IN MY VIEW: Building the future of your non-profit

IN MY VIEW: Building the future of your non-profit

By Bob Phillips

“Après moi le deluge”
 (after me the flood) — the famous quote from King Louis XV of France should not be part of the mission statement of a nonprofit.

Yet very few agencies have prepared themselves for the flood of problems that will surely swamp them if they don’t have a plan on how to replace their leadership when the inevitable time of transition comes.

One of the less-known and even less-acknowledged facts about the leadership of nonprofits, especially in a retirement area like Southern Arizona, is that it is aging, rapidly. About two-thirds of all nonprofit leaders are planning to leave their jobs in the next five years. Informal interviews with a sample of Green Valley nonprofits suggests that the figure is conservative as most local leaders plan to be doing something else or nothing else five years from now.

In an area that relies on committed and talented volunteers to carry the bulk of the work of its nonprofit agencies, it must be noted that most of these volunteers and the staff members who depend on them are themselves older with a diminishing will and ability to carry the load of their agency’s programs. It is one thing to hire and/or recruited staff and volunteers in their 30s or 40s who will be around for a long time, and quite another when your labor pool is mostly stocked with folks in their 60s and 70s and beyond.

So – back to succession. How does a nonprofit recruit and retain its leadership and workforce in a retirement community? Some suggestions:

•Do not rely on too few for too much – breakdown and burnout are at the end of that path.

•Limit your program aspirations and agency goals to your available and renewable resources.

•When you are recruiting new board members, look for some that are new to the community (meaning that they haven’t already gotten involved in a lot of activities) have nonprofit management experience and look like they will be around for a while.

•Recruit and utilize interns from the high schools and colleges with community service programs of nearby communities like Sahuarita and Tucson. As those communities are a reasonable commute, perhaps they will provide your future leadership.

•If you have had an executive director who was the founder and/or has been with the agency for a long time, consider hiring a temporary executive director (who doesn’t want the permanent job) to help you figure out what you want in the future that will necessarily be different than the past.

•Consider sharing leadership positions by dividing up responsibilities so that one person doesn’t carry the whole load.

•Work with the Greater Green Valley Community Foundation’s Nonprofit Learning Institute to develop and adopt a succession plan that would contain the elements listed above.

At the end of the day, preparing for the future of your favorite cause is the best way of ensuring that it will have one.

For more info on NPLI and its training and nonprofit support programs and/or to make a comment or share an insight, contact: NPLI Director Bob Phillips, rtp1844@gmail.com / http://www.robertphillips-consulting.com/

Non-profits can help feed the soul

Non-profits can help feed the soul

EDITORIAL: Non-profits can help feed the soul By Bob Phillips
Jan 18, 2017

Who’s building the future? Or maybe the real question about the future for Green Valley is how long can anyone — you, me — pursue leisure or recreation without feeding your soul? An often-ignored fact is that the constantly sought after “active adult life” too often leads to depression, drinking, an emptiness. All of us are sustained, whether we acknowledge it or not, by our community. Thus we have an obligation to the place where we live. Ask yourself, what was your goal for coming here? How do you get real fulfillment from this time in your life? Our nonprofit organizations offer us the tools to find the answers.

In the past, helping a neighbor was the way we lived. Then we knew our neighbors as we had grown up together and shared triumphs and tragedies. That time is gone but the need is not. Into that void steps the nonprofit agency. They fill that critical human need to help others, to protect our children, our seniors, our environment, to be a meaningful part of our community, to make a difference.

How do we get involved with the plethora of local nonprofits in Green Valley? That’s easy. Figure out what it is that you have to give, what you are interested in, and what you want to learn, then call the Greater Green Valley Community Foundation at 520-625-4556 and ask which is the best  fit for you.

And while we consider how our nonprofits sustain us and our community, it is fair to ask how do we sustain them? Donors and funders of nonprofits always want to know if the nonprofit that they are helping with money or volunteer time can be sustainable once the money and the volunteer go away. May I suggest that one of the biggest myths about nonprofits concerns sustainability. The fact is that most funders to nonprofits want to give money for only one to two years, and demand that the recipient agency prove that it can become self-sufficient, i.e. not need more money from them, by the end of that period.

Myths are monsters best slain by facts that point out the obvious to the previously oblivious. While we all realize that a business becomes more successful (sustainable) when it sells more stuff or provides more services, we tend to overlook the fact that as a nonprofit becomes more successful in providing the services it was created to provide, its costs go up while its revenue stays the same because it isn’t making a profit. That’s why we call them nonprofits. Success equals more clients, more staff and more expenses without proportional increase in funding. Get the picture? So, once you  and the nonprofit that meets your need to serve, to be useful and fits your interests, stick with it for the long haul.

Once there are no more hungry or poor, no more lonely and sick, no more threats to our environment or schools that need supplies or teachers, then you can get back to that life of leisure and recreation, that active adult life that you thought you came here to get. I bet you’ll find another nonprofit to help.

Bob Phillips is director of the NonProfit Learning Institute of the Greater Green Valley Community Foundation.

For more information on its training and service programs or to make a comment, contact him via email at: rtp1844@gmail.com

Who’s Building the Future? Shining Light on Local Non-profit Groups

By Bob Phillips, Reposted from the Green Valley News, Oct 14, 2016

“Nonprofits are the best way to bring to life our dreams and aspirations for a community we would be proud to bestow to future generations.” — Michelle Phillips, Executive Director Greater Green Valley Community Foundation Nonprofits – amazing and uniquely American organizations.

While the daily news makes it agonizingly clear who is blowing up the present, the nonprofit agencies laying the foundation for a better, more prosperous, more just future locally and around the world often labor in obscurity, facing growing challenges with inadequate resources. Yet how obscure should an employer of 10.1 percent of the total U.S. workforce and a producer of $805 billion of the U.S. Gross Domestic Product be? Not very. Yes, nonprofits (NPOs) in the U.S. are that big! In Arizona, our nonprofits generate more than 8 percent of the state’s gross state product, are the state’s 5th largest non-governmental employer and are responsible for more than 325,000 jobs (AZ nonprofit Report 2016). Yet here in Southern Arizona, the more than 70 nonprofits served by the Greater Green Valley Community Foundation remain unknown by most people not directly affected by their programs. These local nonprofits help to raise our kids, give us affordable and accessible healthcare, and provide food and shelter to the more than 25 percent of our local families living in poverty. They also protect our mountains and rivers, provide places of worship, recreation, education and culture and give Southern Arizona the quality of life critical to its growth, security and prosperity.

So, the Nonprofit Learning Institute, a program of the Greater Green Valley Community Foundation, aims to help local nonprofits to organize, become more productive, innovative, collaborative and assertive. How? For starters, by offering an ongoing series of trainings, inspired by the foundation’s board chairman Mark Davy’s 4 Pillars of Successful Nonprofits. That leads to a certificate for every participating non-profit. There’s also a monthly facilitated Executive Roundtable, attended by local non-pro t leaders, to a create a collaborative community between previously competing non-profits. And there are workshops on strategic planning, forming partnerships and building sustainability through cross-sector resource development. This monthly column will focus on critical topics not generally covered. Like the myth of nonprofit sustainability, why the concept of charity stands in the way of effective philanthropy and social investment, why non-profit leadership is critical yet seldom practiced or rewarded, why so few young people take up non-profit careers and why Southern Arizona non-profits (and their communities) seem so oblivious to the fact their future depends on what happens 43 miles south of Green Valley. Look for this column every month in the Green Valley News and on GGVCF sites. Each will feature comments and insights from you the public, non-profit staff and board members, volunteers and those served by local non-profits. The column will be frank, intelligent, creative, constructive, kind and honest. Let us know your thoughts.

For more info on GGVCF (www.ggvcf.org) and NPLI and its trainings to NPO’s and to make a comment or share an insight, contact: Michelle Phillips exd@ggvcf.org or NPLI Director Bob Phillips, rtp1844@gmail.com / http://www.robertphillips-consulting.com