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Test Your Nonprofit I.Q.

Quiz Answers:

1) When faced with declining revenues, nonprofits should do all of the following except which one?

a) Make marketing and public relations a high priority in order not to be a "best-kept secret."
b) Put off hiring new development staff until times are better.
c) Bring new members onto the board of directors who can help turn the tide.
d) Approach volunteers for financial contributions.

Answer: b
While it is tempting for nonprofits to hoard their funds in hard times, it is extremely unwise to refrain from hiring much-needed development staff. Tough times require nonprofits to "prime the pump," and there's no better way to do so than by hiring qualified, experienced development staff.
For more information see our article Unclear on the Concept: Downsizing Your Development Staff During the Economic Downturn.

2) Who donated the most money in the US to nonprofits last year?

a) Foundations
b) Corporations
c) Live Individuals
d) Deceased Individuals (Bequests)

And if that is too easy, can you estimate the percentages each gives?

Answer: c
A total of $306 billion was contributed to nonprofits in 2007. Individuals gave 75% or $229 billion. Another 7.5 % or $23 billion was donated through bequests (i.e. dead people) for a total of 82.5% or $252 billion by individuals alive and dead. Foundations gave only 12.5% or $38.5 billion and corporations gave 5% or $16 billion. Even in the midst of the rececssion the 2009 donations to US nonprofits was $304 billion. *In 2013: A total of $335 billion was contributed to nonprofits. Individuals gave 72%. Another 8% was donated through bequests for a total of 80% or $268 billion by individuals. Foundations gave 15% or $50 billion and corporations gave 5% or $17 billion. See GivingUSA 2104 Highlights. For more information see our article "The Importance of Individual Giving".

3) Assuming a midsize nonprofit with development staff, which of the following is NOT a Board member's fundraising responsibility?

a) To make a financial contribution to the extent of his or her capacity.
b) To solicit contributions from his or her friends, relatives and colleagues.
c) To assist with recruitment of new board members with the clout and connections to ensure the success of the fundraising effort.
d) To draft a grant proposal to a foundation where a colleague sits on the board.

Answer: d
Board members should not be expected to draft grant proposals; that is the job of the development staff. However, if they know board members of the foundation they can and should place a call letting them know an organization of which they sit on the board is submitting a proposal. All the other options are part of the board members' responsibilities.
For more information on board fundraising responsibilities see our article "Boards That Love Fundraising: Specific Responsibilities".

4) Fears expressed by some board members about asking for financial contributions include all of the following except:

a) Embarrassment
b) Being "asked back" by the person whose gift the board member is seeking
c) Not being "rational" enough
d) Rejection
e) Stock market doldrums

Answer: c
In fact, board members fear being too emotional, thinking that they can simply make the case with a dry recitation of facts and figures. Not so!
For more information on board members' fears, see our article "Getting People to Ask for $$".

When planning a major donor campaign it is best to:

a) Use inexpensive materials to show how your nonprofit is saving resources.
b) Have solicitors ask a stranger so there is no conflict of interest.
c) Begin to look for a major donor in the society page of your local newspaper.
d)None of the above.

Answer: d
People give money to people (they know); it is always best to ask someone you know for a major gift. Major donor solicitation is a competitive business; while you don't have to use eleven colors of ink and the fanciest paper in creation, you do need to represent your nonprofit effectively. To find a major donor you should start by reviewing past donors. For more information see: "Major Donor Campaigns: The Heart Of Any Successful Fundraising Effort".

6) Which of the following are considered to be a board member's fundraising responsibilities:

a) To make a financial contribution to the extent of your capacity.
b) To solicit contributions from your friends, relatives and colleagues.
c) To oversee your organization's fundraising efforts.
d) All of the above.

Answer: d
In addition to the above fundraising responsibilities Zimmerman Lehman also believes board members should assist in recruiting new board members with fundraising capabilities. For more information please see "Boards That Love Fundraising: Specific Responsibilities".

7) What types of professions can help your board with its development efforts?

a) Sales.
b) Public relations, marketing, and advertising.
c) Law.
d) Accounting and finance.
e) All of the above.

Answer: e
A variety of professional skills can help guarantee the success of your development efforts. In addition to those mentioned above you should keep a keen eye on diversity as this is critical to your efforts. And of course, individuals who are movers and shakers in your community, be they entertainers, high-powered professionals, or simply people of great wealth, are central to your organization's fundraising efforts. For more information see Recruiting with Fundraising in Mind.

When funders and donors talk about accountability what, in particular, are they looking for?

a) Making sure all your board meetings are open to the public
b) Ensuring that the budget adds up correctly
c) Making sure your board members have liability insurance
d) Ensuring the public that your overhead percentages are reported accurately

Answer: d
The current trend for funders and donors (exacerbated by the media) is to examine carefully overhead expenses [the ratio of spending on programs (services) versus spending on administration (management) and fundraising]. There are wide discrepancies in how this information is reported. Percentage amounts customarily range from 15% to 45%. Being accountable means ensuring these figures are reported accurately. For more information see Accountability and Transparency for Nonprofits: What Do They Mean?

Or order Board Members Rule!

9) All of the following are good fundraising strategies except:

a) Tell donors you may need to close your doors if they don't give now
b) Ask for money in as many ways as appropriate
c) Keep the donor in mind
d) Give donors the opportunity to invest in your successful community enterprise

Answer: a
Donors are not really interested in failure. Just like any other investor they prefer to hear about success. For more information, see our article "A Fundraising Success Story: Lessons Learned".

10) Which one of the following leadership characteristics is the newest on the landscape?

a) Vision
b) Humor
c) Emotional Intelligence
d) Trustworthiness

Answer: c
One new trait, a current buzz phrase that was just coming on the scene ten years ago, is EMOTIONAL INTELLIGENCE (EI). Some call this a "gut instinct or an innate sense about what others are feeling." It used to be called empathy or intuition but now google EI and you get over one million hits. "EI" includes identifying, using, understanding and managing emotions. Both Oprah and Madonna can read a crowd like no one else and their EI is part of what makes them both successful. Being able to read people (know what they want or need) is invaluable. Those million hits will tell you that if your are not born with this instinct you can learn it! For more information on leadership characteristics see our article Eight Characteristics of Leadership.

11) In choosing a chair of your organization's capital campaign committee, what should be your priority?

a) A current board member with good connections in the community.
b) A representative of the client community served by your nonprofit.
c) A current board member who gets along well with people and loves "glad-handing."
d) A volunteer who is not a board member and who has his/her own financial resources and good community connections.

Answer: d
In most cases, it is advisable to ask someone who is not currently on your board to serve as capital campaign committee chair. This person must have substantial financial resources himself/herself, community "clout," and the willingness to serve as "point person" for the campaign. For more information see our article, Capital Campaigns: Ten Steps To Success.

12) Which of these is not a good tip for grantwriting?

a) Pay more attention to describing your program than your philosophy.
b) Have the executive director or board chair sign every letter of inquiry or proposal.
c) Don't repeat the grantor's language concerning their priorities, since every grantor knows what it wants.
d) Spend at least as much time on developing the budget as on writing the proposal.

Answer: c
c) Make it easy for the foundation to see that your program matches their priorities by telling them that it does: "Our program matches all three of the ABC Foundation's interests because it is (a) preK-12 education targeting (b) children/youth at risk with (c) a focus on literacy." In fact you should echo the foundation's language. Read through the annual report to learn preferred phrases. For example, use the phrase "pre-K education" or "infant and toddler education", whichever they use. Use "conservation" or "environment," whichever they do. For more tips on grantwriting see TEN TIPS FOR GRANTWRITING.

13) Which of the following questions should be answered yes before you initiate a capital campaign?

a) Does your agency need a building, a piece of land or a piece of equipment?
b) Does your board have the capacity to make large contributions to the campaign?
c) Are board members ready to pursue friends, relatives and colleagues in the campaign?
d) Have the board and volunteers been trained in how to ask someone for a big gift face-to-face?
e) All of the above

Answer: (e) All of the above
If your answers to the above questions are "Yes, no, no and they'd rather face root canal than ask for major gifts," you're probably not ideally situated to conduct a capital campaign. The fact that you need a building, a piece of land or a piece of equipment does not necessarily mean that you should launch a capital campaign. For more information on capital campaigns see "Are You Ready For A Capital Campaign?"

14) Which of the following is least the case?

a) Donating to a nonprofit makes you happy
b) Spending money on others makes you happy
c) Spending money on yourself makes you happy
d) Helping others reduces the odds of an early death
e) All of the above

Answer: C
ZimNotes readers know that a recent study said, "People who donate their dollars to nonprofits or splurge on gifts for others are more content than those who squander all the dough on themselves." There is a wealth-happiness connection but apparently it is weaker than the lasting cheer that comes from giving to others. Another study indicating that giving reduces the odds of an early death by nearly 60% compared with those who didn't lend a helping hand. For further information read "Giving Makes You Happy & Healthy!"

15)Board minutes should do all of following except:

a) Summarize briefly the high point of discussion items
b) Be very clear about which person said what
c) Record board member votes
d) Record all actions any member agreed to do and when
e) Record attendance

Answer: b
Decisions should be summarized and recorded (with votes), as should all the actions that anyone agreed to do with a "who said they would do what, and when." This last point is often neglected and encourages a lack of accountability. Ridiculously long, "he said/she said" minutes are a waste of every one's time. There may be an exception for a controversial decision or a very long and strategic discussion, but generally all discussions/decisions should be no more than one to two paragraphs. For more information see How Does the Board Govern and Evaluate Itself?

16) Which one below is not part of being a strategic advocate as a board member?

a) Members asks deliberate questions about the end results you are looking for on any given issue.
b) It includes engaging the entire board in lively discussions about options and actions.
c) You use your legal skills on behalf of your board.
d) It involves developing policies and actions that further the mission and vision of the organization

Answer: c
All of the answers except #c are part of being a strategic advocate. While having lawyers on your board may help, anyone can be a strategic advocate. You don't need to go to law school first. It is more of a framing issue for your role as a board member. Board members need to think strategically and advocate on behalf the organization whose board they sit on, as well as the community they come from and the constituency you serve. For more information on being a strategic advocate see "How Can A Board Member Be A Strategic Advocate For Your Nonprofit?"
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