Karma Yoga, A Perfect New Year’s Resolution

Kay Rosenthal PhD, RN – Guest blogger, EPNRC volunteer

Karma Yoga, A Perfect New Year’s Resolution
By Ram Rao

Friends share the greatest insight via email and blogs. Yeah! I read this one this morning after Jill sent it to me and agreed that I needed to share it with you.

A lot of people volunteer for which many are truly grateful. This article by Ram Rao shares the positive social, emotional, and physical benefits of volunteering. The twist that this author presents is selfless voluntary service, which Ram calls “Karma Yoga.” The key points are that the service is without any expectation of something in return and providing the selfless service with a loving attitude.

Please read on for the full article.

“Karma Yoga can be loosely interpreted as a selfless voluntary service that is rendered without any personal expectation. An individual rendering selfless service puts the well-being of others as a top priority ahead of his/her personal gain or achievement, and gets rid of all egoistic tendencies while offering such a service. To be a karma yogi you need to cultivate two qualities: 1) providing the service without any expectation of reward, award, name, or fame and 2) having a loving attitude toward the selfless service.

Selfless service requires you to perform any service. At the same time you need to cultivate a loving attitude towards the selfless task without developing any stress from it, no matter what the outcome is. If you render selfless service with these qualities, you experience true happiness and satisfaction. Seek the true karma yogis and you will commonly hear them saying that the more they serve selflessly, the more true happiness they receive. Here is how Krishna puts it in Chapter 2 of the Bhagavad Gita:

“Set thy heart upon thy work, but never on its reward, Work not for a reward; but never cease to do thy work. Do thy work in the peace of Yoga and free from selfish desires, be not moved in success or failure”—translated by Juan Mascaro

This approach—performing a task without any expectation, letting go of all results, whether good or bad, and focusing on the selfless action alone—is the essence of selfless service/karma yoga. In the light of non-attachment, the selfless doer attains freedom from emotional disturbances including but not limited to desires, ambitions, fear, worry, anxiety, judgment, and rage, and this is what leads to true happiness. BKS Iyengar alludes to selfless service when he extols the benefits of karuna (compassion). Karuna or true compassion is when you couple the compassion with a selfless action that relieves the misery or suffering. A true karma yogi is one who without any expectation or reward uses all the available resources to mitigate pain, misery and suffering, provides courage and strength to the weak and, provides shelter to all. In doing so, the doer of selfless service overcomes all mental afflictions (vrittis).

It is no surprise that the authors of a recent study Is volunteering a public health intervention? A systematic review and meta-analysis of the health and survival of volunteers that compiled empirical evidence on the benefits of selfless service concluded that rendering selfless service is very good for both body and spirit (physical and mental/emotional). And it also adds years to life. The study found that selfless service—like serving food in a soup kitchen or reading to the blind—reduces early mortality rates by almost 22%, compared to those people who did not volunteer in such activities. The study, which reviewed 40 other studies on selfless service and its effects, also revealed that volunteers benefit not just from reduced rates of depression but they also experience an increased sense of life satisfaction and wellbeing—doing a selfless service made them feel good, provided them true happiness, and also led to improvements in overall health.

However, the authors also add not to expect these benefits just by offering few pennies to the charity box. True selfless service and its benefits come from going that extra mile—sacrificing time and effort to engage in an actual service. In the study, benefits were seen only among those participants that volunteered at least an hour of work once a month or those that offered their services more frequently. It is easy to understand why selfless service provides true happiness, leads to improvements in health, and extends health span (see Volunteer Work and Hedonic, Eudemonic, and Social Well-Being ). Studies have shown that doing a selfless act leads to numerous changes in the body and mind including:

· Stress reduction—when you are helping others, your body releases an important hormone called oxytocin which assists in buffering out stressful thoughts.
· Merely thinking of a selfless service releases certain “feel-good” chemicals namely dopamine that boosts the morale of the individual.
· Self-confidence—self-esteem builds and confidence levels grows when you are passionate about helping others in need.
· Helping others has shown to reverse high blood pressure, heart attacks, strokes, and dementia by modulating the blood flow.
To promote these advantages, the United Nations as well as many European governments are encouraging more citizens to volunteer and render selfless service. We can do our bit as well. How about committing to selfless acts on a regular basis to achieve a longer health span and bring greater fulfillment to our life? A perfect and selfless resolution for Y2017!”

I wish you a happy and healthy year of selfless service carried out with a loving attitude as you start the New Year out as a karma yogi. Please set up an hour or more a month in your new 2017 calendar now. Enjoy! Namaste.

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Six Fundraising Ideas to Help Connect with Millennial Donors

Kay Rosenthal PhD, RN – Guest blogger, EPNRC volunteer

Six Fundraising ideas to help connect with millennial donors.

Posted by Ian Lauth on Winspire News highlighted and abbreviated below by Kay Rosenthal. I encourage you to read the entire blog and click on his links– this is a teaser to see if you might want more information.

For the full blog go to: http://blog.winspireme.com/6-fundraising-ideas-to-help-connect-with-millennial-donors


I’m a baby boomer but my son is a millennial. He definitely has different thoughts on donations. Since the millennials are a large portion of the population – we baby boomers need to learn how to reach them. According to Ian, “millennials … ages of 21 and 35 – are known for their generosity and interest in charitable causes”. Ian offers six “fundraising auction ideas for attracting millennial donors and maintaining positive relationships with younger audiences.

  1. Be tech savvy

…Skip snail mail and opt for digital outreach. Email is key, but don’t forget to connect via social media too. Keep your website, online profiles and accounts up to date and interact frequently with followers and members…Optimize your site for mobile! Many millennials will use a tablet or smartphone…

  1. Focus on the cause

Millennials support causes they are passionate about… use stories, photos and video to make an emotional appeal. They want to know how their money is making a difference… Explain how $100 feeds 50 children for a week, and then embed a video on your blog that shows your organization in action…

  1. Convey genuine gratitude

… A millennial who donates digitally should get the same genuine “thank you” that other donors receive… If you do have an automatic thank you or confirmation email, use the person’s name, indicate the specific amount they donated and include an emotional story about their impact”…. Ian recommends making a personal phone call – not that my son would ever pick up! Haha! But Ian says it “can forge a life-long connection.”

  1. Don’t forget them after they give

…Send updates about your mission, recent successes or even articles that relate to your cause. Work to make recent donors feel like they are part of a new community, something bigger than themselves… Do not ignore them after you get funding -this is key to millennial patron retention.

  1. Sharing is caring

Millennials like to share. Through social media, they like to tell the world what they are doing, who they are with and what they support.  An oft-forgotten fundraiser idea for younger audiences is to encourage online sharing. Make sure you have social media share buttons available after a donation is made…




  1. Don’t underestimate their donation power

By far the biggest mistake Nonprofits can make with millennials is to ignore them assuming they don’t care or don’t have money to give. While they may not have accumulated as much …they still have money to give. As the millennial generation ages, they will soon have the resources to contribute more to charity in the years to come. Make sure you are always considering the lifetime value of a donor. They will remember the impression they had of your organization the first time they made a donation, which will influence donations they may make in the future.

Savvy Nonprofits know that connecting with younger patrons is just as important as connecting with older audiences. These fundraising ideas will get you that much closer to building meaningful relationships with millennials so you can grow your Nonprofit’s mission today and for years to come”.

We baby boomers know how to reach out to our like aged family, friends, and colleagues, now we need to learn how to reach out to the millennials. I thought Ian had some great ideas. I hope you will find them helpful.


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It’s Flu Season

Kay Rosenthal PhD, RN – Guest blogger, EPNRC volunteer

It’s Flu Season!

Are you vaccinated?  I am and I strongly recommend that you talk with your health care provider to see if you should be vaccinated too. The Center for Disease Control (CDC) offers great information on the flu and the flu vaccine.  Below are excerpts from the site.

Flu Vaccination

“Influenza is a serious disease that can lead to hospitalization and sometimes even death. Every flu season is different, and influenza infection can affect people differently. Even healthy people can get very sick from the flu and spread it to others. “Flu season” in the United States can begin as early as October and last as late as May. During this time, flu viruses are circulating at higher levels in the U.S. population. An annual seasonal flu vaccine is the best way to reduce the chances that you will get seasonal flu and spread it to others. When more people get vaccinated against the flu, less flu can spread through that community.

Flu vaccination should begin soon after vaccine becomes available, if possible by October. However, as long as flu viruses are circulating, vaccination should continue to be offered throughout the flu season, even in January or later. While seasonal influenza outbreaks can happen as early as October, during most seasons influenza activity peaks in January or later. Since it takes about two weeks after vaccination for antibodies to develop in the body that protect against influenza virus infection, it is best that people get vaccinated so they are protected before influenza begins spreading in their community.

The benefits of the flu vaccination include:

  • The flu vaccine can keep you from getting sick with flu.
  • Flu vaccination can reduce the risk of flu-associated hospitalization, including among children and older adults.
  • Flu vaccination is an important preventive tool for people with chronic health conditions.
  • Vaccination helps protect women during and after pregnancy. Getting vaccinated can also protect a baby after birth from flu. (Mom passes antibodies onto the developing baby during her pregnancy.)
  • Getting vaccinated yourself also protects people around you, including those who are more vulnerable to serious flu illness, like babies and young children, older people, and people with certain chronic health conditions.”

If you haven’t already gotten your flu vaccination please contact your personal health care provider to see if getting the flu vaccine is appropriate for you. Let’s stay healthy Estes!


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Vacation- what a relief…what a stressful time….. which is it for you?

Kay Rosenthal PhD, RN – Guest blogger, EPNRC volunteer

Vacation- what a relief…what a stressful time….. which is it for you?

For me, it was both! I was super stressed planning our trip to Iceland. Therefore, I did a ton of reading, reached out to people to see where they visited when they were there, then talked to my friends and family about my fears around planning the trip. Maybe we should just go on a package trip and make it easy on ourselves.The downside would be we wouldn’t get to see all the things I had learned about. Finally, I enlisted the help of my husband and we created an excel spreadsheet to plan our activities on and my son came to the rescue with Google Maps! Google Maps helped me determine if we could really get from point A to point B.

Knowing I couldn’t control a lot of the aspects of our trip helped me to plan parts of the trip and then have contingency plans for weather, fatigue or both. Seeking out support helped me get it all planned. PS – Our trip was magnificent.

The stress related to planning a vacation is one thing, planning events and day-to-day operations of a nonprofit organization can loom much larger for staff and board members. Jill Lancaster, Executive Director EPNRC, sent me this great article, How to Hack Stress- Science of People by Vanessa Van Edwards. I hope you will take the time to watch the TED presentation by Kelly McGonigal and read the six steps for hacking stress in the link below. Invest in yourself and spend 15-20 minutes learning more. Then, see if any of the tips work for you.

Here’s the link: http://www.scienceofpeople.com/2016/10/how-to-hack-stress/

After watching the video this morning I realized that I have always befriended stress. I have used it as a way to get myself geared up and moving forward. I do see it as the body’s response to help me rise to the challenge, whatever that challenge that might be. What I used for my trip planning instinctively – asking for help, getting support – worked! I didn’t even realize that reaching out was actually part of the stress response. Kelly mentions the role of oxytocin in her TED talk and explains how we experience stress and our body responds by increasing our heart rate and respiration so that we are ready to respond physically. In addition Kelly explained how our body then supplies a natural anti-inflammatory neuro-hormone to encourage us to seek help and give help to others which then helps our body cope with the stress. Our bodies are amazing, aren’t they?

What I found even more interesting in her TED talk was the meaning and belief behind our stress response is life threatening or life saving depending on if we feel that stress is bad for our health or is actually good for us. Re-framing stress into a positive part of our life is powerful and Kelly explains that caring creates resilience. With all the caring you do within your non-profit organization and the volunteer efforts you provide our community you are helping not only others but yourself.

The article continues with six main points to help you hack stress. I’m not sure you need these pieces now if you focus on re-framing the stress in a positive way however, you might still find these helpful. The six tips include:

1. “Lose Control”- The article talks about disrupting your routine intentionally to help you get more comfortable with chaos and not being so time conscious as we all know we cannot control time.
2. “Put Yourself First”- Be sure you “are well-rested, well-fueled and recharged.”
3. “Practice Mindfulness”- Do one task at a time instead of multi-tasking.
4. “Create a ‘Break’ List” You might want to take a walk around the building, jump on a mini-trampoline, call a friend, or do something else that you think is fun.
5. “Distract Yourself”- Journaling and taking walks, take up a new hobby are mentioned as ways to distract yourself.
6. “Color Meditation”- Have you been to a coloring book party? It’s a great way to socialize and find your “mental zen.”

After watching the TED talk I am going to work on enhancing my positive perception of stress as actually helping me to reach out more to others and help further increase my resiliency. Let me know what you plan to do and what you find works for you. Believing that stress is healthy may be the most crucial aspect of your taking time to read the full article after viewing the TED talk.

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Kay Rosenthal PhD, RN – Guest blogger, EPNRC volunteer

When I see a check mark, my first thought is – done!  My second thought is Nike!  Just do it.

When I see the letter G I now think of Gatorade.

When I see a pink ribbon I think of Breast Cancer.  Race for the Cure.

That is the power of branding.

I read a very interesting article from the New York Nonprofit Media today titled, The Importance of a Rebranding Process. (http://nynmedia.com/news/the-importance-of-a-rebranding-process). Ron Gold and Christopher Quereau shared the power of rebranding in two different situations where two companies merged.  Through the rebranding both merged successfully and are striving today.

They offered four keys to good rebranding which I have pasted below for your convenience.

1. Research: We suggest at least some basic, low-cost research of your constituency to help ensure that your selected course of action is appropriate. Research also builds buy-in from boards and employees.

2. Process: Outline a rebranding process. Every branding project has its own institutional history and personalities that must be properly managed to ensure a positive branding experience. An experienced agency will have suggestions on navigating the course of your transformation.

3. Deployment: Once you are provided with your new branding items, such as a logo, website and other materials, develop a plan to roll it all out to staff, supporters, the public and clients. Brands deployed with a whisper can cause confusion.

4. Marketing: Now that you have your brand, determine how your marketing will exhibit that brand – and how will it change, maintain, or enhance that impression. – See more at: http://nynmedia.com/news/the-importance-of-a-rebranding-process#sthash.bHyEDzBs.dpuf

I wish you the best of luck with your branding or rebranding process and hope that it will bring your nonprofit organization the presence you need to help you serve the people of the Estes Valley.

Thanks for all you do!

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Corporate Sponsorship in RMNP?

An article from the Washington Post reports that National Parks will be permitted to start selling some naming rights.  I wonder what this will mean for our own National Park – Rocky Mountain National Park?  Good idea, bad?  You be the judge! Check out the article here: https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/powerpost/wp/2016/05/09/yosemite-national-park-brought-to-you-by-starbucks/people


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Best Practices for Small Nonprofits

Paul Mueller, from Mueller & Associates, CPA, an EPNRC Community Give Back Partner, shares his insights.

In the wake of the Enron and Arthur Anderson accounting scandals of the last decade, new rules and policies were imposed on public companies regarding the integrity of their accounting and disclosures.

In 2008, the IRS took a leading role in encouraging nonprofits to adopt many of these “best practices” in their operations. So why should a nonprofit be subject to the same rules that apply to publicly-traded companies?

The answer is quite simple. A nonprofit acts as a steward of funds entrusted to it by individual donors, foundations and government entities. In this fiduciary capacity, the nonprofit needs to be transparent in their activities and their oversight of resources. In essence, a nonprofit is in the “public eye” to a similar extent as a publicly-traded company. After all, nothing could be worse for a nonprofit than appearing on the front page of the local newspaper over an accounting scandal.

There is also a very practical reason for having policies. Policies are unbiased and unemotional. If a policy says board members are term-limited, there is no reason to get worked up over a departing board member. It simply happens by policy.

So what are some of the best practice policies to consider:

1. Whistleblower – there is a sign in every New York City subway station that reads, “If you see something, say something.” This should apply in every nonprofit, too. In their biannual survey of global fraud, the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners cites a whistleblower policy as the single most important tool for combatting workplace fraud.

2. Bank Statements – who receives the unopened bank statement (or has access to the online statement)? This person should NOT be the person who writes and mails checks.

3. Conflict of Interest – this is perhaps the most critical, yet the most contentious of policies. Knowing what is a conflict and annually acknowledging the policy and potential conflicts is a must-do for all board members and officers.

4. Term Limits and Rotation – while it may be hard to say good-bye to a valued board member, there is always something to be gained with new blood and perspectives on the board. In addition, board roles, such as Treasurer, should be rotated every few years to a new board member.

5. Gift Acceptance – having a gift acceptance policy can protect the nonprofit from environmental risks associated with real estate as well as the public relations risk of potentially controversial gifts. This policy allows the nonprofit to say “no thanks” when appropriate without appearing arbitrary.

These are only a few policies to consider to help nonprofits operate on a business as normal basis.

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How Easy is the new Form 1023-EZ? For New Nonprofits

Paul Mueller from Mueller & Associates, CPA, an EPNRC Community Give Back Partner shares his insights about the FORM 1023-EZ for organizations interested in applying for tax exempt status with the IRS.  Look like this form may be valuable and  less intimidating for smaller organizations.  Read on for his professional opinion!  Jill

“Up until recently, few things could be more intimidating to a newly-formed small charity than applying for tax-exempt status with the IRS.  The Form 1023 used for this purpose is 26 pages long, asks for extensive narratives concerning activites and requires the attachment of voluminous exhibits.  Once filed, the processing time from the IRS is typically 6 months or more, and that’s if the IRS doesn’t ask questions or raise any objections.

To help out smaller charities, the IRS recently issued a new form – 1023-EZ.  Of course, anything the IRS labels as “EZ” has to be suspect, so we did a little digging.

The full name for the new form is, Streamlined Application for Recognition of Exemption Under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code.  While the title by itself is somewhat scary, we found to our relief that the IRS is true to its word this time.  The filing really is streamlined.

Rather than 26 pages, the new form is only three pages long.  In addition, the new form does not go into exhaustive detail about the charity’s organization, activities or budgets.  Even easier, the form is both prepared and filed online using www.pay.gov,, where you can also pay the $400 user fee with a credit or debit card or a bank account ACH.  To us, it now appears the form can be completed in hours, rather than the number of days that applied to the Form 1023.

The 1023-EZ is, however, limited to smaller charities with:

  • annual gross receipts projected to be no more than $50,000 in any of the initial three years, and
  • total assets worth no more than $250,000.

Certain organizations such as churches, hospitals, schools won’t be allowed to use the 1023-EZ form, though, the IRS estimates that up to 70% of new charities will.

We applaud the IRS for this innovation.  Anything that helps new charities engage with donors and assure them the tax deductibility of their donations makes good sense.” Paul Mueller

About Mueller & Associates CPA: The firm maintains offices in Loveland and Estes Park providing tax and accounting solutions to business owners, nonprofits and high-net worth families.  Services to nonprofits include annual tax and regulatory filings, budgeting, board governance, strategic planning and policy development. www.mueller-cpa.com

Posted in General Nonprofit Information, Nonprofit Startup | 2 Comments

Boring Board Meetings?

Perhaps bringing a “mission moment” to board meetings is a good way to add life to your meetings!  In the article “Reinvigorate Board Members: The Power of a Mission Moment” author Chuck Szell advocates the “mission moment” as a way to bring passion back into your board.  We all know storytelling is a great way to convey our message to donors; its time to start reminding ourselves of our stories! Read more about this here!


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“Donate Now” button added to Facebook – will this increase giving?

I ran across this article and wondered “Will this really increase giving?”  I suppose we have to use all resources available to reach all audiences and potential donors, but I wonder if we are saturating the social media market by asking via Facebook.  Thoughts?? – Jill Lancaster, EPNRC Executive Director

Facebook reveals “Donate Now” button to boost charitable giving

(Dan Kitwood/Getty Images)

Facebook has unveiled a “Donate Now” button that charities and nonprofit organizations can put in ads and on their Pages. The ALS Association and the American Cancer Society are using the feature, but its success will rely on consumers’ willingness to store payment information with Facebook. Adweek (8/24)

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