Training

training

Firespring: Avoiding Donor Attrition after #GivingTuesday
Friday, October 20, 2017, 2:30 PM ET
Many people think #GivingTuesday is a way to get new donors, and it can be, but only if you have already learned how to leverage relationships with the supporters you already have. In this session, Jay will help us learn how to step off the donor acquisition treadmill and rev-up donor retention efforts in time for #GivingTuesday. You can also apply these concepts to keep up the momentum in curbing donor attrition once #GivingTuesday 2017 is over.

The reality that seven out of ten donors only give once doesn’t have to be your reality. Jay will help us understand how a 10% increase in donor retention can more than double the lifetime value of a donor and minimize our reliance on producing constant appeals for new donors so you can pave the way for a long-term approach to donor relations that keeps them coming back again and again.

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.

Learn more and register


Pamela Grow: Motivate Monday with Fundraising Expert Pamela Grow
Monday, October 23, 2017, 1:00 PM ET
How are nonprofit professionals jumpstarting their week with purpose? Join us for Motivate Monday where:

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

Learn more and register


Public Lands Alliance: “Small AND Mighty” Web Chat
Tuesday, October 24, 2017, 2:00 PM ET
Cost: FREE for members, $25 for NonMembers
Join our quarterly online round-table that centers on unique challenges facing small public lands nonprofits. This is YOUR forum and we welcome you to tell us what’s on your mind, what keeps you up at night and problems you’ve been able to solve. In previous “Small AND Mighty” web chats, we’ve covered everything from communicating with your agency partner to forging creative partnerships, recruiting new members, finding volunteers and more!
Learn more and register


VolunteerMatch: Where Do I Go From Here? Engage Volunteers in New Ways
Tuesday, October 24, 2017, 11:00 AM PT
How long do volunteers usually stay with your program? Do you struggle with keeping them interested, involved and engaged? This webinar will help you think about new strategies and help you evolve your program to include new roles and responsibilities for volunteers, pathways for more involvement and leadership positions in your program, how recognition plays a role in retention, and the importance of including continuing education and professional development to keep your volunteers engaged. Tools to help you evaluate your program implement new ideas will be provided.

What You’ll Learn:

  • How to advance your volunteers’ interest in your organization.
  • Transition great volunteers into leaders.

Learn more and register


blackbaud: The Gateway to Major Gifts Innovation: Staffing, Technology, and Storytelling
Tuesday, October 24, 2017, 2:00 PM ET
Most nonprofit organizations have a goal for individual giving, and typically a significant portion of that comes from major gifts. While the basics of major giving have not changed, the way you communicate and engage supporters, donor demographics, and technology all have. As a result, nonprofits need to adjust how their major giving programs are managed.

In this final #NoFilter Nonprofit webinar of 2017, Danielle Johnson Vermenton will tackle three components that will make or break your major giving strategy: staffing, technology, and your story. Join us to learn about coaching your team members to be superstars, using the latest technology for donor engagement, and sharing your organization’s impact the right way.
Learn more and register

Blue Avocado: Building a Fundraising Board
Wednesday, October 25, 2017, 11:00 AM, PT
Is your nonprofit struggling to secure donations from your board of directors? Are you having a tough time getting them to open doors to potential donors, funders, and partners? Then join us for this highly practical, tactical workshop where our dynamic presenter will share concrete tips and tools designed to help your organization get more dollars in the door. Learn how to engage your board in a process that clarifies exactly what’s expected of each member, and how to gracefully transition off the “dead weight.” Don’t miss this unique opportunity to usher in the next chapter for your nonprofit!
Learn more and register


The Good Partnership: Corporate Fundraising for Small Nonprofits
Tuesday, October 24, 2017, 1:00 PM ET
Join Cindy Wagman of The Good Partnership to break down the myths about corporate fundraising for small nonprofits; how to craft opportunities for corporate support and where to find corporate donors.
Learn more and register


Firesprings: The Donor Stewardship System with Joe Garecht
Wednesday, October 25, 2017, 1:00 PM ET
Your nonprofit’s greatest resource is its current donors. Keeping these donors giving, year after year, will provide a sustainable funding stream for your organization.

But donor retention is only half of the story. Beyond continued giving, your donors can offer you so much more: upgraded gifts, one-time leadership donations, planned gifts, referrals to other donors and more.

In order to reap all of these benefits, your nonprofit needs to have a donor stewardship system in place that deepens your relationship with your current donors and keeps them active, engaged and giving.

Join Joe Garecht, the founder of Garecht Fundraising Associates and The Non-Profit Fundraising Digest, to learn how to build a scalable donor stewardship system for your organization.

During the webinar, you’ll learn:

  • How to build a simple system for thanking, recognizing and stewarding your donors.
  • A step-by-step process to successfully upgrade your donors.
  • The best ways to get your donors to open up their networks for your organization.
  • How to turn one-time donors into annual donors and how to turn annual donors into major donors to your nonprofit.

Learn more and register


CharityHowTo: How to Use Facebook’s Free Fundraising Tools to Drive Donations
Wednesday, October 25, 2017, 1:00 PM ET
In the last year, Facebook launched an entirely new set of tools to help nonprofits raise funds on the platform. Did you know that your nonprofit can now collect donations with these tools on your page, via Facebook ads, and even in individual posts?

In this free 45-minute webinar, you’ll learn how to successfully register your nonprofit to use Facebook’s powerful new Fundraising Tools, and a brief step-by-step guide to using these free tools to raise money using Facebook!

Key Takeaways

  • An up-to-date overview of Facebook’s Free Fundraising Tools
  • How to sign up, register, and get started right away
  • Simple and easy ways to use Facebook’s Fundraising Tools
  • Answers to the most frequently asked questions about Facebook’s Fundraising Tools

Learn more and register


Wild Apricot: 3 Easy Ways to Retain More Members Using Software
Thursday, October 26, 2017, 2:00 PM ET
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

If you’re a Wild Apricot customer, you may already be applying these strategies because our software does most of it automatically, but please join us if you feel you could learn more. We’d love to have you.
Learn more and register


bloomerang: Brand Architecture: Rethinking How You Connect the Dots Between Your Nonprofit’s Brand and Programs
Thursday, October 26, 2017, 1:00 PM ET
More and more nonprofits seem to be struggling with how to organize communications in looking at a full brand review versus specific programs or initiatives, which are often considered “sub-brands”. How should you visually represent the new program you’re rolling out–does it get its own logo or use your main one? What should you do when a particular initiative is more visible or better-known than your organization itself?

On this webinar, Sarah Durham, CEO of Big Duck, will define brand architecture and share insights for organizing your brand and expressing it in a clear, holistic way that your audiences understand.

You should attend this webinar if you want to learn how to:

  • Help different audiences recognize and understand your work
  • Improve the overall awareness of your brand
  • Make it easier for staff and board members to communicate about your mission

Learn more and register


VolunteerMatch: Creating a Comprehensive and Engaging Volunteer Training Program
Thursday, October 26, 2017, 11:00 AM PT
What do your volunteers need to know to be successful? This webinar will start with the basics and help you understand how to determine what information you should be sharing with your volunteers, and how that can be used to create a curriculum. We’ll then discuss how to present this information in a variety of ways using different delivery methods that appeal to adult learners. Assessing what your volunteers have learned, and creating ongoing training and professional development training for your volunteers will also be covered.

What You’ll Learn:

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

Learn more and register


Washington Nonprofits: 5 Secrets of Email Marketing Geniuses
Friday, October 27, 2017, 3:00 PM ET
There is more power and leverage in one email subscriber than 100 Facebook likes or 50 Twitter followers if email marketing is done right. Problem is, 9 out of 10 nonprofits don’t do it right. In this educational session, we will share the secrets of email marketing geniuses, including:

The 5 types of nonprofit emails.

  • The anatomy of an email marketing campaign.
  • 6 email marketing  mistakes to avoid.
  • 5 secrets of email marketing geniuses.

Learn more and register


Pamela Grow: Motivate Monday with Fundraising Expert Pamela Grow
Monday, October 30, 2017, 1:00 PM ET
How are nonprofit professionals jumpstarting their week with purpose? Join us for Motivate Monday where:

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

Learn more and register


NonProfit Quarterly: New FASB Accounting Guidelines
Tuesday, October 31, 2017, 2:00 PM ET
With the date for the implementation of the new FASB nonprofit accounting guidelines fast approaching, nonprofits should be doing all they can to inform themselves about the implications for recording, reporting, and planning their financial realities.

What the New FASB Nonprofit Accounting Guidelines Require: On Restricted Contributions, Functional Expenses, and “Eye-Opening” Disclosures

With the replacement of temporarily and permanently restricted categories for reporting contributions and related net assets, enhanced disclosures require nonprofits to describe more about how restrictions affect the USE OF RESOURCES.

In addition, the issue of classifying costs as program vs. overhead continues to be a focus in the sector.  Under the new guidelines, not only must expenses be reported by function, but nonprofits MUST DISCLOSE THE METHODOLOGY used for allocations and whether the methods are consistently applied. This webinar will summarize the changes and explore the following questions:

  • Is your functional expense allocation properly representing your resource allocation strategy?
  • Is this an opportunity to refresh your approach?

We will continue to focus on nonprofits’ preparedness to tell their financial stories, particularly in this environment of increased disclosure and FASB’s focus on transparency and visibility into the policies that drive a nonprofit’s financial decisions.

Especially relevant for Executive Directors, CFOs, and Board Members, this webinar will help jumpstart some critical conversations at your organization in advance of the impending reporting changes.
learn more and register

 


Wild Apricot: Free Membership Growth Online Summit 2017
November 13-17 2017, 2:00 PM ET
How do the top organizations keep growing? That’s the question some top experts will answer during the Free Membership Growth Online Summit 2017.

In a series of 5 daily webinars during the week of November 13, our lineup of experts will show you what the most successful organizations are doing differently, and how you can dramatically increase your own organization’s growth.
During the Summit you will learn:

  • The 3 keys for attracting younger members
  • How to turn your events into a growth engine
  • The tech tools used by the fastest growing nonprofits to grow membership

Space is limited, so register now if you want to attend. You’ll automatically be signed up for all 5 webinars. Feel free to share this email with your friends too


Public Lands Alliance: Recruiting, Engaging and Keeping Great Board Members
Thursday, November 16, 2017, 2:00 PM ET
Cost: FREE for Members, $25 for NonMembers
Developing a well-rounded board of directors is Job#1 when it comes to having a strong organization capable of achieving its mission. Burn out is a common phenomenon, with a few heroic board members carrying the freight for the entire group. In this webinar, we will discuss high-yield strategies for analyzing your board’s needs and building a membership or volunteer pipeline to board service.
Presenter: Cathy Allen, The Board Doctor
Learn more and register


CEP: Relationship Matter
Thursday, November 16, 2017, 2:00 PM ET
What is a strong funder-grantee relationship — and what does it take to form one with your grantees?
Join CEP for a data-driven discussion of why funder-grantee relationships are so important to foundation effectiveness — and what areas in which program staff should focus to build and maintain strong ones. In the webinar, CEP Vice President, Research, Ellie Buteau will share findings from not-yet-released CEP research, followed by an interactive discussion with a panel of highly rated program officers about their experiences building relationships with their grantees, facilitated by CEP President Phil Buchanan.
Attendees will have ample opportunity to ask questions to the presenters and can expect to come away with a clear picture of what the data shows to constitute a strong funder-grantee relationship, as well as best practices to apply to their work at their own foundation.
The cost is $35 per person.
Learn more and register


Public Lands Alliance: “Succession Planning: Building Your Bench Strength”
Tuesday, December 5, 2017, 2:00 PM ET
Cost: FREE for Members, $25 for NonMembers
Succession planning. We all seem to talk about it and know that we need it, but somehow in the hectic, workaday world of public lands nonprofits, it gets pushed to the backburner. Join us as we bring it to the forefront, focusing on identifying and developing new leaders within your organization and building your “bench strength” as you prepare for the day when retirement becomes a reality, or if tragedy strikes. Organizational sustainability is more tangible with a strong succession plan in place.
Learn more and register

 

 

Partnerships that are Just Right

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

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

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

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

The right partnership depends on:

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

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

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

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

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

Partnership Continuum

line

Partnership Continuum table

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

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

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

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

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

When You Hit a Wall

Screenshot_2017-04-24_14-37-11

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

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

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

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

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

loop Screenshot_2017-04-24_14-43-36

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

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

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

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

  • Is the purpose of the partnership clear?

  • What commitments are we making to support the partnership?

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

  • Have we determined a clear working arrangement?

  • Are we accountable for our performance?

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

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

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

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

The Partnership Dance

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

  • Identify what you want to achieve.

  • Determine what factors will make the partnership successful.

  • Identify potential barriers.

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

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

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

Your board needs to have frank discussions about these components.

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

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

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

Your comments are welcome.

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

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

Stand Up, Speak Out

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What We Friends Can Do: Part 2

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

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

2013-11-12-12-05-18

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

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

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

2013-11-12-14-05-22

Joan Patterson and Cathy Allen on Capitol Hill

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

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

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

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

 

It’s Time for a Hug (and Some Work)

bears-hugging

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Your Mission Matters

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Your Mission Matters
by Joan Patterson

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Friends of Loxahatchee Need Your Help!

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J. Kleen, USFWS

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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