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:

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. ( 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:

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:


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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,, 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.

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)

Posted in Donor Relations, Fundraising, Social Media | Leave a comment

Scarcity thinking can limit a nonprofit’s financial success

I ran across this article today and thought it would be good for our nonprofit boards to consider. What do you think?

Nonprofits whose board members expect resources to be scarce are more likely to struggle financially and underachieve. To avoid this, board members should think of charity as social change, think of fundraising as financing and focus on energizing their staff. Social Velocity Blog (03/12)

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How to get the most out of your meetings

How did your last meeting go?

1.  Was it productive and on point?

2.  Or was it bogged down with side conversations, dominating personalities, arguing, people arriving late or leaving early, lack of respect, and off topic discussion?

Unless your organization is highly unusual, or you have been making a concerted effort in the area of productive meetings, I would guess that your meetings are more like the latter. Meetings are a necessary evil in the everyday workings of any organization. Everyone’s time is very valuable and meetings need to be run efficiently and respectfully. But, how do you make this happen without being the bad “guy”, the meeting czar?

Your team needs to agree on and adopt a set of meeting rules that work for your organization. If the team has buy-in to these rules, then you can always point to the rules (that may have even been posted in your meeting room) when things start to go awry and pull the meeting back on track. Over time, it will become natural to observe and play by these rules. You will then have more productive and less time consuming meetings, and as a result, a more organized, productive, and action oriented organization.

Below, are a set of rules that you may choose to adopt, or pick and choose what will work for you and your organization. Good luck and may all your future meetings be productive, respectful, on point, and on schedule.

15 Rules for the Nonprofit Boardroom (or for any meeting)

1. In this room, at this time, we are all equal. Each of us – regardless of position – will participate.

2. Each of us will behave according to the organization’s values.

3. Each of us is mindful of confidentiality and conflict of interest.

4. We are committed to group process, respect and candor.

5.  We will tap into the wisdom of the group, not focus on the opinions of individuals.

6.  We will question our own assumptions and those of our colleagues in order to think creatively. We will not get stuck on ‘what we’ve always done’ and ‘what we do today.’

7. We will listen to each other and suspend judgments.

8.  Our conversation is not about convincing each other but rather about listening to everything and everyone and then deciding what it all means.

9.  Each of us will be heard, but that doesn’t mean each of us will get what we want.

10. No single person(s) shall dominate.

11. It’s OK to disagree. When issues are important and people care, they argue. But once we decide, that’s it. Once decisions are made, each of us owns and supports the decisions.

12. Each of us will accept responsibility for speaking out. Silence is consent.

13. We agree to focus on the meeting agenda and work hard to keep on track.

14. We will not start over or repeat if someone is late, leaves early or is unable to attend.

15. We recognize that the job of a facilitator is hard.

These excellent rules come to you from Simone Joyaux, CFRE via Jean Block Consulting, Inc.

Blog post submitted by Alice Burkholder,

Community & Alumni Relations Coordinator, Harmony Foundation

EPNRC Board Member

Posted in Board Development, Boards and Governance, General Nonprofit Information | 1 Comment

2014 Recap and Thank You

The Estes Park Nonprofit Resource Center thanks you for a great year!

What a year 2014 was for the Estes Park Nonprofit Resource Center! 2014 marked many accomplishments for EPNRC, as well as many challenges and we have so much to be thankful for.  Funders, sponsors, businesses and organizations were instrumental in the successes of 2014. In addition, our community came out in droves to support all of our area nonprofits.

Collaboration was the name of the game for many of our programs. After months of hard work, the Mountain Strong for Nonprofits campaign; an online giving portal for nonprofits in the Estes Valley was officially launched in September during the one-year anniversary of the 2013 flood. This project allows people from all over the world to support nonprofits right here in the Estes Valley. To date there are 35 participating organizations in the campaign!

This year’s fundraising conference, We’ve Seen Fire and We’ve Seen Rain, was a joint venture in collaboration with the Community Resource Center and the Northern Colorado Nonprofit Resource Center.  Over one hundred participants were treated to a day of educational programming and funder networking at the beautiful Stanley Hotel.

We saw the largest turnout, 240 attendees, for the National Philanthropy Day celebration at the YMCA of the Rockies, along with the largest pool of nominees for the Philanthropist of the Year that we had seen since its inception. Sadly, we also said goodbye to one of our founders this year, Katie Speer, and we were able to recognize her by naming the Philanthropist of the Year award in her honor.

In 2014, EPNRC served approximately 530 individuals through 30 educational programs, responded to 353 individual requests for assistance, with 12 of those being extended one-on-one meetings. Another large collaboration, months in the works, is the Estes Valley Legacy Program; a planned giving collaborative designed to provide planned gift education for the community. This innovative, groundbreaking program was launched last Thursday at the elegant Della Terra Mountain Chateau.  And finally, with 13 founding businesses, EPNRC will launch the Community Give Back Program in early 2015.

We would not have been able to accomplish any of these things without the support of so many. We would like to send a special thanks to all of those organizations who supported us with grant funding this year: The Town of Estes Park, Estes Park Rotary Club Foundation, the Community Thrift Shop, Krumme Family Foundation, and the Community Foundation of Northern Colorado.

We would also like to thank the Estes Valley Library for their support of our programs and providing meeting space for our workshops and Lunch and Learn programs, as well as countless resources. Thank you to the Estes Park News and the Estes Park Trail Gazette who supported our programs by spreading the word throughout the community and giving us a platform. Thank you to the founding members of the Estes Valley Legacy program, which will have a lasting impact on the nonprofits of our community for many years to come. Thank you to the founding businesses in the Community Give Back program as well as all our business partners over the past year. Thank you to all of the nonprofits we work with for allowing us to be a part of your mission to help so many.

Last, but certainly not least, thank you to our donors! Your support of our organization means so much. We wouldn’t be able to help so many without you! When you support us, you are also supporting all of the nonprofits in the Estes Valley and those who depend on their services! We thank each and every one of you and we look forward to what 2015 has in store!

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