Category Archives: Social Sector

One Small Step for Nonprofits, One Giant Leap for the Sector!

Article written by Dr. Marco Tavanti and originally posted on Linkedin on August 21, 2019 https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/one-small-step-nonprofits-giant-leap-sector-marco-tavanti/

The Nonprofit Academic Centers Council (NACC, founded in 1991), the leading organization promoting and regulating nonprofit management education, achieved an important step in 2019. It launched the first accreditation for nonprofit specific educational programming. The Master of Nonprofit Administration (MNA) program at University of San Francisco (USF) was one of the first programs to be officially accredited on July 1, 2019. While this accreditation process may not make headlines among nonprofit professionals, organizations, and even nonprofit students, it is a giant leap towards the professionalization of the sector. Older and more established accrediting processes specific to business administration (MBAs) such as The Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB International, founded in 1916), and those specific to public administration (MPAs/MPPs) such as The Network of Schools of Public Policy, Affairs, and Administration (NASPAA, founded in 1970) have opened their processes to nonprofit management or nongovernmental leadership programs. However, the nonprofit and social sector is something that requires specific education to guarantee the managerial competencies and leadership capacities for more impactful and effective not-for profit businesses and non-government administered organizations.

As a student of history, I was reading about the professionalization of careers. Interestingly, there was a time in which today’s highly regulated and exclusive professions such as medical doctors and surgeons were simply “glorified barbers” with sharp tools for limb cutting and “bloodletting-cures.” To this day, the typical barber pole its red-white and later red-white-blue versions that are ubiquitous symbols of the barbershop emerged in the middle ages to signify the “barber–surgeons” practices. It took centuries and radical cultural changes to legitimize and regulate the medical professions through a rigorous and accredited education. Sometimes, it seems that the nonprofit sector is still at this rudimentary stage. Successful business leaders claim to know what our communities need and, leveraged by their financial donations, they enter the social /nonprofit sector prescribing cures based on their concerns for businesses and efficiency. Yet, nonprofit organizations in their multifaceted identities of charity-tax exempt organizations, nongovernmental-international development organizations, community based and faith-based organizations, social movements and social enterprises are more complex than what they first appear. Nonprofits require more than business acumen. They involve more than good intentions of volunteers. They need competent and dedicated professionals equipped with managerial skills and good values of compassion and humanity. They need leaders and managers capable of combining business sustainability with human rights-based policies. If we are serious about the well-being of our communities, we should also be serious and respectful of the competencies necessary for nonprofit administration and social sector management.

The NACC accreditation process assesses these complexities specific to nonprofit management education. Its prioritization for managerial competencies combined with social-humanitarian values reflect the root of Jesuit college education forged 500 years ago. The MNA-USF (established in 1983) has been a pioneer in advancing the specifics of nonprofit administration, management and leadership careers combining the necessary organizational competencies with the essential community equity, human dignity, and inclusive diversity mindsets. While other MBA-like and MPA-like programs increasingly include these integrated characteristics (see PRME for example), the nonprofit specific degrees will continue to sharpen the appropriate preparation for efficient and effective careers for third-sector, philanthropy, CSR/Sustainability and for other community-driven social economy solutions. USF has been a leading example of this by establishing the first nonprofit administration MNA degree. This degree corresponds to the older MBA and MPA degrees. These degrees did not generate a unified voice with other academic institutions who preferred to develop similar but differently named degrees emphasizing management (MNM), organizations (MNO) or leadership (MNL). Indeed, the diversity of the nonprofit / social sector approach is its strength. But these differently named degrees cause confusion and slow down the professionalization process for nonprofit managers and third sector professionals who place nonprofit impact, social transformation and community benefits first.

Therefore, we congratulate NACC for leading this important accreditation process. It is a small step but also a giant leap in the professionalization of the sector. We also congratulate the faculty, administration, alumni, advisors of the MNA program at University of San Francisco’s School of Management who scored 15 out of the 16 maximum accreditation points following the NACC 2015 curricula guidelines. In addition to this accreditation of quality, the program was recognized for its integration of international perspectives, experiential learning, and social impact data analysis. We are proud of our students and graduates who lead the way for a better, more inclusive, more equitable, and more sustainable future. We are part of history! It is time to celebrate! Keep up the good work!

35 Years of Nonprofit Management Education

Dr. Micheal O’Neill and Dr. Marco Tavanti, past and current MNA Program Directors

In 2018 the Master of Nonprofit Administration (MNA Program) at University of San Francisco celebrated its 35 years of existence since its foundation in 1983 by Dr. Michael O’Neill. The 35th MNA Anniversary Celebration of April 25th featured a panel reflecting on the accomplishments and challenges of nonprofit management education in the 21st Century. This video shares some of the highlights of the events and the valued reflections provided provided by our alumni Jeanne Bell (MNA ’01) and Alexa Cortez Culwell (MNA ’95).

The following are Dr. Marco Tavanti’s opening remarks to the April 25th Anniversary Celebrations

Thank you and welcome to this Panel Discussion and Celebration of the Master of Nonprofit Administration Program Celebration of its 35 Years of Excellence and Social Innovation. We are honored today to have a panel of experts – that will introduce shortly — and that will help us to understand some of the main challenge and opportunities in nonprofit education, community responsibility and capacity development. After an award ceremony we will continue our networking celebrations upstairs in the 5th floor AGORA where you can meet MNA alumni, friends and students while also viewing MNA Capstone Posters samples and Infographics from the annual Academic Global Immersion Program on Refugee. In the meantime (and to earn your drinks) you should also respond to the survey in front of you. On the table you can also find a card where you can formulate a question you may have for the panelists.

The Ignatian Pedagogical Paradigm, is a Jesuit method for teaching and learning embedded in our current MNA degree. It starts with observing the reality (seen it also through immersions and experiential learning), followed by the analysis (often through multidisciplinary perspectives and mixed methodologies to understand complex and unjust realities of marginalization), and the action into making the world a better place such as the USF slogan (Change the World from Here…). What was known in Latin America as VER, JULGAR, ACTUAR, has been integrated by impact evaluation and contextualization into our local/global and diverse communities. More recently this method included a new dimension CELEBRAR, to celebrate our accomplishments. Our celebration of the 35th anniversary of the MNA program reflects all these paradigms and invites us to take time to pause, observe, reflect, a celebrate the past and future of nonprofit management education.

In 1983, Dr. Michael O’Neill had the pioneering vision of designing a graduate degree to develop managerial and leadership capacity for nonprofit professionals. The MNA Program was accompanied by the research activities of the Institute for Nonprofit Organization Management (INOM) which followed other academic innovations such as the establishment of Nonprofit Academic Center Council (NACC) in 1981 and the creation of the Association of Voluntary Action Scholars later renamed as Association for Research on Nonprofit Organizations and Voluntary Action (ARNOVA) in 1971. Dr. Michael O’Neill is known as the father of nonprofit management education (NME) that emerged as a field of study through these and other pioneering activities in which he was deeply involved.

While Dr. Michael O’Neill worked on developing the field of NME in the West Coast University of San Francisco, one of his colleague in the East Coast, Prof. Lester Salamon at the Washington DC Urban Institute (now at John Hopkins University) contributed to understand the scope and structure of the nonprofit sector. Today, nonprofit/nongovernmental/charities/philanthropic and voluntary institutions are major forces for good contributing to almost 6% of the American economy and 1/6 of the labor force in California. Internationally, the third sector institutions include a wider spectrum of organizations including hybrid social enterprises and social innovations solutions for the emerging world social economy. Our MNA students know about these developments and also know that both social and economic impact needs to be equally considered and measured to understand the true value of the sector.

In the last 35 years, the Program has generated 612 alumni in key leadership positions and influential roles for the advancement of the capacity, impact and sustainability of the sector.  We are honored today to have with us two of these MNA alumni, Alexa Cortes Culwell (MNA 95), Co-Founder of Open Impact and author of The Giving Code and the Giving Journey and Jeanne Bell (MNA ’01) who served until recently as CEO at Compass Point and now at Nonprofit Quarterly and in our MNA Advisory Board. Jeanne is also a well-known author of Nonprofit Sustainability other publications for the promotion of social impact with sustainable business practices among NPOs.

We are excited to engage in a panel conversation with Michael, Alexa and Jeanne on the past, present and future of nonprofits, its education and its capacity needs for effective leaders and organizations. Who can better represent our voice than one of our current MNA students, Sascha Rosemond (MNA ’19), who currently serves as Development and Donor Relations Assistant at the San Francisco Foundation.

Please join me to welcome Sasha, with Jeanne, Alexa and Michael to these conversations.

 

Nonprofit Career at your Doorsteps

The University of San Francisco (USF) School of Management, in cooperation with student volunteers, administrative and faculty members, have compiled a career resource guide for current students, alumni, and prospective students of the Master of Nonprofit Administration (MNA) program.  Resources have been provided through various sources including field research of philanthropic career opportunities, community outreach, faculty and student advisement, the 2017 GuideStar Nonprofit Compensation Report, and the 2017 University of San Francisco School of Management Graduate Career Services Career Resource Guide, which has been edited to fit the needs of students in the nonprofit program.  These resources are designed to provide students with internship, fellowship, and volunteer opportunities, networking events, compensation reports, interview tips, resume templates, and tools for job searching for those pursuing a career in the nonprofit sector.

This project is also meant to bridge any gaps that may exist between USF and alumni of the MNA program.  We would like to assist alumni in their own career paths or to engage alumni with current students to share their specialized advice from working in the field.  This guide (including the handbook and the compensation report) will be accessible to all currently enrolled students in the full time and part time program using the USF Canvas system within the MNA Depot, and it  will include all of the resources described above.  The handbook will also be posted to the USF MNA website and will be accessible to the public including alumni.  The compensation report has been purchased by the University of San Francisco School of Management from GuideStar.org and is for internal usage only due to restrictions placed upon the distribution of the report by GuideStar.  Thus, this piece of the guide can only be accessed by currently enrolled students or those alumni who wish to physically visit USF to view the resource in person.  This resource cannot be shared electronically by email.

Events will be announced to current students through the MNA Depot and to alumni and current students who are members of the MNA LinkedIn group page which can be found here: https://www.linkedin.com/groups/6752583.  These events will include those hosted by USF and events hosted by outside organizations (typically occurring within the San Francisco Bay Area) for networking and volunteer opportunities.

The School of Management and the MNA Program at USF are excited to assist the growing needs of current students and alumni in their career development and professional endeavors in the philanthropic job market.

Download here the 2018 MNA Career Resource Guide and see resourceful links for successful nonprofit careers.

 

 

Don’t Kill the Golden Goose: Rethinking Accountability Standards in the Nonprofit Sector

Disclaimer​: ​​This ​​is ​​not ​​a ​​goose. ​​This ​​is ​​a ​​golden​​ Mandarin ​​Duck;​​ this​​ photo ​​is​​ meant ​​to ​​be ​​visual​​aid ​​only and ​​not​​ a ​​true ​​representation ​​of ​​a​​ Golden​​ Goose.

Golden​​·Goose

Noun

  1. The ​​golden​​ goose​​ of​​ TSOs, ​​in​​ many ​​situations, ​​comes ​​to ​​be ​​seen​​ as​​ the​​ state’s​​ only ​​or​​best​​ hope in ​​tackling ​​‘wicked ​​problems’ ​​such ​​as ​​reducing ​​health ​​inequalities ​​(​Tenbensel,​​,​​ Dwyer,​​J., ​​& Lavoie,​​J.,​​2014).

Large-scale ​​migration ​​into ​​the ​​Britain ​​in ​​the​​ 1960s ​​and ​​70s ​​prompted ​​the ​​development ​​of ​​third-sector organizations ​​to ​​tackle ​​unmet ​​needs​​ of ​​the ​​new ​​populations ​​and ​​communities. ​​Government ​​funders turned ​​to ​​third-sector ​​organizations ​​(TSOs)​​ to ​​provide ​​cheap ​​and​​ effective ​​services ​​to ​​fill​​ gaps.

With ​​government ​​funders ​​providing ​​the​​ capital ​​​for ​​TSO ​​work, ​​ another ​​issue​​ came ​​to ​​the ​​forefront. “Accountability ​​measures ​​imposed ​​by ​​governments​​ can ​​be ​​debilitating​​ or ​​ ‘killing ​​of​​the​​ golden ​​goose” (Tenbensel​​et​​al. ​​,​​2014). ​​While ​​trying ​​to​​ expand​​ services​​ TSOs ​​are ​​burdened​​ by​​stringent​​ accountability measures. ​​A​​ conflict ​​arises ​​between ​​government ​​funder’s​​ needs ​​for​​transparency​​ and ​​accountability ​​and being ​​mindful ​​that​​ accountability ​​measures​​ can ​​stifle ​​a ​​TSOs ​​impact.

Tenbensel​​et​​al. ​​ (2014) ​​ describes ​​the ​​different “pulls” ​​that​​ TSOs ​​encounter.

Downward ​​Pull-​​community ​​ (members, ​​clients, ​​community​​leaders, ​​and​​ other ​​organizations).

Lateral ​​Pull-​​ one ​​another​​ and ​​themselves​​ (staff, ​​volunteers, ​​community​​ board​​ members, ​​and​​community agencies). ​with​​ whom​​ they​​ work’​

Upward-​funders. ​

Tenbensel​​ et ​​al. ​​(2014)​​ developed ​​a​​ comprehensive ​​framework ​​to ​​address ​​overburdened ​​TSOs.

  1. Do​​no​​harm​​-​​ do​​not​​in advertently ​​increase ​​overall​​ accountability ​​measures ​​for ​​TSOs.
  2. ‘Best ​​fit’​ generation​​-​​public ​​managers ​​should​​ play ​​an ​​active ​​role ​​in ​​facilitating ​​environments ​​in which​​ TSO ​​accountability ​​requirements ​​between ​​the ​​points​​ of ​​the ​​triskele ​​are​​ better ​​aligned.
  3. Consideration ​​of ​​collateral ​​impact​​ of ​​accountability ​​measures.
  4. Use ​​triskele​​ as ​​a ​​foundation​​ for ​​conversation ​​between ​​TSOs ​​and ​​all​​ stakeholders​​about accountability.
  5. Triskele ​​framework ​​can ​​be ​​used ​​to​​ assess ​​new ​​or ​​prospective ​​developments ​​that ​​are​​ likely ​​to impact ​​the​​ organization’s ​​accountability ​​environment.

The​​ Triskele ​​framework ​​and  ​​knowledge ​​of ​​how ​​accountability ​​measures ​​can ​​impact ​​TSOs ​​is ​​beneficial ​​for nonprofit ​​scholars ​​to ​​have ​​awareness ​​and ​​become ​​advocates ​​for ​​organizations ​​we ​​work ​​with ​​now​​ and ​​in the​​ future.

Social Movements: Seeing Change Through to Fruition with Strategy and Partnerships

By Claire Lewis

Earlier this year, I participated in my first protest ever – The Women’s March. I cannot remember who organized it or who invited me to the Facebook event group; I just knew I wanted to make a difference. If raising awareness was the key objective, then we definitely accomplished that goal. According to USA Today, 2.6 individuals across 32 countries participated in this historical march. Celebrities from America Ferrerra to Madonna gave powerful speeches about the importance of women’s rights. News stations across the globe covered this momentous day.

How was such a feat accomplished? The answer is social media. Facebook protest events across various cities and states filled my newsfeed leading up to the day. I witnessed many friends mark they were “interested” or “going” to these events.

However, despite this outpouring of support, there is little to no reform. One of the issues with “social media” marches is the lack of strategy behind the effort. I, like many others, was unclear as to the main purpose or end-goal of the Women’s March. Was it a particular policy change? If so, was it related to sexual harassment, gender inequality in pay, freedom of choice, and/or all of the above?

In order to sustain long-term change in policy and legislation, strategy, goals, and hard work need to be put forth and adhered to. This Ted Talk goes into more detail on the lack of strategy behind online uprisings. As, Zeynep points out, the Civil Rights movement was incredibly successful because there was a well thought out strategy, what she refers to as “slow and sustained” and “painstaking long-term work.” The Civil Rights movement also had specific, tangible goals such as ending segregation and reversing “separate but equal.” Both individuals (ex. MLK) as well as the work of SMO’s led to major change. For example, the NAACP was instrumental in policy change. NAACP lawyer Thurgood Marshall, challenged segregation in the landmark case, Plessy V. Ferguson that later led to Brown v. Board of Education. The Brown Case resulted in large-scale protests such as the March on Washington.

These powerful protests are the reason for both the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965.

Clearly, both SMOs and individuals are important in a social movement. So the question is, in our current social media climate, how can we harness the power of these social media inspired protests and actually produce tangible results? To me, this is more important than whether an SMO or an individual creates a protest event on Facebook. I do not care who starts it, I just want to contribute and see change actually happen.

The first step is creation of a strategy. Many SMOs already have strategy and goals built into their programming. For example, the NAACP has various toolkits for social change initiatives. The trick is to connect SMOs to these grassroots movements so that everyone is on the same page.

Below are some ideas I brainstormed that could create movements that are more effective. I assume (and hope) that at least some of these ideas are already in place.

  • SMOs identifying and working with various grassroots protest planners to create strategies and goals together that can be communicated to the masses
  • SMOs training leaders to be part of these small grassroots movements and educate groups
  • SMOs attending various protests as guest speakers and/or handing out information
  • SMOs collaborating with influential social change leaders such as Michael Moore to ensure a goal is put in place and communicated. He does a great job, but a partnership with an SMO could be even more impactful
  • SMOs and/or individuals harnessing various media sources to make it clear what the public needs to do in order to achieve the goal (make it easy to do, easy to understand)
  • SMOs educating the public at various venues on what legislation is related to the current issue, what propositions to watch out for, etc.
  • SMOs partnering with small grassroots groups to create follow-up sessions after protests
  • SMOs and/or individuals partnering with schools and universities to provide education on various social issues and legislation to build a pipeline

Our current social media climate has so much potential for enacting real, tangible change. By harnessing the strategies that SMOs already construct and articulating clear goals, we have a chance at influencing policy change. SMOs and individuals can be much more powerful as a team, and I hope there will be more partnerships in the future. I am so proud of the Women’s March and awareness it spread, but I want to see women receive equal pay, a right to choose, and fair trials in the cases of rape and sexual assault. I want to see not just a short-term uprising, but long-term change. The partnership of SMOs and individuals can act as a catalyst to bring reform to fruition.

Using Neutrality to Protect Humanity

By Hayley Walker and Valdeir Faria Filho

Non-governmental organizations (NGOs) are functioning in our global society, some better than others. Some are well-known (CARE, Amnesty International, Red Cross) and use effective marketing techniques, lobbying efforts, and provide programs internationally. Others are small, local organizations that work to make life better for specific groups of people. Regardless, these diverse and varying NGOs have multiple commonalities, though they may not be fully visible on the surface. All, however, embark on missions to protect humanity.

The World Association of Non-Governmental Organizations (WANGO) is an international organization that aims to unite NGOs and promote peace and wellbeing across the globe. WANGO offers resources and support to create connections among organizations striving to create a more just, sustainable world for all. As a proponent of networks and collaborations, WANGO sheds light on the synergy that results from global organizations working towards a common goal. With widespread government support, exceptional visionaries, and dedicated donors, WANGO has worked for the past 17 years to encourage NGOs to connect across borders and without boundaries, and to hold steadfast to the following guiding principles (WANGO Code of Ethics):

  • Responsibility, service, and public mindedness
  • Cooperation beyond boundaries
  • Human rights and dignity
  • Religious freedom
  • Transparency and accountability
  • Truthfulness and legality

NGOs, in the broadest sense, cannot be for profit organizations, must be independent of government, must not interfere in domestic state affairs, and must not advocate violence (Kaloudis, 2017). However, there comes a time when disaster relief and humanitarian organizations must interfere—or rather, intervene—in domestic affairs in an effort to protect humanity. Non-governmental organizations are frequently caught in the cross-fire of waring territories, failed states, and desperate civilians, with one goal in mind: to provide relief for those in need.

During times of crisis, NGOs rely deeply on their neutrality to aid them in reaching the most people possible. In accordance with WANGO’s principle of working towards cooperation beyond boundaries, neutrality refers to refraining from taking sides on issues regarding political, cultural, religious affiliation, or other sensitive issues that may result in conflict. That does not mean that NGOs disappear or go into hiding during such conflicts, but rather work harder to serve all affected—regardless of their stance on the issues. Impactful NGOs uphold the policy of not “taking sides,” and this is crucial to the safety of workers, volunteers, donors, and civilians. However, in recent years NGOs have faced difficulty in mitigating suffering as impartial entities, in part due to assumed association with national governments or international organizations (Brechenmacher, 2015).  Aid and relief of organizations urge conflicting parties to respect their neutral stance as they provide desperately needed services to civilians, but reality does not always allow provide for this ideal situation. State militaries may claim alliances with NGOs, and rebel forces may see this alliance as a threat to their progress. NGOs, however, frequently default to the emphasizing the value of impartiality in conflict zones and assert their neutral stance to relieve human suffering—a practice that is often debated. In order to reach civilians who may be trapped or displaced deep within war zones and conflict arenas, NGOs must carefully negotiate with opposing parties. They must ensure they remain under enough security to serve, but enough neutrality to relieve the suffering civilians from all sides.

Leading from the Ground Up: Establishing Ethics and Social Responsibility in USF’s Nonprofit Student Council

By: Brandon Jones, Greg Justice, and Elizabeth Silva,

2017-18 Full-Time Cohort 

The study of ethics – historically known as “Moral Philosophy” – traces its roots to the time of early Greece, having been discussed significantly by Socrates and Plato (01), and mainly, in the pursuit of “justice.”  (No relation.)

Fast forward over two millennia – give or take a few hundred years, and we find ourselves studying ethics in a new capacity.  That is, how do we build an ethical and socially responsible student government from the ground up, paying tribute today’s standards, yet leaving an ethical structure for future cohorts?

The University of San Francisco’s Master of Nonprofit Administration (“MNA”) has within the program a fully autonomous student government – the Nonprofit Student Council (“NSC”).  NSC serves the needs, ideas, and professional development of the MNA student body.  In our official affairs, governing documents, and the spirit of our governance, NSC is building an ethical foundation, providing a respectful and dignified environment for current and future students.

NSC’s Core Values

From the very beginning of NSC’s deliberations, the executive board – the collective six officers pictured right –  has stressed the need for engagement, collaboration, and representation; access and inclusion; oversight and accountability; and, most importantly, diversity, as our guiding principles.  As the governing council for MNA students, we benefit greatly with these values, making sure we do our best to represent every student in a thoughtful and equitable manner.

NSC’s Mission Statement

Our guiding principles are best embodied in the NSC mission statement, memorializing our official commitment to these values.  The purpose of NSC is to, “provide a unified voice for students with a focus on promoting and improving the MNA program at The University of San Francisco. The NSC provides a vehicle for student perspectives, ideas, and a means of promoting events on behalf of the student body. The NSC club will promote co-curricular activities pertinent to the nonprofit field as well as support and encourage collaboration with other nonprofit professionals…”  Again, embedded in NSC’s mission statement is collaboration, representation, and inclusion, all being values allowing for ‘better’ and inclusive governance.

Code of Ethics

NSC has recently initiated the process for designing a Conflict-of-Interest policy, catered to our specific affairs and operations, and will be considering this at the next officer’s meeting.  Besides implementing this best practice, the executive board values an orderly governance system, equally available and protective of all parties.  Despite having a Treasurer and Vice-President for Communications, all financial records and official communications are shared with officers, program and university officials, and most importantly, MNA students. (We have even established a program-wide email listserv, guaranteeing all MNA students – part- and full-time – are well-informed, and have a timely accounting of their officer’s.)

Ethics Officer

Unlike other student governments and organizations, NSC has taken the step to permanently secure the implementation of oversight, access, accountability, and other related practices, with a new officer position.  Appointed just last week, Greg Finkelstein serves as the Director of Standards and Practices, ensuring organizational compliance with governing and ethical protocol.  Finkelstein also chairs the newly formed Standards and Practices Committee, bringing in independent and impartial students overseeing NSC’s compliance.

Structure

When considering any program, service, or obligation, NSC creates an “Officer’s Report,” providing assessments for risk, finance, governance, and overall compliance.  These reports provide an extra layer of administrative and ethical analysis, making sure our values and guiding principles are effectively considered in all matters before the executive board.

The board also recently adopted a 72-hour deadline for introducing and disseminating all agenda items and reports, guaranteeing equal access and consideration to all parties and stakeholders in official affairs.  Further, although our meetings regularly take place physically on our campus, all meetings are also broadcast via Zoom – a webinar platform, allowing all who desire to participate to do so.

Conclusion

Further ethical drivers – such as, risk assessment and governance analyses, leadership and ethics trainings, as well as, organizational socialization – will be the path NSC takes in our ongoing ethics quest.   Despite implementing these best practices and guiding principles, NSC cannot rest on any laurels, as we recognize maintaining an ethical and socially responsible organization requires continuous development, organizational reflection, and ongoing assessment and refinement of the overall governing structure.  

For more information about NSC, please contact NSC@usfca.edu, or visit our website at www.usfnsc.org, or Twitter @usfnsc.

Silva serves as Secretary, Justice as President, and Jones is a contributor to NSC’s development.

Servant Leadership In Nonprofit Culture

A flipped pyramid showing the structure of servant leadership (Haaff, 2015)

By: Greg Finkelstein, Kia Harris, and Jenny Shen, MNA ’18

In nonprofit entities, leadership is the cornerstone of success. Without good leadership, regardless of how impressive the individual components may be, productivity is far from maximized, and employees themselves may become marginalized. There are a plethora of leadership techniques which can be enacted at many levels, but their effectiveness varies depending on the environment in which they are employed. However, given the nature of nonprofits, servant leadership is the universal perfect match.

Servant leadership is a concept that many leaders will never be able to follow. They may feel that being a servant leader means that power is being yielded from them to other employees. This has nothing to do with servant leadership. A good leader can lead from the front, from behind, or from the side. Beyond that, a good servant leader is still clearly in charge. This concept does not mean that final authority shifts away from management and into the hands of the other employees.

To become a servant leader, one must have the mentality that their role is to support and address the needs of those who work under them (Johnson, 2017). Thinking from the employee’s perspective, checking in with them, and being receptive to feedback all give servant leaders insight on how to better facilitate the work being done. There are constantly new models or seminars on how to be a better leader, but what will always make sense is directly asking those who are being led how they want their situations improved.

The concept of servant leadership fits nonprofits perfectly because of both their virtues and shortcomings. Nonprofits usually have employees who truly want to be there and work towards the cause. Often, these employees are initially attracted to the organization because they align with the mission statement and the values emphasized. In this light, engaging in servant leadership is a very logical approach. Truly supporting those who have a high level of motivation to accomplish the organization’s mission and affinity for the cause at hand makes the most sense. If employees already want to work hard and efficiently, pushing and prodding them doesn’t help, but will instead wear people down over time. Supporting them, addressing their specific needs, and making the work environment as easy to maneuver as possible are the best ways to increase productivity when motivation is already high.

In addition to virtues, the shortcomings of nonprofits are another great reason to engage in servant leadership. Nonprofits may address a wide range of social issues, but they share many common challenges: being low on funds, having too few staff, and not having enough resources. Even large, multi-million dollar nonprofits have a limited ability to pay market rate wages. New nonprofits face these challenges and more, as their novelty and presumably small size makes them greatly vulnerable (Bielefeld, 2014). This gives the impression that nonprofits are at a disadvantage. Indeed, being at a disadvantage is far from anything new to nonprofits, but, rather, closer to the norm. Interestingly, there are significant drawbacks to relying on monetary reward as an incentive, as many for-profits do. Most importantly, it breeds fickle employees. Just like there is always a bigger fish, someone elsewhere will always be able to offer a bigger paycheck.

Clearly, nonprofits must rely on something more substantial than monetary reward. If an employee must accept that their work will not garner as many financial gains as compared to a similar position in the for-profit world, the last thing they want is to be led around by a totalitarian who doesn’t seem to respect their input and views them as replaceable commodities. Indeed, that would not be an easy environment to be in regardless of the sector. Additionally, nonprofit workers may be asked to go above and beyond their duties with no increase in tangible incentives. When this happens, knowing there is a leader who will do their best to address their employees’ needs is a great source of security and makes accepting the new obligations less daunting. The vanguard to overcoming these challenges can only be leadership, and servant leadership addresses these issues particularly well.

Servant leadership does not need to be the only management mechanism employed. Other models, ideas, and practices can blend well with servant leadership. For example, the 7 virtues of effective leaders, courage, integrity, humility, reverence, optimism, compassion, and justice, all fit perfectly under the frame of servant leadership (Johnson, 2017). If a leader views putting the needs of her or his staff as primary importance, they are then free to continue instilling motivation in a variety of ways. It is clear that embracing the unique traits and challenges of nonprofits is crucial to implementing good leadership. Servant leadership highlights these features, while empowering individuals to contribute as much as they can to something they believe in. It is no surprise, then, that this technique is rising in popularity.

Eudaimonia in the Third Sector

By: Kyle Pate

What is eudaimonia, and what does it mean for leaders in the social sector? Eudaimonia is the satisfaction in living a virtuous life (Britannica).  Leaders in the third sector can better serve their organizations by achieving eudaimonia through practicing the ethical virtues outlined by the Greek philosopher Aristotle. Unlike other exhausting processes of performing ethical evaluations (Johnson, 2013), Aristotle’s philosophy offers a way to become an ethical leader as a lifelong practice.

Being a Virtuous Person

In Aristotle’s view, the way to develop ethical thinking is to emanate another virtuous person. One should find a moral exemplar, and follow their lead. This person could be someone President Obama or Oprah. According to Aristotle, the ability to be ethical is part of our human nature, and to pursue being a virtuous person is the life-long function of being a human. One’s moral exemplar does not need to be perfect, but there are certain virtues they should habitually practice (Rayner, 2011):

  1. Courage
    Act with bravery and valor. We are seeking the perfect center between cowardice and recklessness.
  2. Temperance
    Seek to offer what is appropriate for the situation, but do not censor ourselves into silence.
  3. Liberality
    This shouldn’t be hard for those in the third sector! Share generously, giving what can be offered freely.
  4. Magnificence
    Aristotle believed a virtuous person could be found through simple observation. Be radiant and charismatic in one’s affairs.
  5. Pride
    Not to be confused with one of the seven sins, the virtue of pride is taking satisfaction in one’s work. Like a craftsman who finished a magnificent piece, one should feel pride in their mastery.
  6. Honor
    Aristotle glorified fraternal love and respect. Virtuous honor is not only about one’s character, but creating a culture of honor through reverence for others.
  7. Good Temper
    As a leader, remain level headed and considerate.
  8. Friendliness
    Despite the situation, it is virtuous to maintain a friendly manner. Imagine a courteous southern politician gracefully ignoring a reporter’s pointed question.
  9. Truthfulness
    Be frank with others.
  10. Wit
    Like a gracious host or charismatic speaker, a smart sense of humor will earn a person favor and illumine their virtue .
  11. Camaraderie
    Aristotle believed in brotherly love, extending a hand to fellow man. Revel in camaraderie with others.
  12. Justice
    Judge with impartiality and fairness.

Achieving Eudaimonia

Leaders who follow Aristotle’s philosophy become ethical through practicing the virtues in all their affairs. The ethical focus is shifted from a situational response, to pattern of behavior. Psychologists posit that moral principles are often a matter of instinct rather than rationality (Johnson, 2013). Aristotle’s philosophy of virtue supports this view, recommending individuals develop their instinctual response through habitual practice of virtuous behavior.

Ethical leaders are to avoid “vices” in search of the golden mean (Nicomachean Ethics). Every virtue has the potential to become destructive, or simply distasteful (either in violation of virtuosity.) Eudaimonia is achieved through the moderation of behavior towards the golden mean, and away from extremes. Join in camaraderie, but do not fall to tribalism. Practice impartiality, but do not become disassociated. Be jovial, but not inattentive.

Aristotle’s is an advantageous moral framework in the third sector. A leader’s decision-making is dominated by perspective of a spectator. Virtue ethics are intentionally ambiguous, requiring an actor to view themselves in third person to assess their own behavior. The “right” thing to do is defined by following what a perfectly virtuous person would do in any given situation. Such conduct will ingratiate leaders with donors, foster strategic partnership, and shine in service to the organization’s constituents.

 

What MNA Students Should Know about Donor Advised Funds

 

Image Courtesy of The San Francisco Foundation

By: Jackie Downing & Alexa Davidson

September 15, 2017

The MNA curriculum is rich with information on foundations, but how much do you know about donor advised funds? Did you know that from 2014 to 2015, according to the National Philanthropic Trusts 2016 Donor-Advised Fund Report, the total number of donor advised funds grew by 11.1%, compared to private foundations which grew by 2.6%. Additionally, Donor Advised Fund grants to qualified charities reached an all time high of $14.2 billion, which is a 16.9% increase from 2014 (National Philanthropic Trust, 2016). As greater numbers of donors – individuals, families and companies – choose this low-cost, convenient giving vehicle over the traditional foundation, it is essential that nonprofits leaders understand donor advised funds.

Let’s start with the basics. A donor advised fund, as defined by the IRS, is a fund or account which is separately identified, owned and controlled by the sponsoring organization, and over which the donor(s) (or person(s) appointed by them) have advisory privileges. Like a bank account, the fund bears the donors’ names, unless they choose to name it something else. The account is housed at a large nonprofit, such as a community foundation, university, or the philanthropic arm of a financial firm, such as Schwab Charitable. The donors may recommend grants from the fund to eligible nonprofits. Unlike a private foundation where the “owners” (the trustees) have the authority to make grants from the fund, an advisor to a donor advised fund recommends grants from the fund and these recommendations must be reviewed and approved by the entity that houses the donor advised fund.

If donors establishing donor advised funds are forced to give up some control over the assets in the fund, why then are they so popular? Because donor advised funds offer many advantages over private foundations. For starters, donors contributing highly appreciated property to a donor advised fund can deduct up to 50% of their adjusted gross income for these gifts, compared to 30% for private foundations. Donor advised funds, with fees ranging from about .25% to 1.25% of the fund balance, are generally far less expensive than hiring staff to run your private foundation, especially if it is small. Unlike a private foundation, which must file and publish a 990 annually, disclosing all monies spent on staffing, operations and grants, a donor advised fund offers complete privacy. A donor can give anonymously to any eligible organization. In many instances, particularly at community foundations, donor advised fund donors have the opportunity to consult grantmaking professionals, utilize their services and expertise to learn about grantees, become more informed philanthropists, involve their family in philanthropy, and plan for a charitable legacy after their lifetime.

In addition to these advantages, donor advised funds have a few other positive traits. They are far more flexible than private foundations. They require only one advisor, though most providers will allow a donor to appoint other friends and family to advise on the fund if desired. They do not require a board, board meetings, or any formal decision making process, other than submitting the grant recommendations to the sponsor for approval, which in most instances, donors can do online anytime, day or night. This allows donors to be responsive and generous in their giving, responding to the needs of the community and getting funds to the causes they care about, anytime of the year. Grants are quickly reviewed, approved and paid, generally in one or two weeks’ time. The sponsoring organization conducts appropriate due diligence to ensure that the funds will be used by an eligible nonprofit organization for charitable purposes. Donor advised funds are not designed to live in perpetuity, though most sponsors offer the option of creating a permanent fund after the donor’s lifetime. Instead, donor advised funds typically spend down their assets in one or two generations, with remaining funds going to the sponsoring institution (in the case of community foundations and universities) or directly to nonprofit causes when the donors are no longer living. While private foundations typically spend 5% of their corpus per year and are designed to exist in perpetuity, donor advised funds generally spend well above this, which in a world of great need, is a very important distinction.

When soliciting or accepting a donation from a donor advised fund, keep in mind the following:

Donor advised funds may make grants to eligible causes, including:

  • Domestic 501(c)(3) charitable organizations and 509(a)(1) and 509(a)(2) public c charities, including houses of worship, hospitals, schools, museums, symphonies, zoos
  • Governmental units (if for public purpose)
  • Private operating foundations
  • Some supporting organizations – 509(a)(3) public charities that are not considered disqualified to donor advised funds
  • Foreign charities, using expenditure responsibility (tracking all expenses) or equivalency determination (demonstrating that the organization is the equivalent of a US charity.

Donor advised funds may not:

  • Make grants to individuals selected by or affiliated with donor
  • Make grants which result in benefits for or payments to the donor or related parties
  • Make grants to private non-operating foundations
  • Be used to fulfill pledges or sponsor events
  • Be used pay the portion of a gift that is tax deductible
  • Be given for anything other than charitable purposes

Make the experience positive for donor advised fund donors:

  • Grantees should exercise care when thanking a donor for making a request from a donor advised fund. The thank you letter should not thank the individual donor for the donation, but instead should thank the donor for recommending the contribution.
  • Neither the DAF sponsor nor the individual donor require a tax receipt from your organization.  Any letters are for acknowledgement purposes only.
  • Do not provide tickets, sponsorships, gifts, or any other benefits beyond incidentals (like a coffee mug) to donors. Do not allow donors to split (bifurcate) their gifts, paying for benefits portion personally and the tax-deductible portion with the fund. This is called bifurcation and it is not permissible by the IRS.
  • Do not ask or allow your donors to make pledges. Donors may express their intent to recommend a grant from their donor advised fund to your organization, but they may not commit formally or in writing to a gift without approval from the sponsoring organization.
  • Secure a DAF grant as you would any other gift: Cultivate the donor relationship; Craft a compelling case; Make the ask; Confirm the gift source; Thank and steward the donor. For anonymous donors, ask the sponsoring organization to pass along a thank you letter.
  • For anonymous donors, ask the sponsoring organization to pass along a thank you letter or email to the donor and take great care to treat the donor’s gift with confidentiality.

The rapid growth of donor advised funds in recent years illustrates their widespread appeal. Thousands of everyday Americans who want to be strategic and flexible in their giving, use donor advised funds to support the causes they care about. Donor advised funds should help donors experience the greatest level of satisfaction and joy from the generous support of their favorite causes and charities. Whether at a single-issue charity, a community foundation, or a commercial provider, donor advised funds serve a common purpose:  raising the profile of philanthropy and bringing more resources to worthwhile organizations making positive change.

The authors wish to thank Pamela Doherty, Director of Business Development at The San Francisco Foundation, for contributing her expertise to these recommendations.