarkable community.

Presenters:  

  • Dr. Karen Oberhauser, University of Wisconsin Madison Arboretum, Monarch Butterfly Fund, Monarch Larva Monitoring Project
  • Dr. Sonia Altizer, University of Georgia Athens, Project Monarch Health

 Register: https://goo.gl/forms/4rLvn7HQZ2yctfIl2


So You’re Thinking of Planning a Capital Campaign? An Introduction to the First Steps
March 27, 11:00AM

Many organizations consider a Capital Campaign, but don’t know where to begin. This free, 45 minute webinar hosted by Diane M. Carlson, Chairman of Catapult Fundraising, will discuss what to do and where to begin when planning for your Capital Campaign.

This webinar will discuss the importance of a feasibility study, setting an appropriate Campaign dollar goal, building a gift chart, and determining a Campaign timeline that will work best for your institution.


Overlooked Benefits of Outsourcing Nonprofit Accounting
March 27, 11:30AM

Has your organization ever looked at outsourcing all or a portion of its accounting? If not, it is because you’re not sure how the organization would benefit from this decision. Since it is not a common practice for nonprofits to outsource its accounting, we will discuss the process and discuss the overlooked benefits of outsourcing your Nonprofit Accounting.

In the nonprofit community, outsourcing typically means long-term delegation of key operation to outside experts.  The accompanying expectation is improvement of the quality, strengthening effectiveness, and lowering or controlling costs.

A key difference in the nonprofit sector is not only controlling costs, but becoming a more effective organization.

Outsourcing accounting provides nonprofit organizations with a team of experts who have multiple client experiences which benefits its clients and the nonprofit organization’s it serves.

We will review six overlooked, and sometimes unknown, benefits of outsourcing nonprofit accounting.

This webinar will help Executive Directors, Finance Directors, and finance staff to develop and use a financial policies and procedures manual.  Savvy nonprofit leaders know that effective financial policies and procedures that lead to effective processes can be the difference between go.


What’s My Role as a Nonprofit Board Member
March 27, 12:00 PM ET

You’re at the table – now what? Learn to participate in board meetings and other engagements with more confidence and knowledge about your role as a board member. We’ll cover board responsibilities and how you can be a strong resource for a nonprofit organization.


 
Wednesday, March 27 | 1:00 PM ET
 
The traditional two-phased approach to campaign planning results in an over-emphasis on the two book-end categories of donors – those giving very large gifts and those giving comparatively smaller ones. This tendency often neglects to make the necessary investment in developing the two middle categories of donors which is also where we tend to see the campaign later lag in performance. This lag in the middle categories can easily account for a 20-30% shortfall in achieving your goal. We have also observed that the two-phased process is overly-reliant on paid professionals in the first half and, in contrast, overly reliant on volunteers in the second half. Our goal is to balance the contributions of professional staff with volunteers throughout the entire campaign.
 
Join the webinar and you’ll learn:
  • Tips for effective campaign planning 
  • How to identify the tension inherent in the campaign success curve
  • When to “got o the press” with the case for campaign support 
 

Introduction to Proposal Writing
March 27, 2:00PM

Are you new to proposal writing or want a quick refresher? If so, you don’t want to miss one of our most popular classes!

This class will provide you with an overview of how to write a standard project proposal to a foundation. It will include:

  • The basic elements of a proposal
  • The “do’s” and “don’ts” of writing and submitting a proposal
  • How to follow up whether the answer is yes or no

Wednesday, March 27, 2:00 PM EDT
 

Technology only benefits your mission when it’s used widely and deeply across your organization.  Join us for insights on how a cross organizational team focused on leveraging technology can improve adoption, innovation and satisfaction across your staff.   They can also unlock the real purpose of your data: using it in daily work to make better decisions and take smarter actions for your community.  You don’t need a CIO to use technology for your mission.


Ready for the Redesign: Best Practices for Nonprofit Website Redesigns in 2019
March 28, 11:00AM

Launch a successful website redesign project by incorporating the features and strategies that will make the most difference for your nonprofit website in 2019. In this training, you’ll learn about 10 important strategies, along with explanations and examples of each, that you can and should include in your next website. Bring your questions to this interactive training session taught by nonprofit website expert Yesenia Sotelo.

This training is especially created for nonprofit communications, fundraising and executive professionals who are planning a website redesign project within the next 12 months. The materials are appropriate for organizations of any size, focus area, website budget and technology capacity.


Measuring Success: How to Evaluate your Volunteer Program
March 28, 2:00PM

Your volunteer engagement program can be measured by more than just the hours a volunteer gives your organization. What other kinds of information should you keep track of, and how do you know if you’re doing a good job with your volunteer engagement program? This webinar will help you think through both the quantitative and qualitative information you can use to evaluate your program.


3 Ways to STAND OUT and Win the Grant!
March 28, 2:00 PM ET

Nonprofits are constantly faced with the challenge of finding and receiving grants. However, most grant proposals end up being rejected.

One of the main reasons nonprofits skip the important opportunity to apply for grants is the concern about the time required to prepare grant proposals…and the competitive nature of grants.

Learning objectives:

  • The #1 strategy EVERY nonprofit MUST use in order to get funding.
  • How your nonprofit can stand out from the competition so they are eager to fund you!
  • A CRITICAL step overlooked by most nonprofits when writing grant proposals

Direct Mail Marketing for Your Nonprofit Organization
March 28th, 2:30 PM ET

Is direct mail dead? Far from it. Businesses and non-profits send billions of direct mail pieces each year–to get noticed, communicate ideas, create transactions and retain their hard-earned audiences. Many now use a hybrid strategy that combines direct mail with online, digital response mechanisms.

Register now »


Stop Losing Donors – How to Retain More First-Time Donors with Email, Social Media and Your Board Members
March 28, 1:00 PM ET

Did you know, according to Blackbaud, 75% of your first-time donors don’t make a second gift? This means you’re losing more donors than you’re gaining. Don’t be a sufferer of this statistic any longer! Join us as guide you through proven steps for making first-time donors happy, dramatically improving your donor retention rates. We will teach you how to nurture new donor relationships with email and social media, how to boost retention with monthly giving and even how to get your board members involved. 

You’ll learn from this Live Webinar:

  • How to easily calculate your nonprofit’s donor retention rate
  • Understand the surprising psychology behind why people give (it’s not about the cause OR your nonprofit)
  • Learn the 7 key factors that encourage donors to give again and again
  • How to write a first-time donor email series that encourages that second gift
  • Top 10 mistakes that cause first-time donors to leave
  • And MORE!

APRIL


Motivate Monday with Pamela Grow
Monday, April 1, 1:00 PM ET

Every Monday at 1:00 pm ET nonprofit professionals gather from around the world to share their most recent successes, learn from the top professionals in the sector, grab an easily implemented tip for the week, and get inspired!

Motivate Monday’s guest list reads like a “Who’s Who” of the nonprofit sector, with participants ranging from Ken Burnett to Tom Ahern to Gail Perry to John Haydon to Kivi Leroux Miller to Jay Love to Joan Garry…and YOU.


Generational Trends in Volunteer Engagement
Thu, Apr 4, 2019 11:00 2:00 PM EDT

Generational differences affect everything from recruitment to how we support volunteers and acknowledge their contributions. Learn how you can create and maintain a diverse volunteer corps that leverages the skills and talents of Boomers, Gen X, Millennial’s and beyond.

Key Takeaways:

  • Generational experiences shape volunteer motivations and expectations.
  • Understanding the characteristics, expectations, and motivations of each generation can inform your engagement strategies and enhance your success – especially as a “gen-mix manager.”
  • Leveraging the skills and talents of each generation can strengthen your volunteer corps.

 


Motivate Monday with Pamela Grow
Monday, April 8th, 1:00 PM ET

Every Monday at 1:00 pm ET nonprofit professionals gather from around the world to share their most recent successes, learn from the top professionals in the sector, grab an easily implemented tip for the week, and get inspired!

Motivate Monday’s guest list reads like a “Who’s Who” of the nonprofit sector, with participants ranging from Ken Burnett to Tom Ahern to Gail Perry to John Haydon to Kivi Leroux Miller to Jay Love to Joan Garry…and YOU.


Small AND Mighty
April 11, 2:00 PM ET

Talk with peers from other small public land nonprofits and focus on things that matter to you. This is YOUR forum — you will help guide the facilitated discussion by providing input on topics or current challenges you’re experiencing that others from similar sized organizations can relate to and help provide potential solutions for.


How Nonprofits Can Raise More Money Through Crowdfunding
April 16,  1:00 PM ET

This webinar will walk through the basics of crowdfunding so that your nonprofit can utilize this growing fundraising method to bring in more money for your cause. In addition to covering crowdfunding best practices, additional topics include:

  • The difference between peer-to-peer fundraising and crowdfunding – and how you can use both in your fundraising campaign simultaneously
  • How to set up your nonprofit crowdfunding page
  • The power of social media to increase crowdfunding for your cause
  • How to thank your crowdfunding donors and fundraisers and inspire them to continue to give and fundraise for your cause

How to Turn Event Guests Into Donors
April 16th, 1:00 PM (EDT)

Wouldn’t it be great if there was an easy-to-follow strategy that helped organizations engage event guests and turn them into donors?  

In this free 45-minute live webinar, event planning expert A.J. Steinberg will show you how to make guests feel the love at your event and turn that into long-term supporters.

Learn:

  • How to pivot from “us” to “you”

  • How to use appreciation in all of your event elements

  • How to get “up close and personal” with the art of appreciation

  • How to switch from “mobile phone mentality” to real time engagement

  • How to use mingle-time to build community

  • How to use AJ’s awesome post-event protocol to turn guests into donors


Start A Nonprofit Class
April 17th & 24th, 1:00 PM ET

It’s not easy to start a nonprofit, we get that. That’s why we started this live webinar series to get your feet off the ground. Join Randy Hawthorne, executive director and co-founder of Nonprofit Hub, as he guides you through the process of launching a nonprofit. He’s started four of his own, so, yeah, he knows what he’s doing.
 

Death by board meeting is no way to go. Traditional models like parliamentary procedure aren’t always practical or useful for nonprofit organizations and their meetings. Join this webinar to learn about alternative strategies for effective board meeting facilitation that leverage engagement, accountability, and greater consensus. From planning to follow up, we will cover facilitation techniques and tools to transform your nonprofit meeting practices from every day to exceptional.


Retail for Rangers (and Other Non-Retail Folks)
April 23rd, 2:00 PM ET
Free for PLA members, $25 for non-members

One of the most popular sessions at this year’s convention! By overwhelming request, we’re reprising our look at retail operations for all public lands folks who, well, are not particularly retail-oriented—nonprofits and agencies alike!

 

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.