Concurrent Sessions Provided Attendees with Everything from Laughter to Legislation Insights
Bryon Clontz Has 'Em Almost Rolling in the Aisle
Although "20 Things About Community Foundation that Drive Me Nuts"
was on the last day of the conference, every seat in the large room was taken, and a number of people were either standing or sitting on the floor. The room was full of laughter, clapping, and even an occasional "Amen!"
Speaker Bryan Clontz, who has spent the last 13 years working for and with community foundations, had wit and wisdom to spare—including:
- Know where "your sweet spot is"—what things your foundation does best—and create a plan to implement it.
- Don't automatically take ideas from other community foundations and use them in yours, especially special events or initiatives.
- Don't obsess about competing with other local nonprofits. You are competing, so get over it!
- Make sure your internal and external messaging is always consistent. Create a one- or two-sentence "elevator speech" and share it with all staff and volunteers.
"I totally enjoyed this seminar. The speaker was candid with his criticisms and shared many ideas about better ways to do things," said Mary Beth Mikrut, executive director for the Racine Community Foundation
. "What struck me most was that as the speaker listed 'bad habits' as well as lackluster marketing and fundraising ideas, the attendees could laugh at themselves. That says a lot about the professionalism of the attendees and their ability to acknowledge their faults and the desire to learn the better way of doing things."
"Washington Update" Looks at Legislation through 2010
Like Clontz's session, "Washington Update"
was standing room only. Bobbi Hapgood, a trustee at The Ettinger Foundation, said there's "no excuse for not knowing what's going on." She added that a good way to tune in is to subscribe to the Council's "Policy Update" e-newsletter, which goes out once a week when Congress is in session.
Another speaker, Foundation For The Carolinas
Senior Vice President for Client Services and Legislative Affairs Holly Welch Stubbing, agreed with Hapgood during the session and again in a blog post later in the week. "It is imperative that every community foundation stay abreast of legislative developments in Congress and establish productive working relationships with federal and state officials," Stubbing said. "As one foundation, we can only have so much impact, but hundreds of voices singing in harmony have much greater impact on future legislative opportunities."
Measuring Progress, Inspiring Action, and More
Amanda St. Pierre, public relations and marketing specialist for the Grand Rapids Community Foundation
, said in a blog post that she was most interested in hearing how the panelists from "Measuring Progress, Inspiring Action Through Key Indicator Projects"
were going beyond grantmaking to use the data for community engagement. And they didn't disappoint. As St. Pierre noted, "Panelists mentioned reporting on indicators online, via community reports, and through community town hall-style meetings. The Erie Community Foundation is also communicating about their indicators via their gift remittance envelopes."
Mary Stanley, senior gift planning advisor for the Central Indiana Community Foundation
, singled out "IRS Audits of Community Foundations: What You Need to Know"
for having valuable information. "I appreciated its practical tips, experienced panel, and the admonishment from a former director of the IRS Tax Exempt Organization Division that when the IRS visits for an audit, they are not visiting as your friend."
That subject also came up during "Washington Update." Kelly Shipp Simone, the Council's associate general counsel, noted that last year the IRS announced it would be auditing community foundations; the Council knows of 20 audits that are underway or have been completed.