Training

 

AUGUST


Accounting for Grants and Contracts: Deciphering FASB’s ASU 2018-08
August 21, 1:00PM

The Financial Accounting Standards Board’s (FASB’s) accounting standards update (ASU) No. 2018-08, Not-For-Profit-Entities (Topic 958) helps clarify the guidance around cash contributions and other assets (grants) made or received by nonprofit organizations. However, this ASU can be hard to understand and implement. Join Paul Preziotti in this webinar, where he will discuss how to: determine conditionality of grants, identify right-of-return requirements, and recognize whether transactions should be categorized as contributions or exchanges.


Google Ad Grants 101
August 21, 1:00PM

Have you heard of Google’s Ad Grant program, where they give $10,000 a month in free advertising to nonprofits? Join us for a crash course on how Google Ad Grants can benefit your nonprofit by bringing thousands of new visitors to your website every month. Presenter Jason Jensen, a Google Ads Certified Consultant, will also cover how to get started, how to use it successfully, and a special offer to get you started immediately!

If you attend, you’ll learn:

  • What Google Ad Grants is
  • How Google Ads works
  • How Google Ads can benefit your nonprofit
  • Real examples of how other nonprofits used it effectively
  • The costs and benefits of management services vs. DIY
  • How to get started immediately!

Put Your Website to Work: A Deep Dive Into Digital Trends
Wednesday, August 21, 3:00 pm ET

Changing the world can be stressful work. We’d like to help lighten your workload and preserve your sanity. Go beyond the basics and take a deep dive into digital trends with Molly Coke as she talks about how to leverage technology to help support your mission and make your life easier. You’ll learn:

  • How to use the latest in marketing automation to engage your donors
  • How to convert supporters with powerful landing pages
  • The key fundamentals to a website that works harder than a brochure site
  • What you need to consider regarding accessibility

New
QuickBooks Customization for Nonprofit Organizations
Thursday, August 22nd, 11:00am ET

I’m offering this first webinar in a series on QuickBooks topics. This one will cover several topics on customizing QuickBooks for nonprofit organizations. Some topics I will cover include:

* Chart of Accounts
* Creating Lists to tie entries to the Chart of Accounts
* Recording Donations in QuickBooks 
* How to copy a Transaction to speed up entries
* How to memorize or repeat transactions

I’m striving to keep the webinar portion to 30 minutes and allow 30 more minutes for questions.


Working So Far in 2019: Ideas to Improve Your Nonprofit’s Online Outreach
August 22, 11:00AM

As you drafted your goals and implementation plans for the new fiscal year, did you start to ask yourself questions like…

What are the most effective and budget-friendly ways that my nonprofit can find new supporters? Should I boost our Facebook posts, does it actually work? Are popups always annoying or could they help me with my online marketing goals?

Join expert trainer Yesenia Sotelo for an informative, interactive session designed specifically for nonprofit communicators and fundraisers. 

You’ll learn:

  • Which methods of online outreach are working better than expected in 2019
  • Which methods aren’t working as well as previous years
  • What nonprofits are doing to optimize their specific online outreach efforts

This Is How Our Most Successful Clients Fill Their Events
August 22, 2:00PM

Have you found that it’s getting harder or taking longer to fill up your events? Are you sick of waiting for checks in the mail? Exhausted from processing registration forms?

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

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

Conducting A Strategic Portfolio Review
August 23, 2:00PM

You go into nonprofit work to make a difference in the world…to serve…to have an impact. Yet this impulse gets many teams and organizations into trouble. You may be trying to be all things to all people. This leads to a proliferation of programs and services. They may have made sense when they were first created. But do they fit today’s reality?

In this webinar, you will learn about a rigorous process that enables you to review your portfolio of programs and initiatives and make strategic decisions.

Learning objectives:

  • Review key steps in strategic portfolio review process
  • Identify methods for assessing program mission alignment
  • Discuss the key objections people have to sunsetting programs

Motivate Monday with Pamela Grow
Monday, August 26, 1:00 PM ET

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.

Join us every Monday to:

  • Share your wins
  • Learn from a special guest
  • Close out with a Q&A session

Events in a Digital Age: How to Maximize Offline Events in an Online World
Tuesday, August 27, 11:00 am 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 us 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

How to Turn Event Attendees into Annual Donors
August 27, 12:00PM 

Join fundraising master trainer, Chad Barger, CFRE, for a workshop focused on forging long term relationships with event attendees.  Chad will provide a proven system for assessing which attendees are interested in becoming more engaged and then converting them to annual non-event donors.


Raise More Money by Automating the Right Message at the Right Time
August 27, 2:00PM

Supporter actions and other data can tell you the best time to ask a donor to upgrade to become a monthly giver, join a mid-level program, or just make the next gift. When this is combined with automation, you can raise more money with less effort. 

This webinar will use case studies to show how data, careful segmentation, and automation combine to deliver the right message, to the right supporter, at the right time. We’ll see how this results in greater revenue for the organization. 

We’ll specifically discuss

  • How to create email automation workflows to manage messaging
  • When to choose between blast, drip, and nurture campaigns
  • How set up automation for welcome series, donor re-engagement, sustain recruitment, and renewal campaigns

The State of Nonprofit Donation Pages
August 27, 2:30PM

For any organization to raise money online, a donor has to land on a donation page. And based on brand new research from RaiseDonors and NextAfter, every organization has room to improve their donation page.

In fact, after analyzing the donation pages of 203 nonprofits across 12 verticals, Brady and his team found that:

  • 40% of nonprofits require non-essential information to complete a donation.
  • 78% of organizations use ‘Donate’ language instead of ‘Give’ or ‘Support.’
  • 54% of nonprofits don’t pre-select a preferred giving amount.

In this webinar, you’ll get more data-driven insights to help you use copy to communicate why someone should give, upgrade one-time donors to recurring donors and improve your online giving experience. You’ll also learn tested and proven strategies from real experiments with real organizations that will help you verifiably increase donations and revenue from your online donation pages.


8 Super Easy Tech Tools to Grow Your Membership and Motivate Your Volunteers
August 27, 2:00PM

Are you looking to increase your organization’s membership and awareness? Technology can be a useful tool to automate tasks, simplify communications and free up more time to focus on your members. Automating a few tasks can save you hours each week and allow you to maximize the time you spend creating a greater impact in your community. Nonprofit technology expert, Amy Neumann will show us how to proactively find and reach out to more people in your audience.

In this webinar, you’ll learn:

  • How to increase engagement with potential members and volunteers- and track your results.
  • Tech tips to maximize time and manage projects more efficiently and effectively.
  • How to apply recent tech trends to grow your membership.

How to Sharpen Your Advocacy in an Election Year
Wednesday, August 28, 12:30 PM

Advocacy can be very different in an election year, and the consequences may never be greater than in 2020. 

The party that controls Washington will exert massive influence over issues like immigration, gun control, healthcare, education, 5G technology and trade. Will your organization have a voice? That depends on the strength of your advocacy game. 

How to Sharpen Your Advocacy in an Election Year, a free webinar where we will discuss how to tune up your advocacy program for maximum impact before the primary season starts next year.

The 2020 election will dominate the national conversation, from cable channels and classrooms to lunchrooms and the dinner table. For thousands of associations, nonprofits and corporations the issues at stake have a direct impact on their mission. Election-year advocacy is an opportunity to change hearts and minds—if your organization is ready.


Leveraging the New Demographics in Your GuideStar Nonprofit Profile
August 28, 2:00PM

When you share your organization’s demographics and equity practices, you strengthen your nonprofit’s commitment to inclusion and help the sector learn.

To support this effort, we will be launching a new and improved demographics section in the Nonprofit Profiles on GuideStar. During this training, you’ll learn how to complete this section and apply best practices for collecting demographic information from your staff and board. Plus, we’ll share resources to help you get started right away.

Upon completion of this live, online training, you should be able to:

  • Recognize the importance of demographics and equity data in the nonprofit sector
  • Apply best practices for collecting demographic information within your organization
  • Complete the demographics section of your profile
  • Locate resources for surveying your staff and board

Nonprofit Forum – Common Audit Pitfalls and Implementing the New Standards
August 28, 11:30AM

While not required by law, one reason a nonprofit might conduct an audit is to demonstrate the organization’s commitment to financial transparency and accountability.

And while a nonprofit can spend considerable resources for its annual audit, it is important that it consider the following to ensure the audit is a success.No delays: An audit needs to avoid any major delays.

Minimal accrual and year-end adjustments: The nonprofit needs to ensure that all accrual and year-end adjustments are completed prior to the start of the audit.Minor board and management comments: It is a good idea to have an exit interview after the fieldwork to review the audit’s results.

No material weakness or significant deficiency: This is a deficiency in internal controls that could negatively impact financial integrity.

Nonprofits should prepare audited financial statements and related disclosures:  The organization should have the ability and accounting systems to prepare the audited financial statements and related footnotes and disclosures.

Fraud detection is not purpose of audit:  While nonprofit leaders may believe the annual audit will uncover fraud, it is very unlikely this will occur.Auditor does not guarantee financial statement accuracy:  While auditor does issue an opinion on the nonprofit’s financial statements, the auditor does not certify or guarantee its accuracy.


Tips for Navigating in Today’s Data-Driven World
Wednesday, August 28, 2:30 pm ET

With this wealth of information at our fingertips, what’s next? We explore the intricacies of how to manage data in order to keep trust with consumers, followers and donors as well as efficiently utilize the information at hand.

But with this wealth of information at our fingertips, what’s next? We explore the intricacies of how to manage data in order to keep trust with consumers, followers and donors as well as efficiently utilize the information at hand.

This webinar will review:

  • GDPR compliance and data best practices
  • Tips for saving money and time by using data more effectively
  • How the Internet of Things (IoT) has changed the world
  • Helpful checklist to make sure your team is using data to its fullest potential
  • Action Steps

3 Easy Ways to Retain More Members Using Software
August 29, 2:00PM

Do you sometimes feel that your membership is like a leaky boat? Every time you look at your database, you notice a few members have left?

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

  • Get your members to renew on their own, so you don’t have to chase them
  • Automate your new member onboarding process and save hours each week
  • Quickly identify who is about to leave, and what you can do to keep them



SEPTEMBER


Engaging Audiences in Pollinator Conservation 
Wednesday, September 4, 2:00 pm ET

Do you want to engage and educate others about the value of pollinators? This  webinar will examine the Service’s pollinator conservation efforts and provide valuable outreach and communications resources available to Service employees. Presented by Mara Koenig, Chair of the National Monarch Engagement Team, Midwest External Affairs Program.

To register for the webinar go to WebEx Events by Program and locate “Pollinator  Webinar Series.” Click the Register link next to the webinar. Upon registration, you will
receive a confirmation email with instructions on how to join the webinar. Having  trouble joining the event?


Tuesday, September 10, 2:00 PM EDT

Does your nonprofit know how its interventions actually impact the community it serves? Does your team use data to strengthen the quality of the services it provides? Does it know which of its constituents need the most help? The answer to each of these questions can be found by moving beyond counting outputs and measuring impact. Thanks to new data systems, nonprofits of all sizes can access technology that can measure impact.
 
This webinar will provide an overview on how data systems can support (or if not used properly, harm) your nonprofit’s efforts to transform the communities you serve.
 
 
Participants will:
  • Learn basic processes for collecting impact data
  • See real-life examples showing how this data helps nonprofits achieve their missions
  • Learn about current data trends like predictive computer machine learning
  • Leave with concrete steps to shift organizational culture to be impact and data-focused

Steps You Can Take Immediately to Diversify Your Board and Major Donor Base
September 11, 1:30 PM ET

Increasingly over the last 20 years there has been alarm and concern over the historic lack of diversity in U.S. nonprofits. A recent BoardSource study cites that 84% of nonprofit board members are white. The universal persona of a major donor is often white and male. Despite long-term concern, growing awareness of multi-ethnic wealth and philanthropy, and many studies, very little has changed in board and major donor diversity.

This training concentrates on practical methods for identifying and approaching diverse major donor and board prospects who share a passion for your organization and mission. This process focuses on building powerful relationships with diverse people of expertise, wealth, and influence. This is the counter to tokenism.

Upon completion of this live, online training, you should be able to:

  • Assess the diversity of your nonprofit
  • Create a prospecting plan of potential donors and board members
  • Explain key talking points to generate buy-in from board members and staff about embarking on a path to greater diversity
  • Articulate your organization’s value in a manner that resonates with diverse community members

Lobbying and Advocacy 101
Friday, September 20, 2:00 PM ET

Now more than ever, your community is relying on you to stand up for them. If you think your 501(c)(3) public charity status prevents you from advocating for new laws and policies, think again! Whether protecting the rights of undocumented immigrants, pushing for quality education, or demanding safe communities for everyone, you can legally advocate for public policy and community change at every level of government. Click here to learn more and sign up. 


Photography for Nonprofits: When Pictures Speak A Thousand DOLLARS
Thursday, September 26, 1:30 PM ET

What if your nonprofit’s pictures could speak 1,000 dollars? In this frenzied world, it’s never been harder to grab people’s attention. Using great photos to share your nonprofit’s work and impact is your ticket to drawing in and engaging audiences: donors, volunteers, media, clients, and others. In this eye-opening webinar, you’ll learn to take vibrant, story-driven pictures using simple techniques on the devices you already have in your pocket or hand: your phone.
 
That’s right! Grab that phone and unleash its power to capture amazing, creative, and high-quality images that visually tell your organization’s story.

 

OCTOBER


Pollinator Meadows
Wednesday, October 16, 2:00 pm ET

Pollinator meadows are an excellent way to restore habitat in agricultural landscapes. Clare Maffei surveyed the bee communities at established meadows and has ideas for how we can do even better by our native pollinators in these important projects.

To register for the webinar go to WebEx Events by Program and locate “Pollinator  Webinar Series.” Click the Register link next to the webinar. Upon registration, you will
receive a confirmation email with instructions on how to join the webinar. Having  trouble joining the event?

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)

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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.