responsibilities, unique to the board, that are necessary to oversee the governance of the organization

FWS Friends Mentor Program, Spring Applications Process

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Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Two times each year Friends groups along with their FWS Partners have an opportunity to apply for the FWS Friends Mentor Program. The Spring Announcement and Application has just been posted. Applications will be accepted until March 31, 2022.

What is the Mentor Program? In many ways, it is just what you want/need it to be. Each mentoring relationship is different but, in a nutshell, Friends and their Refuge Management decide on the topics they would like to learn more about or have help with. That is part of the application. It could be training the board, planning a joint project, or, after this long Covid winter, a reboot to get your board and FWS staff excited about working together again, for example.

Once you have submitted the completed application it will be reviewed by the FWS Friends Coordinator, Linda Schnee, and the Regional Friends Coordinators. If your application is selected, you will be assigned a team of experienced and trained mentors, usually one FWS staff and one Friends Board/Staff person who will work with you on fleshing out an agenda, and then will come to your refuge to conduct a 2-day training.

At the end of that training, your group will identify a set of 3 or 4 objectives that you want to accomplish in the next year. Mentors then check in with you on a regular schedule to offer help, guidance, encouragement, and lots of cheers for the good work you are doing.

Sound like something that your group would benefit from? I’ve been on both sides of mentoring, as a Friends mentor and as a board member of a group being mentored and I can tell you from personal experience that this program provides a couple of skilled “consultants,” for a year, free-of-charge to your Friends group and your Refuge. So, what are you waiting for? Get that application going!

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Start Improving Your Cybersecurity To Safeguard Your Mission

hummingbird by purple flowers

The FBI reported a 69% increase in cybercrime in 2020. And the focus of cybercriminals has shifted to small and medium businesses, including nonprofits because they tend to have fewer resources available to implement safeguards and user training. Your small nonprofit can no longer hide behind a “we’re too small” defense.

Cybersecurity is an important component of the Duty of Care you have as a nonprofit to protect your assets and the information of those who support you. This webinar will update your current understanding of the cyber landscape and walk you through essential steps to begin securing your organization’s digital and electronic assets.

Inventory and planning tools will be included to help you with the process of establishing a plan and improving your organization’s defenses right away.

Presenter: Linda Kilgore, CORFA Board member, NTEN Certified Nonprofit Technology Professional, Retired Senior IT Analyst for the State of Oregon

Recording and supporting materials

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WHO RESPONDED TO THE CORFA WEBINAR SURVEY?

Roles of Respondents
We asked respondents to give us a little bit of information about their Friends group and their role within the group. We realize that many of you play a lot of different roles in your group, so we tried to let everyone give us as much information as you wanted to about that. Over one third of our respondents identified as Board Members, although many of them also selected other ways that they are active with Friends.

pie chart showing number of board members

Board Size
Over half of respondents serve on boards with 6 to 10 members with the rest on boards that were bigger or smaller than that.

Size of Membership
Almost a third of our respondents were from Friends groups with over 200 members and over a quarter were from groups with 101-200 members but well over a third of our survey-takers are in groups with fewer than 100 members or don’t have memberships for their group.

Age of Friends Organization
Thirty-seven respondents came from groups that have been in existence more than 20 years while 10 came from groups less than 5 years old. We really love that diversity!

What else should we have asked about the people taking the survey and the Friends group(s) they are affiliated with? I wonder if we had respondents from any Fish Hatchery Friends groups. Were their survey-participants from community partners or groups that don’t have a Partnership Agreement with a refuge? How about people in groups that support programs like Friends of Duck Stamps or Friends of NCTC? There are so many ways that you all support the refuge and fisheries system, and we all know that no two Friends groups are alike. The more we learn about each other, the more support we can provide in making sure that each Friends group is strong, resilient, and accomplishing everything they can to support our fragile environment.

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DID YOU TAKE PART IN THE CORFA/NWRA FRIENDS SURVEY?

I don’t know about you, but I don’t like it when I take part in a survey and then never hear anything about the survey results. So, for the 88 of you who generously gave your time to provide us with answers to our questions and for those of you who didn’t but would like to know what the respondents told us, here you go with the results of our recent Friends Webinar Survey.

I’m going for the focus of the survey first, specifically, what webinar topics seemed to be of most interest to the respondents of our survey. Look for information from other parts of the survey in coming blog posts.

We provided 11 general subjects that we thought might be of interest to Friends and asked them to rate their interest in each topic as High, Medium, Low, or No interest. Here’s what you told us:

The winning topic in both “High” plus “Medium” interest and with the most “High” interest votes was OUTREACH & COMMUNICATIONS. We need to dig deeper now and find out exactly what kinds of things you are interested in but be sure to check out our Webinar on June 9 at 2:00 Eastern, with Angie Horn the NWRA Southern California Regional Refuge Partnership Specialist and Angelina Yost, The FWS Urban Programs Coordinator. They will be telling us about successful ways of building community partnerships, no matter where your refuge is located. To register click here.


No surprise that the second most “High” plus “Medium” interest votes was FUNDRAISING, followed closely by GRANTS. We have one fundraising webinar planned for the near future and will continue to seek presenters and subjects related to these two high-demand topics for additional presentations in the future.


The last topic we will highlight was GOVERNANCE & LEADERSHIP. Again, this is such a broad topic that we will be looking for some guidance from you as to what aspects of governance and leadership you would like more information about.

A couple of the remaining topics are areas that we have already provided webinars on, specifically, ADVOCACY & LOBBYING and FINANCIAL MANAGEMENT.


The remaining topics were Justice, Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion (JEDI), Organizational Planning, Technology, Volunteer Management, and Sales/Retail. While these topics did not receive as many “High” or “Medium” interest votes as the ones mentioned above, none of the suggested topics received fewer than 54% “High”/”Medium” votes. It looks like we have our work cut out for us. If you have ideas for a webinar in one of the categories listed or know of a Friends member/supporter who might be a good presenter on one of these topics, please reach out to Cheryl Hart or Joan Patterson. Thanks for your hel

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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

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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
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

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