Training

MAY


New
How to Drive Donor Engagement with Social Media

May 22, 12:00 PM ET

Social media was once promised as the silver bullet for nonprofits. Start posting, start tweeting, start Instagramming – and like magic, the donations will just roll in! Then reality set in. In our current attention economy, organic (unpaid) reach is down, algorithms prioritize updates from friends and family over businesses and brands, and millions upon millions of pieces of content are uploaded every single day.

For nonprofits to effectively raise money and build community on social media requires thoughtful, strategic, and consistent effort and a boatload of creativity. In this workshop, social media and digital fundraising expert Julia Campbell will walk you through the secrets to successful donor relations with social media. Participants will also get digital access to her Social Media Checklist and Social Media Matrix.

Participants will learn:

  • How to navigate the latest changes and trends in the social media landscape
  • what fundraisers need to know;
  • How to use social media to build and deepen relationships with current donors and prospects;
  • How to manage social media work at a small nonprofit with limited capacity;
  • Free and low-cost tools you can use to enhance your digital fundraising on a shoestring budget; and
  • Real-world examples from small and mid-size nonprofits.

How to be a Great Board Chair
May 22, 1:00 PM ET

The board chair is the highest officer of the nonprofit board of directors. This webinar prepares the board chair for governance and leadership responsibilities. We’ll cover how to design effective board meetings, strategies for partnering with the CEO/ED, and leading as an ambassador for the organization.


Let’s Talk Email Deliverability
May 22, 1:00 PM ET

Join EveryAction Email Deliverability expert Brett to learn about why your emails are going to spam. We’ll go over findings from this year’s email deliverability study and learn what strategies nonprofits can adopt to reduce spam, increase deliverability and ultimately raise more money!


“Is This Normal?” Nonprofit Website Benchmarks in 2019
May 23, 11:00AM

What’s normal for a nonprofit website, and how does your organization website’s compare to others like it?

Join Google Analytics expert Yesenia Sotelo as she answers questions such as:

  • What’s an average bounce rate for a nonprofit website?
  • How much traffic should we be getting from Google?
  • Is our social media audience more or less engaged than normal?

Bring your questions to this interactive training session!


New
How the New Tax Law is Impacting Nonprofits

May 23, 1:00 PM ET

It’s been over a year since the Tax Cut and Jobs Act (TCJA) became a law.

Many predicted detrimental consequences for the nonprofit sector, mainly due to a significant increase in the standard deduction. This increase would make the threshold for deducting charitable gifts difficult to meet for many donors, causing great concern that the industry would experience significant decreases in charitable giving.

Flash forward one year…What impact has it had on nonprofits?

During this webinar, we’ll dive into the new tax laws; how they’re impacting nonprofits; what you can expect; and what you should know.


Charity Culture: Five Tips to Achieve Positive Culture Change
May 23, 1:00PM

Charities, once seen as the most trusted and cherished institutions now are constantly under scrutiny for their impact, use of funds, even their ethics. And as charities are rushing to respond, businesses are pulling ahead – attracting talent with promises of amazing cultures, and in the case of purpose-driven businesses, generating positive social impact too. So what can you do, without huge salary offers, or swanky office spaces, and how can you continue to attract and retain the best people out there? The answer is investing in culture. Join behavior and culture change experts Kin&Co as they provide 5 top tips for using culture to your advantage.

Learning Objectives

  • Why is culture relevant to the charity sector and why do we need to invest now (the business case)?
  • Reviewing your culture – how do you know if you have a strong or weak culture? How do you know if your culture needs to change?
  • Transforming your culture, or making more of your existing culture – sharing our top 5 tips to effective culture change.

How to Avoid Fundraising’s Quiet Killer: Donor Attrition
May 23, 1:00PM

In this session, Jay will help us learn how to step off of the donor acquisition treadmill and start revving up donor retention. Seven out of 10 donors give only once, but this doesn’t have to be your reality. Jay will help us understand how a 10% increase in donor retention will more than double the lifetime value of a donor and minimize our reliance on producing constant appeals for new donors.

Jay is ready to teach you:

  • How to establish a powerful and engaging web presence that retains donors.
  • What we can learn from the annual Fundraising Effectiveness Survey Report from AFP.
  • Why donors leave and what to do about it.
  • 6 key drivers that can double the lifetime value of your donors.
  • Methods for creating repeat donors.

SWOT’s Up? How to Do a Strategic Self-Audit of Nonprofit Strengths & Weaknesses
May 23, 2:00PM

Want a ticket to become a futurist leader? Then get off your status quo derriere and join us for a deep gaze into your own crystal ball!

A SWOT analysis takes a structured approach that looks at where you are and where you’re headed, based on discernible internal and external factors. It’s a great starting point for divining what lies ahead and maximizing your potential. A good one will help you identify trends, anticipate change, and be open to possibilities that will enable you to work more effectively and have greater impact.

We’ll be sharing useful guidelines and exercises you can take back to your team.

Learning Objectives:

  • What a SWOT accomplishes
  • Key elements of a successful SWOT
  • How to prepare for a SWOT
  • How to implement your SWOT
  • Translate your SWOT into action
  • Troubleshoot to avoid pitfalls

Walking the Walk: Engage Volunteers in your Volunteer Engagement Program
May 23, 2:00PM

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.

Stories That Raise Money – 3 Strategies Your Nonprofit Should Be Using
May 23, 3:00PM

One of the biggest challenges with fundraisers face with storytelling is wondering if what you are sending donors will actually resonate with them. A lot of time and resources go into developing a story, so it’s tough when all you get in return in crickets.

During this webinar with Vanessa Chase Lockshin, you’ll learn insights on storytelling that your non-profit can put into action right away. You’ll come away with clear, actionable ideas for your organization to tell stories that resonate with and inspire donors to give.


Motivate Monday with Pamela Grow
Monday, May 27, 1:00 PM ET

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

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


Be Found: The Secrets of SEO for Nonprofits
May 28, 1:00PM

Everyone wants to be found. Your website is no exception. In this session we will share best practices of nonprofits that are experts at driving traffic to their websites and review the tools you should use to maximize your findability.

We will cover the basics of search engines, why they matter, the tools every nonprofit should use and outline the 6 steps to mastering SEO:

  • Keyword research
  • Website optimization
  • Link building
  • Fresh content
  • Landing pages
  • Analytics

New
How to Build Memberships at Every Step in Your Organization’s Life Cycle
May 28, 2:00 PM ET

Have you ever wondered how some organizations manage to keep growing and growing? Join this free webinar with nonprofit legal expert Erin McClarty to learn how being more intentional about your infrastructure, partnerships and contracts can help you keep growing steadily. In this webinar, Erin will show you the techniques that will help you grow your organization’s membership at every stage in its life cycle.

By the end of this webinar, you will learn:

  • How to refine your organization’s goals and vision.
  • 3 keys to making the most of your partnerships – both existing and new.
  • Expert tips to take advantage of every stage in your organization’s life cycle.

Effective Grants Management and Cost Allocation
May 29, 11:30AM

How should you perform your grants management and cost allocation responsibilities? We will describe the best practices for these responsibilities. Please bring your questions so we can have a candid and productive conversation.

We will cover the critical aspects grants management and cost allocation including:

  • General grants management requirements
  • Governance requirements for grants administration
  • Review Uniform Grant Guidance
  • Internal control and financial management system requirements for federal awards
  • Schedule of Expenditures of Federal Awards and associated audit requirements
  • Cost Allocation methodologies including examples
  • Cost Allocation plan requirements
  • Best practices for grant budget financial management
  • Best practices for grant reporting and reconciliations
  • Performing an effective grant close out
  • How to use your accounting system to perform grants management role?
  • How to maximize your grant reimbursement?
  • What are signs that grants management role is not being performed?
  • How should you as leader evaluate your various options?  We will share our expertise and candid advice to better prepare you for these complex decisions.

Introduction to Finding Grants
May 29, 2:00PM

Are you new to the field of grantseeking?

Discover what funders are looking for in nonprofits seeking grants and how to find potential funders in this introductory course.

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.

In-person classes will end with 30 minutes of hands-on, guided online grant research. It is advisable, but not necessary, to bring a laptop/tablet for this portion of the class.

Note: This orientation is not intended for individuals seeking grants for their own use. Please refer to our Knowledge Base articles for Individual Grantseekers.


Event Sponsors: How to Find Them & Create a Win-Win
May 30th, 12:00PM

Join fundraising master trainer, Chad Barger, CFRE, for a workshop focused on maximizing sponsorship revenue at your next fundraising event. The session starts by focusing on identifying potential sponsors and beginning the partnership conversation. It closes with a focus on structuring win-win, long term sponsorship relationships.

By signing up for this webinar, you are also opting in to the @fundraiserchad email list. Chad sends free fundraising tips and resources to this list once or twice per week. You can unsubscribe at any time.


Walk the Walk: Tech Committees that Work
May 30, 2:00 PM ET

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


How Do I Convince My Boss? Why Breaking Through the Ignorance Ceiling is Essential
May 30, 2:00PM

It’s time to ignore any conjecture you’ve heard. Ignore the anecdotal advice.

In his review of Tom Ahern’s new book – If Only You’d Known, You Would Have Raised So Much More – Peter Lowy says that “nonprofit fundraisers owe it to themselves and their organizations to tap into a vast body of research to help them maintain a laser focus on donors.”

In this webinar, Tom Ahern will provide proof-positive, airtight answers to the questions that are crucial to your fundraising success – each one world-sourced from top fundraising practitioners, creative agencies, and veteran researchers working in seven different countries.

Ahern’s signature style is fast, friendly, funny, plain-talking … even blunt when the occasion demands. And his incontestable findings are critical to small and big nonprofits alike.


Convert Supporters with Powerful Landing Pages
May 30, 2:30PM

With great landing pages, your donors, volunteers and supporters are 10 times more likely to donate, sign up, register or engage with your nonprofit. In this session, we will share real-world examples of landing pages that every nonprofit should have and what we have learned from studying the best practices of hundreds of nonprofits, including:

  • What landing pages are and why we should care.
  • The biggest landing page mistakes and how to avoid them.
  • How to build perfect landing pages.
  • 13 types of landing pages your organization should utilize.

JUNE

Motivate Monday with Pamela Grow
Monday, June 3, 1:00 PM ET

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

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


June 6, 2019 , 2:00 PM EDT
 

Does your website create an inclusive or exclusive environment for users? Does your digital strategy incorporate web accessibility standards? Are you not sure? Let’s have a conversation and find out!

This session details how to start, develop, manage, and get buy-in for creating inclusive digital products. She’ll cover the following topics:

  •  An introduction to web accessibility
  • Inclusive design and UX (User Experience) principles
  • Business and social cases for compliance
  • Strategies and tools for incorporating web accessibility in every project phase
  • Interim repairs and communication tactics
  • Comparing how major CMS’s stack up in terms of accessibility out of the box

Motivate Monday with Pamela Grow
Monday, June 10, 1:00 PM ET

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

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


10 Social Media Strategies That Increase Engagement and Inspire Donors
June 11, 1 PM ET

For nonprofits to succeed on social media, they have to be good at social media and that requires a clear understanding of how, when, and why individuals engage with nonprofitss on social media. It also requires a commitment to a content strategy and increasingly a budget for social advertising. With a focus on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn, this webinar will feature ten social media strategies that nonprofits can implement to increase engagement and inspire donors.

Topics include:

  • How to use social media for fundraising and to grow your email list
  • How to convert followers into donors, event attendees, and volunteers
  • How to use report live using social media
  • How to budget for social advertising and which sites perform best
  • Tips for growing your following on social media

Social Media Rules for 501(c)(3) Organizations
Tuesday, June 11, 2:00 PM ET

There has been an amazing increase in the avenues available to nonprofits to communicate their messages to an ever wider audience. These means of communication may be new, by the rules that govern advocacy by nonprofits have not changed.


Transforming Your Board into a Fundraising Force
June 20, 1:00 PM ET

Mobilizing you board to maximize revenue generation is a major goal for nonprofit staff and board leadership. Yet, there are many obstacles to enlisting their engagement in resource development. Kay Sprinkel Grace will unpack why board reluctance and provide solutions to these common obstacles. During this webinar, we will explore ways to create a motivational environment so board members feel confident about taking on new roles — expanding on the “AAA” program (Ambassador, Advocate, Asker).
 
Board members are critical to your fundraising program. Learn how to keep them engaged by focusing on the mission, vision, and values of your nonprofit to transform your board into a fundraising force.

Partnerships that are Just Right

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

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

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

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

The right partnership depends on:

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

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

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

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

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

Partnership Continuum

line

Partnership Continuum table

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

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

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

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

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

When You Hit a Wall

Screenshot_2017-04-24_14-37-11

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

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

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

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

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

loop Screenshot_2017-04-24_14-43-36

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

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

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

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

  • Is the purpose of the partnership clear?

  • What commitments are we making to support the partnership?

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

  • Have we determined a clear working arrangement?

  • Are we accountable for our performance?

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

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

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

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

The Partnership Dance

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

  • Identify what you want to achieve.

  • Determine what factors will make the partnership successful.

  • Identify potential barriers.

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

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

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

Your board needs to have frank discussions about these components.

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

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

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

Your comments are welcome.

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

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

Stand Up, Speak Out

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What We Friends Can Do: Part 2

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

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

2013-11-12-12-05-18

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

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

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

2013-11-12-14-05-22

Joan Patterson and Cathy Allen on Capitol Hill

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

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

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

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

 

It’s Time for a Hug (and Some Work)

bears-hugging

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Your Mission Matters

bison-herd-_usfws-cc-by-2_

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.