Did You Ever?….


Did You Ever?….

by Linda G. Nowell

Author of Casino Video Poker for the Genius, available NOW!

 It’s so very exciting having my book out now! I’m happy to report that I held my very first ever book launch party, hosted in Upland, California, last weekend by my dear friend Jill Raiguel.

My short talk at the party was a little game I’ve devised, called “Did you ever?….” For example, “Did you ever hold a kicker card on the deal when you have fewer than four bonus cards showing?” So, all you video poker buffs, did you? The answer to what you should do with this dealt hand, and, of course, all the questions in my little game, can be found between the covers of my book, Casino Video Poker for the Genius. (Naturally, since we’re launching the book!)

I had lunch with a friend of mine this week, a gaming writer for several websites. He liked the layout of the book and how easy it is to read. Then he asked me, “What is the main point of your book, Linda?”

I replied, “My book is really a survival guide for new players. It’s meant to help the person just coming into the casino—interested in learning how to play—have the best chance of playing longer, and maybe winning that elusive Royal Flush Jackpot. I’m happy to report, however, that everyone I know who has read the book, including more experienced players, have told me they learned something they didn’t know before about the game of video poker. That makes me very happy!”

My friend and I talked on about how gaming in Fabulous Las Vegas is changing, and at a rapid rate. Vegas is becoming a “destination oriented” venue, emphasizing the awesome restaurants, the shows, the night clubs and nightlife available, and other incredible amenities. When I first moved to Vegas, gaming was IT in this town. It was all about the casino floor and people liking to gamble and wanting to come back and gamble again. The hotel rooms, the eats, the shows…..all these were just “extras” available to entice the serious gambler back to our fabulous city. Now all these extras are becoming the IT of our city, and the gaming is being emphasized less. People winning more and wanting to come back and gamble again is not as important to casino management as before; now they want people to come back again, but it might be for the nightlife, or the shows, or any other component of our world class city. Gaming is slowly being relegated to “one of the fabulous things about Fabulous Las Vegas.” I for one, don’t like this trend.

Nevertheless, the trend is coming, so what does this mean to us video poker aficionados? It doesn’t mean we should give up the game; it does mean we have to become much more savvy players to remain in the game, and to have a chance to win. This is the reason I think my book is showing up at a very good time. Many video poker players don’t understand that video poker is about knowing the correct play for each hand dealt, and playing that hand. Making the small plays like full houses and flushes at every possible opportunity, keeps the credits flowing into your machine while you continue to play, looking for that potential royal flush hand. I can’t say it too often; a video poker player must study and learn correct strategy to even have a chance of coming out ahead in today’s gaming environment, even here in Las Vegas, the slot gaming capital of North America. Know your game. If you read my book, gain my perspective about video poker, and heed my coaching, you will know what the correct strategy is to avoid all the “Did you ever?…” mistakes I could ever throw at you, like:

  • Did you ever bet fewer than Max Bet number of coins while playing video poker?
  • Did you ever press Bet Max and see way more money go out than you thought you would be spending?
  • Did you ever play a progressive jackpot bank of video poker machines when the payout was too low to justify playing it?

So, if you ever did do any of these things, be sure to read Casino Video Poker for the Genius so you can find out how not to ever do it again! Buy it here: http://forthegenius.com/bookstore/gaming/casino-video-poker-for-the-genius/?recommend=a87ff679a2f3e71d9181a67b7542122c


Myths, Legends, Falsehoods, Misunderstandings…

by Simone Joyaux, ACFRE

And all of these harm fundraising!

I keep telling you to engage your boss and board members and staff colleagues in a conversation. Conversations! Not presentations. Not PowerPoint. Not discussion where one side is trying to advocate the other side. And no personal opinions … only body of knowledge.

And I keep saying, “Start your conversations with an interesting blog. Or an interesting piece of research.”

So here I go again!

Share “Fundraising Myths and Dark Legends” at The Agitator (Craver and Belford). I’ve told you a gazillion times to subscribe to this daily blog. Read “Fundraising Myths and Dark Legends” over and over again. (Posted on November 25, 2014)

Now start those conversations. Take your boss to lunch. Of course, s/he reads the posting beforehand. Then you two talk. Use “Fundraising Myths and Dark Legends” as the basis for one of your Fund Development Committee meetings. The only item on the agenda. Examine. Explore. Apply. Learn. Change.

Talk about this blog at a board meeting for 15 minutes. Forget the dollars raised. Talk about how to raise the dollars. Forget talking about how to raise the dollars. Talk about how to keep donors, build loyalty.

Do it. Have those conversations.


Simone is the author of Firing Lousy Board Members. Buy her book here http://charitychannel.com/bookstore/nonprofit-boards-and-governance/firing-lousy-board-members-helping-others-succeed/?recommend=aab323892bcc25a6f606eb525ffdc56




Jill Raiguel, MFT

How many of you have had your still small voice inside give you exactly the support you need? Or, you meet the person who tells you exactly what you need? Or, you are browsing through a bookstore and you reach for a book that is exactly what you need?        That has happened to me dozens of times preparing my books.

I’m going to talk about the untold story of how I wrote my books….the story about help I have received from unlikely, surprising and indeed remarkable sources

Fast forward: I’m in the Miami airport and my flight back to NYC is delayed several hours. I pull out my draft and started to write. What are you working on? the guy next to me says. Can I help? I explain. And what do you do? I asked. I’m Mel, and I’m an editor for McGraw/Hill. OH!! And he gave me hours of very important coaching and editing.

A month or so later, I’m sitting at Paulson’s , a restaurant on west 72nd street waiting for a friend. A friendly, dapper man next to me and I start chatting. I’m working on a book proposal for adult survivors of child abuse. He says, oh, we need to talk. I’m the new Associate Director of Prevent Child Abuse America, David Cunningham . David and I had many strategic talks while I was crafting my ideas. When he took his Chicago position, he connected me with professionals around the country. And we are friends to this day. As we parted that evening, David said, You’ll need an agent. Call my friend, Tracy Smith. And, you got it, Tracy became my agent.

.While I was attending a seminar, I meet my neighbor, Merle. What do you do? she asks. I explain my project. Oh, wonderful, if you do this I’ll help you with your research. Research? What research? I had no idea. Merle was Dr. Merle Sprinzen, director of Time/Life Research. While Hurricane Gloria passed over and most New Yorkers were glued to their TV’s, Merle and I sat at my dining table and designed what would become the Raiguel Life Skills Inventory. She then introduced me to the Columbia University Stats Department Chair who ran the statistics. He warned me, you’re an amateur, so they won’t be very good. But because of Merle, we had great reliability and validity. Every one of the 100 items on the inventory was solid. The RLSI was now a cut above those magazines or on-line quizzes we’ve all taken. The inventory became the backbone of my book, the 1st edition, the second and now the third.

Are you getting a picture? It was as if a great stage manager in the sky was cueing exactly what I needed. Okay, cue the editor. Okay, cue David; cue the researcher.

Probably, you have been someone’s unexpected help, or soon you will be that person on the plane, or in a coffee shop, or in a book store with just what that stranger needs. How many of you can think of a time like that. I have received countless gifts of expertise and money and information from caring friends and total strangers on my way to publishing now this third edition. And, I may never know the gifts I have given to that guy in the coffee shop or the women on the plane. We can give and receive healing in most surprising ways. We are all channels for caring, for kindness and for love. So, be open to being a blessing in someone’s life; be open to receiving the blessing that may be just around the corner.

Jill Raiguel, MFT, has been a healer and psychotherapist for over 35 years; she is the author of Alternative Healing Beyond Recovery for the Genius, and uses alternative and shamanic techniques in her private practice. Visit www.jillibean.com or jillraiguel@gmail.com. Buy her book at http://forthegenius.com/bookstore/all/alternative-healing-for-the-genius/?recommend=a87ff679a2f3e71d9181a67b7542122c.

My Favorite Essential Oils

To paraphrase an old song, These are a few of my favorite oils:

From time to time, I’ll post info on some of my favorite Essential Oils that I use to maintain healthy living.


 Frankincense (Boswellia carterii) includes the naturally occurring constituent boswellic acid, and has a woodsy, warm, balsamic aroma. Diffuse Frankincense during meditation for grounding and purpose. Applying this oil topically may help smooth the appearance of healthy-looking skin, and is excellent to use for massage after activity. \ Sacred Frankincense

Sacred Frankincense™ has a rich, earthy aroma and deepens spiritual connection. It grows and is distilled in Oman and is regarded the world over as the rarest, most sought-after aromatic in existence.

I use one of these daily, especially on my feet, right leg, and right arm (the right side was affected by my stroke).

For more information on Essential Oils, visit www.YoungLiving.org/cvlinda

A Great Strawberry Shortcake

CookingI thought I’d give you a summer treat from Ann Tudor, author of the upcoming book,  Fast and Fearless Cooking for the GENIUS, which will be out later this summer.

It’s strawberry shortcake time. Now, I am all about improv and jazz in cooking, about making do, making up, making it any way you want. But NOT when strawberry shortcake is concerned. For me, there is only one kind of strawberry shortcake. And can you guess? It doesn’t involve those little store-bought sponge cakes.

Like many other dishes, this is one that should be made only with fresh, local berries. You’ve got a month or so, depending on where you live. What I do, because we have a three-week season, is eat strawberry shortcake until it is coming out my ears. And then the season is over and I stop eating it.

The “cake” part of this is not a cake at all. It is biscuit dough. And it is “short” because you make the biscuit with more fat than usual. I am averse to giving recipes, but in this case I’ll make an exception, because you want the best possible version of strawberry shortcake.


Strawberries are among the most heavily sprayed crops (to deter mold in humid summer weather), so it’s worth it to pay the extra and buy organically grown berries. And local, of course, as I said. For two people, you’ll want at least a quart (four cups) of berries. In my house, six cups is more like it. Wash the berries briefly (put them in a colander and spray water over them, letting them drain immediately), then stem them and cut them into halves or quarters. Sprinkle with a tablespoon or two of sugar. Let them stand while you make the biscuit.


Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

In a large bowl put:

2 c. flour (half whole-wheat is good)*

1 tablespoon baking powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

Mix these together with a fork.

Cut a stick of cold butter (that’s 8 tablespoons) into pieces. (You’ll need additional butter for dotting the top of the biscuit.) With a pastry blender or with your fingers, work the flour and the butter together until the fat is pea-sized or smaller. Then add:

1 cup yogurt (or yogurt mixed half-and-half with milk or milk soured with a tablespoon of cider vinegar)

Stir with a fork until the mixture follows the fork around the bowl. Turn it out onto a lightly floured counter or board and knead lightly (LIGHTLY) three to five times to pull it all together.  For tender biscuits, you need a light hand. Re-flour your board if it needs it, then pat the dough out it to make it about an inch thick. (If you are new to this, it is easier to cut the dough in half at this point and roll/pat just half the dough at a time.)

Use a round cutter (could be a thin-rimmed glass) to make three-inch biscuits, and lift these with a thin spatula onto a cookie sheet. Gently pull the leftover dough into a mound and press it out so you can cut more biscuits.

Put the cookie sheet into the oven and set the timer for 12 to 15 minutes. When the biscuits are golden brown, remove the pan from the oven. While the biscuits are still hot, assemble your strawberry shortcake: carefully cut a biscuit in half and set it in your serving dish. Ladle about half the berries over that bottom half, then set the other half atop the berries and spoon the rest of the berries over it. This will be your quintessential strawberry shortcake.

This amount of dough makes 14 to 18 biscuits, depending on the size of your cutter. A normal serving is two biscuits. Don’t ask how many I eat at one sitting, because I won’t tell you.

If you need fewer biscuits (say, if there are only two of you), then you can refrigerate part of the unrolled biscuit dough for a day or two.

*You can make a gluten-free version by substituting any all-purpose GF flour for the wheat flour. The biscuit will be pretty good and will look about the same.

PERMISSIBLE VARIATIONS that will still result in a Classic Strawberry Shortcake:

Before you bake the biscuits you can rub each with a bit of milk and sprinkle with sugar. OR you can dot the top with butter.

You can make one giant shortcake, either round or rectangular. Putting the big biscuit on a large, pretty platter, cut the baked biscuit open carefully and cover the bottom with half the berries. Replace the top and pour the rest of the berries over it. This makes a crowd-pleasing spectacle, if you’re serving six to eight people.

You can butter the hot biscuits as soon as you cut them open, then close them up for a few minutes so the butter melts.

You can top any of these versions with whipped cream, but why would you? It will only cut down on the amount of berries-and-biscuit that you can eat. And strawberry comes only once a year.

You can add a little sugar (up to 1/4 cup) to the biscuit dough before mixing in the liquids. But again, why would you? Part of the lusciousness of this dish is the contrast between the natural wheaty sweetness and the tart but lightly sugared berries. Sugar the dough if you want, but on your head be it.

If you don’t mind fussing around in the service of delicious, then you can try this: make either a large version or individual biscuits. But divide the dough in half before patting it out. Pat (or use a rolling pin) one part half an inch thick, then cut out with the cookie cutter or leave it whole. Transfer to a cookie sheet with a spatula, then dot liberally with butter. Pat or roll out the second half the same way and make lids (or a lid, singular, if you’re going large). Bake as usual, with or without a milk-and-sugar topping. In this version, the biscuits will separate easily in order to give you a top-and-bottom, and there’s no need to butter the bottoms, since they are pre-buttered.

You can, of course, use this biscuit dough to make just plain delicious biscuits. As my Southern friends used to say: take two and butter ’em while they’re hot. Vary the thickness of your biscuits until you find what suits you. (I like thin-ish, crispy biscuits about an inch and a half in diameter; others like honkin’ thick four-inch ones sometimes called “cat’s-head biscuits.”)

Are You a Gambler?


What Do You Think of the Proposed Changes to IRS Rules on Gambling Winnings?

by Linda G. Nowell, Author of Casino Video Poker for the Genius

The IRS has reared its ugly head once again to proposed changes to the way gambling winnings are tracked and reported. In IRS Bulletin 2015-12, Regulation 132253-11, the IRS’s corrupt plan is laid out. In this bulletin, the amount of winnings which must be reported is proposed to shift from the current $1200 or more to $600 or higher. I’m interested in what you think about this, but I can tell you that I think it’s a total crock!!

Time for public comment ended June 2. Now there is only a public hearing remaining, which will be held on June 17 in Washington, D.C. You can look up the information on the IRS website, if you are interested. I know the gaming industry lobby and representatives will be at the hearing pleading their (and our) case. The proposed new regulations would be an accounting and paperwork nightmare! Anyone actively engaged in working in, or playing at, casinos will recognize that right away.

My opinion has been for some time that the minimum gambling earnings, in one play on a slot machine, to receive a W2-G form should be $4,000, the amount paid out for a dollar royal flush jackpot. Many video poker machines today offer larger payouts for bonus four of a kinds with kicker, 2,000 coins, for example on Double Double Bonus Poker Four Aces with Kicker. However, most of us players put at least part of that money back into the machine trying to win the royal flush jackpot of 4,000 coins. Playing $5 machines means that any four of a kind hit, which pays a minimum of $1250, receives a W2-G as well. The player is definitely going to reinvest most or all of that money, and waiting for the W2-G and hand pay is very disruptive to the game.

I read the proposed rule changes. It is very clear to me that the author(s) of those changes haven’t the slightest idea what happens in casinos. The new rule, if adopted, would make both players and casino personnel want to pull out their hair! Even scarier to me than the proposed reduction in minimum winnings for the W2-G form is another part of the proposal which suggests that any “play session” be tracked by the casino and total cumulative winnings on that machine that are $600 or greater would receive a W2-G form. This means that any denomination of play you might be playing on video poker, where you run the point count up above $600 after an hour or two of play, for example, would flag a floorman to the machine when you push the “Cash Out” button. The machine would not give you your ticket; instead the floor person would produce a W2-G form and hand pay your accumulative winnings. Suppose I leave my card in a machine by accident when I go to eat lunch, and a tourist who knows nothing about playing comes along and plays the machine, with my card still engaged. If, out of dumb luck, that machine hits a big bonus four of a kind, that will go on my card, even though I do not receive the winnings, nor did I invest the money to play the machine during that time. This is a completely unworkable suggestion.

Further, many of us who enjoy recreational gaming can readily see that, should the proposed “tracking of play” proposal pass and become law, then the next step for the IRS will be to try to track gifts and perks we players receive, and make us pay tax on the value of those. One of the best benefits of gaming right now is receiving free play, free meals, vacation cruises, and other perks based on level of play without a tax liability. The passage of this regulation is the beginning of the end of those untaxed gifts, in my opinion.

I am contacting all my Congressional Representatives to tell them to attend this hearing, or at least have a representative from their offices attend the hearing, and take up for us gamblers. The suggestions being made by the IRS are a game wrecker in the State of Nevada, in my opinion, where our entire economy is greatly dependent on gaming.

If you enjoy playing slots, this proposed change is going to impact you! I hope you will communicate with your own state representatives about the inadvisability and unworkability of this IRS proposed rule change.

Get Linda’s book here: http://forthegenius.com/bookstore/gaming/casino-video-poker-for-the-genius/?recommend=a87ff679a2f3e71d9181a67b7542122c

Do You Want to Become a Fundraising Consultant

Playbook-3d 152 px

Many nonprofit staffers dream about going to “the other side,” as a consultant. There are many real challenges in making that leap, and even once you do, the career choice entails continuous learning around both the content of your consulting as well as business acumen. The idea of running a business is quite foreign to many of us who come out of the nonprofit sector. Recently, I edited The Nonprofit Consulting Playbook: Winning Strategies from 25 Leaders in the Field, with Linda Lysakowski, ACFRE. The 25 contributors to the book, as well as hundreds of other consultants I have met since, have helped me winnow down a few of the key principles that typify successful consultants in our field.

Seek the support of your peers.

Yes, we are technically competitors, but this is one of the most generous groups of colleagues around. I’d like to think that this generosity is a result of our roots in the nonprofit sector. If you are a new or aspiring consultant, ask a respected colleague to serve as a mentor, and you are likely to get an enthusiastic “yes.” Plenty of veterans still consider themselves green enough to hold onto a valued sage. Many more seek the ongoing guidance of peers over time. After all, consultants juggle business development; client relations; and the latest developments in grants, campaigns, technology, and the development field generally. We need all the insights we can get.

Let your values guide you.

Your knowledge of the field plays only a partial role in your consulting success. The way you make that first impression, negotiate the contract, and regularly communicate with a client carries just as much weight—and there is no magic formula to perfect any of these things. Solid ethics are the thread that runs through them all. If you are honest, reliable, and a good listener, you build trust. Trust is your number one asset.

Follow your path to success.

What I loved most about compiling The Nonprofit Consulting Playbook was affirming the success of consultants with all sorts of business models. I have met accomplished specialists and generalists, those who work locally and nationally, those with staff and those who are sole proprietors. All are successful in their own right. If someone gives you a prescription for their success, infuse it with your own goals and values before moving forward. For instance, if I had a dollar for every push I’ve gotten to move heavily into social media, I could take a nice vacation. But my emphasis on targeted, rather than mass, networking and writing has resulted in a steady flow of clients. Of course, others’ businesses thrive on social media.

Even if you are just beginning to explore consulting, consider using these principles to lay the groundwork for your business plan. As with most things in life, solid advice—infused with a heavy dose of intuition—makes for the strongest foundation.

Susan Schaefer is founder and principal of Resource Partners LLC, a consulting firm that focuses on fundraising and board development. She is also the co-author of Nonprofit Board Service for the GENIUS.

Spending Wisely and Meaningfully


I’ve heard parenting likened to running a nonprofit. You invest a lot of money with a focus on bettering society with little or no monetary gain. It’s important to teach children about money – they need to learn how to save, spend, and give charitably.

“But Peter gets an allowance!” is not a reason to start giving your child an allowance. Before beginning to institute an allowance think about why you are instituting it. What is it you hope your child will get out of it?

Should you choose to offer an allowance, you can use it for many different things. You could offer your child a budget for clothes, entertainment, toys, etc. If you do this, try to avoid spending money on these items from your own wallet. Of course a special event may require a new suit or outfit, but generally speaking, stick to the allowance for clothes if that’s what it’s dedicated to. An allowance is a prime opportunity to teach your child about saving and spending. It’s great to enjoy something special, but if you save, you can get something even more special. If you daughter is hankering for a designer pair of jeans and it takes three months to save the money for them she will enjoy those jeans and take better care of them. If your son regularly blows his allowance in one fell swoop at the corner candy store, it might be time to talk about spending wisely.

Some families choose not to offer an allowance to kids. This is a fine choice and you still have opportunities to develop thoughtful spending habits in your children. Try to be clear about how you will spend money and, when appropriate, explain your choices. For example, what determines the budget for clothing, toys, and entertainment outings and items? Discuss this up front and take the opportunity to model wise spending. We have an annual budget for clothing for the entire family. At the end of the year one year we still had $100 left over. Our youngest needed a jacket, our daughter wanted anything we’d buy her, and our oldest wanted a few t-shirts. We spent an hour on line as a family choosing what they wanted and needed. Once we had everything in the virtual shopping cart we were over budget and had to pare it down. This was a prime opportunity to share our decision-making and to model sticking to the budget (even though we could have just spent a little extra – after all it was the holiday season).

Children should be encouraged to earn money. At a young age they can help neighbors take care of house pets, plants, or raking the lawn. As they get older they can mow lawns, shovel snow, or run errands. Natural jobs for tween and teens are babysitting, office work, or waiting tables. Earning money is character building and offers kids a sense of empowerment. Once they earn their own money, encourage them to spend wisely. It’s ok to insist you be a part of the decision-making process early on so they learn to be thoughtful in their approach to spending.

A Jewish tradition is the tzedakah box. Families use it in different ways, but the idea is to put a bit of money in it every now and then or on a routine basis. Once you have collected a sum (either predetermined, or perhaps it just filled), you donate the amount to a cause or charity. You might like to choose the organization or cause together or alternate deciding. The idea is to show that it’s good to share wealth and think about others. The lessons learned are numerous and special. You can learn about all different organizations in need, share interests, build collaboration, and instill life-long giving.

Author, Educator, Consultant
amyalamar.com <
twitter.com/amyalamar <

Buy Amy’s book. Parenting for the GENIUS by clicking on the icon for the book on this website.


Eleven Ways to Spur Board Engagement

Board Service PrintEleven Ways to Spur Board Engagement

By Susan Schaefer and Bob Wittig

No matter how well your board functions, one of the core challenges nonprofit leaders face is keeping board members engaged. After all, we’re talking about human beings here. Personalities can be enough to derail a group. Add to that members’ competing demands: It can be a challenge to garner attention during meetings, let alone outside of them. Then there are those who join boards solely for prestige, networking, or ego. Some get restless because they expect a level of performance that your board might not provide. Others are easily bored.

Without member engagement, even the best policies and procedures will mean nothing. With a couple of allies and a dose of patience, even those outside of the leadership ranks have the ability to influence peers. If you’d like to accelerate your collective engagement, consider these practices:

  1. Chair as cheerleader. The board chair can encourage members to step up and follow through with tasks and responsibilities.
  2. Check-ins and check-ups. The ED and the chair can meet with each board member annually. These check-ins enable leadership to determine what is going well and what is not going so well…and work to fix problem areas.
  3. Meeting mechanics. Well-run meetings—those that provide members with opportunities to discuss substantive issues and strategies—help keep members engaged. Carefully-planned agendas that begin and end on time help, too.
  4. Tailored experiences. Individual members want to serve in areas of interest to them. We can’t assume that the expert fundraiser just wants to fundraise all the time.
  5. Mission. Members want (and need!) ongoing links to the mission. Experiential learning often works best, including client testimonials, attendance at client events, and direct work with clients.
  6. Vision. A compelling and exciting vision—usually inspired by the ED—gives everyone a sense of excitement and direction.
  7. Honesty. Members do not like surprises, such as an ED’s board meeting pronouncement that there’s not enough money in the bank to meet tomorrow’s payroll. Members remain engaged if they trust leadership.
  8. Board community. Devote time to socialize outside of board business—happy hour, a baseball game, or bowling can deepen connection and camaraderie.
  9. Clear expectations. Board members should understand what is expected of them—before they join the board. Nothing can demoralize a member like feeling a victim of a bait and switch! Board commitment statements and strategic plans solidify expectations.
  10. Inclusion. It’s the chair’s job to include everyone in dialogue and debate. Yet all members should value their peers’ perspectives. Leadership can also “hear” what’s on the mind of individual members through board assessments and one-on-one meetings.
  11. Recognition. Everyone appreciates a pat on the back. So who thanks the board? Some EDs are terrific about thanking their board members. But board members can also thank each other. Send a note or a collective bottle of wine to a hard-working chair. Initiate a social to celebrate the group’s hard work after an event. Just say “thank you” after a board meeting when you notice that a peer has done a good job.

This blog is excerpted from the new book written by Susan Schaefer and Bob Wittig. Buy it here:


Susan is a consultant, writer, and speaker. The Nonprofit Consulting Playbook is among her other writing projects, co-edited with Linda Lysakowski. Susan’s practical approach to fundraising and board development has made her a frequent presenter at conferences and in classrooms, including a course she teaches at Johns Hopkins University. In 2001, Susan founded Resource Partners LLC, which guides nonprofits to meet their income goals within their unique financial and human resource limitations.

Since 2002, Bob has been executive director of the Jovid Foundation in Washington, DC. In addition to grantmaking, he has hosted a monthly “Lunch Club” for grantee ED’s and a “Breakfast Club” for grantee board members. He also helped spearhead the effort to develop a co-location of organizations, The Work Place DC, and the development of a shared database system, HIRE DC, to be used by small workforce development organizations to track participant achievements and report collective impact.

Guest Blog–So You Want to Work in the Nonprofit Sector


So You Want to Work in the Nonprofit Sector……..Tips for Success

By Norman Olshansky: President

NFP Consulting Resources, Inc.

I am frequently asked for advice from students, recent grads and job seekers who are entering work within the nonprofit sector or who want to transition from the for profit sector to work in nonprofits.   Nonprofits are businesses, albeit with special tax status and missions, which are focused on community benefit.  A few of my suggestions are listed below.   What would you add?

1. Nonprofit work starts with passion for mission

Make sure that you sincerely care about the mission of the nonprofit in which you seek employment.  Nonprofit work is first about mission.  Whatever your position, work, or engagement within a nonprofit, it is to add value to the mission of that organization and its community benefit endeavors.  Don’t work for a nonprofit if you can’t be a sincere and strong advocate for its mission.  Job satisfaction will be directly related to how much pride you have in your work and how it enhances the overall impact of your organization.

  1. Get involved with a professional or trade association

Jobs in nonprofits are varied.  Some are in direct service while others are in back office supports, administration, management or fundraising.  Nonprofits employ marketing, accounting, human resource and other specialties.  Whether it is the National Association of Social Workers, Association of Fundraising Professionals, Association of Healthcare Philanthropy, American Marketing Association, American Accounting Association, Council for Advancement and Support of Education,  or other local, regional or national groups, seek out the one that can best assist you in your new position.  Take advantage of their offerings, benefits and resources they provide.

  1. Find an experienced mentor

Seek out someone who has a lot of experience doing the work you will be doing or will want to do, i.e. counseling, human resources, marketing, accounting, fundraising, management, etc. There is more to being a good nonprofit employee than proficiency on the technical side of the work.  Nonprofits are all about relationships with clients, consumers of service, members, donors, co-workers, volunteers and other stakeholders.  The art of nonprofit work is as important as the science.  A mentor with lots of nonprofit experience can help someone new to nonprofit work address the various issues and relationships that impact nonprofit employees.  Choose a mentor who also has experience within the sector you are employed i.e. human service, education, arts and culture, government, healthcare, etc.  It is helpful to use a mentor who is not currently employed within your organization, who is trustworthy and who is able to maintain complete confidentiality.

  1. Seek out good supervision

Look for a position where you will receive good supervision by someone who will provide you with professional guidance, honest input and evaluation.  While any good employee seeks to learn more, it is especially important for new nonprofit employees to seek out leaning and growth opportunities.  Look for an organization that will provide you with those experiences.  Also check out leaning opportunities at your local colleges and universities, nonprofit resource centers, community foundations, and with national associations.

  1. Always be a student

Take advantage of opportunities to attend workshops, conferences, participate in online webinars, and continue to read as much as you can related to your work and the overall nonprofit sector.  Be curious.  Learn as much as you can about what others in your organization do, how your role intersects with theirs, and is part of the overall mission.   Ask lots of questions and be willing to try new approaches that will add value to your organization.   Be focused on outcomes and not outputs.  The number of things you do may not be as important as the quality of what is accomplished by your work.  Use your time wisely.  It is a valuable resource.   Nonprofits are just as concerned about return on investment as are for-profit organizations.  Human and financial capital is limited so your employer is going to look at how you add value to the organization.  A good student will sort out lots of information, make critical decisions and use their time and organization’s resources wisely.  Even the most experienced nonprofit professional needs to constantly seek out learning opportunities if they are going to keep up with the ever-changing nonprofit sector.

  1. Mistakes, change and risk

Nobody is perfect.  You WILL make mistakes.  Good employees learn from their mistakes and take advantage of new learning to go the next level.  Ask any professional how they have learned to be effective and they will include in their responses examples of learning from mistakes and failure.  In addition, be willing to take calculated risks.  Change does not occur if an organization or employee continually does everything the same way.  If something needs to be better, more effective, more efficient than is currently the situation in an organization, then change (which often involves risk taking) is necessary. Be willing to explore different ways of doing your job that can improve your impact within your organization.

  1. Be a role model and enjoy your work

Try to find a position where you will do work that you find enjoyable.  No job is perfect and there are always aspects of employment, which are not fun. Successful employees are typically the ones who sincerely love their work and want to be part of helping others in their organization succeed.   Be trustworthy.  Avoid office gossip.  People like to work with positive co-workers.  Be the type of employee that you would want to work with day to day.  You may be faced with tough decision based upon the positions and behavior exhibited by others.  Always take the moral/ethical high ground and avoid doing anything that you wouldn’t want to read about on the front page of your local newspaper.

  1. Compensation and Benefits

               If your interest in working within a nonprofit organization is to make the big

bucks, you will be disappointed.  While there are a few exceptions,

nonprofits have historically paid less than comparable positions within the

for-profit sector  Most established nonprofits offer reasonable compensation

and benefits.  However, if your main motivation for looking at potential

positions within the nonprofit sector is a highly competitive financial

package,  it’s not the place for you.

As someone who has worked within the nonprofit sector for over 25 years I still love what I do and encourage those who are serious about nonprofit work and have a passion for community service to consider a career within the nonprofit sector.  There are few jobs that offer the satisfaction and feeling of service and accomplishment as those within nonprofits.

Norm is co-editor of You and Your Nonprofit: Buy it here: