Time to get our give on!

It’s fitting that prom and graduation season tie in so nicely with KY Gives Day.  Over 200 nonprofits from across Kentucky are participating on May 24 and they are getting all gussied up – just like we’d do for prom.  We are eager to look our best and share our stories on www.kygives.org to encourage more Kentuckians, near and far, to invest in our missions.d400dec262dc37f6ff1dd3a5ea5cf7b2.jpg

And like graduation, participating nonprofits are proud of our accomplishments and eager to use the KY Gives Day opportunity to celebrate our work – yet we know KY Gives Day is also only one step of our journey. Our work to improve communities is not done and the quest to acquire new donors and raise needed funds never ends.

Please take a minute between now and 11:59pm EST on Tuesday, May 24 to visit www.kygives.org and show some of your favorite causes some love.  And good luck to all participating nonprofits – KNN appreciates your commitment to making KY Gives Day 2016 a success and thanks to the support of our KY Gives Day sponsors and partners, we are proud to provide this tool to help you raise needed funds, identify new friends and share your story successfully.

Let’s get our give on!


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The Thing About Toothpaste…

Of course, I think my eight year old son is adorable – he’s smart, handsome, loving, witty and extremely competitive.  He’s also curious.  Right now, he’s especially curious about words he’s not supposed to say – which makes him not so adorable.  On a recent car trip, he was quizzing us about these words and how “bad” they were on the scale of “badness.” My husband handled the issue perfectly: “Son, regardless of whether or not you get in trouble for saying that word, saying something like that is like toothpaste – once it’s out of the tube, it’s nearly impossible to get it back in.  Sometimes, you can’t take it back.

This same advice comes to mind when I read about issues at Wounded Warrior (just Google it, there are too many articles to link here) and Cancer Fund of America/Cancer Support Services.  Once a charity’s reputation (or as I fear – the sector’s reputation) is damaged, it is really tough to overcome – it’s hard to get the toothpaste back in the tube.  And how can we not think that situations like these are responsible for some of the downright scary legislation we are seeing crop up across the nation.  In our own Commo25109232005_54ac8c4717_nnwealth, HB 583 was filed in the 2016 KY General Assembly to require the KY Attorney General to create a “worst 50” list of charities based on certain expense criteria.  I support calling out bad apples, but with which yardstick? You may know – I’m pretty passionate about the overhead myth.  So, I assured the sponsor of the bill, Representative Jill York, that KNN and our members agree with her – nonprofits must be transparent and good stewards of the funds entrusted to them.  But I urged her to work with us on how that’s achieved.   One size doesn’t fit all…

So what can we do?  Lots.  My colleague, Tim Delaney at the National Council of Nonprofits shared excellent thoughts in his article: Earning the Public’s Trust – Every Day.  And as Tim mentions, KNN’s Principles & Practices for Nonprofit Excellence in Kentucky tools are an excellent resource.

The older I get, the more I learn that there’s little I can control.  I can’t control the bad apples that unfortunately exist in our sector – any more than I can convince someone to stop fighting a good piece of legislation, squelch my son’s current fascination with all things inappropriate and gross, or even get the toothpaste back in the tube.   Luckily, there are things I can control – steps we as nonprofit leaders can take – and I’m going to channel my energies there.  I believe it’s the only way to get the focus where it needs to be – on the important work of our nonprofit sector and it’s impact on our communities.

KNN is here to help – to provide our members with resources and tools; to advocate on your behalf when legislation is filed that we think will damage the sector; and to engage our sector in these important conversations.  If your nonprofit isn’t a KNN member, I can’t think  of a more important time to join your state association of nonprofits.


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A List That’s Too Short

Normally, my lists are long – my work to do list, my personal to do list, my grocery list, my bucket list.  But this list is too short – and that’s not good.  The current list of registrants for Kentucky Nonprofit Day at the Capitol on February 17 doesn’t reflect the number of nonprofit leaders that, I’m certain, are committed to ensuring a unified voiced for our sector – especially with the opportunities we have to build on our 2015 momentum; introduce the work of the sector and it’s economic imp16325178129_a2f3ea4d3f_zortance to a new administration; and remind those running for re-election this fall that we are the state’s third largest industry and we vote.

If you happen to be on the fence about attending on 2/17, I hope to give you the little nudge you need to register.  It can be easy, especially when you are busy, to
wonder if showing up for events like this really matters. Well, it does. We need you there.  You need you there.  The sector needs you there. Kentucky’s communities need you there.
Please take time to register today. And if you’ve got a willing board member, share this excellent resource and bring them along for the road trip.

The list of legislators planning to join us on 2/17 is growing because they want to meet and hear from you.  They need to meet and hear from you – you are the experts on what matters.  And let’s not forget, many are running for re-election this fall…

We look forward to receiving your registration and making the list of nonprofit leaders coming together at the Capitol a longer one.  Let’s make this our largest gathering at the Capitol ever!



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You STILL Need Us |We STILL Need You

Happy 2016!  Just over one year ago, I blogged that you need us and we need you.  As I prepared for my first blog of 2016, not much has changed – so why reinvent the wheel, right?!?  If anything, KNN has even more to offer our members and with our work ahead, we need you on our team more than ever.  So, if you aren’t yet a KNN member or convinced of our need for one another, I hope you’ll take a minute to read my pitch from 2015.

In this short year since that blog, we’ve celebrated two legislative victories in the 2015 General Assembly and the U.S. nonprofit sector has also celebrated some major victories.
dc at podium 2 We are ready to roll up our sleeves again for the 2016 session of the Kentucky General Assembly and remain vigilant on federal policy issues with our partner, the National Council of Nonprofits and our state association peers.

To prepare for one of our legislative priorities for 2016, we need your help.  KNN has again been collaborating with the Office of Secretary of State to continue modernizing and clarifying the laws governing Kentucky nonprofits – building on the work of House Bill 440 in 2015.  This quick survey will share the highlights of the recommendations from two task forces and provide you an opportunity to share your feedback on the impact of the recommendations.  We need to hear from you – please take a look!

Finally, it’s time to remind our legislators and share the news with the new folks that our nonprofit community is More Than Charity. Nonprofits from across Kentucky will be gathering for Kentucky Nonprofit Day at the Capitol on Wednesday, February 17.  Given the challenges and opportunities our Commonwealth and our sector are facing, I’m hoping for our biggest crowd ever – please stand with us and register today!

I look forward to seeing you soon!  Here’s to another fantastic year!



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I Hope You Are Out of the Office…

You may not be in the office to read this blog post. In fact, I hope you aren’t in the office. The more emails I send today, the more “out of office replies” I get back from colleagues not returning to the office until January 4. That is so awesome! I’m counting down my hours too. Counting down until I take my own break and counting down the hours I have left to accomplish a hefty “to finish before the holidays list” – including this update for you.

First, ICYMI (in case you missed it) there was an election in our Commonwealth. There are many unknowns, threats and opportunities that accompany change. I believe this makes our 2016 KY Nonprofit Day at the Capitol more important than any other year (yes, I know I say that EVERY year). KNN’s public policy committee and board of directors recently approved our 2016 legislative priorities – check them out and then register to join us on February 17 in Frankfort!

I also wanted to share some thanks with you. I was nominated for an Excellence in Advocacy Award by my colleague David Thompson with the IMG_4307National Council of Nonprofits for KNN’s work on HCR 89 and our More Than Charity initiative. I was among three finalists in the state government category – what a thrill! And while I didn’t bring home the crystal award, I am incredibly grateful that David saw fit to nominate me and I am even more grateful for the work of our KNN members, board of directors and public policy committee to advance Kentucky’s nonprofit sector. KNN’s advocacy work is absolutely a team effort, even if I’m the one who gets to go the fancy reception in our nation’s Capitol. So thank you…

My final item to report for 2015: KNN hosted the third KY Gives event on December 1 – also known as #GivingTuesday. 144 KNN members raised over $142,000 in 24 hours – bringing the three year total to just over $931,000. We are excited to break the $1 million mark next year, so look for an opportunity to share your thoughts on our 2016 plans in the coming weeks.

As my combined anxiety and excitement about my upcoming holiday break hits its peak, know that your state association has finished 2015 in very good shape and is looking forward to a fantastic 2016 with you on our team! We appreciate you and your work to strengthen our communities.

Happiest of holidays to you!


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5 Reminders for Nonprofit Leaders from Taylor Swift – Seriously…

Last month, I took my eleven year-old daughter to her first concert – Taylor Swift. I was about 11 years old when I attended my first concert. I can still remember singing Chicago’s hits from the nosebleed section of Freedom Hall with my best girlfriends. (Go ahead – take a little mental vacation and remember your first concert experience.) Attending a first concert with your child is a very different experience. Throughout the night, I kept finding myself conflicted between being a mom and getting caught up in the fun. Just as I’d get caught up in the shrieks and dancing, I’d wonder: Is this music too loud – what if I am damaging her hearing? Does she notice these male dancers rolling around shirtless on the stage (she did)? Oh gosh, does she really understand the lyrics she’s singing? And then, I really hope she understands the lyrics she’s singing…

We had a fantastic time – I survived and she loved every single minute of the experience! Thanks to Taylor Swift, here are a few reminders I received from the show that I want to share with my nonprofit colleagues:

5.  Establish priorities and stick to them. A fun twist on my Taylor Swift concert experience is that I WON our tickets – what an opportunity! To take my daughter to this show meant I was going to have to miss an important work meeting. One of the priorities I’d set for 2015 was to take advance of one-on-one time with my daughter while she was still willing to spend time with me. I decided that this commitment I’d made to myself had to take priority over a work meeting – and this was a very difficult decision for me. But looking back, when I think of my daughter’s face, her reaction to the show and the memories we made – I have no regrets for missing the meeting. Zero.

4.  Practice gratitude and kindness. Taylor made everyone in Rupp Arena, me included, feel like she sincerely appreciated us for being a fan. I left the show feeling like she was my new “BFF.” In a time when fear, ignorance, hatred, terror and intolerance seem rampant, practicing kindness and gratitude just feels good and it does good too. I’m going to remember to deliberately practice gratitude and kindness more often.

3.  Let loose every now and then. Having a good time and maybe embarrassing yourself a little is OK. Actually, it’s likely good for you. Some of you may not have issues with this, but it’s not always easy for me to “let go” and wave my LED armband along with 12,000 other fans. Whether a concert or another activity provides you with some freedom – I hope you’ll take advantage of it and enjoy it. I did.

2.  Don’t be afraid to reinvent yourself. While this was my first Taylor Swift show, I am certain her first tour didn’t include a troupe of male dancers, a 360 degree rotating catwalk and (gasp) pop music. At any age, reinventing yourself is likely scary and probably difficult.  But sometimes it’s necessary for your career – and your sanity. I needed this reminder and I’m a work in progress.

1.  Surround yourself with people you trust. Throughout Taylor’s show, friends of hers share stories on jumbo screens about their friendship. There are personal friends from high school, friends she’s met as a result of her career, friends she’s met along the road from teenage angst and stardom. Even for such a young woman, Taylor swift has got this right – a support system of people you can trust is powerful. When I think about both my career in the nonprofit sector and my personal life, I know that surrounding myself with people I can trust to support me, challenge me, shoot me straight and make me laugh when I need it most has been the most important and smartest thing I’ve ever done. I will remember to cherish these people more. And I will remember how important it is that I am a trustworthy friend and colleague.

You may never make it to a Taylor Swift show and I suspect this one will be my last, but there was much for this “maturing” nonprofit executive to learn from this soon-to-be 26 year old. As we approach Thanksgiving, I am grateful for the the memories made with my baby girl, the reminders I needed for my personal and professional life and for the opportunity to share these reflections with you – our KNN members and my nonprofit colleagues.

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Five Reasons You Can’t Miss the 2015 KY Nonprofit Leadership Forum

2015-forum-logoI know how it is. You’re on the fence. Or if you’re more like me, you might be procrastinating. But it really is time to register for the 13th annual Kentucky Nonprofit Leadership Forum on October 27-28. Why? There are lots of great reasons but here are my top five.

  1. Breakfast with the Candidates – yes, you heard it right! KNN has confirmed that six of the seven candidates running for Governor, Attorney General and Secretary of State will join us for a breakfast event prior to the Forum on Tuesday, October 27. This is a MAJOR opportunity for us to hear how these candidates envision the role of the state’s third largest industry in their plans for Kentucky and even more importantly, a MAJOR opportunity for us nonprofit leaders to be present and send the message loud and clear: I work for a nonprofit and I VOTE!
  2. Celebrate Innovation and Leadership! The Forum awards luncheon on Wednesday, October 28 will honor the winners of our annual awardsFoodChain of Lexington, Innovative Nonprofit Award; Wendell Strode of the National Corvette Museum, Distinguished Nonprofit Leadership Award; and Dr. Whitney Jones of the Colon Cancer Prevention Project, Outstanding Board Leadership Award. Celebrating these recipients is a highlight of the Forum you don’t want to miss!
  3. Excellent sessions! Each year, it’s our goal to put together an agenda that provides you with timely and relevant sessions to keep you up to date, in the loop and on top of your game as a nonprofit leader – and 2015 is no exception! I’m thrilled to have fundraising expert, Kim Klein join us – she’s been on my list of speakers to host for years. Janet Ogden-Brackett with the Nonprofits Assistance Fund is going to share critical information we need to start fully understanding and better communicating the true costs of running our organizations. There are too many other great sessions to mention here, but I’m so pleased with the variety of topics and the quality of our speakers – a truly great investment in your professional development and your nonprofit.
  4. Networking! Attending the annual statewide convening of nonprofits in Kentucky is an important opportunity to connect with your colleagues. Whether it be to share ideas, find a listening ear, gain access to new resources or form a new collaboration – visiting with old friends and meeting new ones is a great feature of the Forum and another important investment in your career and your organization.
  5. We like seeing you! Seriously. Connecting with our members and potential members at the Forum is fantastic! Our communication with most of you is typically by email or phone, so the opportunity to meet and visit in person is a treat.

I know that taking time away from the office is tough to do and the investment of resources to register and travel may not be easy. I also know that in 12 years, I’ve not heard from a single nonprofit leader who has attended the Forum and not felt it was worth the investment (and if you are out there, I do want to hear from you)! Please take the time today to register for the Forum and the Breakfast with the Candidates event – both are an investment in you, your nonprofit, and our sector. I look forward to seeing you there!

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