Grantspace: Introduction to Fundraising Planning
Wednesday, March 21, 2:00 PM ET
Does your organization need help directing its fundraising efforts? Planning focuses your organization by setting fundraising priorities and helps give staff and board members a roadmap to success.

his introductory class will provide you the basic steps for developing a fundraising plan, including tips on:

  • Making your case for support
  • Diversifying your organization’s fundraising base
  • Creating a plan of action
  • Start thinking about your organization’s fundraising strategies!

Learn more and register

Nonprofit Hub: Maximizing Online Donations
Wednesday, March 21st, 2:30 PM ET
Compared with less than 2% growth in overall US fundraising, online giving surged another 10-20% in both 2015 and 2016, while email fundraising increased by 25%. Join us for a practical, tactical workshop focused on sharing the tips, tools, and how-to steps for success your nonprofit needs to know to make the most of your digital presence. Our seasoned presenter will share tips designed to help you double online giving in just two months, plus a wide range of helpful resources and strategies for taking your organization into the future.!
Learn more and register

Wild Apricot: Steal These Ideas: 3 Growth Strategies From Top Fundraisers
Wednesday, March 21st, 2:00 PM ET

Have you ever wondered how some charitable organizations get major donors to write those five-figure checks? Or, how they manage to attract all those millennials to volunteer? Or, how they put together those beautiful, emotionally-compelling, multi-channel, integrated-end-of-year campaigns? If so, please join our free webinar on March 21 with Elizabeth Engel and Sohini Baliga, authors of the recently released whitepaper Steal Like a Fundraiser. Elizabeth and Sohini will share the strategies membership organizations can steal from fundraisers in order to create compelling campaigns that bring in money, build relationships, and attract diverse audiences.

In this free webinar, Elizabeth and Sohini will show you:

  • Why the most successful fundraisers raise more money by NOT treating everyone equally, and why you shouldn’t either
  • The keys to creating compelling, multi-channel campaigns to recruit new members and volunteers
  • Why millennials are loyal to some organizations and not others, and how you can create the right experience to attract them

Learn more and register

blackbaud: Small Nonprofit Web Design: Converting Interest into Action
Wednesday, March 21st, 1:00 PM ET
Did you know that 60% of donors visit a website before making a gift? Think about your website: Is it putting your organization’s best foot forward, or is it a few steps behind?

Join us in this webinar to learn how you can create an exciting and actionable website that tells your organization’s story clearly and resonates with your audience. We’ll share top design tips, showcase examples of real-world success, and discuss how we can help you in the process.

Learn more and register

blackbaud: Tips for CFOs Transitioning to the Cloud
Wednesday, March 21st, 1:00 PM ET
Financial officers have some unique considerations when moving mission-critical financial applications to the cloud. In this webinar, we’ll provide an overview of some of the benefits of cloud applications, as well as pitfalls and common questions from nonprofit financial leaders.
Learn more and register

Firespring: Why Fundraising is the F Word to Your Board Members and How to Fix It with Rachel Muir
Thursday, March 22nd, 1:00 PM ET
Few things are more critical to your nonprofits health, success and sustainability than an effective board of directors. Recruiting, building, managing and engaging a leadership team made up solely of volunteers is one of the most ambitious, delicate and daunting responsibilities a CEO or Executive Director will have. If you are ready to transform your D list to an A list come learn tips and tools to get board members willing to engage and share their contacts, gifts and time.


  • What great boards do differently.
  • Why your board is afraid of fundraising & how to help them overcome fundraising fears.
  • 10 ideas to make board members fundraising superheroes without making an ask.
  • How to create a graceful exit for board members who need to go.

Learn more and register

Wild Apricot: Turn Your Website Into a Membership Growth Engine
Thursday, March 22nd, 2:00 PM ET
Is your membership website an engine that brings in new members while you sleep? If not, I’ll show you how anyone with no tech experience can use membership management software to turn their website into a new member recruiter — in just an afternoon.

In this free webinar, you’ll learn:

  • Three website changes that will start attracting new members right away
  • How to get anyone on your board to easily make updates by themselves (even if they don’t have any tech experience)
  • The top website features our most successful clients use to drive membership growth

Learn more and register

Volunteer Match: Creating a Comprehensive and Engaging Volunteer Training Program
Thursday, March 22nd, 11:00 AM PT
What do your volunteers need to know to be successful? This webinar will start with the basics and help you understand how to determine what information you should be sharing with your volunteers, and how that can be used to create a curriculum. We’ll then discuss how to present this information in a variety of ways using different delivery methods that appeal to adult learners. Assessing what your volunteers have learned, and creating ongoing training and professional development training for your volunteers will also be covered.

What You’ll Learn:

  • What information should you share with new volunteers?
  • How can you turn regularly shared new volunteer info into a curriculum?
  • How is adult learning different from child learning?
  • How can you tell how much training new volunteers are absorbing?

Learn more and register 

bloomerang: 4 Secrets to Supercharge Your Major Gift Program in 20 Minutes a Day or Less
Thursday, March 22nd, 2:00 PM ET
This session is for busy executive directors and development professionals who want to raise significantly more money by making the leap into major gift fundraising, but haven’t had the courage or know-how to get started, or are ready to seriously grow fundraising results. If you want to start or grow your major gifts program, this session is for you. Whether a major gift for your organization is $1,000 or $10,000 or more, you will learn how ask and receive more major gifts this year.

Learning objectives:

  • Learn the right metrics to measure success
  • How to overcome rejection
  • Deciding on the right ask amount
  • How good stewardship will help you raise more

Learn more and register

Charity Village: Strategic Planning…Done Right
Thursday, March 22nd, 1:00 PM ET
Effective strategic planning results in all your people in your organization understanding and supporting the organization’s direction. Find out key tips for successful strategic planning at our free webinar!

Successful organizations are focused on results, and they articulate their desired objectives and outcomes in such a way as to ensure that the whole organization is pulling in the same direction. Is your organization pulling at full strength? This free webinar will uncover the common pitfalls of ineffective strategic planning, how to reach a common view of what the future looks like, and methodologies on how to get there.

Learn more and register

blackbaud: The Secret of SickKids Foundation’s Fundraising Walk Success
Thursday, March 22nd, 1:00 PM ET
Launched in less than 8 months in 2013, the Canaccord Genuity Great Camp Adventure Walk is a fundraising dream. Come on an adventure to learn how SickKids Foundation has grown this camp-themed walk into an extraordinary $2.3 million event. At a time when other peer-to-peer events are flat, how does SickKids Foundation acquire over 3000 event participants and keep them coming back each year? Join Nancy Jordan, associate director of events, and Carly Coughlin, manager of sponsorship, to discover the secret to their event’s huge success.
Learn more and register

Motivate Monday with Pamela Grow
Monday, March 26th, 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

Learn more and register

GuideStar: Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion in Philanthropy: Building the Data Infrastructure with GuideStar
Monday, March 26th, 1:00 PM ET
Data cam help bring clarity and understanding to where we are, as individuals organizations and as a sector, track out progress, and inform our practices moving forward.
Learn more and register

Bolder Advocacy: Rules of the Game for 501(c)(3)s: Elections
Monday, March 26th, 2:00 PM ET
You know your 501(c)(3) organization is supposed to stay nonpartisan, but are you allowed to praise a politician who champions your issues? Can you criticize the policy decisions of someone running for re-election? Although 501(c)(3) organizations cannot support or oppose candidates for public office, you can still engage in public policy activism, as long as you understand the guidelines. This webinar covers the federal tax law rules about nonpartisan activities for 501(c)(3)s, including how to:

This one-hour webinar addresses:

  • Advocate for your organization and your community in a nonpartisan way;
  • Safely educate the public about the candidates and the issues at stake
  • Wisely engage your community in voter registration and get-out-the-vote efforts; and
  • Weigh the risk factors when creating and sharing public policy communications, especially social media.

Learn more and register

Firespring: Events in a Digital Age: How to Maximize Offline Events in an Online World
Tuesday, March 27th, 1:00 PM ET
Events like galas, walks and auctions are critical to the fundraising (and friend-raising) strategies for most nonprofits. Want your next one to be a hit? Give it digital legs. With the vast number of online tools available, you can streamline everything from event registration to email marketing to social media, ensuring you capture your audience right where they are: online. Join Dana Ostomel to learn how to plan your next event with digital in mind from day one, including:

  • The importance of integrating digital into your event.
  • 3 key goals to help you measure success.
  • 5 digital must-haves to keep your event running smoothly.

Learn more and register

Grantspace: Funding Information Network (FIN) Information Session
Tuesday, March 27th, 2:00 PM ET
Become our next network partner! Join Kate Tkacik, director of Network Engagement at Foundation Center, to learn how the Funding Information Network program can help your nonprofit resource center, community foundation, or library support your local nonprofit and small business economy. You’ll learn about the key components of the program package, including Foundation Directory Online, grantseeking training guides, and our upcoming certification modules.
Learn more and register

Volunteer Match: Creating a Culture of Volunteer Engagement
Tuesday, March 27th, 11:00 AM PT
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.

What You’ll Learn:

  • How to understand the role that culture plays in an organization’s volunteer engagement plan.
  • Ways to identify opportunities within your organization to create a more open and inclusive culture for your volunteers.

 Learn more and register

Network for Good: The Donor Experience: Why Is It Important & How Do You Build It?
Tuesday, March 27th, 12:00 – 4:00 PM ET
The highly anticipated upcoming Virtual Conference hosted by Network for Good will bring together industry leaders for a robust discussion on the importance of amplifying the donor experience!

Whether it is a for-profit or a nonprofit, people who buy a product/service or support a cause, are looking to have a positive experience. Amazon, Zappos, and Nordstrom have all made this a new standard. It is the feeling of appreciation and personal care that keeps people coming back. Enhancing your organization’s donor experience means taking a close and honest look at the various touchpoints with your donors, and the tools needed to do this easily. Are you ready?
Learn more and register

Independent Sector: Turning #Me Too into #NotHere, Handling Sexual Miscouduct in the Workplace in 2018
Tuesday, March 28th, 2:00 PM ET
We are witnessing a tidal wave of individuals coming forward with their stories about being sexually harassed or assaulted by their bosses or others in positions of power. In this new climate, what is expected of nonprofit employers to protect their employees from sexual misconduct in the workplace?

The webinar will address:

Learn more and register

Volunteer Match: Walking the Walk: Engage Volunteers in your Volunteer Engagement Program
Thursday, March 28th, 11:00 AM PT
Stop just talking the talk and start walking the walk! Learn how to effectively delegate volunteer engagement and management work to volunteers so you have the opportunity to “think bigger.” We’ll discuss evaluating your program for volunteer engagement, determining how best to deploy volunteers, creating a communication plan, screening and training volunteers to be an important part of your volunteer recruiting, retention and recognition plans.

What You’ll Learn:

  • How to increase your own capacity by involving volunteers in volunteer program administration. Where to go to get resources and help.

Who Should Attend:

  • Nonprofit Volunteer Managers
  • VolunteerMatch Account Administrators
  • Anyone interested in learning more about volunteer management and engagement

Learn more and register

Grantspace: Introduction to Finding Grants
Wednesday, March 28 st, 2:00 PM ET
Are you new to the field of grantseeking? Discover what funders are looking for in nonprofits seeking grants and how to find potential funders.

You will learn the 10 most important things you need to know about finding grants including:

  • Who funds nonprofits and what are their motivations.
  • What do funders really want to know about the organizations they are interested in funding.
  • How do you identify potential funders and make the first approach.

 Learn more and register

blackbaud: What Nonprofit CFOs Need to Know about the New FASB Regulations
Thursday, March 28th, 1:00 PM ET
The recent changes in the Financial Accounting Standards Board’s (FASB) guidance for nonprofits are significant, even if they seem like common sense. The reporting of net asset classes, decisions on how expense categories are allocated, and underwater endowments can have an impact on your nonprofit organization. Join our Blackbaud Financial Edge NXT™ team to learn what these changes mean for you and what actions you may need to take for your reporting. You’ll also talk through case studies to help your organization prepare for the change.

Learn more and register

Volunteer Match: Telling the Story of Volunteer Impact
Friday, March 29th, 11:00 AM PT
You want to share the impact volunteers have in your organization and in the community, but often the information you track doesn’t help you tell that story. This webinar will help you move past number of volunteers and number of hours and start telling the real story. You’ll learn about information gathering and the key components to good storytelling, how to evaluate your current measurements and how to build support for a more thorough measurement and evaluation program, and how to engage other staff – paid and volunteer – in this work. You’ll also receive a worksheet to help you begin to tell the story of volunteer impact in your organization.

What You’ll Learn:

  • What type of information is compelling to prospective volunteers, existing volunteers, organizational leaders, and supporters, donors and clients.
  • How to use this information to create a powerful story about the impact of volunteers in your organization.
  • How to create a plan for gathering and compiling information about your volunteer engagement program and using that to tell a compelling story about volunteer impact.

Who Should Attend:

  • VolunteerMatch nonprofit account members
  • Nonprofit volunteer managers
  • Anyone interested in learning more about measuring and sharing volunteer impact

Learn more and match

bloomerang: What to do When Your Boss Won’t Let You Do Fundraising the Right Way
Friday, March 29th, 1:00 PM ET
Maybe it’s your board.

No matter. What’s going on? How much of this situation is about power? Or disrespect for fundraising as a profession with a body of knowledge? How about lack of respect for your expertise? (Are you an expert?)

What a mess!

If you could fix this, your organization might raise more money. For sure, you might not want to leave. So what are you going to do? Yes, it’s you who has to do something – and most likely several somethings.

Simone P. Joyaux, ACFRE, Adv Dip will help you navigate this tough situation to a positive resolution.

Learn more and register

Media Cause: Micro-Webinar 1: Nurturing Supporter Relationships Through Marketing Automation
Wednesday, March 28th, 12:00-12:30 PM ET
Cody Damon is President/COO at Media Cause. He creates high-impact strategic communications programs for the social good sector and has successfully worked with organizations like (RED), NRDC, and more!

He’ll be sharing his insights at our upcoming micro-webinar series. Join him!

Theory and techniques for behavior-based, time-based, and perssonalized Communications.

Learn more and register

Wild Apricot: The Tech Effect: Discover the Simple Solution that 1000s of Organizations Are Using to Grow Membership in Today’s World
Friday, March 29th, 2:00 PM ET

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

Learn more and register

Micro-Webinar: Scaling Your Impact Through Smart Digital Media Buying 
Wednesday, April 4th, 12:00-12:30 PM ET
Cody Damon is President/COO at Media Cause. He creates high-impact strategic communications programs for the social good sector and has successfully worked with organizations like (RED), NRDC, and more!

He’ll be sharing his insights at our upcoming micro-webinar series. Join him!

Guidance for cost-conscious paid advertising campaigns with measurable ROI.

Learn more and register

Public Lands Alliance: Round it Up for Revenue Up!
Thursday, April 5th, 2:00 PM ET
Engaging store customers to support public lands by inviting them to round up or add a dollar to their purchase is a quick and easy way to develop an additional income source for your organization.
Join us as we discuss why the time is NOW to implement this program in your stores. In addition, we’ll identify point-of-sale and accounting requirements for acknowledging, segregating and reporting the donations; explore the training of sales staff to incorporate rounding up in their customer service; and discuss agreement mechanisms that may (or may not) exist. A can’t miss for all sales-oriented nonprofits!
Laurel Rematore, Executive Director, Great Smoky Mountains Association
Lisa Duff, Marketing and Membership Director, Great Smoky Mountains Association
Sponsored By: Wild Republic
Cost: FREE for PLA Members, $25 for NonMembers and Government

Learn more and register

Micro-Webinar: Building Profitable Peer to Peer Fundraising Campaigns
Wednesday, April 11th, 12:00-12:30 PM ET
Cody Damon is President/COO at Media Cause. He creates high-impact strategic communications programs for the social good sector and has successfully worked with organizations like (RED), NRDC, and more!

He’ll be sharing his insights at our upcoming micro-webinar series. Join him!

Blueprint for planning, promoting, and succeeding with peer to peer fundraising.

Learn more and register

USFWS: Pollinator Webinar Series: Teaching about the Magnificent Monarch
Wednesday, April 11th, 2:00 PM ET
Join Tabbi Kinion, Statewide Education Coordinator from Colorado Parks and
Wildlife, to explore the latest addition to the Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies (AFWA) Conservation Education Strategy Toolkit. Teaching about the Magnificent Monarch: Resource Recommendations for Conservation Educators will help you and your audiences find and use the best-available resources. Find out how the resources were gathered, the criteria for review, and explore some of the highest-rated resources. You’ll walk away ready to use the resource and knowing which monarch curriculum resources are your best bet for teaching about this fascinating insect.

No registration! Join Us:
Call In Number: 1-866-732-8654;
Participant passcode: 18374033#

Public Lands Alliance: Small AND Mighty! April 2018 Edition
Thursday, April 26th, 2:00 PM ET
Back once more! 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.
Cost: FREE for PLA Members, $25 for NonMembers and Government
Learn more and register

Public Lands Alliance: The Power of Telling Your Story
Thursday, May 17th, 2:00 PM ET
Whether it’s advocacy, fundraising or simply selling your organization, telling your organization’s story is a powerful tool to connect with your audience, attract the resources you need to achieve your mission, and bring about change.

Join us as we explore why storytelling is so effective and what the elements are that make a compelling story. We’ll discover the best way to deliver your story as we delve into strategies for making stories a powerful part of your culture.
Cathy Allen, The Board Doctor, LLC
Joan Patterson, Coalition of Refuge Friends and Advocates

Cost: FREE for PLA Members, $25 for NonMembers and Government
Learn more and register

Public Lands Alliance: Small AND Mighty! July 2018 Edition
Tuesday, 10th, 2:00 PM ET
This popular webchat forum is offered on a quarterly basis so you can 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.

Cost: FREE for PLA Members, $25 for NonMembers and Government
Learn more and 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


Partnership Continuum table

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

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.

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


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.

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


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.


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.


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)


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 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


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!


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 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, type your zip code at the top of the screen and click “Go”, then click on your Representative’s name.
– Senators: go to, 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.