Tuesday, December 30, 2008

100 Memories - Make a List for Year’s End

This idea comes to us from our friends at For Impact. As Nick Fellers relates:

Every year-end I make a list of 100 memories from the year. These could be events, moments, firsts, lasts, etc. etc.

It’s a great way to reflect on the year and prepare for the next.

This tradition was inspired by Michael Gelb’s How to Think Like Leonardo da Vinci. He says one of Leo’s brainstorming exercises was to come up with 100 big questions about life, the universe, etc. The idea is that the first 30 will be easy. The next 30 will be cool and the remaining questions will be profound, insightful and guiding. You will see telling themes emerge.

The same is true of the 100 memories list. After you get past obvious moments like weddings, travels and births the really some great insights about what you value/treasure start to emerge. Watch those themes and design your 09 to make more memories like these!

Try this great idea for your nonprofit! Imagine listing the 100 memories about your nonprofit and the value and power of this list. Watch here for a sample list (to be posted) to get you started or feel free to share your list.

Monday, December 29, 2008

New Nonprofit Investment Rules About To Hit

The Nonprofit Times featured a helpful article on the changes in financial statement reporting and disclosure requirements for nonprofit organizations with donor-restricted endowment funds and board-designated endowment funds. The article is available here.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

A Nonprofit's Holiday Insight

Paula Huntsman, the Council Director of Otsego County - Girls on the Run, shared these recent thoughts:

Jack Johnson's Rudolph Song lyrics:
Rudolph the red-nosed reindeer
had a very shiny nose
and if you ever saw it
you would even say it glows.
All of the other reindeer
use to laugh and call him names.
They never let poor Rudolph join in any reindeer games.
Then one foggy Christmas Eve
Santa came to say;
"Rudolph with your nose so bright,
won't you guide my sleigh tonight?
"Then how the reindeers loved him,
as they shouted out with glee
"Rudolph the red-nosed reindeer
you'll go down in history!
"Well Rudolph he didn't go for that he said "I see through your silly games.
How can you look me in the face when only yesterday you called me names?
"Well, all of the other reindeers, man,
well they did sure feel ashamed,
"Rudolph, you know we're sorry.
We're truly gonna try to change"

This song is a great example for life. Rudolph is different but Santa sees Rudolph's difference as something good and useful- a gift! Rudolph stands up for himself and the reindeer who were teasing apologize and vow to change. Oh, if we could all do this;
  • ~See our differences as gifts
  • ~Stand up for ourselves and be heard
  • ~Apologize when we've hurt someone
  • ~Vow to change our bad habits.

At Girls on the Run we talk about all these issues. The very first lesson as we are getting to know each other we explore our likes and differences. In another lesson we learn key phrases for standing for ourselves without putting the other person on the defensive. We also have a lesson where we explore our habits and think about change.

My New Years wish is for all of us to apply these lessons to our lives and by doing that we will make the world a better place to be!



Tuesday, December 16, 2008

NYS Budget Impact on the Arts

NYS Arts, formerly The Alliance for New York State Arts Organizations, announced the following info about Governor Patterson's proposed budget cuts and their impact on the arts and the New York State Council on the Arts (NYSCA).

The Governor's proposed cut for the arts in the current 2008-09 budget stands at $7 million. And the total cut to the 2009-10 arts budget is almost $10 million from the start of the 2008-09 fiscal year.

  • The Governor's proposal remains unchanged. He proposes eliminating the NYSCA funds that have not yet been awarded from the OCTOBER and DECEMBER cycles totaling $7 million. This means that almost all of the almost 600 organizations in those two cycles will not receive any funding.....including those who have general operating support pending. The inequities are staggering! This proposed reduction is the second one in this current budget (don't forget there was almost approximately a 10% reduction a couple of months ago). It will bring the NYSCA budget down to $38.9 million from $48.5 million at the start of the current fiscal year.


  • The Governor's budget proposes a "$7 million dollar" cut to NYSCA in 2009-10, or $38.9 million for local assistance/grants to the field. HOWEVER, this is actually almost a $10 million cut or approximately a 20% reduction from the beginning of the current fiscal year when the budget was $48.5 million. This means that there will not be an additional cut to NYSCA if the Governor's second proposed cut is approved by the Legislature. NYSCA Operations budget is almost $5.5 million....down from $6.1 million at the beginning of the current fiscal year and down from $5.7 million after the mid-year cuts.


  • The Governor proposes merging the New York State Theatre Institute with the Empire State Plaza Performing Arts Center ("The Egg"). Under the Executive Budget, the New York State Theatre Institute becomes a subsidiary of "The Egg", the Theatre Institute will continue to provide artistic and educational programming for children and families from its current facilities in Troy under the merger. State support for the new organization will be $3.65 million.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Resource Sharing Roundtable Generates Ideas and Invites Your Feedback

Andrew Marietta, CCSNYS
Debra Marcus, Planned Parenthood of South Central New York
Ed Shafer, Pathfinder Village
Julie Dostal, LEAF
Kathie Greenblatt, Catholic Charities of Delaware & Otsego Counties
Liz Callahan, Hanford Mills Museum
Lynn Glueckert, Catholic Charities of Delaware & Otsego Counties
Susan Kenny, Roxbury Arts Group
Terry Capuano, United Way of Otsego and Delaware Counties

Facing an uncertain economy, growing budget cuts, and increasing demands for services, the Leatherstocking AEA Resource Sharing Roundtable was convened to discuss possible ideas to respond to these challenging times. In preparation for this meeting a brief survey available here was implemented that asked about nonprofit challenges and potential ways to respond. The meeting of executives opened with an introduction by Julie Dostal, executive director of LEAF, who related that she wanted to hear what other directors are doing to cut costs and save staff (which was a focus everyone agreed was a priority). The group proceeded to discuss a number of ideas that their individual agencies are exploring. Ideas ranged from cutting staff benefits and hours to facility improvements and cost sharing. A more detailed list is below.

The group also discussed staff morale and how to address, especially related to these ideas. The group agreed budget updates were essential, although too much information can be an issue. The directors need to be advocates and reinforce confidence. Lastly, the group discussed getting the board involved and helping address these future challenges.

  • Benefits package reductions, such as reduction in pension plan contribution
  • Ask staff to volunteer to decrease their hours
  • Staff furloughs
  • Executive directors reduce their hours
  • If buyout for health insurance offered, reduce buyout
  • Energy audit and improvements, such as lighting, lower temperatures, insulation, etc.
  • Close facility for winter or spring
  • Centralize buying of supplies, such as oil, office supplies, etc.
  • No longer counting on state funding and budgeting based on majority of income coming from fees and donors

The group felt that rural areas will see the largest impact from cutbacks. Centralizing or consolidating services generally moves them to larger population centers, and this will hurt the local region. Thus, the group felt that the rural voice needs to be heard and advocated.

Possible next steps:

  • Collect nonprofit facilities upgrades and capital improvements as a group to communicate to elected officials as opportunities for infrastructure improvements under new administration
  • Explore joint fundraising efforts, such as an appeal or event
  • Create joint annual report for region’s nonprofits (invite local newspaper, like The Daily Star, to discuss this idea)
  • Focus on integrating more technology into communication and fundraising efforts
  • Set follow up meeting to have a more facilitated conversation or address a potential idea more directly

Please share your feedback or additional input here or send them by e-mail. Next steps for this group will follow soon.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Nonprofit Gift Cards for the Holidays!

Stanford Social Innovation Review's blog featured a recent post on Nonprofit Gift Cards and their expected boom this year. The post by Perla Ni, founding publisher of the Stanford Social Innovation Review, defines these cards as cards redeemable as a donation towards a nonprofit. She lists a couple of organizations where cards are available and the comments section lists additional sources.

Presently, there isn't a local resource offering nonprofit gift cards. Any suggestions for putting this in place for Leatherstocking AEA organizations? Is your nonprofit offering this kind of giving option to your supporters?

The Rise of New Online News Organizations

The New York Times featured an article recently on the rise of new web-based news organizations that are nonprofits. The article outlines what these organizations, like VoiceofSanDiego.org, offer and how they are filling the void of contracting newspapers.

This development also reinforces the need for nonprofits to focus on their websites as sources for news and information. As the past media panel related, nonprofits offer expertise and information. Thus, nonprofit websites can and should be positioned as essential resources.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Retirement Plan Changes

Like many directors, a Leatherstocking AEA executive director was inquiring recently about the new retirement-plan regulations taking effect January 1st regarding 403(b) plans. There are a number of recent articles available that help give direction and guidance to preparing for these important changes. For example, the Philanthropy Journal offers an article by Kimberlee Sipe defining and discussing the new changes here. Do you have an article you would like to suggest? Post it here or e-mail the link.

Friday, December 5, 2008


Foothills Performing Arts Center is a regional arts and civic facility located in Oneonta, New York, which will be a venue for performances, concerts, drama productions, private events, and other activities. The Center has completed a first phase and is functioning as a venue while the second stage – an atrium and a larger theater – is scheduled for completion by June 30, 2009.

The Executive Director will provide the leadership and vision necessary to achieve the Center’s mission and objectives. Responsibilities include, engaging and scheduling events, managing the budget, and ascertaining that a consistent revenue stream is being produced, including a fundraising campaign, while maintaining contacts with donors, projected event participants, corporations, and governmental units at all levels.

Qualifications are a Bachelor’s Degree and at least ten years of relevant experience, including running a business, grant writing, and at least some exposure to evaluating events, their profitability and necessary contacts with agents and sponsors.

Salary for this position is in the $60,000-$80,000 range, with paid holidays, vacation and other benefits.

Please respond with a cover letter and resume to:
(preferred method via email to)
Mr. Douglas C. Reeser, President
Board of Directors and Search Committee
or PO Box 977, Oneonta, NY 13820

Monday, December 1, 2008

Using Web 2.0 in Response to Budget Cuts

Thanks to Beth Kanter, well known web 2.0 expert and a past speaker at CCSNYS Money for Mission conference, who shared the following link to a social media campaign to fight a proposed 100% arts budget cut in Ottawa, Canada. Take a look at this video to learn more about this effort and the call to action. This is a great example for nonprofits to consider in responding to the impact of the present tough economic times.