By James D’Ambrosio

JamesProfile1TwitterThe second annual #GivingTuesday — a movement celebrating and encouraging charitable activities that support nonprofits and representing a national day of giving jump starting the giving season — takes place Tuesday, December 3, just after Thanksgiving and Black Friday. #GivingTuesday was initiated in 2012 by the 92nd Street Y in New York City with the United Nations Foundation as a partner. The concept was refined with input from a team of esteemed professionals: Andrew Watt, president and CEO of the Association of Fundraising professionals; Robert Reich, professor at Stanford; and Eileen Heisman, president and CEO of National Philanthropic Trust, to name a few.


Last year some 2,500+ #GivingTuesday partners from all 50 states resulted in some impressive results. For example: Blackbaud, developers of software and services for nonprofits, generated $10 million in online donations, up 53 percent from 2012; DonorPerfect, online nonprofit fundraising software from SofterWare, realized a 46 percent increase in donations with average gifts up 25 percent; and 50 million+ people worldwide spreading the message via social media, resulting in milestone ‘trending’ on Twitter.


To become a partner, you must be a registered 501(c)(3) U.S. nonprofit with a specific #GivingTuesday project, OR a private business, school or religious group involved in a project benefiting at least one registered 501 (c)(3) U.S. charity or nonprofit. #GivingTuesday is NOT an organization and does not accept/distribute donations. Rather, it’s a movement — donations are made through partner Web sites (official partners manage their own fundraising projects.) Partners are asked to develop an initiative for/on #GivingTuesday and spread word to their networks.  CLICK HERE TO SIGN UP AS AN OFFICIAL PARTNER.


The 92nd Street Y and U.N. Foundation suggest some ways to participate:

♦ Launch an awareness/fundraising campaign via social media using the #GivingTuesday hashtag on Twitter to spread news to key stakeholders.

♦ Ask a board member to put up a matching grant. Last year partners leveraged small matching grants to attract large donations.

♦ Some donor’ workplaces double employee donations. Ask them to submit a matching-gift request.

♦ Suggest donors, volunteers and pro-bono consultants share plans/stories to give back on their social networks. Then ‘Like’ and Tweet their posts.

♦ Share your story. Contact local media or share it with #GivingTuesday (givingtuesday@gmail.com).

♦ Challenge board members to use their professional skills to support your operations and mission.


Of course, time and resources dictate what you can do. If resources are scarce, try something small you can manage. The larger picture is to participate, grow the movement, and galvanize the industry as a whole.



If your nonprofit is participating, what is your project or initiative?


By James D’Ambrosio

JamesProfile1TwitterReviewing the findings from my last post about The 2013 Nonprofit Employment Trends Survey, one statistic jumps out: 69 percent of nonprofits — more than 2/3 — said they do not have a formal succession plan for senior leadership. This shapes up to be a real problem as many baby boomers holding executive and key administrative positions are forecast to retire in the coming years. Should that happen in your agency, will you be ready? This is where a succession plan is invaluable.  

In brief, a succession plan provides a framework for replacing an executive director, key administrator or other employee crucial to an agency’s operations due to an unexpected departure, retirement or death. Usually it’s developed by the board of directors and the executive director/CEO who, should, theoretically, have a good grasp of major issues facing an agency and key operational tasks.     


The HR Council for the Nonprofit Sector, an agency based in Canada, defines succession planning as follows:

“A succession plan, simply put, is a component of good HR planning and management. Succession planning acknowledges that staff will not be with an organization indefinitely and it provides a plan and process for addressing the changes that will occur when they leave. Most succession planning focuses on the most senior manager — the executive director; however, all key positions should be included in the plan…positions that are crucial for the operations of your organization and, because of skill, seniority and/or experience, will be hard to replace.”


If you’re looking to create a plan, think about areas in your agency that may be vulnerable to an unexpected departure and how it might be dealt with. For our purposes here, let’s say your executive director suddenly announces he/she is leaving on short notice to take another position. Here’s some issues you would face:

♦ How do we go about finding a qualified replacement?

♦ Who will conduct the search — board, staff, both?

♦ Is there anyone currently on staff qualified to step in?

♦ Should we contract with an executive search firm to identify candidates?

♦ Should we hire an interim ED until the position is filled?

♦ Can the position remain vacant for a few months with minimal impact to the organization?

♦ Have we formally documented key ideas, skills and organizational knowledge/history that only the executive director has? (Having this for the successor provides continuity, saves time, flattens the learning curve, and will certainly be appreciated.)

Having a plan in place makes a situation like the above much easier to deal with, i.e., not having to feverishly pursue solutions at the worst possible time when people are under stress. If you’re interested in developing a plan, the resources below will help you get started.


Click here for books on succession planning from Amazon

Resources from The Foundation Center

A publication from the Annie E. Casey Foundation

Resources from The National Council of Nonprofits


Does your agency have a written succession plan? If not, are you inclined to create one?

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