I’m Still Learning

A few weeks ago, I watched as my seven-year-old son encouraged his great-grandmother to play a video game with him.  Gently, yet persistently, my grandmother assured him, “you can’t teach an old dog new tricks.”  Albert Einstein had a different perspective: “Once you stop learning, you start dying.”  Whether Einstein would have embraced playing Mario Cart on Wii Uor not, we’ll never know.  But I’ve decided to embrace Einstein’s perspective, and I really believe my grandmother has too – she just chooses to use crossword puzzles and Scrabble to continue learning.

Many nonprofits focus on learning, but that message is typically directed to stakeholders. We aren’t always so great at directing the message of continued learning back to ourselves as nonprofit professionals.

KNN’s increased focus on creating a strong, unified public policy voice for nonprofits has given me lots of learning opportunities.  As KNN launches an all-hands-on-deck effort to seek passage of HCR 89 to create a task force to examine and improve nonprofit contractual relationships with state government, there is much to learn.  While challenging at times, I am embracing the things I’m learning about the legislative process and lobbying – even things I dislike.  I am blessed to have the guidance and support of wonderful KNN board and public policy committee members.  Their combined expertise, my persistence to tackle this important public policy priority, and our legislative champions combined with your partnership on this important issue will be a powerful coalition working to secure passage of HCR 89 – or at least initiate a much needed conversation.

If you haven’t gotten up to speed yet on why this issue of nonprofit and government contracting matters to each of us, please check out my blog post from last week and this updated summary.

KNN will also be learning during this year’s third annual Kentucky Gives Day.  We announced last week that we are moving this statewide 24-hour giving event to December 1, 2015 to take advantage of the growing momentum and success of #GivingTuesday.  We will be learning alongside our members in this effort, so that we can continue to find the best ways to harness the power of social media to encourage online giving.

I once heard a speaker say that growth is uncomfortable – and I believe that’s true.  I also believe these learning opportunities will help KNN stay on top of our game by looking forward and making bold moves to advance our nonprofit community

If you will stand with us on this journey to continue learning and growing, I’m certain we will empower our nonprofit community and strengthen Kentucky.

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KNN Working on Passage of HCR 89 to Improve Contracting with Government

For ten years and counting, KNN leads the charge to bring nonprofits to Frankfort for our annual Kentucky Nonprofit Day at the Capitol. This year, as we grow our advocacy program for members, we have special news to share – KNN is proud to be actively working on and supporting our first piece of legislation! Please stand with us on this important work that impacts all nonprofits!

The concurrent resolution (HCR 89) would create a task force to improve nonprofit and government contracting.  This issue impacts many nonprofits directly, but also matters to our entire sector because it is an important start to needed discussions about how government and nonprofits work together.  Your nonprofit may not do business with government, but some day you may. More importantly, many of our nonprofits are facing many barriers as a result of unnecessary contracting issues, barriers that keep us all from working together to strengthen our communities. Make no mistake about it – all nonprofits are impacted by this issue.  I urge you to familiarize yourself with some talking points on HCR 89, contact your legislators and urge them to support this resolution.  Also, if you have a story about how issues with your organization’s state contracts have negatively impacted your ability to provide services, please let us hear from you!

We are proud to have Representative Addia Wuchner (R-Florence) and Representative Arnold Simpson (D-KY 65thDistrict) as co-sponsors of this concurrent resolution.  Wuchner’s experience in board membership with a number of nonprofits give her a first-hand perspective to champion this issue. She has also served on various task forces affecting education and poverty, and has been a health professional for 26 years. Simpson has vast experience serving on various house committees in addition to being a former city manager in Covington. The bi-partisan pair is well-equipped to argue our case for a task force to identify how we can better join forces with our state and local governments to serve Kentuckians.

KNN is also closely watching a bill that will modernize some of Kentucky’s business laws. This matters to all nonprofits in Kentucky because this bill includes several key clarifications to laws governing nonprofits. You may remember that in last year’s session, KNN was successful in working to stop passage of the KY Revised Nonprofit Corporation Act because the complete overhaul was developed with no input from the nonprofit sector.  Proactively, KNN convened a work group last fall that made its own recommendations for clarifying existing Kentucky law – without an overhaul.  These recommendations were posted to our website for your feedback and then shared with the Office of Secretary of State.  I’m proud to report these recommendations are the basis for the proposed clarification in this bill – a major win for our sector! 

Again, we are closely monitoring this proposed legislation and once it’s filed, KNN’s public policy committee will determine our position.  This legislation will affect how all nonprofits in Kentucky operate; stay tuned for more information as it develops!

KNN has long felt called to provide a strong, unified voice for nonprofits in Frankfort and in Washington, D.C., a calling that became one of the key reasons KNN transitioned from its home at the University of Kentucky to an independent nonprofit. With this transition, we are better able to enrich, protect, and advance nonprofits across the Commonwealth. We are honored to lead the way as your state association, but we cannot do it alone. Your voice is critical to protecting and advancing our sector!

I am, of course, sincerely hoping I will see you in Frankfort on Thursday, February 12 for our annual Day at the Capitol event. It will be a chance to meet the legislators sponsoring our work, connect with legislators in your district, and voice your support for HCR89 and other issues important to your nonprofit.  We look forward to sharing this milestone with each of you.

For those of you who cannot make the trip to Frankfort on February 12, I urge you to call/email your legislators and voice your support for HCR 89. Kentucky’s elected leadership is relying on you to tell them why it matters. They are relying on you to tell them how you are impacted. And they’re relying on you to tell them why Kentucky nonprofits need their support to better serve their constituents.

Please stand with us by joining us in Frankfort or by making a few phone calls.  Your support will strengthen all Kentucky nonprofits, one conversation at a time.

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Danielle Clore
Executive Director

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Bonding Time

For a decade, we’ve been convening Kentucky’s nonprofit sector in Frankfort for KY Nonprofit Day at the Capitol. This year, we’ll gather on Thursday, February 12.

If you plan to join us this year or even if you are still undecided, I urge you to check out the resources on our public policy blog site – kynonprofitvoice.org. This site includes great resources for visits with legislators, but honestly – the information about the economic importance of our sector in the More Than Charity resources are facts we should be sharing with our community and business leaders and for some of us, we may need to start at home with our staff and board members.

I also want to be sure you don’t miss another excellent resource: Stand for Your Mission. Please read and share with your board members. Many of our board members think nonprofits have no business engaging in public policy or that doing so is against the law. Let’s bust the myth and even take it a step further – let’s engage our board members in this important work!

You guessed it – I’m asking you to attend KY Nonprofit Day at the Capitol AND I’m asking you to invite a board member to join you. A road trip together will be great bonding and we need their engagement in creating a unified voice for our sector. We’ll see you there!

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Danielle Clore

Executive Director

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You Need Us | We Need You

I’ve got big plans for 2015! How about you?

Whether you are someone who makes resolutions or not, I hope you will make a commitment in 2015 to engage more with your state association! Why? Because you need us and we need you.

Nonprofit organizations and leaders like you need KNN for support, inspiration and access to sector news, professional development opportunities and best practices to effectively achieve your mission. Nonprofits also need access to KNN’s benefits that will save you time and money. Whether its free job postings in our Career Center, big savings with our unemployment insurance program with First Nonprofit Companies, budget relief with discounts on background checks with Coeus Global, or our newest program – a state association health plan – KNN is committed to bringing your organization the tools you need to focus on your mission.

Your state association needs you because a unified voice for our sector is critical. We can only strengthen our communities and our Commonwealth with a strong, effective nonprofit sector.  Nonprofits are Kentucky’s THIRD largest industry and there’s strength in numbers!   If you aren’t yet a member, KNN and our hundreds of members across the Commonwealth need you to stand with us and become a member today.  And if you are already a member, a great way to kick off your engagement with us in 2015 is to attend the 10th Annual KY Nonprofit Day at the Capitol on February 12.

Before the holidays, I had lunch with one of our KNN members and I asked her – why is your organization a member? She said there were lots of reasons, but that short of a natural disaster or personal crisis – she would not miss the opportunity for her and her staff to learn and network at KNN’s annual KY Nonprofit Leadership Forum. She added that she also felt good knowing that KNN was looking out for her organization’s best interests in Frankfort and in Washington – one less thing on her already busy plate. She then shared how much money she saved with some of our benefits each year – savings that far outweighed her membership dues. Obviously after those comments, I had to buy her lunch!

But seriously, if you don’t already love KNN – I hope you will give us a chance to show you why you need us and we need you. I can’t promise to buy you lunch, but I will tell you that our small but mighty team is eager to do what we can to help your organization best serve your community. We look forward to seeing more of you in the year ahead. Here’s to a fantastic 2015!

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Danielle Clore

Executive Director
P.S. We’re doing a big membership push to kick off 2015 and we hope you’ll take time to share with other nonprofit colleagues why they should join you as a KNN member. If they join by January 31, 2015 and mention your organization as the referral source, you’ll be eligible to win a free two-day registration to the 2015 Kentucky Nonprofit Leadership Forum, valued at over $250! And if you get creative with your membership pitch via social media or email, send us a draft. The most creative pitch will receive 50% off one registration for the two-day Forum.

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Wrapping Up Year End

December at KNN means seeing many months of hard work on two key projects finally come together.  While I suspect your year-end list might be long, please take a moment to add these two projects to your list of things to check out:  our new state association health plan and recommendations on laws governing nonprofits in Kentucky.

KNN is committed to finding ways to save our members time and money so you can focus on what matters – your mission.  We heard loud and clear that the costs and complexities of healthcare were causing many of you headaches, so we knew we needed to act.  KNN’s new Employee Benefits Program with our partner Peel & Holland offers eligible members a wide variety of plan choices through Anthem Blue Cross Blue Shield; full service benefits advisory on group medical, dental and cafeteria plans; and special KNN members-only rates.  If you’re interested in learning more, please contact us.  Even if your plan isn’t up for renewal for several months, now is the time to work on exploring options and rates.

We’ve also been hard at work advocating for you.  You may remember that last year, SB 178 (the Revised Nonprofit Incorporation Act) was introduced to overhaul the Kentucky Revised Statues concerning nonprofit incorporation and governance.  The proposed legislation was drafted with no input from nonprofits and it would have impacted every single organization in Kentucky.  KNN was successful in helping keep this bill from moving in last year’s General Assembly.  We proactively convened a work group to explore specific recommendations to improve these laws (since the majority were written in the 1960s and fail to take into account advances in technology) and thanks to their efforts, our list of recommendations has been developed to clarify areas of confusion in the laws.  Now we need to hear from you – please take a minute to read through these recommendations and let us know your thoughts, including any positive or negative implications of the proposed changes by December 11.  Please also plan to join us on December 12 for the upcoming Nonprofit Sector Advocacy Council virtual meeting, where we’ll be further discussing these recommendations and the sector’s legislative agenda for the 2015 General Assembly, and KY Nonprofit Day at the Capitol on February 12.

KNN is proud to serve as your state association – working to strengthen and advance our nonprofit community.  We do this work for you and we simply cannot do it without you – it’s a partnership.  As always, please contact us with your questions, ideas and thoughts.

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Danielle Clore

Executive Director

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Please Don’t Ever Say That Again

Last August we told you about some welcome news from the nation’s three largest nonprofit information providers – GuideStar, Charity Navigator and the BBB Wise Giving Alliance – teaming up to issue an open letter to America’s donors explaining that overhead ratios are a poor way to understand a nonprofit’s performance or effectiveness.

Now they’re directly addressing us – the nonprofits – and they are looking for our help.  As a matter of fact, they’ve told us there are some things about overhead that they hope nonprofits NEVER say again.

Statements like “Only X% of your gift goes to overhead,” or “Only X cents on the dollar go to overhead costs” are doing your nonprofit, your donors and those you serve a disservice.

This reminds me of a conversation I had several years ago with a nonprofit executive who boasted about their overhead of less than 7%, yet lamented for the next 30 minutes about how the organization simply couldn’t get things accomplished.  I finally had to ask – do you think your ridiculously low overhead, your unwillingness to invest in infrastructure could be to blame for your woes?  And honestly, don’t those you serve deserve better?

So, where do we go from here?  In this second letter from the “big three,” they share three things that nonprofits can do to move toward an “Overhead Solution:”

  1.      Demonstrate ethical practice and share data about your performance.
  2.      Manage towards results and understand your true costs.
  3.      Help educate funders (individuals, foundations, corporations and government) on the real cost of results.

KNN resources can help you take the steps needed to help us all work together to dismantle the overhead myth and move toward an overhead solution.  Our Principles & Practices for Nonprofit Excellence in Kentucky tools are the perfect place to start and our website is full of links, templates and resources to assist your organization in improving your effectiveness.  The Principles & Practices tools outline state and federal legal requirements for your nonprofit and provide guidance on recommended best practices in fourteen areas of nonprofit management.  Just by simply using these tools, your nonprofit can become a KNN Best Practices Partner and join with other nonprofits to communicate your organization’s efforts with donors, funders, community members and other stakeholders.   Additional tools and resources can be found at www.strongnonprofits.org and www.overheadmyth.com.

I urge you to please start at home – share these resources with your staff, board members and take a moment to reflect on your OWN attitudes about overhead.  As this great blog post points out, many nonprofits are perpetuating the very myth we claim we so desperately want to dismantle!  I then hope you will seize this opportunity to communicate with donors and funders.  It is only through open and honest discussion between donors and nonprofits about the real cost of results that we can make progress and focus on the work of getting stuff done rather than bending over backward to promote our low or non-existent overhead.

I know some of you are thinking “Amen!” and others plan to file this in the “Danielle is off her rocker” folder.  Either way, let me hear from you and more importantly, let me know how KNN can help.

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Danielle Clore

Executive Director

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Our untapped power

KNN just wrapped up our road trip of town hall meetings across Kentucky to talk about the economic importance of nonprofits.  In each and every meeting we held, nonprofit leaders were completely shocked to learn about the economic power of our sector – the untapped power of our nonprofit community.  What did you miss?

Well you missed a lot, but don’t worry – you can attend one of two town hall meeting sessions at the upcoming KY Nonprofit Leadership Forum on October 28-29 at the Lexington Convention Center to get up to speed.  We’ve also created this quick video that we hope you will post to social media and share with your nonprofit colleagues, board members, staff, donors and volunteers.  Finally, in preparation for election day on November 4, we’ve created these stickers that you can print and distribute.  We’re working on additional tools to help each of us get more informed and better engaged in communicating the economic importance and critical work of our sector.

There are several significant public policy issues facing the nonprofit community in the upcoming legislative session, so efforts NOW to understand our own value and create awareness and relationships with legislators and public officials are vitally important.  The bottom line is: KNN is YOUR state association and we simply cannot do this important work without you and other nonprofits standing with us – standing together.  Please become a KNN member, and if you are already a member, please take a moment to encourage your colleagues to stand with us today.

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Danielle Clore

Executive Director

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