About Michael Sand

Michael has more than 40 years’ experience as a staff member, board member and consultant to nonprofit groups that need to raise funds. Michael heads Sand Associates, a consulting firm that provides comprehensive services to nonprofit organizations across the country. He lives in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. To reach Michael visit his websitewww.sandassociates.com, or send him an e-mail at msand9999@aol.com

Michael is also the author of 3 books listed below available on Amazon.

How To Manage An Effective Nonprofit Organization: From Writing And Managing Grants To Fundraising, Board Development, And Strategic Planning,
The Essential Nonprofit Fundraising Handbook: Getting the Money You Need from Government Agencies, Businesses, Foundations, and Individuals,
How to Manage an Effective Religious Organization: The Essential Guide for Your Church, Synagogue, Mosque or Temple

Tips for Achieving Diversity on Nonprofit Boards

Tips on Developing a Nonprofit BoardI knew that question would arise. My last article was entitled “Diversity on Nonprofit Boards.”

The question I received was “You have convinced me that diversity is important. But how do I go about achieving diversity on my board?” I knew that excellent question would arise.

First, identify the diversity you would like to include on your board. Perhaps you realize the need for young people on your board or African-Americans or program participants.

Then tell your board and staff members about this need. Ask them to send you information about the individuals they are recommending.

If you do not receive sufficient names of applicants this way, check with groups in your community which serve individuals in whichever diversity you are seeking. Ask the local boy scout or girl scout troop for recommendation of young people. Ask the NAACP President to recommend African-Americans. Check with the Hispanic Community Center or the pastor of the Hispanic Church to obtain names of possible Hispanic board members.

If you would like program participants specifically to join your board, send a brief note to all present and past program participants, asking them to volunteer or to recommend others.

Give the board’s Nominating Committee the responsibility of reviewing the various recommendations you have received. Then have a member of the Nominating Committee set up appointments with prospective members. You might want to hold the meetings in the organization’s office and include a tour e.g., day care program, senior citizen center. Holding the meetings at a local coffee shop may work as well.

Make appointments to see several individuals in each category. Leave enough time to set up the appointments and to hold them before board nominations are due. Remember that many individuals you visit may decline an invitation to serve on your board.

Start by telling the prospective board member about the services provided by the organization.
Tell the individual about the board’s role in setting policy. Give the individual a copy of a board member job description. Make sure you emphasize that all new board members will receive an orientation.

If you are going to recommend that the individual be offered a board position, tell them you will
contact them soon. If you decide that you are not going to recommend them for a position, just be positive and thank them for the opportunity to tell them about your program.

One recommendation I have dubbed the “Noah” approach. If your board is not diverse, try to name two African-Americans or Hispanics or young people to the board at the same time. Then the new individual might feel a little more comfortable.

At each new board member’s first meeting, make the new board member welcome. Make sure to have all present board members introduce themselves. It is not necessary to identify their “diversity.” They will know right away that they are the only program participants or African-Americans without you having to announce it to the entire board.

After the meeting, make sure the Nominating Committee member who met with the individual, now a board member, calls that individual on the telephone. Answer any questions the individual might have. Thank them again for attending. Remind them of the date of the next board meeting.

You will find that diversities disappear. The new board member who may have seemed “different” now is just a board colleague who has an interest in promoting your organization or program.

Diversity on Nonprofit Boards

Diversity on Nonprofit Boards

A nonprofit board has the responsibility of setting policy for the organization.

I believe that in order to perform this responsibility effectively, the board should include a wide variety of individuals.  Every board should have a discussion of the ideal board makeup in terms of diversity.

Here are some of the diversities each board should be discussing:

It is clear that in America, the large majority of African-Americans have different cultural experiences than Caucasians.  Each board should then take a look at the individuals the agency serves.  If the agency serves African-Americans, then African-Americans should serve as board members.

Hispanics and Other Ethnicities
The same reasoning applies here. If the agency serves a percentage of Latinos/Hispanics, individuals from these cultures should sit on the board.

Income Level
Here is where many boards have conflicting opinions.  Of course, having rich people on the board increases the amount of donations. But many times, rich people have different values and interests than the individuals served by the agency.  So I suggest a mix—wealthy, middle-class and low income individuals.

Not long ago,  I led a board training workshop for a senior citizens center.  Before the workshop, I visited the center to learn about its activities.  Most of the activities were geared to low-income seniors. For example, the most popular program was a literacy program.  Yet every board member was either upper-middle class or wealthy.  It was clear from the discussion at the board meeting that not a single board member had a clue of the needs and interests of the program participants and therefore they could not set policy effectively.

Program Participants
Make sure to include on the board representatives of the population being served.  This is extremely important.  A head start parent should serve on a head start board. A mental health “consumer” should serve on a mental health board, etc.

Why should YMCA or YWCA boards be composed of all men or all women when both organizations serve both men and women?  Why should domestic violence boards or rape crisis center boards exclude men from board participation.  Programs to reduce the number of male perpetrators are essential to fulfilling the mission of these organizations. Males should certainly serve on these boards.

Look at both the religions represented in the community and in the client population. If an organization serves Muslims, for example,  Muslims should be included on the board.

Look at who is served by the agency.  I think there is wide agreement that a senior center should include seniors on its board.  I would also recommend that organizations serving teenagers should include youth on the board as well. It is a good idea to include individuals of all ages on any board.


(Michael Sand provides consulting and training for nonprofit organizations.  Please contact him at MSand9999@aol.com.  He will write a subsequent article which includes ideas for encouraging individuals of diverse backgrounds to become active on nonprofit boards.)

Fundraising Tips – How to Target Businesses for Donations

The business community is an excellent source of funds for nonprofit organizations.

Develop a strategy for asking for funds from businesses

fundraising tips for nonprofits

1) Identify businesses in your community

  •  Get lists from your Chamber of Commerce. (Joining the Chamber is a good idea.)
  • Include businesses which are employers of board members of other volunteers
  • Include all businesses from whom you purchase goods and services
  • Include businesses from whom your clients purchase good and services
  • Include businesses with a history of charitable giving in the community.

 2) Decide how to let businesses know about your agency and the services it provides

Note that asking for funds from businesses is a two-part process.  First, you decide how to inform the business of the programs of your agency. Then you ask for funds.

There are many ways of informing business about your agency.  You can:

  • Form a business advisory committee to assist your nonprofit
  • Invite business to an Open House to learn about your programs
  • Visit individual businesses to find out more about their products and services and tell them about your agency
  • Invite individual businesspersons to tour your agency and learn more about what you do.
  • Send businesses information packets and newsletters about your agency.

 3) Visit businesses personally to ask for funds.

You will find that large amounts will only be raised after personal meetings with company representatives.

Before you go, learn as much as you can about the company:

  • The specific services they offer
  • Their profitability
  • The types of charities they have supported
  • The amounts of previous gifts

Several addition tips:

  • Make sure the individual with whom you are meeting knows about your agency before you make the visit.
  • Include a board member or another volunteer in the visit to the business.
  • Make sure you personally know the individual you are visiting.
  • Bring information about your agency with you to the meeting. A video showing  your programs in action is very effective.
  • Send a personal thank you note after completing the visit.

Keep excellent records of contacts with each company. Remember that cultivating business donors is a long-term ongoing process.


Volunteer Management – Firing a Volunteer

Volunteer Management Firing a VolunteerMy last article “Tips to Having an Excellent Volunteer Program” assumed that volunteers were competent and cooperative. In my experience, most volunteers are.

But in the real world, an occasional volunteer is neither competent nor cooperative.

What are your options?

Begin by taking steps to improve performance. In nearly every case, it is more productive to improve performance that to take steps to fire a volunteer.

Every volunteer (and paid worker as well) should have a supervisor. It makes no difference whether the supervisor is paid or not. Each special event, for example, should have a chairperson, and the individuals undertaking the various tasks to make the event successful should report to the chair.

The first way to improve performance is for the supervisor to recognize the unacceptable performance and tell the volunteer how to improve it. For example, the volunteer may have had an important task e.g., driving an individual to a doctor’s appointment, and the volunteer did not show up. The supervisor quietly should tell the volunteer that in the future, if the volunteer has an assignment they can not make, they must notify the supervisor at least one day in advance.

If the inappropriate behavior continues, the supervisor should document the behavior in at least three instances. Then the supervisor asks for a private meeting with the volunteer.

The supervisor begins the discussion by specifically noting the three instances of unsatisfactory performance. The supervisor does not use negative words but just describes the behavior. “Last Tuesday afternoon, you screamed at a client” or “You were late for your Monday assignments at the day care center the last three Mondays.”

The supervisor then tells the volunteer what acceptable behavior would look like. In many cases, the volunteer will state that the behavior will improve. The supervisor then thanks the volunteer and ends the meeting.

In other instances, however, the volunteer refuses to change behavior.

One option would be to give the volunteer a different assignment. “You can not drive the children to the day care program any more but we would be pleased if you
would assist the teacher in reading to the children on Tuesday mornings.”

As a last resort, the supervisor must “fire” the volunteer. Before doing this, the volunteer must again be given an opportunity to improve performance. However, if the volunteer refuses to change, the supervisor must tell the volunteer and confirm in writing that “You can no longer volunteer to assist in the day care program.”

Remember the general rule. The volunteer represents the agency the same way the paid worker does. Unacceptable behavior should not be tolerated.


Tips to Having an Excellent Volunteer Program

Tips to Having An Excellent Volunteer ProgramMany nonprofit agencies are relying more and more on the assistance of volunteers to run their organizations effectively.

As with all others aspects of nonprofit management,  planning is important to develop an excellent volunteer program.  There is one essential theme.  An excellent volunteer management program is no different than an excellent program for hiring paid workers.

Of course, any personnel program begins with a detailed job description.

  • Skills needed
  • Supervision provided
  • Hours of work
  • Location  of work

Job interview
Interview each applicant personally.  Before the interview, ask for a resume.  Make sure to tell the applicant to include recent volunteer positions.  Ask for examples of volunteer tasks performed. Try to judge each volunteer’s temperament as well as skill levels.

Conduct a two-part orientation. One part is the general orientation for all new volunteers.

Make sure to include the agency’s history and services.  The volunteer should meet the board chair and the executive director.  Information given to each volunteer should include annual reports, agency brochures, and relevant board policies.

Include a specific orientation about the tasks the volunteer will be asked to undertake.  Allow plenty of time for questions. Make sure each volunteer knows what steps to take if he/she can not undertake a particular assignment.

Make sure each volunteer has a supervisor.  The supervisor can be either a paid staff person on a volunteer.  The supervisor should be in touch with each volunteer at least once a month, either by phone, e-mail or in person.  At every opportunity, the supervisor should thank the volunteer for their assistance.

Provide opportunities for training for all volunteers.  This should include periodic training at the office on topics of interest. Volunteers should have an opportunity to attend conferences and other training opportunities.

Remember that thank the volunteers for their service.  Volunteer recognition programs are always appropriate.  Include volunteers in holiday parties and other celebrations.

Make certain to keep records of the hours each volunteer spends assisting the agency. Note any problems and their solutions. Let each volunteer know that you will provide reference letters to schools, prospective employers, or wherever letters are needed.

Meet with each volunteer at least once a year to thank them for their service and make suggestions for improvement.

Problem Solving
If a volunteer is creating problems, set up a private meeting with the volunteer and his/her supervisor. Tell the supervisor not to criticize the volunteer. Spell out in a positive manner how the problem can be solved. Be firm but fair. Tell the volunteer that if the problem is not solved, the volunteer may have to switch position within the agency.


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