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Fall 2018 Top of Mind Newsletter

Newsletter for Specialists in the Nonprofit Resource Directory

Become a sponsor, volunteer, or promoter of Plan IT

Staff from King Conservation District celebrating their completion of last year's Plan IT program.
Most nonprofit aren’t taking full advantage of technology to do more without adding staff. You can help!

Plan IT equips nonprofit organizations to make smart technology decisions. Participants are matched with two consultants who will assist in assessing their use of technology, develop a “key issues” report, and craft a detailed action plan for making immediate and long-term improvements.

The 2019 program launches in January. There are three ways you can get involved:

  • Encourage your Puget Sound-area clients to apply for Plan IT.
  • If you have planning and/or technology skills applicable to small nonprofits, join a consulting team and volunteer for 10-12 hours per month for four months working with one of the Plan IT teams.
  • Become a Plan IT sponsor. Sponsorship associates your firm’s name with this innovative program and keeps the program affordable to organizations of all sizes.

Refer clients
Do you have clients that need more effective digital communications, improved data systems, streamlined processes, and tighter project management? Encourage them to submit an application by December 14. Interested organizations can contact Jim Pullen at to see if Plan IT would be a good fit.

Intrigued about volunteering your tech and planning skills? See the planning consultant position description for more information.

Sponsor Plan IT
Become a Plan IT Program Sponsor! Previous sponsors since 2012 have included Microsoft, Avanade, Google, REI, Mutual of Enumclaw, Deloitte, Accenture, First Tech Federal Credit Union, and many individual contributors. To learn how you or your company can sponsor Plan IT, contact Nancy Long at

Get your upcoming trainings and workshops listed in Learning Connections!

List any trainings, workshops, professional development services (like coaching or networking) in Learning Connections. You can create an account and add or update your listings of trainings, workshops, educational opportunities, networking events, conferences, and internships. The searchable catalog complements our popular Featured Training & Networking Events calendar. So it’s additional exposure for you without any additional cost.

You can list upcoming events or just list your capacity to provide customized services such as on-site trainings, coaching, or presentations on topics that showcase your expertise. You can also see what is being offered by others in the community and identify gaps in topics, audiences, or geographic areas that you can fill.

Party with your Directory peers on April 9

Six degrees of separation. LinkedIn. 501 Commons’ Directory Networking Party. What do these three things have in common? They speak to the power of connection. And connecting in-person ranks as one of the best ways to be “top of mind.”

501 Commons is proud to support the nonprofit consultant and education communities through our complimentary annual networking event. Please save the date for our 8th annual Directory Networking Party on Tuesday, April 9, 2019.

Directory Networking Party
Tuesday, April 9, 2019 from 5:00 to 7:00 p.m.
Wing Luke Museum – Ford Foundation Community Hall

We’re returning to beautiful Wing Luke Museum, but this time in a larger space. Mark your calendar now and we will send you more details and registration information after the first of the year. This is a professional networking and promotional event you won’t want to miss.

Also, we’re seeking sponsors to help underwrite this long-running, celebratory event. Please contact Nancy Long at to learn how your company can benefit from being a sponsor.

Welcome new Resource Directory specialists!

We’d like to welcome the following organizations to our referral network.

  • Allen Chen at Schooley Mitchell – Nonprofits have expenses, including costs for phones, credit card processing (think: online-donation fees), and shipping services. Yet few have the time and know-how to lower their bills. Enter independent cost-reduction company Schooley Mitchell, which specializes in finding the lowest service fees at no added cost to clients. The company is paid by sharing in the savings they find.
  • Jurassic Parliament – Want more effective and productive board, community, or local government meetings? Jurassic Parliament may be the answer through its fun and informative trainings. The firm applies the lessons of time-tested Robert’s Rules of Order and other strategies to address the real problems hampering these forums. Nonprofits can even schedule a free telephone call with principal trainer Ann Macfarlane to get quick questions answered.
  • Parallel Public Works – For nearly 20 years, Parallel Public Works has served nonprofits, governments, and others through online and back-end (e.g., database) product development. Its work includes digital marketing and content strategy consulting, design services, user testing, custom application development, CMS implementation, software training, and ongoing support services. One benefit of the company’s client-centered approach: improved work flows.
  • The Society for Financial Awareness (SOFA) – We often talk about improving financial systems at nonprofits. But what about employees at nonprofits? Their financial well-being – or at least their personal financial literacy – can impact workplace performance. SOFA-vetted expert presenters are ready to provide free, on-site workshops on 30+ financial topics for the purpose of helping individuals gain the resources and confidence to improve their financial future.

Use the free Five Elements Assessment to help clients focus

Do you have clients that are not sure what they need or where they should put their focus? Recommend that they take 501 Commons’ free Five Elements of a Healthy Nonprofit Self-Assessment survey!

This organizational assessment doesn’t cost a single penny and is tailored specifically for nonprofits. The survey works best when 3-5 key people in the organization review and discuss the 58 total standards in the assessment and decide on their current level of performance for each standard.

Kids painting at Lopez Island Family Resource Center.
The standards cover almost every area of operations such as finances, technology, fundraising, leadership, communications, boards, work culture, management, and relationships. After discussing the assessment and entering the scores into the online application, organizations receive detailed results and recommendations for how to improve.

Here's the great news for everyone in the Resource Directory: You can help these organizations address their areas of weakness! This can lead them to identifying that they need your services to do that.

Organizations that want to dive deeper into the assessment can receive a Pathways consultation. Pathways is a short consultation process that accompanies the assessment. The consultation helps organizations identify key areas that need to be improved and develop a plan to address these challenges.

Barbara Gurley, executive director of Lopez Island Family Resource Center, reports Pathways "has been such a valuable process for us - helping us organize and focus our efforts to grow stronger. It's all very exciting!"

What if your clients were all data superheroes?

Many times organizations are being held back in their fundraising, program effectiveness, financial management, or evaluation methods because they do not have data systems that provide solid support. However, many nonprofits don't have the funds to invest in a robust Salesforce implementation project compared to larger organizations.

501 Commons is offering two new services to help these types of nonprofits: Data Assessment and assistance with Database Selection. We engage skilled volunteers with database expertise to help provide these services affordably.

Inquire about how we can partner with you to help your clients harness the power of data. Or refer your client to our Request for Assistance form. They can select “Database Services” and we’ll follow up to get the ball rolling.

Sector news: what’s on our radar?

Are nonprofit employers ready for new Paid Family & Medical Leave?

Washington will be the fifth state to require employers to provide paid family and medical leave (PFML) benefits. These benefits are crucial for anyone who is recovering from a serious illness or injury, or has a close relative who is.

While these new benefits of up to 12 weeks of paid leave don’t take effect until 2020, WA employers – including nonprofits – must begin to plan for these changes and take action in 2019. Here are three key dates to remember:

  1. January 1, 2019 – Employers must start withholding PFML premiums from employee paychecks. The premium costs are shared by employers and employees.
  2. April 1, 2019 – Employers must begin to report wages, hours, and additional information to the Washington State Employment Security Department (ESD) on a quarterly basis.
  3. January 1, 2020 – Eligible workers can receive PFML benefits.

Watch this recorded presentation we did with the Washington State Employment Security Department that explains these changes in greater detail. For additional guidance, check out our blog post containing further resources.

Updated Washington Nonprofit Handbook now available to download

Social-purpose entities looking for guidance on how to form and maintain a nonprofit corporation in the state of Washington can now download for free the 2018 edition of the Washington Nonprofit Handbook.

Published by Wayfind in partnership with Washington Nonprofits and the Washington State Office of the Secretary of State, the handbook was authored by a large team of expert contributors and updated last July. The handbook is useful for anyone seeking guidance on how to start and manage a nonprofit, remain in compliance with laws, and wind down the affairs of the organization if it must come to an end.

Quick Hits

A shout out to the “recertified”

Thank you to the nonprofit specialists below that have been recertified after being in the Resource Directory for more than 5 years. During this process we conduct new reference checks and encourage specialists to update their listings. The review allows us to recommend listed providers with confidence and ensures that everyone is “in good company.”

Recertified specialists include:

Refer these 501 Commons trainings to your clients

Executive Director Forum
Encourage executive directors to attend the Executive Director Forum on Friday, Dec. 7 from 8:30 to 10:30 a.m. at Pacific Tower.

This gathering will feature Rita Meher of Tasveer and Mark Okasaki of Neighborhood House as discussion leaders. The third group will be an informal discussion of self-care and professional development strategies for 2019.

Rita will lead a discussion on how small boats can create big waves.

Mark will share lessons learned: reflections on nearly two decades as an executive director. During Mark's time with Neighborhood House, their budget has grown to more than $15 million. Neighborhood House lifts families out of homelessness and poverty by providing social services, programs to support housing stability, adult and youth education, and services for older persons and people with disabilities.

Organizations with an annual budget under $1 million can attend for free.

QuickBooks webinars
These 3-day webinars are fast approaching! Nonprofit bookkeepers should not miss this opportunity to learn both the basics and advanced features of either QuickBooks’ Desktop or Online Editions. They can attend all three days or just the sessions that are applicable to their skill level.

Desktop Edition (Nov. 13-15)
Online Edition (Nov. 27-29)

Both webinars are 11:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. (PST) Use the discount code 501web20 to get $20 off.

Staff development workshop: Emotional Intelligence
The ability to manage your emotions and understand the emotions of others are critical skills for everyone in the nonprofit sector. Learn to increase your Emotional Intelligence (EQ) at this all-day workshop.

Emotional Intelligence: Effective Communication & Influence
Tuesday, Dec. 4 | 9:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
Pacific Tower (Smart Buildings Center training/event space)
Research has shown there is a positive relationship between high EQ and job performance, interpersonal skills, and the ability to tolerate stress. And we all know our work can get stressful at times!