Friday, October 31, 2008

Why Don’t Nonprofits Fire Poor Performers and Jerks?

What values do nonprofits demonstrate when they fail to fire poor performers and jerks? Firing employees is very expensive because it causes down-time and rehiring. Failure to fire can be even more expensive. The failure to fire when needed is costly - it wastes money and damages the values of the organization, the corporate culture and the appreciation of stakeholders.

Here are some reasons I have seen and heard over the years for not firing. I have also given my comments on why nonprofits do not fire poor performers and jerks. There is a list of ten things organizations need to do about firing and some Internet resources at the end.

  1. We are charitable people – when an NPO does not fire poor performers and jerks, the charity is taking from the clients and giving it to that staff person. Being charitable people is not what you are about. It is about pursing the mission and the vision of the organization, not performing as a welfare program for a staff member. You should provide the assistance to make them better performers, and less a jerk, but there comes a time you fire someone. Every organization has to be prepared for change. Every employee has to be prepared for change. Employees who fail to change are potential problem people and the issues have to be addressed.
  2. It’s the organization’s fault for the poor performance because we did not train her/him enough – There can be some merit to this one. Many small and medium sized programs have little or no budget for staff (or board) training. Mistake! Those with government contracts and grants experience shifts in issues of contract compliance. What funders want can change annually or mid-stream. New technology and keeping up with new learning bring the need for training to be more effective and efficient. Training staff and encouraging them to know more and to do things better is worth the money. If you make that a low value, even from the beginning, you will be finding trouble meeting the mission.
  3. Fear of retaliation – Fear of an unknown or even an educated guess for management is – well – stupid. If this is a vindictive person you are about to fire or have just fired, take whatever precautions you must. Change the locks. Remove the computer. Hire a security person for a brief time. Write down what it is you really fear in advance: what form can the retaliation take? Some of them may not be realistic. Be prepared and face it.
  4. We don’t want to be sued – Let’s get this one straight. Anyone can sue any person about anything at any time. Got that? The object is, don’t lose. Got that one too? If you know or believe that the organization has not taken all necessary steps to comply with the law of the state and Federal government and adhered to contract compliance, your fear of losing should increase. Nonprofits should have appropriate and adequate insurance to cover the organizations, its board and leaders. That is a cost of doing business. But that does not replace doing things like firing correctly.
  5. But he’s disabled, how can we do that? – No matter what legal protections may be in place for certain classes of employees, following the law in the process of firing is not a problem. If you have complied with the requirements of the law, you can fire any person who is a poor performer. The top candidate for a human resources job was a person who was disabled and used a wheel chair at all times. I called all the references. One had worked with the candidate and told me that it would be a great hire. I asked if there were any problems he was aware of. He said, well there was that time he chased a woman around the office, forced her against the wall and said he would bang into her. The candidate was fired immediately. Guess what I did.
  6. What would a firing mean to the rest of the staff, conflict, and turmoil? – Be prepared to handle that if it may happen. My experience has been that most staff is relieved. They know when someone is not carrying their fair share of the load. Other employees who are not performing up to all the standards will see that can happen to them. They will probably improve or resign sometime soon. Before firing, develop your plan to handle rumors about the firing. The rumor mill is what hurts, not the firing.
  7. It will lower morale – This is similar to #6 above but deserves special mention. This could be true. Watch out for this one. It may show that even though you were correct in the firing, one or more employees may think it was unfair. This is where leadership has to shine and keep staff on the mission. Morale can be restored with renewed confidence in the work at hand, the goals and objectives and the process used. Gripes are allowed in the work place. Limit the time they occur. This will really not be a problem if you are consistent in following the written policies and procedures.
  8. I don’t think I can really fire that person who has been here since the doors opened up – Some years ago I fired the employee who had the longest tenure in the organization, over 20 years. Everyone liked her. But when she took a vacation, clients called asking about their cases. I could not find the files. I did find them stuffed behind the file cabinet including clients’ files who had not called. When she returned I confronted her with it. I told her she was fired She appealed my decision through the program disciplinary process and the termination was upheld. I told her when I fired her it was for cause and that I would fight unemployment. I did and she did not receive unemployment. Tough stuff? Yes, tough on the clients. Tough stuff on the reputation of the organization. Tough stuff if we had been sued for malpractice because that is what happened. She malpracticed. She knew her job and failed to perform. I also fired her supervising attorney for failure to oversee her work as required. They had worked together for years.
  9. I don’t know how to go about it – Then you better learn. This is not a reason. This is your fault. Buy some books, take a class, look at the Internet resources linked below or talk to other NPO leaders immediately. See if the organization has the requisite written policies, procedures, standards and record keeping and a disciplinary process. I personally favor a progressive disciplinary process that allows for improvement on most aspects of the job.
  10. I don’t want to fight her/his unemployment benefits – I understand this one. But let’s remember who is paying for those benefits – the organization. This is your choice of course. But do not fear challenging unemployment in the right case under your state law. Talk to your attorney if you have to.
  11. They’re trying to do a good job – So what? The question is how long have they been trying to do a good job without succeeding? How has the leadership tried to help improve performance and for how long? There are times when you have to cut your losses. There are employees who are competent but do not follow through with it. They were once good and are now failing at work. The clients suffer. The mission and the vision suffer. Other employees suffer, become resentful and start to be overworked. If you have a policy that firing must be for cause, then document in writing what has been occurring, the remedial action taken and the failure of improvement. Do the same thing if employment is at-will.
  12. They have their degree or license – If this is a qualification for employment, it is not an excuse card if the work is not being done. One thought on licensing. If the license must be renewed annually, verify it is. If continuing education is required, verify the requirement is met. I tried always to have a budgetary line to pay all or a portion of the cost for licensing and related continuing education. A degree helps get a job but it is not protection from losing the job. If you hired on the condition that a license or degree was to be secured within a certain period of time, and it is not, firing is the next step if you did everything correctly.
  13. He’s got a lot of political or community connections – I have been called by congress people, mayors, judges and others supporting someone I should hire or have fired. I listened politely. Wrote notes as the conversation continued and dated the notes. I tried to defuse the anger or the arrogance of commanders. I explained everything in terms of policy – how we have a process for hiring and fairness in the process. I explained the process for firing and the fairness in the process of evaluations. I did not discuss the person or the reasons. I have been asked to reconsider. Without substantial support for me to do that, I said I am satisfied we did all we could and were supposed to do. I did not create an enemy and they did not change my mind.
  14. She’s our IT person; she could close our technology down – Yep, in some cases that is really possible. When you are hiring an IT person, perform due diligence and verify recommendations and references as you do with all potential employees. A need to fire often is the result from a poor hiring process. Someone has to be the redundant person on technology who knows enough to protect the integrity of the system, passwords and information. It is one thing that you fired the IT person because she already compromised the technology. It is another to fear that retaliation as the result of the firing. One requires recovery, the other requires prevention. Either way you need backup not only of the information but also to get the equipment up and running again as soon as possible.
  15. That’s just “Gretchen being Gretchen” – We all have our peculiarities. However, if “Gretchen being Gretchen” is Gretchen being a total jerk that interferes with the work product, it has to be controlled or eliminated. I had one fiscal person who was very competent and did the work appropriately and timely. But he developed a habit of having a drink during lunch. It grew to several drinks during lunch. When he came back to work he was obnoxious to everyone. Alcohol was in the air. It lasted for several weeks and was getting worse. I asked for a meeting in a neutral place - a restaurant for lunch. Before we ordered I told him that I wanted him to stop drinking alcohol at lunch because it was interfering with his abilities and he was being a jerk to staff. He ordered a diet soda and the problem was alleviated. I never mentioned any threat. Not all jerks can change but you do have to start with talking with them about the behavior. In some instances you may need another manager with you. You will be talking about behavior, not the person. If they cannot change, they have to be fired. I am not minimizing that this is a sensitive area and requires caution.
  16. She’s a single Mom and she needs this job and benefits or he’s had a lot of (physical, mental) problems recently – OK, I have to admit this one gets me in the heart and soul. It does. Most of the women I worked with over some 47 years were single Moms. They were great. I remember having a deposition in a case at the office and we had three babies there. We made accommodation for the case to go on. There are times that it all piles up. Many small and medium nonprofits know we do not pay adequate and comparable salaries and benefits. We can offer support from other agencies to help relieve the pressure. We can simply listen when needed. But there may come a time when the work suffers and continues going downhill no matter what you do. Be aware of the laws for disability. I have offered them and others an opportunity to resign if it appears irresolvable. In every instance they knew they could no longer do the job. They resigned. They are the people I missed the most. The going-away party did not bring closure.

Please realize that the greatest threat to the organization is none of the above. It is wrongful termination. The largest number of lawsuits against NPOs is wrongful termination. Management and leadership may have a lot of work to do to be ready to fire poor performers and jerks and win. Talk to an attorney about employment rights.

A Checklist of Things You Need

  1. Improved hiring process, procedures and record keeping to avoid negligent hiring
  2. Written job descriptions that reflect the real requirements, work, skills and expectations
  3. Written policies, procedures and record keeping for annual evaluations that are fair, just, rational, forward-looking and legally defensible for all staff
  4. Written personnel policies, procedures and record keeping including but not limited to fair, just and legally defensible standards of practice or work, disciplinary rules and causes for firing
  5. Consistency in the practice of hiring, training, salaries and benefits, evaluation, discipline and firing
  6. Periodic review of all the above to be certain they are up to date.
  7. Clear evidence that employment is at-will, especially in larger print on all policies concerning employment
  8. Getting rid of the word “probation” in all personnel policies. Probation gives the impression that employment somehow becomes permanent. If you need a certain period of time for new staff to take vacations or start in the pension plan say so, but do not call it probation.
  9. Your organization may be egalitarian now, and may always be, but I have rarely seen it.
  10. Getting your 501 (c) (3) is when you start these policies, if only in draft form.
  11. Training of all management and employees about the policies, procedures and record keeping – all you need is some middle manager to do something stupid here.
  12. Prepare an annual staff training budget
  13. Talk with an employment lawyer
Please feel free to add to either list, to comment on any element or add to the Online Resources that follow.

Thanks, Don

Online Resources

Deciding to Fire

Employment At Will: What Does It Mean

The Right Things to do to Avoid Wrongful Termination Claims

Basics of Firing an Employee

Illegal Reasons for Firing Employees

Basic Guide to Staffing and Supervision

Basic Considerations in Risk Management

Free Basic Guide to Leadership and Supervision

Checklist of Human Resource Management Indicators for Nonprofit Organizations

Firing Employees FAQ - Answers to some commonly asked questions about firing employees, from limits on when you can fire to severance packages.

Charities 'are afraid to sack people'

Suzy Welch on “Send the Jerks Packing”

Your Rights When You Leave a Job

Monday, October 27, 2008

Achieving Excellence in Nonprofits

The Harvard Business School Working Knowledge e-mail today features a brief interview with Professor Herman B. Leonard about Achieving Excellence in Nonprofits. The article is in the form of Q&A by Sean Silverstone on October 27, 2008.

The discussion centers on the Professor’s interpretation of a nonprofit as a “social enterprise”. “The organization has as its main purpose the advancement of a set of social goals and the creation of social value.” This is not limited to nonprofits however. It includes social enterprise by nonprofits and for-profit businesses and corporate responsibility.

The defining feature of these organizations – boards and CEOs - is whether they are mission driven for social purposes or private purposes.

He says these are the core issues for nonprofits at this time:
  • Keeping the focus on key goals, strategies and tactics to accomplish the goals
  • Remain mission-centered rather than shift the mission to fit funding or other forces
  • Have a firm grip on the tactics used and on the vision of the organization
  • Have a written mission statement that shows the promise of social value
  • Are the board and the CEO working for the same mission, goals and vision?
  • Turmoil is part of life; you cannot plan for it, you adapt to it
  • The future of the sector should be on mission performance and not so much on financial performance
  • Change – it is always present; how is it used for systemic change and furthering social values?

I have tried to give a taste to encourage you to go read the original brief interview.


Herman B. Leonard is the Eliot I. Snider and Family Professor of Business Administration at Harvard Business School, and the George F. Baker, Jr. Professor of Public Sector Management at Harvard University's John F. Kennedy School of Government.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Your Nonprofit Library Third Shelf – Getting the U.S. IRS to Recognize Your Nonprofit as Tax Exempt

Here are the links to all the IRS forms and new tutorials the IRS has developed to help groups be recognized as tax exempt organizations. IRS recognition of a nonprofit as tax exempt allows donors to potentially receive a tax break for giving to the organization. It may also affect your need to pay sales tax in your state. Make a copy of all the publications and forms or mark them for easy access. Your local IRS office can secure copies for you without cost.

NOTE: Many IRS Forms and Publications are related to taxpayers; they change every year. The Forms and Publications related to taxpaying donors are also subject to annual changes. The IRS also periodically amends other Forms and Publications related to your tax exemption. Generally, however, the IRS does not change the number of the Form or Publication so you can search for an updated version from most of the links below.

Applying For Tax Exemption

IRS List of Forms by Numbers, includes all for tax exemption and all other IRS forms -,,id=97817,00.html

The starting place for the IRS and Charitable Organizations -

Application Process -,,id=96210,00.html

The following are the current links to the IRS mini-course on tax exempt organizations -

Select a title below to watch the streaming presentation. You may also download a presentation to your hard-drive, please visit our help section for detailed instructions.

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ABC's for Exempt Organizations,,id=187787,00.html

Navigating IRS Resources for Tax-Exempt Organizations
Posted on June 30th, 2008 Download Presentation
Ever wonder what the IRS Web site contains for exempt organizations? This mini-course will show you what’s available and how to find it! (approximately 7 minutes)

Political Campaigns and Charities: The Ban on Political Campaign Intervention
Posted on June 30th, 2008 Download Presentation
A 501(c)(3) organization jeopardizes its exempt status when it intervenes in a political campaign. This mini-course provides examples of prohibited activities and explains steps an organization should take to avoid an inadvertent violation. (approximately 16 minutes)

The Wonderful World of Foundation Classification (Part I)
September 09, 2008 Download Presentation
All 501(c)(3) organizations also have something called a “foundation classification.” This mini-course covers the basics of two of the more common types. (approximately 18 minutes)

Can I Deduct My Charitable Contributions?
September 09, 2008 Download Presentation
Is this a question you hear from your donors? This brief overview of deductibility can help your exempt organization understand the rules of what’s deductible and what’s not. (approximately 20 minutes)

Applying for Tax-Exempt Status
September 09, 2008 Download Presentation
If your organization is brand-new, and you’re thinking about applying for tax-exempt status, take a look at this mini-course first. You’ll learn about IRS resources that will make the process easier and quicker. (approximately 19 minutes)

Preparing to File the New Form 990
October 17, 2008 Download Presentation
For the 2008 filing year, exempt organizations will be working with a completely redesigned Form 990 or 990EZ – the first major overhaul of these documents in 30 years. This course provides an overview of the changes IRS has made, and the next four courses provide a line-by-line walk through of the different sections of the course and provide guidance and tips to completing an error-free return. (approximately 14 minutes)

The Redesigned Form 990 –Part I
October 17, 2008 Download Presentation
In this mini-course, you’ll receive general instructions for completing the form and walk through the heading and financials sections. (approximately 37 minutes)

The Redesigned Form 990 –Part II
October 17, 2008 Download Presentation
This mini-course walks you through the Accomplishments, Compliance, and Compensation sections of the new 2008 Form 990. (approximately 25 minutes)

The Redesigned Form 990 –Part III
October 17, 2008 Download Presentation
In this mini-course, get a walk through of the Governance, Management, Disclosure, Summary sections, the Checklist of Required Schedules and Schedule A. (approximately 25 minutes)

The Redesigned Form 990 –Part IV
October 17, 2008 Download Presentation
This mini-course takes you line by line through Schedules C, F, G, I, M and R. (approximately 37 minutes)

Types of Tax-Exempt Organizations -,,id=96931,00.html

Applying for Tax Exemption - The IRS issued a revenue procedure (Rev. Proc. 2007-52) that describes the procedures by which an organization applies for tax-exempt status, and by which the IRS determines whether to grant tax-exempt status.

Tax Kit - many of the forms here about tax exemption may be filled out and completed online -,,id=96774,00.html

IRS Publication 4220 – Applying for 501 (c) (3) Tax-Exempt Status (20 pages) -

IRS Form 1023 for organizations filing under section 501 (c) (3) (28 pages) –

Form 1023 Instructions (38 pages) -

Form 1023 FAQs -,,id=130101,00.html

Form 1024 for organizations filing under sections 501(c)(2), (4), (5), (6), (7), (8), (9), (10), (12), (13), (15), (17), (19), and (25) (25 pages) -

IRS Publication 557, Tax Exempt Status for Your Organization (72 pages) – Revised June 2008

Form 8718 - shows Federal fees for filing Form 1023 ($750 or $900) -

IRS Publication 4221, Compliance Guide for 501(c) (3) Tax Exempt Organizations and Record Retention (36 pages) -

Pension Protection Act of 2006 Revises EO Tax Rules -,,id=161145,00.html

Life Cycle of a Public Charity -,,id=122670,00.html

Publication 1828 - Exempt Organizations Tax Guide for Churches and Religious Organizations; also comments about lobbying and political activity (32 pages) - and,,id=122887,00.html

Frequently Asked Questions with Answers - and,,id=96986,00.html

IRS Releases Report on Tax-Exempt Charitable Financing Compliance Project -,,id=186653,00.html

Publication 4245 – Common Reasons for Rejection and Power of Attorney and Declaration of Representative Pamphlet -

Form 2848, Power of Attorney and Declaration of Representative Form -

Contributions -,,id=96102,00.html

Charitable Contributions Substantiation and Disclosure Requirements (16 Pages) -

Publication 526, Charitable Contributions for Use Preparing 2008 Tax Returns -

Public Disclosure -,,id=182722,00.html

Form 8734 Support Schedule for Advance Ruling Period – This form is going through changes because the IRS is no longer issuing advanced rulings. See link to blogs under Other Resources, below.,,id=185605,00.html and

Annual Electronic Filing Requirement for Small Exempt Organizations — Form 990-N (e-Postcard) -,,id=169250,00.html

IRS Completed 2008 Form 990 Instructions and Background Documents -,,id=181089,00.html

2008 Form 990-EZ Instructions Released -,,id=186630,00.html

e-file for Charities and Non-Profits -,,id=108211,00.html

Political Activities Compliance Initiative (2008 Election) -,,id=181565,00.html

EO Update is a periodic newsletter with information for tax-exempt organizations and tax practitioners - attorneys, accountants, and others - who represent them, from Exempt Organizations (Tax-Exempt and Government Entities) at the IRS, subscribe

The IRS has the Basic Tools for Tax Professionals, those CPAs who may audit your books and work on your 990.,,id=118004,00.html

Remarks of Steven T. Miller, IRS Commissioner, Tax Exempt and Government Entities Before the Georgetown Law Center Seminar on Representing and Managing Tax-Exempt Organizations. His remarks centered on two topics: one is governance, and the other efficiency and effectiveness. How will the IRS address them? Read the speech carefully.

Other Resources:

IRS Makes Filing For Nonprofit Tax Exemption Easier, Sort Of

IRS Rules on the Phase-in for Nonprofit Organizations to File the New 990 Series Forms

Effect of IRS Ruling Eliminating Advanced Rulings On Form 1023

You Can Pay Me Now Or You Can Pay Me Later

Reasons Not to Incorporate a Nonprofit Organization

The Nonprofit Business Plan - Program Precedes Money. Planning Precedes Program.

Developing a Nonprofit Tax Exempt Organization - Outline of First Steps

Starting a Nonprofit by Carter McNamara -’s article and links, Where to start when creating a nonprofit -

Nolo Press Nonprofit Basics

Nonprofit Leadership Center of Tampa Bay

OMBWatch -

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

A Reflection about Nonprofits – Eliminating Poverty or Trying to Make It Palatable?

A Reflection about Nonprofits – Eliminating Poverty or Trying to Make It Palatable? Blog Action Day - Poverty 2008

Palatable: acceptable or agreeable to the mind or feelings: palatable ideas.,

A nonprofit, nongovernmental and governmental organization that features the word “Poverty” in its mission or vision statement, its goals and objectives should be reflecting and meditating today on that word: poverty. When I write “poverty” I include all its relatives, low-income community, working poor, low-income senior citizens, low-income disabled people, poverty community, the poor, homeless, medically unserved, people who are too different than us and are not deserving (to eat, to work, to have a home, to live) and so on.

Poverty in the United States and the world is predominately about women, children, disabled people, senior citizens and people who are “different”.

The reflection and meditation on the word “poverty” should include whether the group is seeking to eliminate poverty, for a person, a family, a neighborhood, a village, a country, the world or simply making it palatable. And the reflection, meditation should include palatable to whom? Is palatability for the person or family or group who are poor or palatable to the organization or palatable to the supporters of the organization or palatable to the rest of the world?

Reflection and meditation: Thinking with your soul and your brain.

Poverty is never palatable, never acceptable, and never agreeable to those who are poor. Never!

The poor may ask, “Are you trying to make me unpoor or to help me accept my poverty a little better today than I did yesterday?” What is the organization’s answer? What is your personal answer?

How does your organization show demonstrably to the poor and the rest of us that it is attempting to its fullest capabilities to eliminate poverty? Or are you satisfied with palatability?

Foundations, corporations, governmental bodies, donors: where do you stand on poverty? If poverty is what you are fighting, how are you demonstrating that through grants not only for services to the poor but also for advocacy by and for poor people? Who is listening to those you serve? Who is attacking the people who attack the poor?

In my view service without advocacy is leaving poverty palatable to someone…not the clients or customers or patients who receive the service. Advocacy is attacking the causes of poverty, the policies and decisions that have impact making or keeping poor people poor.

One interesting take on poverty that lingers with me is an article by Professor Herbert J. Gans of Columbia University written in 1972, The Uses of Poverty: The Poor Pay All. He writes in part:

"… there may be some merit in applying functional analysis to poverty, in asking whether it also has positive functions that explain its persistence.


Associating poverty with positive functions seems at first glance to be unimaginable. Of course, the slumlord and the loan shark are commonly known to profit from the existence of poverty, but they are viewed as evil men, so their activities are classified among the dysfunctions of poverty.

However, what is less often recognized, at least by the conventional wisdom, is that poverty also makes possible the existence or expansion of respectable professions and occupations, for example, penology, criminology, social work, and public health. More recently, the poor have provided jobs for professional and para-professional "poverty warriors," and for journalists and social scientists, this author included, who have supplied the information demanded by the revival of public interest in poverty.

Clearly, then, poverty and the poor may well satisfy a number of positive functions for many nonpoor groups in American society. I shall describe thirteen such functions - economic, social and political - that seem to me most significant."


For the thirteen positive functions that help keep poor people poor see the full article.

Is your organization in there? Are you in there? And am I in there? How will we change after reflection and meditation about poverty today?

Excellence can be attained if you

-Care more often than others think wise.

-Risk more often than others think is safe.

-Dream more often than others think is practical.

-Expect more than others think is possible.

Janet Cagery, date unknown

Friday, October 10, 2008

24 Factors In Developing an Exit Strategy for Nonprofit and Nongovernmental Organization (A Business Plan in Reverse)

Have you, the leaders, board and staff discussed an exit strategy for your nonprofit or nongovernmental organization? Are you working on a plan of exit or for at least significant change? I have been through it and these are some lessons I learned.

Here are four reasons why you should today begin outlining and writing an exit strategy:
  1. Never in my life have I seen so many consultants and trainers and universities/colleges writing and offering classes about how to raise money in hard times. There are books coming hot off the presses about fundraising when money is in short supply. I receive 4-8 e-mails a day about one or more of them offering the inside information about getting grants and fundraising right here and now. That is a growth from about 1-2 every couple of weeks. Something important must be going on. Given all that, what I am saying is this is a sign of your need for an exit strategy. Can they all be correct?
  2. I am quite familiar with what is happening in the U.S. and the stock market and socializing big business. But this is going on all over the globe. I read today that charities in Iceland are facing very dire straits. So the article shows three charities in Iceland are having some problems. That won’t happen to us - humbug. Then read the third reason you need a written exit strategy now. Link below.
  3. This is from the October 6, 2008 Oregonian newspaper: “Rough economic times have temporarily closed a Portland-area charity that helped more than 1,500 cancer patients a year. Cancer Care Resources offered free services from counseling to legal and fitness advice. To put more money toward its work, the charity kept slim reserves, enough to cover about three months' operations, said Sue Frymark, executive director. Those factors usually left the charity low on cash by summer, before its autumn Bid for the Cause fundraiser. This summer, the economy scared off enough donors to erase the slim margin. "Some of the same sponsors could not (give) as much or at all," Frymark said. "We didn't want to accumulate debt, so we suspended operations."” Link below.
  4. In Chicago the sheriff has stopped ordering his deputies from evicting tenants from foreclosed properties who pay their rent and have done nothing wrong. When an attorney sought a contempt order on the sheriff, the court upheld the sheriff’s just actions. The sheriff and the judge deserve our praise. Link below.
Without any of the above, you already knew you should be doing something…big. Perhaps you did not think about planning and outlining and writing a strategy for exiting.

Here are my 24 factors to be considered in an exit plan:
  1. The chief executive officer, finance person, or a board member or two will resign. What is the plan for succession?
  2. Do you know when to let go?
  3. If your NPO or NGO has multiple offices how can you consolidate or close one or more?
  4. How will you include the clients/customers/patients, community, constituents and stakeholders involved in that decision? How will you decide on that consolidation?
  5. Whether you have a union(s) or not, how will you plan for layoffs? What factors, values and standards will you use for layoffs?
  6. What are the reserves you have and how (soon) will they be used?
  7. How will you maintain quality service or maintain the mission as you plan? How will you retain the values and the passion of the organization?
  8. Should you close the office for a day for real exit planning talk?
  9. How can you maintain innovation, creativity, advocacy and deep community involvement?
  10. How will you deal with fear, tension and rumors in the office(s)? How do you communicate the truth about what is happening and will happen to the staff, board, volunteers and the community? Are there some things that will need timing to be disclosed?
  11. How will you maintain the technology you own or have ordered?
  12. What have you prepaid that can be recouped?
  13. How will the administrative tasks from bookkeeping, bill paying and IRS and state reporting to contract compliance be kept at a high level?
  14. How will the program’s cultural competency and language needs affect decisions?
  15. What is the plan to respond to queries from the press and media or a nasty blog by a staff member?
  16. What skills, jobs and talents are really necessary to continue operation under your mission? If someone with those skills and talents leaves voluntarily, will you and how will you fill that position?
  17. How will you prioritize what you will continue to do and what you will stop doing? How do grants and their ending date impact that decision?
  18. How will you maintain a close relationship with donors and funders to believe in you and what you are doing?
  19. Are there alternative streams of revenue possible such as charging a sliding fee scale or per use fee? Have you consistently charged third party entities for the service provided, such as in health agencies, insurance, Medicare and Medicaid?
  20. Will a funder or two help in a process to close down if that is the decision?
  21. Can you merge with another similar organization? Can you share offices and equipment if not merging?
  22. If or when the economy returns to a sensible period and funding is restored, how would you plan around the mission differently or would you do it the same again?
  23. Who among you and the board will stick it out as volunteers to maintain a presence in the service community and seek funding for a renewed start up six to twelve months from now?
  24. If closure and dissolution are the ultimate decision, how do you do that under state and federal IRS laws and regulations? Who knows how to do that and will do that?
This is only a starting list. You may have already thought of other questions for your exit strategy. Please let me know what they are.
IRS Facts about Terminating or Merging Your Exempt Organization Publication 4779 -
From the Third Sector, 10 October 208: Charities stand to lose millions in Iceland banks crisis - Three charities fear they have lost reserves totalling £25m in the wake of the banking collapse in Iceland.
Cancer charity sees funds dry up, suspends operations by Andy Dworkin, The Oregonian, October 6, 2008
Sheriff in Chicago Ends Evictions in Foreclosures, The New York Times, October 8, 2008.
Managing Nonprofits Under Financial Stress,
Is the Sky Falling?
Welcome to TransitionGuides - Dedicated to sustaining and strengthening nonprofits through better managed leadership transitions and related organizational development.

Building Strong Organizations Through Sustainability and Succession Planning

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Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Through the Looking-Glass for International Grant Opportunities

Here are 23 web sites listing funders for international grant opportunities. They are not funders. But each has significant listings. They are in no particular order. At the end I have provided several descriptions and links to toolkits.

1. The Foundation Center in the United States has a great listing of major US foundations that provide funding internationally. Their March 27, 2001 special issue of Philanthropy News Digest is devoted to online resources in the field of international philanthropy.

Links to international resources and international philanthropy -

The Foundation Center’s funding trends reports provide the latest data available on every aspect of U.S. foundation philanthropy. Their team of research experts analyzes and interprets the data on foundations that we collect — providing a national data source unique for its scope, depth, and historical value.

2. Jon Harrison of Michigan State University Libraries has created an incredible listing of International/Foreign Grant Makers and Related Philanthropic News

3. There is another helpful listing at NonProfitExpert,

4. International Grants with funds from the lottery the UK Big Lottery Fund are responsible for giving out half the money for good causes raised by the National Lottery, giving us a budget of about £630 million a year. They have a section on international funding.

5. International grants with a human rights focus: The International Human Rights Funders Group (IHRFG) is an association of grantmakers devoted to supporting efforts to achieve the rights enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the treaties and laws it has generated so that all people may enjoy a truly and fully human existence. The IHRFG began in 1994 as a group of U.S. foundations with "International Human Rights" programs that addressed human rights issues in other parts of the world. Reflecting important advances in the field of human rights, the Group no longer treats human rights as a matter "out there" but rather recognizes the value of human rights work even in the U.S. Now it is IHRFG itself that is international, with members in Canada, Europe and the global South.

6. The United Nations Information Technology Service (UNITeS) is a global volunteer initiative to help bridge the digital divide. UNITeS both supports volunteers applying information and communications technologies for development (ICT4D) and promotes volunteerism as a fundamental element of successful ICT4D initiatives. They have a useful Source for Researching Grants and Funding Resources Online with Links

7. The Inter-American Foundation (IAF) is an independent agency of the United States government that provides grants to nongovernmental and community-based organizations in Latin America and the Caribbean for innovative, sustainable and participatory self-help programs. The IAF primarily funds partnerships among grassroots and nonprofit organizations, businesses and local governments, directed at improving the quality of life of poor people and strengthening participation, accountability and democratic practices.

8. US Agency for International Development US Federal Assistance with Free E-Newsletter with Grant Information

9. The U.S. Deprtment of Agriculture Foreign Agricultural Service with E-mail Notice of Grant Availability

10. Source for all US Federal grants and e-mail notices about grants

11. U.S. AID Microenterprise Development limits its definition of microenterprises to businesses with less than 10 employees including unpaid family workers. Other defining characteristics are a low level of assets and low income of the owner. Often microenterprises involve only one person, the owner-operator. Microenterprises exist on the fringe of most formal economies, increasing in number when formal unemployment rises or when economic hardship strikes. or

12. US International Grants International grants and hints on grant writing for grant seekers

13. United Nations An excellent source for researching grants and funding resources online with links

14. United Nations Development Programs International development grants and resources

15. Grantmakers Without Borders is not a funding organization, so they cannot review proposals from grantseekers. However, they can offer some helpful resources for fundraising, The following websites contain listings of foundations and other organizations interested in international grantmaking:

16. The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria (the Global Fund) provides grants on a discretionary basis in support of technically sound and cost-effective interventions for the prevention of infection and the treatment, care and support of persons infected and directly affected by HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria.

17. The majority of the Global Fund for Women grants range between $500 to a maximum annual grant of $20,000. Their funding is primarily devoted to flexible, general support grants that address universal issues such as reproductive health and choice, access to education, economic independence, political participation, the rights of sexual minorities and the prevention of violence against women and children. In their efforts to link women's rights groups outside the United States, the Global Fund also funds a limited number of small, time-sensitive grants to participants and organizers of conferences that bring together and build the capacity of women's rights activists.

18. The Global Greengrants Fund has provided over 3,000 grants in 120 different countries. They believe that grassroots groups are a key to solving the intractable problems of poverty, powerlessness and environmental destruction. Their experience has shown that there is no better investment than supporting passionate people with great ideas. They make small grants (typically $500 to $5,000) to grassroots groups around the world working to help people protect the environment, live sustainably, preserve biodiversity and gain a voice in their own future.

19. Main Street at Charity Village®, Canada's supersite for the nonprofit sector --- 3,500 pages of news, training, jobs, information and resources for executives, staffers, donors, and volunteers. If philanthropy and volunteerism are part of your world, this is your place. The web site contains links to online databases and directories of funding agencies and foundations of interest to Canadian individuals and organizations, plus online tools and resources of value to those involved in prospect research and other areas of fundraising

20. Africa Grantmakers Affinity Group Information about Possible Grants for African NGOs - The feature linked below provides BASIC information on AGAG member foundations and the countries or regions in Africa where they have programs and the broad areas they support. Please note that some foundations may not have a geographic focus and some foundation may fund in broad thematic areas. All foundations operate differently and their funding priorities change, so this information is presented only to be used as a starting point.

21. For nearly three decades, Funders for Lesbian and Gay Issues has studied and strengthened philanthropy to secure LGBTQ rights and advance racial, economic and gender justice

LGBTQ Funders Directory Search for LGBTQ funders that support lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer people and issues.

LGBTQ Community Foundations and FundsIdentify an LGBTQ community foundation or fund in your community.

Global LGBTI FundersFind out which grantmakers are supporting LGBTI communities in the Global South and East.

22. Funders Online from the European Foundation Centre has as one of its major goals to facilitate access to online funding information. However, having the information better organised and easily accessible will not relieve you from the hard task of reviewing carefully all the details about a funder’s areas of interest and ways of work. Do your homework first, before approaching a funder for support - that's the key to successful fund-raising. and

23. Fundsnet Online Services is a privately owned Web site created in 1996 for the purpose of providing Nonprofit Organizations, Colleges and Universities with information on financial resources available on the Internet. The link below is to their list of international funders.


The CIVICUS Toolkits - Grant Writing, Media, Capacity Building material in this toolkit has been drawn from existing materials prepared by civil society organisation. CIVICUS aims to help civil society organisations to build their capacity and achieve their goals. Based on requests from members, CIVICUS has produced several toolkits to enable organisations to improve their capacity in a number of areas. From communications and planning skills to writing funding proposals, we hope that you will be able to get many useful tips, tools, and ideas to help strengthen your organisation... The toolkits are available in English, French, Spanish and Russian in MS Word and PDF formats.

The HIVTools Research Group is a multidisciplinary academic research group doing HIV/AIDS-related research in resource-poor settings. Based in the Health Policy Unit at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, the group carries out research and training in modeling and economic analysis.

Global Development Network has an extensive Toolkit: Proposal Writing and Fundraising available. The Toolkit is divided into six sections – Before you start, Writing the proposal, Budgeting, Guide to donors, Institutional insights and Networking. GDN supports and links policy research institutes in eleven regions and more than hundred countries.

Idealist is a project of Action Without Borders, a nonprofit organization with offices in the United States and Argentina. Idealist is an interactive site where people and organizations can exchange resources and ideas, locate opportunities and supporters, and take steps toward building a world where all people can lead free and dignified lives. Action Without Borders connects people, organizations, and resources to help build a world where all people can live free and dignified lives. AWB is independent of any government, political ideology, or religious creed. Their work is guided by the common desire of their members and supporters to find practical solutions to social and environmental problems, in a spirit of generosity and mutual respect. and

fResource has been developed for both fundraisers and researchers from around the world, from small local non-profit organisations, right through to large national charities and universities. They provide comprehensive information on fundraising resources and products from around the world. So whether you're looking to develop existing funding, search for new funding or simply confirm an address, locate an individual or find a consultant, fResource is a place to do it. Free log in is required. You may want to start at the site map. My thanks to Finbar Cullen for the information.

Grant Writing Tools Web Sites -

If you have other links that offer additional and timely information to international grants please let me know. You can post them here. Thank you.
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