Thursday, March 28, 2013

Five Reasons Nonprofits Should Attend the Multicultural Forum on Workplace Diversity Conference

In this blog post, you will hear from the Charities Review Council’s Program Director, Lynnea Atlas-Ingebretson, who will be representing the Charities Review Council at the upcoming Multicultural Forum on Workplace Diversity. If you are ‘on the fence’ about whether to attend the Multicultural Forum, this one’s for you! 

This amazing national conference happens every year in the Minneapolis. This year’s theme is Our Time to Lead.

The need for true leadership in Diversity and Inclusion has never been greater. Minnesota nonprofits are facing a challenging and shifting landscape. We have significant population changes, shifting funding priorities, growing competition, and nation-leading disparities in education, health care, and employment. Diversity and Inclusion will play a vital role in determining our success around these disparities.

I have attended this conference for five years and leave refreshed, invigorated, and ready to take action. Most importantly, I leave hopeful for our future and our work. Here are my five reasons local and national nonprofits should attend this conference:

1. Cross Sector Pollination

Independent and Public Sectors folks make up 50% of conference attendees. Steve Humerickhouse, Director of the Forum, shares “every organization—even nonprofits—needed to have a global perspective.” Large health care organizations, NGOs, and multi-national for-profit corporations have great case studies and decades of effort on workplace diversity and inclusion that any size organization can learn from. Nonprofits bring their rich legacy of partnerships, collaborations, social responsibility and justice which for-profits can learn from. The Forum is a rich and vibrant solutions-oriented environment. 

2. World Class Thinkers & Leaders 

If you get excited hearing someone speak about things they know so well you get ideas yourself, this is the place for you. You will discover what it takes for employees with diverse backgrounds and experiences to create, grow, and innovate. This conference is great regardless of your professional level. Steve shared that “cultural competence from everyone in the organization is required to effectively work with colleagues, partners, and participants from around the world or around the corner.”

3. Good Scholarships! 

Scholarships are available for the Multicultural Forum. Check out the Scholarship Availability page. Who is eligible: Students and Employees of nonprofit organizations with budgets of $5 million or less. Conference components available for scholarships include:
  • Day 1 Pre-Conference Professional Development Institutes (3.5 hours of intensive study) 
  • Day 2 Conference- Workshops, Morning and Lunch Sessions 
  • Day 3 Conference Workshops- Workshops, Morning and Lunch Sessions 
There are great volunteer opportunities too! Volunteering is a great way to participate in the conference.

4. Great Sessions Day 2 & Day 3 

There are roughly 30 sessions a day. This is a learning conference, so you are encouraged to change sessions if you think you can get a better return on your time in another session. Here are some sessions I’m looking forward to attending:

Day 2 sessions Include:
  • Diversity ROI Strategies for Government, Higher Education, and Non-Profit Organizations; 
  • Creating a Truly Inclusive Diversity Strategy that Includes People with Disabilities; 
  • Working Together for Minnesota’s Prosperity: Closing the Achievement Gap for Persons of Color 
Day 3 sessions include:
  • Diversity, Inclusion and the Unconscious Mind: How Does What We Know About the Brain Impact the Way We Do Diversity Work in the 21st Century? 
  • Strategies for Inclusive Performance Appraisals and Millennials in the Workplace – How to Attract and Motivate a New Generation 
  • Bias and Cultural Competence in Recruitment and Selection

5. The Professional Develop Institutes (my personal favorite) 

Day 1: Professional Development Institutes:
  • Predictive Analytics for Diversity (lead by Hubbard and Hubbard - this is really cool)
  • Negotiating Difficult Conversations: Tools for Gaining Senior Leader Buy-In & Action 
  • Neuroscience of Inclusion: Leading with the Brain in Mind 
  • The Maslow Connection: What Every Business/D&I Leader Should Know About Building Inclusive, Productive Workplaces 

It’s time for each of us to ignite the leader within ourselves and to explore diversity in new ways. Hope to see you there!

For more information about how to get involved with the Multicultural Forum on Workplace Diversity, visit their website at

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Allied Veterans of the World: How Can We Avoid Nonprofit Scandals?

Nonprofit organizations and charitable causes make our communities stronger. They address pressing needs and issues with passion and hard work. Many people rely on charities’ services to get through difficult times, find hope and support, or just to make ends meet. But what happens when we find out that a nonprofit isn’t really doing the mission driven work they claim they are doing?

A Florida nonprofit was recently in the news for a scandal involving a $300 million gambling operation. Allied Veterans of the World ran nearly 50 internet cafes with computerized slot machines, which are legal in Florida if most of the proceeds go to charity. However, investigators found that executives of Allied Veterans of the World were spending most of the profits on themselves – using donations to purchase lavish boats, beachfront condos, and sports cars.

Nearly 60 people were arrested, and Florida’s lieutenant governor, Jennifer Carroll, abruptly resigned due to involvement as a consultant with the organization. Hundreds of veterans are now homeless and out of a job due to the scandal, and many more individuals are left feeling cheated and lied to after supporting what they thought was a valid veteran’s organization.

At the Charities Review Council, we pride ourselves on being a nonprofit capacity building organization, rather than a charity watchdog, but it’s also our job to help protect the relationship between nonprofits and their donors. After all, when predatory organizations scam donors, it makes securing funding that much harder for mission-driven, legitimate charities. We take our nonprofit and donor education role seriously, and consider it central to our mission to bring these stories to the attention of our constituents so you can make smart giving choices.

So how do you know a nonprofit is truly focused on their mission? 
  1. Look for accreditation. Check to make sure the organization is on our list of the Most Trustworthy Nonprofits
  2. Research. Scrutinize the organization’s mission, service statistics, program components, and impact. Be sure to take note of the fine print, as well. 
  3. Reach out! Make a call and ask specific questions related to your interest area in supporting the cause. For example: 
    • How do you help veterans just returning home? 
    • What services do you provide to veterans in need of housing or food? 
    • Do you help veterans with job hunting assistance? 
  4. Engage. That’s right - you can get involved by volunteering with the organization or by digging deeper into the issue itself.
    • For Veterans organizations, try searching the County Veteran Service Officer in your county of residence at for local needs of veterans. 
It is our priority to help donors and nonprofits form strong, healthy, productive relationships that build collective impact. We can only move our missions forward when trustworthy nonprofits work hand in hand with generous, confident and engaged donors.

For more information on how to best support Veterans organizations, check out our website:

Monday, March 4, 2013

Charities Review Council Hosts an Idea Open House

St. Anthony Park Library (photo credit)
Do you have a million-dollar idea to make St. Paul even better? Together with the Forever Saint Paul Challenge, we invite you to attend an Idea Open House on March 11, from 5:00-7:00 p.m. at the St. Anthony Park Library.

This special event is open to all Minnesotans and is a way for you to learn more about the Forever Saint Paul Challenge, get inspired, brainstorm your million-dollar idea, or make a submission!

We know our community is full of brilliant minds, and the Charities Review Council, along with co-host Ujamaa Place, would love to see the winning idea come from St. Anthony Park.

Please join us at the Idea Open House, for an evening of fun for the whole family, with enjoyable activities and free food! Feel free to stop by for a portion of the evening, or stay the whole time.

So, are you ready to share what you would do with $1 million to make St. Paul great? Submit your million-dollar idea at an Idea Open House and you will have the chance to win a $50 gift card to a local restaurant.

RSVP here and learn more about the Forever Saint Paul Challenge at

We hope to see you there!