Essentially, you can brand any item. With so many choices, how could you choose? It’s best that you consider what items are consistent with your nonprofit mission. For example, if your nonprofit focuses on increasing education for youth of vulnerable populations, it might distribute branded backpacks. Below are examples of unique and exciting branded items that may be consistent with many organizations’ missions.
Under each description, click on the link to get prices on the described branded item from my trusted brand provider, ZippyDogs. While we recommend you buy from ZippyDogs, we don’t receive any payment from them when you do. We just have mad-respect for this women-owned business.
Ultimately, branded items should be consistent with your organization’s mission. Thus, when deciding on which branded items to use, think of how you can engage your donors by creatively materializing your mission. It is very easy to do this when you think of branded items as your organization’s accessories.
Giving your staff, volunteers, or board members branded items builds team spirit which further helps each person be a brand ambassador for the organization. For example, distinguish accomplishments and anniversaries of your staff, volunteers, and board members with branded items. Unify your organization by using branded items to celebrate a milestone, complement a tradition, or enhance an event.
Below are branded items that could help any work environment build team spirit.
Distributing branded items is an essential component of outreach, marketing, and team building efforts. Many successful nonprofits distribute branded items to creatively cultivate donors when you find the right balance between price, uniqueness, usefulness and quality.
Each item signifies the bond between your organization and your donor. Branded items allow your organization to deliver customized gifts to donors that can’t be found elsewhere, and this limited accessibility tells each donor how sincerely you value their time, efforts, and loyalty. Also, branded items are great for rewarding and recognizing your team.
Top reasons to use branded items:
If you are still uninspired about branded items, listen to author of Dollar Dash, Otis Fulton, who explains the role of branded items in peer to peer fundraising. In our next blog post, we will review ways to use branded items to build team cohesion with your staff, board, and volunteers.
About the Author:
Read Brianna Ohonba's Bio
Since we just finished up our Strategic Planning series last week, I thought it might be worthwhile to explore the questions you should ask a consultant.
Whether your nonprofit is about to begin strategic planning, board development, or some other major project, choosing the right consultant will be your most important decision. For this reason, it is crucial to thoroughly screen prospective consultants and choose the one you believe will best position your organization for future success.
For this reason, I offer 14 interview questions that will help ensure you find a good consultant in your local market:
About the Author:
Read Dolph Ward Goldenburg's Bio
Your team has an open position, and you are responsible for filling that position with the right candidate. Like all hiring managers you receive a flood of resumes from interested candidates after you advertise the position on Idealist, Philanthropy.com, or one of the other nonprofit job sites.
Of course, about half of the applicants aren’t qualified for the position and are easy to remove from consideration. Examples of dead weight candidates who are easy to eliminate include:
Even after eliminating candidates the dead weight candidates, you will likely still have a dozen or more candidates who appear qualified. Occasionally, however, none of these candidates will impress you. They seem “okay” but not a perfect fit for the position or the organization.
You now face the age-old question: do you hire the “best candidate” who is not a perfect fit or leave the position open?
As a supervisor, I’ve been in this position multiple times and can attribute my biggest failures and successes as a manager to my decision at this point.
When it comes time to make this decision, there is a lot of pressure to settle for the candidate that seems sufficient but not stellar. A few of these pressure points include:
It’s human nature to take action that makes our pain go away, so the easy “solution” is to hire the candidate who is sufficient but not a good fit. This solution is only easier for the short term, however, and the decision actually causes us more pain in the future. Here’s how:
I have learned the hard way that it is better to leave a position unfilled and continue looking for the right candidate. Of course, I often need to double my recruitment efforts to find good candidates for the position the second time. This may include:
While the position remains unfilled, you and your team will feel pressure from the pain points outlined earlier in this post. There are a few ways to decrease the short-term pain, though many of them require long-term planning:
Leaving a position vacant can be a tough call, and you will feel pressure to fill the position quickly. It’s always better, however, to say “We can’t take the next step in this initiative/program/organization until we fill the position responsible for its achievement.”
When you feel the pressure from direct reports, subordinates, and supervisors, repeat this mantra “Our long-term success depends on finding the right candidate for this position.” Trust me, you will always regret attempting to move the initiative or program forward with the wrong candidate.
As an aside, I think the philosophy “an empty seat is better than a bad hire” also applies to the Board of Directors. Don’t fill a board seat just because “we have a vacancy and this person is better than the others we’ve interviewed.”
How to Fire a Board Member
In 2015, Ostrich Place invested heavily in board development after determining that the board was largely disengaged board. Before the board development project began, the board struggled to achieve quorum, did not have functioning committees, and rarely met the requirements established in the by-laws.
During the past three years, they have developed reasonable expectations for board service, created a robust recruitment process, implemented an effective orientation, and supported board members in meeting their obligations as board members.
The most recent recruitment process had 11 prospective candidates apply for 6 open positions. For the first time in years, the board could be very selective about those it appointed to the board, and Ostrich Place used this opportunity to thoroughly assess candidates and obtain references from prior volunteer experiences.
As the freshman class of board members began the orientation process, Ted emerged as an outspoken leader. He would often share his strong opinions and insist that the board procedures were wrong. When orientation ended three months later, Ted’s participation in meetings was clearly disruptive. Nearly every time Ted spoke, people rolled their eyes knowing that he was about to:
The board chair and governance committee became aware that Ted was disruptive when not in meetings. Specifically, Ted would show up at the Ostrich Place unannounced, inspect the facility, and demand to see the executive director to grill her and review his “findings”. The program officer at a local foundation also contacted the board chair about some “disturbing news” they heard from Ted.
Since Ted’s first orientation session, the governance committee has attempted to manage and modify Ted’s behavior. A few of their actions included:
The governance committee met to discuss Ted’s behavior one final time. They agreed that, while every board needs a devil’s advocate, Ted’s conduct moved beyond offering an opposing viewpoint in a healthy manner. He was a bomb thrower who enjoyed wreaking havoc in an organization. He was also disloyal to the organization by approaching external stakeholders (like funders) without using appropriate board channels for reviewing issues that troubled him.
They determined that Ted’s service as a board member needed to end, and they discussed various options for firing him. With their by-laws in front of them, they considered the following options:
#1: Don’t offer the board member an additional term. When Ostrich Place first began its board development project in 2015, they often used this technique for long-tenured board members who were not meeting the new attendance requirements. The Nominating Committee would review each board member’s attendance, committee participation, personal giving, and fundraising from the prior year, and they would not offer renewals to board members failing to meeting the expectations. Since Ted still had 21 months left in his term, this was not a viable option. 21 more months of Ted would have driven away most of the productive board members.
#2: Ask the board member to recommit or recuse. The governance committee used this technique extensively when implementing the new board expectations in 2015. Once the board agreed on the expectations, the governance chair met with under-performing board members individually and asked them to recommit to the new expectations, while also giving them the opportunity to recuse themselves from board service without any hard feelings. The governance committee did not choose this option because they had already asked Ted to recommit to more appropriate behavior or leave the board.
#3: Leave of absence. Last year, a board member’s performance went from “stellar” to “cellar,” and a governance committee member asked the board member if everything was okay. Board members usually know when they are underperforming or engaging in counterproductive behavior, and they will usually explain that work or family has demanded more of their time and emotional energy. Ostrich Place Board offered this underperforming board member a three-month leave of absence, during which time she was not responsible for attending meetings, participating in committees, or other board-related duties. At the end of the 3-month leave of absence, she decided that her family issues would not allow her to continue and resigned from the board. Since she made the decision to resign (instead of being asked to resign or being terminated), Ostrich Place continues to be her favorite charity. Based on Ted’s history, however, the governance committee decided this option was not feasible for him.
#4: The Legal Route. The governance committee ultimately decided that the only effective option was to recommend terminating Ted’s board membership using the process outlined in the by-laws. They fully understood that this is the most painful option – for the board, for the organization, and for Ted. But they also felt that Ted would continue to speak poorly of the organization even if he remained on the board. In consultation with a pro bono attorney, they outlined the ways in which Ted had violated his duties as a board member and prepared a formal termination recommendation for the board. The governance committee informed Ted that it recommended termination and called a board executive session to deliberate and vote. The executive session had only one agenda item, and the governance committee structured the meeting to efficiently consider and vote on the motion. At the session, the governance committee briefly spent five minutes to present its findings about, and Ted was given fifteen minutes to add any information he wanted. The board then invited Ted to leave the meeting, letting him know that a board member would contact him tomorrow to share the outcome of the vote. The board unanimously voted to remove Ted. The following day, the governance committee chair invited Ted to meet for coffee, but Ted refused. Ted wanted to receive the decision immediately, and the chair informed Ted that the board had voted to remove him from effective immediately. The chair started to thank Ted for his service and express regret that the situation did not work out when Ted hung up on her. Following the phone call, the chair mailed a letter to Ted informing him of the board’s decision.
This is an “extreme case” where Ted was a pariah who threatened to destroy the board and the organization. Some organizations have less extreme cases where a board member just isn’t a good fit or not meeting expectations. In my experience, the best course of option for those cases includes #2 (ask the board member to recommit or recuse) or #3 (leave of absence). Each of these starts with a conversation, and it’s important to be empathic and caring throughout the conversation. A good structure for the conversation might be:
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