Thursday, March 26, 2015

March Madness for Camp Finance

March Madness Sure is Sweet...
Especially When it Saves You Money! 

Though the tournament has dealt many of us here a few busted brackets, we're still excited about the Sweet Sixteen, Elite Eight and the road to the Final Four...

At NYCON, March Madness also starts us thinking about our own Big Event -- Camp Finance! This year we'll be seeing you at Mohonk Mountain House on October 8th & 9th.

To capture the excitement of both events, we're offering you our March Madness Camp Finance Discount from now through the end of the tournament. Until April 6th you can save $30 on Full Conference Camp Finance rates. While we are finalizing themes, workshops and speakers for 2015 we want to make sure you - the people who are "mad" about Camp Finance - can save money.

From now until April 6th receive a $30 discount on Full Conference registration for Camp Finance. Just click here and enter discount code 15FINALFOUR.

This all inclusive Full Conference rate covers the workshops, meals and your overnight stay at the lovely Mohonk Mountain House in New Paltz, NY on October 8th & 9th
The historic and majestic Mohonk Mountain House, site of Camp Finance.
This is just a little Thank You to all of you who are as fond of Camp Finance as we are.  We love seeing you on the mountain and are looking forward to a great conference again this year.
The Camp Finance Team

Reminder! Technical Assistance Proposals due April 1

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2015 NYSCA State and Local Partnerships 
Technical Assistance Program

Due April 1

Just a quick reminder, applications are due April 1, 2015 by 5:00 PM. If you have questions or thoughts, feel free to contact us! 
The NYSCA division of State and Local Partnerships is pleased to once again announce the availability of funding for technical assistance to its constituent organizations. Funds will be provided through a competitive peer panel process administered by CNY Arts.

Funds are available for professional services targeted to specific organizational challenges and opportunities, with the potential to significantly advance the mission of SLP constituent organizations. All organizations currently supported by SLP are eligible to apply. However, priority will be given to organizations that administer Decentralization funds, organizations located outside the New York City metropolitan area, and to organizations that have not received technical assistance support in the last two years. Funds are not available for attendance at professional conferences and seminars.

A request for technical assistance might include any of the following, although your proposal is not limited to these examples: 
  • System Development: consultant fees for developing or upgrading websites; on-line forms; social media presence; financial management systems; fundraising management systems; audience database or ticketing systems; etc. 
  • Strategic Initiatives: consultant fees related to community cultural planning, or specific initiatives in audience development; fundraising; marketing; public relations; board development; etc.
Equipment and capital purchases are not eligible. Consultancy fees for persons already on your staff are not eligible. Travel and fees for attending conferences and workshops are not eligible.


Generally, grants will range from $1,000 to $5,000 per organization. Given that funds are limited, grants may be awarded for less than the amount requested.


Please submit requests as a single .pdf attachment transmitted with the subject line "2015 Technical Assistance Request".

Applications should include:
  •  A letter signed by the CEO or an officer of the board indicating the area(s) in which the group is seeking assistance
  • A brief narrative outlining the specific technical assistance service requested and its expected impact on the organization
  • A timeline for completion of the project, please include any short- and long-term goals and estimated dates for completion
  • A project budget that includes all income, expenses, and the amount requested 
  • Resume(s) of any proposed consultant(s)
 Requests must be received by April 1, 2015 by 5:00 PM


Recipients will be notified and payments disbursed in mid/late June 2015. A copy of the consultant's report or other evidence of completed service must be submitted at the conclusion of the technical assistance engagement.

In developing your proposal, feel free to telephone or e-mail CNY Arts Grants Coordinator, Elizabeth Lane at (315) 435-2158 or


Funds are limited, and applications will be judged competitively on the basis of: 
  • Importance of the requested technical assistance to the organization, its mission, and/or service area
  • Appropriateness and qualification of the proposed technical assistance provider
  • Readiness of the applicant organization to benefit from the requested service
  • Commitment of other organizational funds and/or resources to the project

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Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Relationships 101: Working With Consultants

Idealware: Helping Nonprofits Make Smart Software Decisions
March 2015
Nonprofits often get by with versatile staff members and a lot of help from reliable volunteers. But sometimes you need a level of expertise or experience only a consultant can offer. Whether you're looking to implement a new system, replace an existing one, or customize software for your organization's particular needs, a consultant can help you think through your options, facilitate implementation, and work with your team to make sure everyone is up and running with your new technology solution.

However, if you've never worked with a consultant before, it can be challenging to know how to communicate with them and how to understand internal and external roles. How can you navigate this relationship to ensure that your organization gets what it needs, the project runs smoothly from start to finish, you stay on budget, and everyone feels good about the process.

Like all good relationships, it takes work. Our friends at TechSoup asked us to write an article guiding organizations through the process of establishing and maintaining those relationships. Read "How to Find, Hire, and Collaborate with Technology Consultants" for free here.
Other Resources
Last year we worked with ongoing partner SYNERGY: UJA-Federation of New York and Synagogues to research and write a white paper about how synagogues can use data-driven decision-making to transform their congregations. We’re pleased to announce that this free report is available today. While the report itself is specific to synagogues, we believe there’s overlap with the nonprofit sector as a whole, and lessons to be drawn for how all organizations can and do use data. Download “Data Maturity for Synagogues: Incorporating Data into the Decision-Making Culture" for free. 
We’ve got articles in the works on data migration, board portals, Content Management Systems for libraries, and more. We're also finishing up research for a number of reports, including a Consumers Guide to Case Management Systems and case studies about large nonprofits' performance management and what small organizations can learn from their examples. 
Upcoming Training
Our research doesn't just inform our articles and reports--it informs our training, as well. Find the full list here, or join one of those listed below. 
Jumpstart Your Social Media Strategy
Three 90-minute webinars, Wednesdays March 18 to April 11:00pm - 2:30pm Eastern. $95.00. Are you making the most of your social media presence? It’s not enough to be on one or two platforms. You need a strategy that can help you convert “likes” into a stronger voice, more donations, and activism that makes an impact.
Read more or register >>>
Visualizing Your Data Through Dashboards
Thursday March 19, 2015, 1:00 - 2:30pm EST. $40.00. 
Your senior staff and board of directors can benefit from the ability to view high level metrics for your organization, but it’s not obvious how to easily pull it all together. We'll outline what has worked for other organizations to define the metrics that should be tracked, strategies for compiling data from different systems, and possibilities for putting it all together into a visual dashboard.
Read more or register >>>
Six Reasons Why Infographics Matter
Tuesday April 7, 2015, 1:00pm - 2:00pm, Eastern. FREE. 
Why infographics? If you’ve never created one, they can seem daunting and expensive. However, when you find the right data and have the right story to tell, your Infographic can reach a wide audience and make a big difference in your community and beyond. Join us for a free webinar as we look at the six reasons why people love infographics—and why you might consider adding them to your communications mix.
Read more or register >>>
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If you know someone else at your organization or another that might benefit from our resources, let them know how to find us.
Have questions or concerns about Idealware? We love hearing from you—drop us a line at, or email one of our staff.

Thanks for all you do to support nonprofits and Idealware. We’ll see you next month…

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What we learned from Crain's recent arts forum

A president, a councilman and a board member walked into Con Edison Auditorium. Here's what they told us about New York City's vibrant-but-challenged arts and culture scene.

Crain's recently convened another in its continuing series of newsmaker gatherings, a breakfast targeted at the city's arts and culture community.
The featured guests, each the focus of an armchair chat, were Jed Bernstein, president of Lincoln Center; Shelly Lazarus, chairwoman emeritus of Ogilvy & Mather and a member of the board of Lincoln Center; and Jimmy Van Bramer, chairman of the City Council's Cultural Affairs and Libraries Committee. An announcement that day that the de Blasio administration plans to study diversity in the arts had the subject very much on everyone's mind, so we'll start our lesson there.


Shelly LazarusPhoto: 
MR. BERNSTEIN: Any responsible cultural institution has to care about diversity and must lament the fact that in general our boards do not represent the full makeup of our city as well as they should. But the path to a solution is not easy or clear. Nonprofit institutions continue to be challenged with having to find productive board members of all colors, creeds and ethnicities. There tends to be a small pool of usual suspects who are considered. We have to work harder at engagement. We have a responsibility to do more than say, "You are welcome here, either as board members or audience members."
MR. VAN BRAMER: This does not have to be punitive. It is not a game of gotcha. But it will make our organizations stronger. And as the city is now rightfully looking at inequality, it is appropriately looking to us as part of the solution. We should be developing and investing more in creating pipelines for future cultural leaders both in our schools and at the university level. We should be going into neighborhoods all over the five boroughs and making culture available to everybody. But there are going to have to be resources allocated to allow us to achieve these lofty goals. None of this happens without appropriate investment in the arts.
MS. LAZARUS: I am not that interested in demographic diversity because that's kind of superficial. There is this concept of cognitive diversity—people who think differently, people who have different skills, people who see the world in slightly different ways, people who have had experiences that are different. And when you bring all those people together, you get a board that is so rich in what it can contribute. I think bringing that dimension as you're thinking about forming a board is really important.


Mr. Bernstein: The so-called millennial nonprofit challenge has a lot to do with engagement. Young people have diverse interests and lots of activities available to them. Now on a summer Saturday, 20-somethings look to see what is happening on Governors Island. Tens of thousands of people, most of them under 40, go there to see concerts. This idea that millennials want to sit home and consume entertainment on screens the size of my hand is simply not true.
So how do we—particularly more established institutions—make a compelling case for why what we are doing matters? If people actually knew the entire range of what Lincoln Center presents, they would be amazed. Our challenge is to get that word out. Our brand is associated mostly with Beethoven, Balanchine and the Metropolitan Opera. Well, guess what? We also have 175 free concerts a year in the park, free programming at the Atrium across the street, music that ranges from hip-hop to salsa with everything in between. A lot of it is free. There is a lot going on. It is on us to communicate better.


Jed BernsteinPhoto: 
Mr. Bernstein: We have ratcheted up our partnership program in much the same way sports leagues do it. Hopefully we are going to announce a couple of deals in the next few weeks.
Sponsorships put you in a whole different mindset. You are talking to corporate marketing departments, not philanthropy departments. That means you have to bundle assets in a way that helps build out other people's businesses, and you have to be comfortable with that. One of the conversations we have been having at the board level is what that means: If a car company says it will give Lincoln Center billions of dollars to put a car on top of our fountain, we would have to think about it, right? That's a lot of money. Don't worry; we are not putting a car on top of the fountain. A motorcycle, maybe, but not a car.


Jimmy Van BramerPhoto: 
MR. BERNSTEIN: We have flirted with live streaming of our events. Our average viewership before last summer was maybe 5,000 to 6,000. Then we did the Pete Seeger Memorial—a folk concert with a clear, targeted audience. A lot of websites market to folk-music fans, and we distributed on a lot of them—and for that concert we had 35,000 views. So now we have made the commitment to stream every live free event, approximately 175 shows a year.
On campus, we have to be able to meet expectations of those under 40, who know nothing other than the digital world in terms of entertainment. Imagine coming to campus with the newly downloaded Lincoln Center app—available June 1. Your phone is not only a tour guide, but an interactive tool: You point it at Avery Fisher Hall and you see video of what is happening there that night. And how great would it be to someday have an app tell you which bathroom has the shortest line at intermission?
MS. LAZARUS: There is not an organization in the world that shouldn't have people [on the board] who can prod them about technology, who can goad them to do things that are more digital. A third of the conversation now at any board meeting is about digital.


Mr. Van Bramer: We are one of the last big cities not to have a cultural plan. Councilman Steve Levin and I have been working on this for almost three years. We have had numerous hearings. We had a meeting with the cultural-affairs commissioner and the administration six or eight weeks ago. I think we are about ready to see a near-final draft, and my hope is that the City of New York will pass a plan this year, maybe even as early as spring or summer.
It is absolutely imperative that we are allocating resources in ways that promote the fight against inequality and that reach every single child in every single neighborhood in the five boroughs, and that we are tying economic development to culture and the arts, making sure artists can continue to live and work and create in the city. We want to make sure all economic development has the arts and culture as a key piece. We are making the case very profoundly to this administration.
It was very exciting that the mayor included in his State of the City speech the 1,500 affordable units dedicated for artists. That's just the beginning. The cultural plan will help that along even further in making sure we are not just talking about it once, but always talking about live-work space for artists.
In fact, the plan will be a living, breathing document. It doesn't go on a shelf; it is an ongoing analysis of what we are doing and how we are doing it and ways that we can improve.


MR. VAN BRAMER: IDNYC, the municipal ID card, is one of the most important legislative achievements of the past year. It is too early to see the impact, but, as you know, something like 250,000 people have applied for the card. Maybe 15,000 have already received one. Over the next several months, we will start to be able to measure the impact on the participating cultural organizations. Still, I think it's a win-win for everybody.
A family in my neighborhood wrote to me to say they were so excited about the ID because they had a couple of young kids and really wanted to go to all of these great museums and science-based institutions and zoos and gardens, and they never thought they could make it happen until now. Families like that are going to have their lives dramatically improved.