Take it to the Max: How Donors Can Make Their Contributions Even Better!

Much of the financial livelihood of nonprofit organizations is dependent upon individuals donating their hard earned money to the organizations of their choice.  According the National Center for Charitable Statistics, 72% of donations in the nonprofit sector come from individual donors[1].  This type of giving has been steadily increasing while other sources of funding, such as governmental grants or private foundations, have either been declining or staying somewhat stable over a period of time.  While individual donors are really the backbone of giving for the nonprofit sector, there are some harsh realities where donors may actually be causing more harm than good. Sometimes the road to hell really is paved by good intentions.

The Washington Post[2] recently published an article discussing common mistakes both donors and organizations make during their relationship with one another.  While they discuss 10 different mistakes, the one we focused on this week at the Financial Management Training at the NSRI was in regards to restricting gifts.  A restricted gift occurs when a donor makes a donation with a specific, intended purpose.  For example, an individual can make a donation to a homeless shelter and specify that they want their donation to go towards the soup kitchen.  If every other donor does the same, the shelter would be legally obligated to only use their funds towards that particular cause.

Clearly, most individuals do not make donations restricted towards overhead or other “business-oriented” areas that are crucial for the organization to run effectively on its’ own.  Therefore, by restricting funds to a particular cause in an organization, donors can really stunt the growth that could have been.

In general, donors need to be aware of the total nonprofit environment before making donations.  In theWashington Post article, the fix proposed by the author is “Research the charity so you understand what they need and give an unrestricted gift”[3].  This resolution does not take into account the culture that has been created when it comes to individual giving.  If people are motivated enough to make a gift, nonprofit organizations are not going to turn it away.

More needs to be done on the end of the organization rather than simply relying on individuals to do their due diligence before making a monetary gift to an organization.  It is important to show where funds are needed or solicit unrestricted funds so assistance can go where it is needed most.  Ultimately, education by the organization and the donor is necessary to ensure that a sustainable, symbiotic relationship is both created and maintained.

[1] National Center for Charitable Statistics. “Charitable Giving in America: Some Facts and Figures” <http://nccs.urban.org/nccs/statistics/Charitable-Giving-in-America-Some-Facts-and-Figures.cfm>

[2] Dagher, Veronica. “When Good Donors Do Bad Things” The Wall Street Journal. April 12, 2015.

[3] Dagher 2015.

Are the NSRI Spring Trainings Really for Me?

The spring training programs for the Nonprofit Sector Resource Institute (NSRI) at Seton Hall University are in-depth studies at two very specific topics, Board Leadership and Financial Management.  At first glance, these topics of course seem relevant and important but it takes some courage for an organization to admit that they may need more guidance when it comes to such critical areas.  If your organization is functioning well, do you really need to attend these trainings?

Last May, a nonprofit organization named the Federation Employment Services (FEGS) in New York celebrated 80 years of success.  This was a multi-million dollar organization that had long standing government contracts and other strong roots within the New York community.  By February 2015, this same organization began relinquishing programs and prepared to close down as they had found a $19.4 million discrepancy from which recovery seemed impossible.

How does such a large deficit go unnoticed?  Recent articles show that 30% of the annual budget went to administration costs, the organization had leases for spaces they were not even using, and they were not meeting certain performance measures as outlined in their government contracts[1].  There were clearly red flags that were just not recognized or remedied until the situation spun out of control.

How does an organization get to this point?  As a nonprofit organization, the board of directors needs to know what questions to ask and how to ask them in order to get the proper information to ensure that the organization is running to the best of its’ ability.  At the same time, the staff needs to be able to accurately read financial reports and understand the short term and long term viability of their organization in depth.  This is critical! All components of an organization need to be properly trained to guarantee the security of their organization.  The training programs that the NSRI is presenting this spring are structured to help avoid the exact scenario discussed above.  Only through continual training and education can your organization and the professionals in it truly thrive!


[1] Swarns, Rachel L. “With Little Warning, Agency Aiding New York’s Most Vulnerable Crumbles” New York Times. February 8, 2015. <http://nyti.ms/1zn18eX>


NSRI’s Exciting Announcement!

NSRI logo better quality

NSRI is excited to announce our new workshop series!

Position Your Mission: Two Workshops, One Day

How does Howard Levy successfully position nonprofit organizations to significantly increase their visibility?

How did Colin Smith increase donations by  over 1,500% ? 

Attend these Workshops to find out!!

Looking to meet leaders in the tri-state area non-profit sector? Learn how to position your company’s mission at expert-led workshops hosted by the NSRI at Seton Hall University and learn industry trends to better engage your audience!

The first workshop, Turn Your Mission Into Your Message—Increase Your Organization’s Impact, will feature Jill Greenbaum, Principal at iCoachiDesign, and Howard Levy, Principal at Red Rooster Group.

The second workshop, Secrets of Marketing and Development Success, will focus on strategic marketing and development strategies, which have generated growth in fundraising, enrollment and client retention. Colin Smith, Executive Director at Change for Kids, Inc., who successfully increased his organization’s budget by 1500 percent, and Meg Paradise, award-winning champion and leader of women’s initiatives and Director of Development at Women Rising, will be sharing their experience in the workshops.

SMART DISCOUNT! If you register for both workshops a discount will be applied at checkout!

To activate the discount, simply add both workshops to your cart! Each workshop has a fee of $89 per person. The discount offers both workshops for $149 per person, a savings of $29!

Breakfast, lunch and snacks are included as well as ample time for networking!

Early bird registrants get a free gift!

Register now! http://bit.ly/1GITClY

Support and Connections in the Nonprofit Sector

NSRI logo better qualityAs an intern at the Nonprofit Sector Resource Institute (NSRI), I have had the opportunity to truly explore the wide world of nonprofit organizations, including the work, effort, drive, and determination that it takes to manage them. One of the most interesting and important elements is the support NSRI provides to help nonprofit organizations grow, build connections and improve service, training, and other important elements of their organizations. As a resource for nonprofits, NSRI endeavors to assist organizations, consistent with our mission. Accordingly, guidance and networking are crucial aspects for nonprofit organizations. NSRI is engaged in research to uncover what nonprofits need most. We will conduct focus groups on a variety of topics and ask many nonprofits for their input. We invite you to look for communications from us about opportunities to get involved and share your opinion.

Our schedule of events features several workshops being launched this fall. Thinking about how important networking and connections are to nonprofit organizations, I realized the perspective of a nonprofit executive and that the connection to an already well-known organization could be valuable to a professional at a smaller nonprofit. Part of our exciting series of workshops, Leaders Share Secrets of Marketing and Development Success”, on Monday, December 1, 2014, is like a mentorship session. Executives of large, well-known nonprofit organizations will speak to professionals of smaller nonprofits with advice on growth and the expansion of their organizations. This workshop will be an excellent and rare opportunity for staff of small to mid-sized nonprofit organizations to obtain advice from peers in the sector, and also to speak with the leaders of these organizations and network. Attendees will be able to learn the latest marketing and development strategies from the leaders of mid to large nonprofits who have generated growth in fundraising, enrollment in programs, and increased client retention. In interactive workshops, they will hear case studies and work with valuable tools to achieve and sustain success. Speakers will provide lists of proven tips and share lessons learned to help nonprofits plot the future of their organizations’ growth and be an example of effectiveness, efficiency, and profitability. Attend this workshop and help your nonprofit grow to its peak potential! For more details, please visit: http://www.shu.edu/academics/nsri.

Your feedback will help us plan future programs! Please let us know about other types of workshops you would like to see offered by NSRI via email to nsri@shu.edu.

Post written by Stephanie Cox, MPA Graduate Student at Seton Hall University.

Voto Latino: Empowering Latinos to Vote

As the Latino population in the United States continues to increase dramatically, the need to have Latino serving organizations also increases. It is an opportunity to not only attract talent for the nonprofit sector itself, but to create programs that educate the Latino population on relevant issues. One such critical area is voting.

Latino voter numbers requires a powerful campaign, committed to ensuring that Latinos in America are educated on the importance of voting. One organization that does just that is Voto Latino. Its mission is to “empower Latino Millennials to claim a better future for themselves and their community. United by the belief that Latino issues are American issues and American issues are Latino issues, Voto Latino is dedicated to bringing new and diverse voices to develop leaders by engaging youth, media, technology and celebrities to promote positive change.”

The 2012 presidential elections marked a significant shift for Latinos: a record 11.2 million Latinos voted. Overall, 48% of Hispanic eligible voters turned out to vote in 2012, down from 49.9% in 2008. But even with that record breaking presidential election, the Pew Research Center has found that Latinos’ voter turnout continues to lag significantly behind other groups. The 2012 voter turnout rate among blacks was 66.6% and among whites was 64.1%, both significantly higher than the turnout rate among Latinos.

For the last ten years, Voto Latino has engaged and developed the leadership skills of Latino Millennials. Actress Rosario Dawson founded the organization in 2004 and since then, it has registered nearly 250,000 voters. Maria Teresa Kumar, President of Voto Latino has integrated a digital strategy to engage the masses. Voto Latino pushed to get American Latinos to fill out the 2010 census via a bilingual iPhone app, has fine-tuned the concept of texting campaigns, and is reaching out through Twitter and Facebook.

Why should it matter that although there are approximately 15 million American Latino youth in the United States, only a fraction vote? It matters because Latinos are the fastest growing minority in the United States and will only become more important and politically powerful as the years progress. It is projected that by 2050, there will be 132 million Latinos in the United States and will represent 30% of the country’s population. It’s a powerful voice that will drive change in America. With organizations like Voto Latino at the helm of increasing Latino votes in the United States, the goal shines brighter every day.

I’m Getting my MPA…Now What? Five Steps to Follow When Exploring Your Career Options

5302862115_8533bbb775Being a graduate student myself, I understand the pressures of trying to figure out what to do with your degree once you’ve received it. What am I going to do for work? What can I do with my degree? Will I even get a job? What do I want to do with my life? These are just some of the thoughts I found running through my head. Finally, I took some steps to ease my fears and I wanted to share them. So here they are, 5 easy steps to figuring out what to do with a Masters in Public Administration, MPA.

  1. Ask around: ask your advisor, ask your teachers, ask people you know with MPAs. Chances are that most, if not all, of those people have been in your position not too long ago. They remember what you’re feeling and they want to help. Advisors, mentors, and teachers will definitely have helpful resources that they can suggest. They have experience finding jobs and helping people plan their futures; this is why they are the first set of people you should contact.
  2. When in doubt, Google it: This is one step that I have definitely followed. Simply Google “Careers I can get with an MPA.” Many people have a specific concentration that they are studying within the realm of Public Administration, so it would be helpful to also Google the specific concentration. There are so many different ways in which a person with their MPA could use their degree. Many of these uses and possible careers vary greatly. Looking at all of the seemingly endless possibilities can really help to ease your fears about what type of jobs are out there and how many are out there. I know when looking at all of the possibilities I was personally relieved and very excited about what I could do with my degree.
  3. Intern: Internships can be an excellent way to figure out what you want to do with your degree. While searching for an internship you will be able to look around and see what types of jobs and organizations are out there in your field. This will give you an idea of what type of organization you want to intern, and eventually work for. You will be able to get an idea of what you like and what you dislike within the field of Public Administration. This will all come in handy when looking for an actual job. All of these benefits come from simply searching for an internship. The actual internship work will confirm your likes and dislikes within this field. It will allow you to get a look at the field of Public Administration from the inside and will additionally serve to ease your fears about what you will find out in the realm of Public Administration. Furthermore, it will give you experience with different situations and will help you to gain confidence, while allowing you to see what type of work is actually involved in being employed in this field. Additionally, it will serve as an excellent addition to your resume, which will make job hunting easier.
  4. business-316906_640Network, Network, Network: During your Master’s program, especially at your internship, you will be given plenty of opportunities to network. Take those opportunities! Networking is one of the most, if not the most important thing you can do to make your name known in your field and help yourself get a job in the future. Networking and getting to know different people and their organizations will help them to get to know you, just as much as it will help you to get to know them. It will lessen your fears about what different organizations are like and what the people involved with them are like, as well. It will also help to lessen your fears about not being able to get a job because it will help you to make new connections, which could be very useful in the future. These new connections could be future bosses, future references, or future colleagues. For this reason, networking is of the most importance.
  5. Use Career Services: To help you make your decision about what type of job you would like and to allow you to see just how many jobs are out there, career services, career forums, and career finder sites are the perfect tool. Many colleges and universities have career services for undergraduates and some even have career services for graduate students. If you’re lucky enough to be attending an institution that offers career services for their graduate students, definitely take advantage of it. This service will help you to improve your resume, look for jobs, and do many things that will make job hunting so much easier. Also, career finders online, such as Indeed, Monster, and Jobfinder can serve as not only a way to find actual job listings in your area, but also as a way to allow you to browse the types of jobs that are available in your field. This will allow you to get a feel for what is needed in the world of Public Administration today.

Each of these 5 steps will help you to ease your fears, set up a plan for your future employment, and connect with people and organizations that could be of great use to you not only in the beginning of your career, but well throughout it. Each of these steps is interconnected in one-way or another, but can each individually serve to make the journey through getting your MPA a little bit easier.

Post written by Stephanie Cox, MPA Graduate Student at Seton Hall University.

IRS Nonprofit Workshop for Small & Medium Sized Nonprofits

We are excited to invite you to attend one of our single-day workshops designed especially for small and medium sized nonprofit 501(c)(3) organizations.  We are proud to host this event in collaboration with the Center for Nonprofits, Rowan University, the Nonprofit Development Center of Southern New Jersey, and the IRS Office of Exempt Organizations.



–  IRSWednesday, Sept 17 – Rowan University, Glassboro, NJ (South)

–  Thursday, Sept. 18 – Seton Hall, South Orange, NJ (North)

8:300 AM to 4:30 PM  (Breakfast & Lunch provided)


Topics in this workshop will include the “nuts and bolts”  of federal tax-compliance for nonprofit organizations and give you a chance to speak one on one with IRS Tax Exempt representatives. Get your questions answered on the spot. Topics will cover:

  • Introduction to Tax-Exempt Status: Benefits and responsibilities of tax-exempt  status under 501(c)(3). Actions that may jeopardize tax-exempt status of an organization.
  • Overview of the 990 Series — Resources and Tools: An overview of the form 990, 990-EZ and 990 N  (e-postcard), including tips on record-keeping  and answers to frequently-asked-questions. Includes presentation of resources and tools available to help file accurate, error-free returns.
  • Required Disclosures: Overview of disclosures tax-exempt organizations are required to make.
  • Employment Issues: Classification of workers and filing requirements for employees and independent contractors.
  • Unrelated Business Income: The definition of unrelated business income, common examples, common exceptions and filing requirements. Includes a discussion on charitable giving.

The Live Link to register will be active soon. In the meanwhile please save the date into your calendar!

We want to hear from you! What topics are you most interested in? Is there any information we have not provided that you would like to have? Share with us your expectations for these workshops!

New Jersey Non-Profits 2014: Trends and Outlook

Center for Non-profits logoThe Center for Non-Profits, a charitable umbrella organization serving New Jersey’s non-profit community recently launched the New Jersey Non-Profits 2014: Trends and Outlook. This report is the Center’s annual survey of the non-profit community, and was conducted online in January 2014 to “gauge the experiences, trends and expectations of New Jersey’s non-profit groups. The survey tracks prior year funding and expenses, outlook for the coming year and actions taken by non-profits to address trends. The findings are based on 197 responses from New Jersey 501(c)(3) organizations”. The report is of great use for everybody who is interested in the nonprofit sector of New Jersey. These are, according to the Center for Non-Profits, the 7 most relevant findings of the survey:

  1. 82% of responding organizations reported that demand for services had increased during the past year, and a similar percentage (80%) expected demand to continue rising in 2014.
  2. 46% reported relatively level funding in 2013 vs. 2012, but 31% reported that expenses exceeded support and revenue during their most recently completed fiscal year.
  3. 74% expected their total expenses to increase in 2014, but only 58% expected total 2014 funding to increase. About 28% expected total funding to remain the same as 2013, but only 8% anticipated a decrease. Respondents overall were more optimistic than one year ago regarding funding prospects, predicting increased funding from foundations, corporations, individual gifts and special events.
  4. Overall, compared with the last several years, fewer organizations reported taking new cost-cutting measures such as cutting staff, reducing or freezing salaries or curtailing programs, but such steps remained a possibility for a sizeable percentage in 2014. By contrast, slightly higher percentages reported that they might be able to add programs (41%), add staff (33%), or increase salaries (30%) in the coming year.
  5. A significant portion of respondents (47%) reported launching new partnerships or collaborations in 2013, most commonly with other non-profit organizations, although partnerships with government and business were also reported. 22% said either that they might explore a merger in 2014 or that that they definitely intended to do so, while 10% percent indicated that might, or definitely would, complete a merger in 2014.
  6. Asked to identify the issues presenting the greatest challenges to the viability of their own organizations, non-profits most frequently mentioned financial uncertainty, the need for better branding/ communications, the need for a stronger board, and staffing/benefit costs.
  7. When asked to choose the issues most important to maintaining and improving the viability of the nonprofit sector in the coming decade, non-profits were most likely to select attracting/retaining capable, committed board members; nonprofit infrastructure/capacity building; foundation/corporate funding; and attracting/retaining qualified workers.

References to the need for “a stronger board” and “committed board members” are of extreme importance for the NSRI. One of our most relevant initiatives focuses on board leadership training. Through this training program, we seek to provide current and potential board members with the skills and knowledge they need to become the leaders nonprofits need in the 21st century. As most of the nonprofits who answered the survey, we are convinced that a high-performance board enhances the viability and sustainability of a nonprofit organization.

We want to thank the Center for Non-Profits for the great value of their survey. If you want to read the full report, you can download it here.

What statistic from the report surprised you the most? Which one you thing is most crucial for the future of the nonprofit sector in New Jersey? What topics do you think board members need training on?

Share your ideas and opinions, we would love to hear from you and start a conversation!

A wonderful donation from Investors Bank Foundation

Donation from Investors BankWe are proud to announce that the Investors Foundation, which provides funding to organizations that enrich the communities served by Investors Bank, has awarded a grant of $10,000 to the Nonprofit Sector Resource Institute. We are extremely grateful to the Investors Foundation for this award, which will allow the NSRI to expand its activities to keep building the capacity of the nonprofit sector in New Jersey and nationally. During the event in which the donation was announced, Kevin Cummings, president and CEO of Investors Bank and a member of the Foundation’s board of trustees, expressed in words the meaning of this award: “Since its founding, the Nonprofit Sector Resource Institute has provided Seton Hall students, faculty, and staff an opportunity to support the vital work that nonprofit organizations perform in our communities; They have our continued best wishes in the support of their mission.”

Audrey Winkler, NSRI Director, gratefully accepted the grant by stating the following: “We greatly appreciate the continuing friendship of the Investors Foundation. I look forward to working closely with the Foundation, and with all our donors and partners, as I begin my first year with the Institute.”

We want to use this opportunity to thank the Investors Foundation one more time for their generosity and support.

Ready, Set, Join! Board Diversity Efforts Mean Greater Opportunity to Serve

Among the latest trends in nonprofit and corporate board leadership is the efficacy of making boards more diverse. Socially conscious investors are increasingly steering money toward companies with gender-diverse boards, according to Investors See Advantage in Diverse Board (February 10, 2014, Wall Street Journal).  The idea behind this drive for gender diversity, is “that if everyone has the same background, they may also have very similar viewpoints. The theory goes that diversity brings disruption and can lead to better ideas,” according to Jason Katz, a New York-based financial adviser with UBS Wealth Management Americas.

A new study produced by Commongood Careers and Level Playing Field Institute presents some very stark diversity statistics:

Today’s nonprofit employees are approximately 82 percent white, 10 percent African- American, five percent Hispanic/Latino, three percent other, and one percent Asian or Pacific Islander. The gap in representation is more pronounced in nonprofit governance, where only 14 percent of board members are people of color. Similarly, in specialized functions such as development, less than six percent of roles are filled by people of color.

What’s significant about the study, however, are not the reflexive conclusions of most diversity studies: nonprofit staff isn’t very diverse; nonprofit boards aren’t very diverse; nonprofits need more diversity; and nonprofits don’t know where to find people of color. Rather, the takeaway is that good intentions aren’t enough. According to author Rosetta Thurman in Nonprofits Don’t Really Care About Diversity, (Stanford Social Innovation Review), “the study showed that most nonprofit employees perceive that their employers claim to value building diverse and inclusive organizations, but that they do little to back up that claim.” Out of 1,600 nonprofit professionals interviewed nationwide for the study, 90% believe that their organizations value diversity, though 70 percent believe that their employer does not do enough to create a diverse and inclusive work environment.

So how do nonprofits overcome this disconnect to go from rhetoric to practice? The Bridgespan Group, an advisor to nonprofits, cites a three-step process:

1. Communicate — Your board should have an open, thoughtful discussion to consider how it and your organization, community, and constituents might benefit from diversity within the board.

2. Act — Develop a case and plan for change: Create a pipeline of candidates; Avoid tokenism; Involve: When you have identified promising candidates, find ways to connect with them and cultivate their interest.

3. Monitor and Measure Results — Monitor progress quarterly or semiannually; Track retention rates of diverse members; Conduct exit interviews; Administer board self-assessments; and Survey staff, constituents, and stakeholders about their perceptions of the organization’s culture of inclusiveness.

Worth adding to the above prescription are the actions of candidates from under-represented groups themselves. Once you’ve committed to serving on a board, one of your very first steps should be to obtain board training from a board leadership program. One comprehensive program for individuals living in the tri-state area is the Board Leadership Institute (BLI), offered through Seton Hall University’s Nonprofit Sector Resource Institute. What makes this a stand-out is its depth (it takes 16+ hours to cover the wealth of board-related material), flexibility (the program can be taught onsite at client locations), and board-matching service, in which participants are individually matched with appropriate boards based on their skills, interests, and locales.

For more information about the BLI, please contact Audrey Winkler, NSRI Director, at nsri@shu.edu.

Post written by Stephen F. Izzo-MPA Graduate Student-2015.