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

Pamela Grow: Motivate with Fundraising Expert Pamela Grow
Monday, November 13th, 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

Network for Good: Get Ready for Year-End
Tuesday, November 14th, 12:00 PM – 4PM ET
Join this free virtual conference packed with information to help you rally your supporters and crush your fundraising goals this year.
Learn more and register

Bolder Advocacy: Lobbying for 501(c)(3) Organizations
Tuesday, November 14th, 2:00 PM ET
Lobbying is one of the most effective means for nonprofits to advance their missions. There are many ways 501(c)(3) public charities choose to lobby to achieve their policy goals. In this webinar we will delve into the definition and significance of lobbying. Once you understand how basic lobbying definitions apply to 501(c)(3) organizations, we will explain how to track your lobbying time and expenses, how to report lobbying to the IRA, and how lobbying restrictions of 501(c)(3) organizations interact with state or local lobbying disclosure laws.
Learn more and register

GuideStar: Fiscal Health of Nonprofits across the U.S.
Tuesday, November 14th, 2:00 PM ET
Join our Impact Call as we give you a first look at our new report on the fiscal health of nonprofits across the U.S. and the implications on the sector.

In this half-hour call, we’ll also discuss:

  • Last quarter’s organizational and financial achievements
  • Our programmatic plans for 2017
  • Last quarter’s lessons learned
  • And more!

Learn more and register


Classy: How to Craft the Perfect Donor Thank You
Tuesday, November 14th, 10:00 AM PT
The cost of retaining an existing donor is about 20% of the cost of acquiring a new one.* If this is true, why is the national donor retention rate declining?
Nonprofits are underestimating the control they have over their retention rates, and missing one of the easiest ways to keep donors: saying thank you.
When it comes to giving thanks, not all organizations have the resources or opportunities for lavish gifts or swanky appreciation events. But a little creativity and thoughtfulness could be the difference in whether your donors stick around or not.

Join Classy for a short, 30-minute live webinar to build your donor appreciation package and start watching your retention rates rise again.
What you’ll learn

  • The elements of a strong thank you
  • Tips on how, when, and how often to communicate with your donors
  • Creative ideas to thank your donors
  • Language to include in your next thank you

Learn more and register

Nonprofit Quarterly: Board Management E-Learning Workshop
Tuesday, November 14th, 2:00 PM ET
It may sound obvious, but boards cannot lead effectively if they do not understand the organization’s work.  BoardSource’s 2017 study, Leading with Intent, shows just how important this understanding is.
Based on this research, board members’ knowledge of programs correlates to stronger (or weaker) performance across several areas, including:

  • Strategic thinking and planning
  • Overall engagement and commitment
  • External leadership and ambassadorship, including fundraising and advocacy

As important as the board’s knowledge of programs is, the average grade executives gave their boards in this crucial area was a “B.”

In this webinar, we’ll delve into the findings from Leading with Intent to illustrate what you lose when your board fundamentally doesn’t understand the organization’s programs, and we’ll share practical advice and guidance for how executives and board chairs can provide board members with ongoing opportunities to understand the organization’s mission and work.
Learn more and register

Wild Apricot: The Digital Education Tools That Keep Your Members Coming Back for More
Tuesday, November 14th, 2:00 PM ET
One of the best ways to attract and engage members is through education. But the way people are learning–and how they want to learn–is changing. Publishing a whitepaper and bringing in a speaker isn’t enough anymore. Your members want to be part of an online community and have access to on-demand learning opportunities. In this webinar, Rebecca Petersen, Director of, an online career development tool for nonprofit professionals, will share the strategies and tools top nonprofits are using to drastically increase member engagement these days.
Learn more and register

frontstream: Advanced Event Planning Success: Using Checklists to Stay on Track
Tuesday, November 14th, 1:00 PM ET
We’ll cover the best tips for planning a fundraiser event successfully. What to make sure you do and what you have to avoid! And stick around until the end for a live Q&A!
Learn more and register

Nonprofit Tech for Good: How to Successfully Participate in Cause Awareness and Giving Days
Tuesday, November 14th, 9:00 AM ETThe rise of social media has also given rise to online giving on cause awareness and giving days. The urgency of a campaign occurring on a certain day inspires individuals to donate, but only if your nonprofit prepares in advance and creates an online campaign that taps into the impulsivity of cause awareness and giving day donors. To help your nonprofit prepare and launch a successful cause  awareness day and/or giving day online campaign, this webinar will discuss:

  • How to create and launch a 5-week cause awareness and giving day campaign.
  • How to successfully follow-up with donors and supporters in the days after the campaign.
  • The importance of having a landing page or microsite for your campaign.
  • The role of social media graphics and infographics in your campaign.
  • How to build a team of ambassadors and influencers to help promote your campaign.

Learn more and register

Volunteer Match: Creating a Culture of Volunteer Engagement
Tuesday, November 14th, 11:00 AM PT
It’s important to create a culture of inclusion and engagement of volunteers within your organization. But, it can be hard to recognize what your current culture says to volunteers, or identify how to make changes to help volunteers feel more welcome. This webinar will help you identify how your organization’s current culture is shaping or limiting what volunteers do, and provide steps you can take to start to create more understanding, respect, and appreciation for engaging volunteers.

What You’ll Learn:

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

Who Should Attend:

  • Leaders of volunteers
  • Organization leaders
  • Those responsible for engaging volunteers

Learn more and register

blackbaud: #GivingTuesday Webinar Series
Tuesday, November 14th, 1:00 PM ET
In this webinar, we’ll review how to analyze your previous #GivingTuesday goals and results from last year in preparation for this year. Michelle Boyle, director of institutional advancement at the Maryland Zoo, will return to discuss the outcome of #GivingZOODay and changes the organization implemented for 2017. We will also discuss the importance of stewarding after #GivingZOODay.
Learn more and register

Firespring: It’s a New World-How to Cultivate Your Community Online Between Fundraising Events
Tuesday, November 14th, 1:00 PM ET
How do you keep supporters engaged between major fundraising events? This webinar will help you change your thinking about that precious time in between! Many organizations don’t make use of this time because they are in “task mode.” They are not thinking about leveraging this time to cultivate relationships online. Use this time wisely and your community will be primed and ready to support your next event. This webinar will focus on the following:

  • Why a consistent communications plan is essential.
  • What donor stewardship means in an online world.
  • 10 vital actions to cultivate a network eager to support you.
  • How to fire up board members, volunteers, donors and staff to fundraise every day.
  • How to generate loyal support beyond your event.
  • We guarantee you’ll walk away confident in the steps you need to take to earn the trust and vigorous support of your community online.

Learn more and register

The Good Partnership: Finding your “so what”
Tuesday, November 14th, 1:00 PM ET
This webinar is presented by Cindy Wagman, President of The Good Partnership and Tania Arruda, President of Doch! Enterprises. In your time together you will learn:

  • Understand what your donors care most about
  • Learn how to frame and articulate your core value proposition
  • Position your work in terms of impact

Learn more and register

Network for Good: Virtual Conference: Get Ready for Year-End
Tuesday, November 14th, 12:00 PM ET
Join this free virtual conference packed with information to help you rally your supporters and crush your fundraising goals this year. You’ll come away with the tips and strategy you need to create better campaigns, get your board involved and energized, learn about Network for Good tools, and write your best-ever appeal.

Check out the sessions:

  • Power-Up Year-End Fundraising: Content that Ignites Giving
  • Network for Good Software Preview and Year-End Fundraising Q&A
  • How to Create a Fundraising Offer Your Donor Can’t Refuse
  • Getting Your Board on Board for End-of-Year Fundraising

Learn more and register

Wild Apricot: How to Turn Your Events into a Growth Engine for your Organization
Wednesday, November 15th, 2:00 PM ET
If you want to drive growth through your events, please join this free webinar with Jeff Hurt, a leading event design expert. Jeff has worked with hundreds of organizations, helping them grow by taking a new approach to marketing and running their events. In this webinar, you’ll learn how to create an experience for your attendees that turns them into evangelists for your organization.
Learn more and register

blackbaud: Digital Life Hacks: Savvy Social Media
Wednesday, November 15th, 2:00 PM ET
Digi know?: There are 2.3 billion active social media users.*

Clearly, social media is a necessary component of digital strategy, but with 2.3 billion potential connections, it’s imperative to consider all pieces of a social media strategy. Are you creating and delivering engaging content for all of your audiences? Have you tapped into social listening to find the buzz? Join us to learn how to do it all in this Digital Life Hacks webinar led by Mike Snusz and Danielle Johnson, principal consultants at Blackbaud.
Learn more and register

Volunteer Match:  Telling the Story of Volunteer Impact
Wednesday, November 15th, 11:00 AM PT
You want to share the impact volunteers have in your organization and in the community, but often the information you track doesn’t help you tell that story. This webinar will help you move past number of volunteers and number of hours and start telling the real story. You’ll learn about information gathering and the key components to good storytelling, how to evaluate your current measurements and how to build support for a more thorough measurement and evaluation program, and how to engage other staff – paid and volunteer – in this work. You’ll also receive a worksheet to help you begin to tell the story of volunteer impact in your organization.

What You’ll Learn:

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

Who Should Attend:

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

Learn more and register

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

frontstream: How Online Auctions Work
Thursday, November 16th, 2:00 PM ET
Join us for a live presentation about the latest and greatest innovations in the fundraising world. BiddingForGood’s suite of tools and services will be discussed, with plenty of time for a robust Q&A session.
Learn more and register

Everyaction: Year End Giving for Long Term Gains
Thursday, November 16th, 1:30 PM ET
You’ve been prepping your campaign, drafting your message, and warming up your audience, but what about your sustainers? They’re your most loyal supporters and the backbone of your organization, so how do they fit into your #GivingTuesday plans?

Join us on Thursday, November 16th to hear from EveryAction’s fundraising expert, Michelle Shefter, and Greenpeace USA’s Senior Monthly Giving Specialist, Zachary Riddle.

We’ll explore:

  • How to include sustainers in your year-end campaign
  • Outreach and communications strategies
  • Providing upsells and opportunities for increased giving
  • Sustainer acquisition around year-end

Learn more and register

Charity: Building a Sponsorship Proposal that Works
Thursday, November 16th, 1:00 PM ET
Are you sending out sponsorship packages every week and hearing nothing back? Gold, Silver, Bronze doesn’t work…but what do you use instead? Simply throwing together a bunch of facts about your cause along with a chart with predefined levels is not going to cut it in the highly competitive sponsorship space. Building a sponsorship deck is a process and it requires your organization to ask some tough questions. In this session, sponsorship expert Chris Baylis of The Sponsorship Collective will show you exactly what you need to do to build a business case that sponsors will want to read.
Learn more and register

Wild Apricot: Navigating Nonprofit Marketing
Thursday, November 16th, 2:00 PM ET
Let’s get one thing straight: marketing is just as applicable to .orgs as it is to .coms, and a nonprofit can and should approach marketing the same way as (if not better than) a for-profit. But, with limited resources it can be hard for nonprofits to market effectively. In this webinar, David Mundy, nonprofit marketing expert and Director of Marketing at GuideStar, the world’s largest database of nonprofit information, will give you the blueprints you need to build a solid marketing plan for your organization… even with limited resources.
Learn more and register

Volunteer Match: Walking the Walk: Engage Volunteers in your Volunteer Engagement Program
Thursday, November 16th, 11:00 AM PT

Stop just talking the talk and start walking the walk! Learn how to effectively delegate volunteer engagement and management work to volunteers so you have the opportunity to “think bigger.” We’ll discuss evaluating your program for volunteer engagement, determining how best to deploy volunteers, creating a communication plan, screening and training volunteers to be an important part of your volunteer recruiting, retention and recognition plans.

What You’ll Learn:

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

Who Should Attend:

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

Learn more and register

Harbor Compliance: Charitable Solicitation: What Does it Take to be Complaint
Thursday, November 16th, 1:00 PM ET
What are the charitable solicitation requirements and what does it take to be compliant?

This webinar will cover the following topics:

  • State registration requirements
  • Online fundraising
  • Why compliance should be a priority
  • Registration costs
  • How to manage registrations

Learn more and register

frontstream: FirstGiving Friday, Getting Started with Online Fundraising
Friday, November 17th, 1:00 PM ET
Come learn all there is about FirstGiving, Frontstream’s fundraising tool for Peer to Peer events and Crowdfunding including Giving Days. Our expert will walk you through the product and take questions!
Learn more and register

Wild Apricot: How to Use Tech Tools to Attract Lots and Lots of New Members
Friday, November 17th, 2:00 PM ET
It’s astounding what a single person can accomplish these days with the help of tech tools. In this webinar, nonprofit tech expert Terry Ibele will show you how some nonprofit professionals are able to double or triple their membership each year with minimal effort, simply by using the right tools. Terry will walk you through exactly which tools they are using, so you can put them to use right away in your organization.
Learn more and register

Wild Apricot: The Tech Effect: Discover the Simple Solution that 1000s of Organizations Are Using to Grow Membership in Today’s World
Thursday, November 23rd, 2:00 PM ET
Have you noticed that it’s getting harder and harder to grow your membership?

In this free 1-hour webinar, you’ll learn:

  • All about The Tech Effect, the hidden threat that is making things harder for you to grow
  • 5 proven strategies to address The Tech Effect and attract new members right away
  • How an easy tech solution can save you hours of administrative work every day

This is not your typical webinar. It follows the story of one membership manager’s challenges, and ultimate triumph. A story that has inspired thousands of others to grow their memberships faster than ever.
Learn more and register

Pamela Grow: Motivate with Fundraising Expert Pamela Grow
Monday, November 27th,10 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

Wild Apricot: Turn Your Website Into a Membership Growth Engine
Thursday, November 30th, 2:00 PM ET
Is your membership website an engine that brings in new members while you sleep? If not, I’ll show you how anyone with no tech experience can use membership management software to turn their website into a new member recruiter — in just an afternoon.

In this free webinar, you’ll learn:

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

Learn more and register

Volunteer Match: Successfully Implementing Volunteer Program Changes
Thursday, November 30th,  11:00 AM PT
What should you do when it’s time to change the policies and procedures that govern or guide the volunteers that work with your organization? How can you create a culture of inclusion and get buy-in for those new policies? This training will give you the tools to approach program changes in a strategic way. We will also cover what to do if volunteers either can’t or won’t adopt the policies, how to manage that situation, and what to do if ultimately you need to ask a volunteer to leave.

What You’ll Learn:

  • Theories for change management
  • Pitfalls and challenges around implementing changes in a volunteer engagement program
  • Opportunities to build buy-in and support for changes
  • What to do if you need to ask a volunteer to leave

Who Should Attend:

  • Leaders of Volunteer Engagement
  • Volunteer Program Managers
  • Supervisors of Volunteers

Learn more and register

bloomerang: Procrastinators Unite! Last-Minute Strategies for Year-End Giving
Thursday, November 30th, 1:00 PM ET
It’s the end of November…so what are you doing for year end giving? If you’re in a panic because you neglected to plan for the next 31 days, it’s not too late! We’ll talk about key things to maximize your fundraising that you can still do now.

Here is what you will learn by participating in this webinar:

  • identify action steps for a last minute year end plan
  • identify at least one low- or no-cost tactic to implement before December 31
  • develop a checklist to avoid last minute planning for next year!

Learn more and register

blackbaud: The Future of Data, Analytics, and Al
Thursday, November 30th, 2:00 PM ET
Where is all this data stuff going? How will data, analytics, and artificial intelligence shape the nonprofit sector in the future? In this final session, we’re going to take everything you’ve learned and push it even further. We’ll explore how using data over the next few years will transform you, your staff, and your nonprofit.
Learn more and register

idealware: Data Maturity: How to Keep Improving Your Approach to Data
Thursday, November 30th, 1:00 PM ET
Data can feel confusing or intimidating because the examples we see are often very advanced. It’s like watching Wimbledon and expecting to become a world class tennis player the next day. Even if you’re young and expectionally athletic, it will take time and a lot of practice to get good—you can’t become a star overnight.

Data is no different. We all have to start somewhere. The good news is, if you keep working to improve, you can become more sophisticated at using data to inform and improve our work. At Idealware, we look at data sophistication as a continuum or a spectrum. Wherever you are on the spectrum, small steps and regular progress can make a big difference.

Join us for a free webinar that will help you see your potential with data. We’ll introduce our data maturity model—the five stages for developing a successful approach to data—and help you identify where your nonprofit is currently on the data spectrum and how to move up to the next level. We’ll also discuss the importance of a data-driven culture and how you can nuture data champions across your organization.

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


Partnership Continuum table

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

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

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

Public Lands Alliance,
Best Practices Establishing a Partnership Model for America’s Public Lands
Stephen M. R. Covey,
The Speed of Trust

When You Hit a Wall


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

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

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

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

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

loop Screenshot_2017-04-24_14-43-36

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

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

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

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

  • Is the purpose of the partnership clear?

  • What commitments are we making to support the partnership?

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

  • Have we determined a clear working arrangement?

  • Are we accountable for our performance?

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

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

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

Public Lands Alliance,
Best Practices Establishing a Partnership Model for America’s Public Lands
Stephen M. R. Covey,
The Speed of Trust

The Partnership Dance

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

  • Identify what you want to achieve.

  • Determine what factors will make the partnership successful.

  • Identify potential barriers.

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

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

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

Your board needs to have frank discussions about these components.

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

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

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

Your comments are welcome.

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


Stand Up, Speak Out

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What We Friends Can Do: Part 2

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

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


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

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

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


Joan Patterson and Cathy Allen on Capitol Hill

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

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

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

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


It’s Time for a Hug (and Some Work)


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Your Mission Matters


Your Mission Matters
by Joan Patterson

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Friends of Loxahatchee Need Your Help!


J. Kleen, USFWS

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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