ACN Blog - News & Advice From Our Expert Members

Education, advice and insights from ACN’s member consultants on developing or growing a nonprofit organization. Are you a current member with actionable advice and ideas to share with nonprofit organizations? Share your expertise in a blog post! 

2/6/24: ACN 2023 Year in Review

ACN President, Dr. John E. Bauer, reflects on 2023 and looks ahead to 2024.

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1/23/24: Clean up your nonprofit consulting contract in 2024

The new year is a great time to improve practices, create efficiencies, streamline communications and more. Have you looked at your standard contract lately? 

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12/12/23: Gift Ideas for Nonprofit Consultants—During the Holidays and Year-Round

An ACN member brought a question to the group that inspired a lively and informative discussion: As a consultant, how do you share gratitude with your clients during the holiday season—and throughout the year?

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gift wrapped in blue paper with ACN logo

7/15/23: Create a strong first impression with your nonprofit’s website

Visitors to your website want answers, fast, so your website has to hook visitors from the very first interaction. Here are some tips to make a favorable impression right away

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6/15/23: Salesforce Nonprofit Cloud: Securing your free license is just the beginning 

Salesforce Nonprofit Cloud can be a game-changing Constituent Relationship Management (CRM) platform to help nonprofit organizations serve their mission. Nonprofits qualify for 10 free licenses through the Power of Us Program. However, securing the licenses is just the beginning.

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3/14/23: Members create new LGBTQ+ EMPOWERment Award offering cash, technical assistance — Apply now

Any U.S.-based nonprofit that is creating or strengthening an initiative to positively impact people who identify as LGBTQ+ can apply now through April 14 for the ACN LGBTQ+ Empower Group's grant of up to $1,500 cash and 6 months of technical assistance grant from a group of consultants. Application here.

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2/27/23:: The Truth About Creating Inclusive Content For Your Brand

Genuine inclusion isn’t something that you buy in a package with a checklist, or employ with a gallery of stock photos showing people from diverse backgrounds. Genuine inclusion takes work—deep, uncomfortable, disruptive, work—and here’s the truth: A lot of people in positions of privilege aren’t ready to let go of their comfort to do the real work that’s required of them, 

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Crystal Whiteaker is founder and Inclusive Branding Consultant at Crystal Lily Creative 

Crystal Whiteaker headshot

1/18/23: New members & programs, more diverse board: 2022 in review

Our membership continued to grow in size and scope. We're also a "big tent." On average, our members have more than 20 years of experience and serve 8 clients a year. ACN members also represent the full range of consulting experience-- from “just started” to an established organization with $50 million in revenue. 

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Shailushi Ritchie of Sevah Consulting is our Board President

12/18/22: A Look at the Landscape for Grant Writers in 2023

If you are a grant writer, it’s critically important that you keep up with—and stay ahead of—trends in grant writing. Will Yang of ACN marketing partner Instrumentl shares ways to use his platform for that purpose and general tips and information. 

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Will Yang 

Will Yang leads growth at Instrumentl,

Blog post title with headshot of smiling Will Yang

10/30/22: Empower Group aids consultant's first year

When Michele Walls began consulting last year, she had no idea where it would lead or if she would make it on her own. She had a great year, Walls writes - and shares how ACN’s EMPOWER Early Stage Consultants Group played a significant role.

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Michelle Walls is the founder of MW Strategies LLC

michele walls

9/4/22: De-Bias Your Evaluation Practice

Traditional evaluation approaches prioritized funders’ needs rather than focusing on the needs of the communities where nonprofits’ were working. Bias was often built into these evaluations. Click through to read more about the tools and strategies for de-biasing evaluations.

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Deepika Andavarapu is the founder and CEO of D.E.E.P. Consultants.

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7/22/22: ACN Goes (inter)national

We experienced exceptional membership growth outside Chicago. This is great for our national visibility and presence, but also poses challenges in delivering programming, supporting networking, and creating community among all members. 

Board President Shailushi Ritchie, founder and CEO of Sevah Consulting, shares thoughts on our growth in members from across the U.S. and Canada and plans for the coming year:

Shailushi Ritchie headshot with ACN membership map US / Canada

6/25/22: Buying Cloud Technology Subscriptions

Innovative cloud technologies can do wonders to increase nonprofits’ reach, efficiency, and cost savings - and the list of benefits goes on. 

But the benefits come with a price. Planning your approach when signing up for a yearly agreement with a particular cloud technology provider is important to get both the best cost and the most effective solution for your nonprofit.

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5/21/22: How to Tell Your Nonprofit's Story with Bar Charts

Our brains can process well-designed visual information at lightning speed but numbers, not so much. Using visual elements like bars, pie slices, and sloping lines to illustrate our data can make it clear and compelling for our audience.

Nonprofits are most familiar with the humble bar chart. But there are many more visually engaging ways to capture your audience’s attention and use your data to tell a memorable story about the problems you’re addressing and the difference you’re making.

amelia kohm pic with bar chart image

3/7/22: Planned Giving – What Are You Scared Of?

Yes, planned giving can provide tax benefits. But most importantly, it is allowing the donor to be remembered generously and positively. Their legacy makes them a hero... the best gift we (the fundraisers) can give to the donor.

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2/8/22: What is your audience thinking?

When you listen to your people, you can learn what motivates them, how they connect to your mission, and what gaps they have in understanding your work. It gives you context for all that data you’ve collected.

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1/11/22: Nonprofits: It’s Time to Re-Energize Your Workplace as Folks Transition Back to the Office

As nonprofits re-define their return-to-work policies, many are also rethinking their physical spaces. While nonprofits typically have limited budgets for remodeling, even small investments can boost productivity, attract and retain employees, appeal to clients, and bolster your mission. Here are few ideas to consider.

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1/6/22: ACN Year in Review 2021

The pandemic may have dragged on in 2021, but we at ACN continued to keep our members connected and supported by embracing virtual opportunities—and grew our organization at a record pace.

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12/10/21: From Giving Tuesday to Giving 365

 Was your organization’s Giving Tuesday everything you’d hoped? If not, don’t be glum. Here are a few tips to boost giving to your nonprofit all year round.

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11/8/21: They’re Not A Frill If You’re Using Them Right: How to Get More Done Using Volunteers

Very few nonprofit organizations use volunteers well.  But people who have come to offer their skills and labor to your organization are also people who volunteer give more money than people who don’t,  The key to using volunteers well is the Big MAC: Meaningful Work, Autonomy, and Collegiality.

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Kelly Kleiman headshot and pic of people around a table

10/12/21: Time To Get Serious About Succession Planning

Planning for the departure of one leader and the hiring and establishment of a new leader is critical to an organization’s long-term success. 

Compasspoint’s 2011 report on nonprofit leadership indicates that 67% of CEOs/ED plan to leave their jobs within five years, 10% anticipate leaving within one year, and 7% have already given notice. 

Yet, Boardsource reports only 27% of nonprofit organizations have a succession plan in place.

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Shailushi Ritchie headshot and a superhero type child with a blackboard

9/7/21: Creating a Diverse, Equitable & Inclusive Board

Because social change is complex, creating an effective team representing diverse constituencies, proved essential, researchers found. Future Generations University refers to the three groups that must be included in a partnership for social change as the “Bottom-Up,” the “Outside-In,” and the “Top-Down.”

A Model for Creating a Diverse, Equitable, & Inclusive Board

9/6/21: ACN Welcomes New Board Members,
Looks to Tackle Diversity, Equity & Inclusion in FY22

Diversity, equity and inclusion is a top priority for the ACN Board of Directors as it begins its new term.  ACN has great potential to boost its membership by appealing to a more diverse group of consultants, said new board president Shailushi Ritchie, founder and CEO of Sevah Consulting. 

ACN Welcomes New Board Members, 
Looks to Tackle Diversity, Equity & Inclusion in FY22

7/16/21: Annual Member Meeting Recap

We were thrilled to see members, board members, committee volunteers, sponsors, speakers & nonprofits at our 32nd Annual Meeting Friday, June 18. One of our key updates was that we have broken our membership record! 

Read: ACN 2021 Annual Meeting Recap

7/12/21: Four questions To Up Your Content Game

Your online content can further your mission by attracting new members and inspiring constituents to action. Based on a recent national survey, here are 4 questions you can ask to decide if your nonprofit needs to level up its content strategy.

Read: Four questions to up your content game

6/3/21: Strategic Visioning: The Time to Think Big is Now 

Visioning is more creative and comprehensive than a revision to your vision statement. It is the precursor to every strategic plan, feasibility study, and every large-scale campaign. It enables organizations and groups to agree on compelling goals, breakthrough strategies, and aligned action. Learn and try a simple visioning exercise you can do with your team.

Read: Strategic Visioning: The Time to Think Big Is Now

5/2/21: Fundraising: Busting the Myth of Donor Fatigue

The problem isn’t how often we communicate with donors but what we say – or don’t say – to them. 

Read Busting the Myth of Donor Fatigue


You can also find more tips in past WebinarsOur ask a consultant series and other online events featuring ACN experts on equity, messaging, remote fundraising and more have been recorded and are available to review. 

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