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The NLC web address has changed!

Posted By Jen Dodd, Director of Education & Communications, Wednesday, December 13, 2017

We have moved to

To catch up with our blog posts,

please visit us at

Tags:  NLC  NLCTB 

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Raising Investment Capital and Fundraising – Not the Same

Posted By Guest post by NLC Trainer Sara Leonard, Friday, December 8, 2017

republished with permission

In 2016, I worked with five nonprofits engaged in The Patterson Foundation’s Margin Mission Ignition program. After completing a strenuous business planning process, it was time for these organizations to implement their plans. A key part of any social enterprise plan – and ultimately successful implementation – is raising investment capital.

It’s not uncommon for nonprofit organizations to pursue social enterprise activities to diversify their revenue. However, even organizations that have previously had great fundraising success, sometimes find challenges when trying to raise the investment capital needed to implement their social enterprise endeavor.

Fundraising for social enterprise investment capital is different than regular fundraising – but, not completely different. All types of fundraising share some basic principles.

You’ve likely been part of fundraising before, so let’s start with the similarities.

Fundraising is about building relationships on behalf of your organization and cultivation is the biggest part of this. Sometimes when we are so excited about an idea (like our new social enterprise), our enthusiasm leads us to skip the cultivation step – a big mistake! To cultivate a potential investment capital prospect, a nonprofit must reach out and seek to build a relationship.

The most critical skill in fundraising, both traditional and investment capital, is listening. When cultivating investors, our natural inclination is to “pitch” our idea by doing all of the talking. STOP TALKING and listen to your prospect (they are often filled with great ideas). The more we listen and learn from them, the more they will engage with our project.

After all of that sharing and listening, surely the prospective investor knows we need their support, right? NO! Every successful investment invitation needs to include an ask. If you’re not specific in what you need, the prospect could either give you something you don’t need or nothing at all.

Shared Values (Mission)
Investment capital donations have the very same core as all other donations: shared values. A social enterprise may have the strongest business plan, leadership, etc. but if the mission of the organization does not inspire the prospective investor of their shared values, no investment will ever take place.

See, you’re more prepared that you realize. Now, let’s talk about how raising investment capital and fundraising are DIFFERENT.

Non-Financial Support and Engagement
Social enterprise investment donors don’t want to write a check and walk away. They want to participate and provide support beyond cash contributions. This participation varies by investor, so you have to pay attention (see Listening above) and respond to each donor accordingly. As you cultivate the relationship, think of how their expertise could bring value to your new venture – marketing, leadership, mentorship, coaching. Be careful not to see their desire for engagement as a threat to your plan. Instead, use it as an additional research opportunity and battle-tested resource.

Business Plan Required
Donors who invest in social enterprise want to see that careful planning has gone into the project. Your organization must be ready to demonstrate how you conducted research that lead to thoughtful planning. As a general rule, a nonprofit should never embark on a social enterprise without careful planning. Knowing your investors will want to see that plan just reinforces the importance. Don’t take their questions (sometimes challenging) as lack of interest, they are looking to make a good investment.

Innovation Appealing
Typically, donors who invest in social enterprise are attracted to innovation. While creating your business plan, take the time to highlight new ideas (and understand them thoroughly) so you can share them with potential investors. Some social enterprise ideas aren’t brand new but are new to your nonprofit. Make sure that you focus on that innovation.

Risk Tolerant
Investment donors tolerate more risk than typical nonprofit donors — with innovation comes risk. Investors know that a venture may not succeed. They are often more comfortable with the risk than the nonprofit leadership. But when a project fails, the investor wants to see that you learned from it and take the time to make improvements going forward.

Performance Measurement
Investment capital donors are interested in how things are going throughout the implementation of your social enterprise. Be sure to have a plan for communicating with donors once your enterprise is operational. Measure performance and communicate with investors. Don’t worry if all of your measurements aren’t exceeding expectations. But, be sure to include what adaptations are being made so they can see that their investment provided an opportunity for your organization to learn and improve.

While there are some new things to consider while raising capital for a social enterprise, you and your organization have completed some of the hardest parts through the research and plan development process. At the funding stage, everyone is excited about getting this new project started and you can use that excitement to make an impression on potential investors

I hope with the realization that you can build on what you already practice in fundraising in your organization, that you approach this with confidence.

A quick note: this blog was written for The Patterson Foundation’s blog. If you’ve never read it, you should. It’s loaded with great information.

Sara Leonard, MBA, CFRE, is a fundraising and board governance consultant. She created the Fund Development Academy at the Nonprofit Leadership Center of Tampa Bay, where she is still a trainer.

Her firm, the Sara Leonard Group, delivers excellent professional guidance, education and facilitation to those responsible for fund development – fundraising professionals, CEOs, CFOs, board members, and other nonprofit staff.

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Taking the Next Step in Your Leadership Development

Posted By Jen Dodd, Director of Education & Communications, Friday, December 1, 2017
Updated: Monday, November 27, 2017

As a nonprofit professional, you're certain that what you do makes a difference in someone’s life every day--Isn’t that an amazing feeling?--but do you ever think there's room for growth? A next step to take?

Of course you do. You're a lifelong learner.

As we head in to a brand-new year, we wanted to remind you that you have access to intensive, graduate-level education specifically for nonprofit leaders.

In 2018, why not take the next step and gain the tools, knowledge, and network to make your work more impactful--and fulfilling--than ever?

The Nonprofit Leadership Center of Tampa Bay and the University of Tampa have been partners for more than a decade, delivering the Nonprofit Management Certificate program to teach executive leaders and those who aspire to become executive leaders the knowledge and skills they need to run a successful nonprofit business. In fact, this certificate program ranked 25 nationally in the 2016 Top 50 Nonprofit Masters/Certificate Programs (Top Management Programs).

Graduate Clara Reynolds, who was working with Success for Kids and Families and is currently CEO of the Crisis Center of Tampa Baysays she is grateful for the UT Nonprofit Management Certificate for helping her to face every task with clarity and confidence: “I was the norm in nonprofits: We typically promote qualified staff with great program knowledge, but no idea how to run an actual business.  The certificate program taught me what questions to ask from a business perspective and gave me confidence that I could run a nonprofit.”

This intensive program is a positive investment in your nonprofit career and your organization’s growth. In 4 one-week sessions scheduled over 12 months, you will learn about cultivating board leadership, strategic thinking, managerial accounting, fund development, marketing research, developing a leadership team, and developing a business plan.

Graduate Brian McEwen, Executive Director of Champions for Children, says, “I’d recommend the Nonprofit Management Certificate program to other nonprofit professionals because the breadth and depth of topics examined in the program expand students’ knowledge of core areas of nonprofit operations/administration, and build students’ competence in critical areas for which they may not have been trained otherwise.”

And check out this recent article in the UT Journal for more real leaders' stories.

We are now actively recruiting for the newest cohort of lifelong learners, and invite you to attend the upcoming information session over lunch on January 18th at the University of Tampa. Click here to sign up and get directions.

Applications for the new cohort (beginning in May of 2018) must be submitted by March 1, 2017. Apply here.

Visit the  Nonprofit Management Certificate page on our site for more detailed information, including session dates and topics of study as well as how you can apply for a scholarship to cover half of the tuition.

Tags:  certificate  eaders  eadership  niversity of Tampa  onprofit  onprofit management  rofessional development 

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Posted By Team NLC, Friday, November 24, 2017
Updated: Friday, November 10, 2017

Each year around Thanksgiving, Team NLC shares the moments and people that we're grateful for. Here are the things on our minds as 2017 draws to a close. 


I am thankful for time.

Although time seemed to speed by extra quickly this year, I found time to decorate and enjoy my lovely new home, to watch families of cardinals and other wild birds visit my big, red bird feeder in my backyard, to sip wine and relax on my private lanai overlooking a beautiful forest of green vegetation after a good day of my best efforts at work, and to bond with my toddler grandson and watch him learn about his new world with big eyes of wonder and awe.

Time gives many pleasures and happy memories when we let them unfold and reveal themselves.

I’ve been blessed with good times and good memories all this fine year of 2017.
I hope you have been, too. --Lorraine Faithful, Operations Manager



This year, it’s important for me to recognize how grateful I am for my two amazing boys.

Next month, Ellis will be 7 and Emmett will be 4. After a long day of work, my heart always skips a beat when I think of coming home to them.

In the busy moments of the day, I stop and reflect on the stories they shared with me over breakfast, how much I enjoy seeing them smile, and certainly how much this time of year brings them joy.

They teach my husband and me so much about life, and what’s truly important. They think my rendition of “Favorite Things” is far better than Julie Andrews’ (I’m a terrible singer, by the way), and the way I read There’s a Wocket in My Pocket is better than any blockbuster hit.

I cannot remember who I was before them, or if I really felt whole before they came into my life. But, they complete me now. They give me guidance when I’m worried I will have none.

Ellis shows me how to love unconditionally and with reckless abandon, and Emmett reminds me that the impact we will have on the world is not measured in years, but in the moments we are able to give light to those around us.

My heart is full this Thanksgiving.--Tuesdi Dyer, Director of Custom Solutions


I am thankful for...

My parents, who pitch in and help everyone in the family. We moved to Florida from my hometown of Atlanta to be close to family, and it has turned out to be the best decision. I just have to say that I have the best parents a needy child could ask for. They are the glue of our extended family, and they spend considerable time just helping everyone out as much as they can. What an amazing blessing!

My partner, who can make anything fun. This man’s mission in life is to have a good time. We work hard and play harder. But even if it’s something completely mundane like going to the grocery store or a long trip to a soccer game or washing the dog—it really doesn’t matter. He will find a way to keep it light and make sure everyone is having fun.

The people who take such good care of my child when I’m not there. I have spent as much time as I possibly could with my little boy since he was born, working as little as I could get away with, really. But now that he spends so much time with teachers and coaches, I am incredibly thankful for the peace of mind that comes with knowing he’s in such good hands. You all know who you are—thank you so much!! --Laurel Westmoreland, Education Associate


I met my husband while I was in high school, and we married while we were still in college. So here I am in my early 40s and celebrating wedding anniversaries in the early 20s. I have been with Brack longer than I was without him, and so he truly is the love of my life.

I’ve always known that my partner was a good man; even when we were kids he displayed kindness and generosity--not only for those he knew but also for those who simply crossed his path, not only for those who could return the favor but also for those who couldn’t (or wouldn’t). And he does so to this day. Brack is the guy who pulls over to help a stranger with a flat tire, the supervisor who rolls up his sleeves and pitches in when there’s set up and tear down to be done, the friend who drives two hours to bring you the laptop you left behind, and the big softie that any dog or cat can charm.

2017 has been an incredibly busy year for us as a couple, with the normal ups and downs in our personal and professional lives. I am proud of what he has accomplished this year, including completing his CPA and making a huge difference in his new job. And Brack’s status as a good man has never been more apparent than this year when he has displayed unswerving principles, grace under fire, hope in the dark days, and joy in the simplest pleasures of life.

He is my best friend in the fun times, my rock in the bad times, and my inspiration for always moving forward. This year, I am more grateful than ever for my husband, the love of my life. --Jen Dodd, Director of Education & Communications


I am grateful for random opportunities for mindfulness that pop up each day.

In vintage movies, it might have been a glass of water thrown into someone’s face or a swift slap followed by, “Snap out of it.” Thankfully, I have tuned into other methods of centering myself and my work that while often startling, are never painful.

Here’s one that gets me every time: my husband set up a special home page for me on my Chrome browser: the webcam at Logan Pass in Glacier National Park – one of our favorite places on this planet.

Each time I open Chrome (which is a lot), there is a new view of the park that I wasn’t expecting.

One morning I opened it, and the screen was black. What happened? I realized the sun hadn’t risen yet. This is a big country in which we live. Deep breath.

Yesterday, I opened it intently searching for some important nugget to inform my work and saw that a snowy blanket had covered those gorgeous peaks. Deep breath. Smile. Wonder. Carry on. It never gets old.

Sometimes the scenery changes from hour to hour, as in the case of these two photos: a gorgeous sunrise morphed into an impending snowstorm. 

Sure you could argue that this feature is breaking my concentration and maybe even impacting my productivity. Humbug. I think of it more as a spontaneous reset button right when I need it, and I hope to bump into more of these moments in unexpected places in the busy months to come – no splash of water to my face needed.--Emily Benham, CEO

We wish you and yours a safe and restorative holiday!

Tags:  gratitude  Team NLC  thankful  Thanksgiving 

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NLC Celebrates the 10 Teams in the JPMC Matrix Map Cohort

Posted By Jen Dodd, Director of Education & Communications, Friday, November 17, 2017
Updated: Monday, November 13, 2017

On Wednesday, November 1st, and Thursday, November 2nd, with generous support provided by JPMorgan Chase & Co. (JPMC), NLC had the privilege to bring together dozens of Tampa Bay nonprofit leaders and nonprofit sustainability author and expert Steve Zimmerman. 

November 1st was our annual Board & Senior Leadership Conference as well as the introduction of the 2017-2018 Matrix Map cohort

Area nonprofits were represented by their executive leaders and Board members, each of whom impressed us with their willingness to dive into Steve's content and begin discussions of the true costs of their programs and services as well as their impact in search of strategic ways to move forward as an organization.

While Steve shared a wealth relevant information and tools over the course of the day, he also built in plenty of time and exercises to allow the leadership teams to discuss and apply these concepts to their unique day-to-day operations. 

It was a highly productive and rewarding day, as many attendees told us:

"[I took away] great ideas for communicating sustainability to board and more clearly measuring sustainability." 

"As a board member, [this Conference] was extremely valuable hearing about the different considerations that result into a truly sustainable nonprofit."

"[Steve] guided us through exercises that helped us connect ideas that we, as a board, and our organizational leader were each thinking, to better articulate our challenges and create a more concrete vision for our future."

But that was just the beginning for the 10 teams in the Matrix Map cohort, including

 Community Development Corporation of Tampa
 Cristo Rey Tampa High School
 The Cypress Initiative
 GEMS (Girls Empowered Mentally for Success)
 The Grow Group
 Habitat for Humanity of Hillsborough County
 Metropolitan Ministries
 Nonprofit Leadership Center
 Quantum Leap Farm
 The Spring of Tampa Bay

Their 3-person teams--including the CEO and one Board member--returned the following day for an even more intensive seminar in preparation for building their organization's individual Matrix Map, a tool that will shine a light on the financial viability and true impact of programs. 

NLC is thrilled to be one of the teams involved in the Matrix Map cohort, and our cohort members jumped right in to the work!

Team NLC is excited to bring this new, cohort-based learning experience to Tampa Bay as just one of the innovative ways we connect and develop nonprofit leaders in our community. And starting in mid-December the cohort teams will gather at NLC monthly for virtually facilitated and in-person follow-up sessions, as well as take advantage of one-on-one coaching with Steve and his team.

We're looking forward to sharing more from the cohort teams over the course of their 6-month journey. Subscribe to our blog to be sure you receive each update and follow along.  

Thank you to JPMC, our 2017 Board & Senior Leadership Conference presenting sponsor and 2017-2018 Matrix Map cohort sponsor.

Tags:  financial viability  impact  JPMC  JPMorgan Chase & Co  matrix map cohort  nonprofit sustainability  Steve Zimmerman 

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