Back to School (for Non-Profits)

Is back-to-school time really “the most wonderful time of the year,” as I’ve repeatedly and annoyingly told my kids? Perhaps not. But here in Virginia, vacation time is winding down, and school supplies and class schedules are signaling the impending change. I’ll be back in class next week as well, getting a refresher on Organizing and Operating Nonprofits. Working from that theme, what are some back-to-school ideas for the non-profit leader who is eager to build knowledge?

  1. Board Leadership. A gem here in Charlottesville is the Center for Nonprofit Excellence. Focused on building stronger non-profits and a stronger community, CNE has a wealth of resources available online and in person. Their Board Academy is a three-month series of workshops and classes designed to make you an effective board director. Applications are due November 1st and classes start in January 2020.

  2. Tax Status. In recognition of the public mission and public service provided by non-profits, We the People have decided to reward them with tax-exempt status. The IRS has a fantastic website (seriously) and a great resource is their Stay Exempt site to guide new and existing non-profits on how to obtain and maintain their tax-exempt status.

  3. Budgeting. Even non-profit organizations have to build their financial strength, and ignoring your budget is a bad strategy. The good folks at Nonprofit Finance Fund have excellent learning tools in this area, including their blog series that explores non-profit budgeting. Start here and then see what else they have to offer.

  4. Social Media. Most nonprofit organizations I know are either “too busy” to focus on social media as a marketing tool, or they are paralyzed by their unfamiliarity with the “best way” to do it. In my view, a social media strategy is too important to ignore, and the best way to learn is by doing. The folks at Media Cause have put together an excellent list of tips for non-profits to get started.

  5. Grant Writing. Most nonprofits will need to be in the grant writing business. The process can be intimidating. Non Profit Ready has some free options that provide an overview of the grant writing process and then go in-depth on how to get going. Happy writing!

Alright, that should help you get your learning hat back on. And if you’re looking for a way to donate some money or volunteer some time for the back-to-school cause, check out the Charlottesville Back to School Bash that provides 1,200 kids with school supplies and backpacks!

Full disclosure: Rahul serves on the Board of Directors at the Center for Nonprofit Excellence.