Dodge TA: We’re offering new capacity-building opportunities for grantees

Posted on by Judy Kim

We know it is difficult to figure out where to turn for answers to questions during a crisis, especially one with unprecedented challenges like the COVID-19 pandemic. The Dodge Foundation would like to invite all of our grantees to take advantage of free access to our Just In Time consulting with our pool of nonprofit experts to address urgent strategic and organizational practice needs.

Just In Time consulting is designed to provide free, timely guidance about a specific question or issue that can be reasonably addressed in an one-hour conversation with an assigned consultant from our Dodge Board Leaderships series faculty or our partners.

The types of consulting needed might include questions around human resources, financial/operations management, fundraising, sustainability, crisis management, communications, organizational change, navigating CARE Act opportunities, staff or board care, etc.

If you have any of the above or other needs, click on this Request for Just In Time consulting link to find out more details and to submit a request.

Please note the Just In Time consulting resources are limited so we will give preference to those organizations with less access to professional consultants. Please know, however, we are actively working on lining up additional consulting services from our nonprofit and grantee partners.

If you have project needs or issues that require a greater time commitment, please consider the following resources:

We also realize that many of you may have found your technology not ready for virtual working and communication. If your organization is in need of increased access to a virtual platform (e.g. a paid Zoom account), please fill out this short COVID-19 technology need form.

We are still developing resources for technology support, but in the meantime, we suggest you look at Tech Soup for their comprehensive free tech support tools and courses.

Other key nonprofit resources related to COVID-19/CARES Act can be found here on the Dodge Foundation website:

Additional opportunities

Free Loan Clinics and resources from Fiscal Management Associates (FMA)

1) Private clinics for Dodge grantees: We offered two financial clinics for Dodge grantees the week of April 6. In the clinics, a team of FMA staff provides any updates from the previous 24 hours and orients attendees to the CARES Act Paycheck Protection Program by attending to key aspects of the application process. FMA will then open the floor to a Q&A, with their consultants answering questions in written form and verbally as needed. Recordings from the first session on 4/7 and the second session on 4/9 will be shared with participants. Stay tuned for future opportunities.

2) Tools and resources: This will include helping grantees address any additional needs they will have upon successful application under the PPP program, assessing whether to accept the funds, planning for what to do with them, and preparing for the forgiveness process. See their current tools at

3) Access and delivery of FMA public clinics through April 15, which are also open to grantees on a first-come, first-served basis.

If you have any other questions, please feel free to reach out to us.

Wendy Liscow, Education Program Director
Judy Ha Kim, Technical Assistance Manager

Posted in COVID19, Technical Assistance | Leave a comment

Dodge TA: FMA CARE Act clinics open to Dodge grantees

Posted on by Dodge

Nonprofit organizations have been included in the CARE Act federal stimulus package. We know many of you have questions about the Paycheck Protection Program, your eligibility, and how to complete the application. Nobody is certain how long funds will be available for allocation to applicants to the program.

We know time is of the essence, so we have partnered with Fiscal Management Associates (FMA) to provide free access for you to attend a private virtual clinic on Tuesday, April 7 at 3 p.m. EST and Thursday, April 9th at 2 p.m. EST in which a team of experts will answer questions and offer guidance as you move through the application process. These clinics are limited to Dodge Foundation grantees.

We believe the loans offered by the Paycheck Protection Program offer an efficient and substantive way to invest in the nonprofit workforce and cover operational costs in the short term. We also believe most 501(c)(3) nonprofits with 500 or fewer employees will be eligible – with the possibility of in part or whole loan forgiveness.

If you have not learned about this program yet, we urge you to review FMA’s PPP Toolbox immediately and in advance of attending any clinics so you can come ready with questions.

Space is limited, register now for your preferred date and time. Please pick one or the other:

Tuesday, April 7 at 3 p.m. EST
Thursday, April 9 at 2 p.m. EST

If you are unable to attend or capacity is exceeded or are not a current Dodge grantee, you may also attend FMA’s public clinics from 4 to 5 p.m. EST. Click here to register for a public clinic.

Posted in COVID19, Technical Assistance | Leave a comment

President’s Message: Dodge’s COVID-19 initial response

Posted on by Tanuja Dehne

COVID-19 has infiltrated all of our lives and will have far-reaching implications for decades. As we all are living through this unprecedented time, we are coming to terms with the fact that the proverbial “rainy day” is indeed here.  

This moment is testing us — testing how we live, how we lead, who we are, and what we stand for.  Like others, we at Dodge have had to reimagine many of our plans for 2020.  Our strategic planning over the past five years — our new mission, vision, values, definition of equity, theories of change, and new equity framework, our challenges and discomfort — have led us to this moment and how we live in it now.   

With that in mind, today we share with you how we are responding in the initial relief and response phase of the COVID-19 public health crisis, as well as our plans towards shaping an equitable recovery and closing the widening gap of social disparities that this pandemic has shined a glaring light on.  

These are the immediate actions Dodge has taken:  

  • We made $3 million in grants to support the non-profit sector and our grantee partners in our arts, education, environment, informed communities, and other program areas. The majority of these grantees were part of our regular March grants cycle, and we also made grants to organizations in later grant cycles, prioritizing those working with and serving people and communities of color, who are often at a disadvantage due to historical, institutional, and structural impediments that may be exacerbated because of COVID-19. 
  • We allocated $1 million in COVID-19 response grants using funds from our administrative, operating, and unallocated grants budgets to invest in COVID-19-specific pooled funds and to make rapid-response grants to our most vulnerable grantee partners and to membership, network, and advocacy organizations.  
  • We signed a pledge of action alongside other funders and the Council on Foundations to act with “fierce urgency to support our nonprofit partners as well as the people and communities hit hardest by the impacts of COVID-19.” Many of the commitments reflect our values and processes as a foundation, such as providing flexible general operating support and streamlining our application and reporting processes. 
  • We are providing added capacity support to our grantee partners from our Technical Assistance faculty members, including free virtual clinics and just-in-time consulting to help nonprofits apply for federal and state programs, including Small Business Administration loans. Check out our COVID-19 nonprofit resources page on our website for helpful information and opportunities.  

Our approach  

Our COVID-19 response is guided by lessons learned in our 45 years of ups and downs but especially our new equity vision and the principle of “Nothing About Us Without Us,” which states that those most affected by and experienced in working on a problem are the best at creating solutions. 

The goal of this phase of our response is to provide emergency aid to the most vulnerable communities in our state, including people and communities of color, and to help our grantee partners stabilize their operations and respond to the needs of their communities, prioritizing those organizations that are most vulnerable to economic instability, advancing equity, or stewarding a unique cultural asset in our state.    

Therefore, we developed the following principles that we share as a partner in the field to guide our COVID-19 response: 

  • We will stand with and support the nonprofit sector and our grantee partners. 
  • We will work with trusted philanthropic partners to support the emergency needs of communities. 
  • We will intensify our commitment to equity.   
  • We will steward our financials for the long-term benefit of an equitable New Jersey.  
  • We will tailor our responses based on phases of the disaster life cycle model and work toward an equitable recovery.  
  • We will be respectful of and flexible to the needs of our nonprofit partners. 

What we are thinking as we envision an equitable recovery  

The immediate steps we share above are just the beginning of our response. Drawing upon the lessons learned during Superstorm Sandy and best practices in the Disaster Philanthropy Playbook, we have started to strategize  on our  second and third phase of grantmaking to pivot from relief to an equitable long-term recovery.   

We know there will be a significant federal stimulus and an infusion of dollars to meet the needs of businesses, communities, and individuals, and the state will likely have flexibility in administering these funds. State government infrastructure, however, is quickly approaching its own capacity to handle the crisis while having to design relief and long-term recovery programs. The nonprofit sector and most impacted communities will be essential to providing expertise, knowledge, and relationships with community stakeholders to help get these decisions right.   

We believe investments in the following will be crucial to ensure an equitable recovery from COVID-19:  

  • Nonprofit advocacy, community organizing, and litigation will play a critical role in ensuring the nonprofit sector and most impacted communities are included in decisions regarding federal and state aid, and in exposing potential racial and economic bias and inequities. 
  • Trusted local news and information partners, and especially people of color news organizations and journalists working in close relationship with communities of color and low-income communities, will be essential in helping people make decisions for their health and safety, recording the truth of what is happening, inspiring hope, building community power, and exposing vulnerabilities  and inequities. 
  • The arts, creativity, and community storytelling have and will continue to provide outlets for expression, shared experiences, and stories of resilience that will reinforce social cohesion and support mental health and community healing. 
  • Convenings and connections matter, and philanthropy can pull together stakeholders to share information, best practices, and strengthen relationships. 

I am confident that we at Dodge are well-positioned to be strategically responsive and responsible in this crisis now and over the long-term with trust, transparency, and compassion for each other and our community. 

Although we are not accepting letters of inquiry or unsolicited proposals, you can contact us with your ideas and questions at or reach out to any of our program directors – Sharnita JohnsonWendy LiscowMeghan Van Dyk, or Margaret Waldock.  

On behalf of all of us at Dodge, we thank you for all you have done and are doing to serve your communities.  

Posted in Community Building, COVID19, equity, Philanthropy, President's Message | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Talkin’ ‘bout my generation: How do different generations approach their charitable giving?

Posted on by Allison Trimarco, Dodge Board Leadership Series Facilitator

The differences between generations has been a popular topic in recent years – and with good reason. The five adult generations currently living in America (yep, it’s five – people born in 1996 are now adults, so we’ve added Generation Z to the mix) have had significantly different life experiences, and this has influenced their values, behavior, and preferences.

Since 2010, The Blackbaud Institute has periodically produced The Next Generation of American Giving, a report that looks at how different generations approach philanthropy. When we offer fundraising training sessions at the Dodge Board Leadership Series, this topic always generates heated discussion. Why do the fundraising strategies that have worked well for Matures and Baby Boomers seem to leave Generation X and Millennials cold? Is it better to ask people through email or printed letters or social media? Is it appropriate to text a donor, or send them an Instagram Direct Message?

The answers to these questions vary widely depending on someone’s age. If you’re interested in the details on this topic, you can download the entire Next Generation of American Giving report for free. For me, the most useful data illustrates how different generations are currently participating in philanthropy, and predicts how that might change five or ten years from now.

  • Baby Boomers (born between 1946 and 1964) remain the most generous generation today: 75% of them report making charitable gifts, with an average total of $1,062 a year. Overall, the average American donor is 64 years old, which is right in the middle of the Baby Boomer group. While this group will likely power significant philanthropy for another five years at least, we anticipate a decline in their giving power beyond 2025; more of them will be 70 or older, and likely face rising health care costs.
  • While we sometimes see criticism in the media about the lack of Millennial giving, the truth of the matter is that adults in this age group do give…but not at the rate of other generations. Statistics vary, but Millennials (born between 1981 and 1995) represent about 25% of the population, and their gifts account for about 14% of individual giving. Their often-strained financial circumstances (e.g. student loan debt, stagnant wages, high housing costs) means that they are not moving up the donor pyramid (see image below) and becoming larger donors in the way nonprofits might hope. Many organizations have invested strongly in attracting the attention of this generation, and this can be good for advocacy and event attendance. But it could be a very long while before Millennials begin to give at the rate we see from older generations.

Donor Pyramid

Is there any good news? Absolutely!

  • I am a proud member of the oft-forgotten Generation X (born between 1965 and 1980), and I am truly thrilled to tell you that statistics indicate that we are the immediate future of philanthropy! We are approaching our prime giving years, and it shows – the average amount given to charity by a Gen X-er was $732 in 2013, but it’s up to $921 in 2018. More than half of us give every year, and we are also increasingly likely to volunteer. While conventional wisdom has said that Gen X is too small to make a difference, the Census reports that there are only two million more Millennials than Gen X-ers…and there are already 7 million more Gen X donors. If you’re thinking about the donors who will power your organization five to fifteen years from now, place your attention squarely on people in their 40s and 50s today.
  • There is also good news about the youngest adults in America. The oldest members of Generation Z (those born since 1996) are now adults. They are still a small cohort of adults, of course, but 44% of them are already giving, creating more than $3 billion a year of philanthropy. It looks like our sector’s efforts to encourage young people to be involved in volunteerism from a young age is paying dividends, creating a generation of adults who care about their communities and aren’t afraid to act on that.

So what should we do with this information? As ever, your best strategy is always dependent on your individual circumstances, but most nonprofits can use these generational trends to sharpen their fundraising approach.

  1. Understand your current and potential donor base. Who is giving to your organization right now? Do you have a strategy for building relationships with younger donors? By “younger,” I mean people in their 40s and 50s.
  1. Differences in communication preferences between generations is one of the biggest challenges to the field today. If you have donors from multiple generations, consider how each group might prefer a different fundraising approach. As you think about this, remember: the way you prefer to receive communications may not represent your donors’ preferences. I have seen board members in their eighties object to nonprofits running social media campaigns, based solely on their own dislike of the medium. And I’ve seen board and staff members in their thirties cut direct mail programs, even though the majority of the organization’s donor base is made up of Matures and Baby Boomers who still prefer giving through direct mail. Leave your own preferences aside, and approach donors in ways that feel comfortable for them.
  1. If you don’t already have a recurring monthly giving program, now is a great time to launch one. This is our most accessible strategy for building loyalty among Gen X and Millennial donors, and will also increase your average gift size without making donors feel that they are giving beyond their means. If you’re not sure how to get started, Network for Good has an introductory guide that will help you build your strategy.

And most importantly – remember that whatever generations you find in your donor base, the most important thing is to convey the impact of their gifts. All donors want to know that their gifts were well-used and made a difference. Regardless of whether you communicate this online, in the mail, or in person, your gratitude strengthens those relationships and keep those donors close to you.

The statistics in this blog are all drawn from The Next Generation of American Giving 2018, produced by The BlackBaud Institute.

Allison Trimarco is the founder and principal of Creative Capacity (, a consulting firm that collaborates with nonprofits to find creative solutions to management challenges. She is also affiliated with The Nonprofit Center at La Salle University’s School of Business (


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Making tough decisions with no road map

Posted on by Allison Trimarco, Dodge Technical Assistance Facilitator

Banksy Peace Love Checkup El Payo

Responding to the Current Moment

Given that most nonprofits focus on bringing people together, the rapidly changing circumstances of the coronavirus pandemic and rapid decisions being made by government, communities, and organizations, such as restricting large gatherings, go straight to the heart of our mission and goals.

So what should we do? We can’t control what may happen in the next few weeks. But we can control how we handle it.

I’m not a public health expert, and I can’t tell you what to do about cancelling events or programs. I can offer some advice about how to approach those decisions and communicate them to your supporters and participants.

As ever, start with your mission and values.

Centering your mission and core values is never the wrong choice. What do these statements – crafted during more peaceful and focused times – tell you about how you should approach the current situation? Clues about how to act can be found in the principles you have already defined.

Show your circles of support that you care about them

Nonprofits are surrounded by “circles of support” – their board members, staff, volunteers, participants, audience members, donors, funders, and partners. These people are part of your mission, and they make your work possible. Don’t become so concerned about your nonprofit that you forget to show care for the people who matter to that mission. Consider how the choices in front of you (closures, interruptions of services, postponements or cancellations of events) will affect them. Allow their points of view to inform your decisions.

We’re in this together. Say that.

What do you say to people when you have to cancel something – something that they were looking forward to, or something that might be very important to them? Be honest. Explain the reasoning behind your decision. Be kind. Acknowledge that you are disappointed, and so are they. Thank them for their past support, and ask them to stick with you during this crisis.

Offer whatever information you can.

Whether you are choosing to cancel an event or following a government recommendation for closure, people will still want to know how you are going to proceed. Will the event be rescheduled? Offered online? Outright canceled? Give people this information as soon as you know it. Uncertainty is making us all anxious. Don’t let your event be the source of someone’s anxiety.

Ask for their continued support.

This is particularly important for fundraising events that may be canceled. When this occurs, try to reach your sponsors before you make a public announcement. Ask them if they will allow you to keep their event sponsorship funds and deliver their benefits in some other way. Then, ask ticket buyers if they would be willing to convert their event tickets into a donation. Most people coming to these events are already your friends, or they are friends of your friends. Deploy your event committee members to ask people for their generosity in allowing their ticket purchase to be retained as a donation. Send thank you letters noting the 100% tax-deductibility of this gift immediately. (Tip: if your whole office will be working remotely, make sure that at least two people go home with letterhead, envelopes, stamps, and access to the donor database so these letters can be produced. You can reimburse employees for their home printer ink as well).

Inflexibility is not a good look.

If you are planning a ticketed event that is not a fundraiser, consider how you handle patron inquiries very carefully. Firmly enforcing a “no refunds, no exchanges” policy at this moment does not make you look like you care about your audiences and patrons. Remember, we’re all in this together.

Whether your event is going ahead or cancelled:

  • Be flexible in your exchange policy and offer to send people gift cards for the value of their tickets.
  • Many organizations promote turning your unused tickets into a donation instead. This was a stronger option in the past – but most typical ticket buyers no longer itemize their taxes. You can offer ticket donations as an option, but if you insist on this it will feel as though your organization is just keeping their money because you can. Don’t expect to see these ticket buyers in the future when things have settled down, and expect negative social media backlash from frustrated audience members.

A local theater issued this email to their ticket holders when they had to cancel their current production, which communicates options clearly:

“Current ticketholders may:

  • Support us by converting your ticket into a tax-deductible donation
  • Exchange your tickets for our next production 
  • Put the cost of your ticket towards the cost of a 2020/21 Subscription
  • Receive a refund

We are accepting returns and waiving exchange fees for the foreseeable future. Please call our friendly Box Office team to help you through this process.

If you would like to help us mitigate the losses we may incur as a result of the virus, please consider a tax deduction.”

Note how this email is clear about options, asks for donations but does not insist on them, and offers personal service to each ticket holder. This is a good example of taking everyone’s needs into account in your communications.

Ask for help…remembering that everyone needs help right now.

This point is for all nonprofits, but is particularly relevant for cultural groups that rely on earned revenue. Your circle of supporters cares about you, and recognizes that event cancellations will be financially hard on you. You should ask for their extra help if you need it. In these early days, I am seeing the most positive reactions to this when the gift is positioned as helping the organization meet a specific need related to the crisis. For example:

  • An area ballet company has had to cancel their spring series and community dance classes, but has committed to paying their staff, dance company, and teaching artists. Supporters can offer gifts aimed at helping them meet their payroll without their ticket revenue.
  • My alma mater has opened a Student Emergency Fund so that alumnae can support sudden expenses for students who are challenged in traveling home and learning remotely for the rest of the semester. The College has not promoted this – instead, it’s been traveling through social media from alum to alum, reminding us that helping the college right now really matters. This is a great example of asking your most committed supporters to reach out to others in your circle, reminding everyone that we are connected by our shared love of the organization.

These are hard times, and there is no tried-and-true strategy for managing these challenges. Rely on what you already know – center your mission and values in your decision making. And keep your circles of support close to you. Demonstrate that you care about them, just as they care about your organization and its mission.

Stay well.

Trimarco Headshot smAllison Trimarco is an affiliated Instructor and Facilitator with The Nonprofit Center at the La Salle University School of Business. She also owns Creative Capacity, a private consulting practice. She facilitates the fundraising and strategic planning sessions in Dodge’s Board Leadership Series.


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To our partners, grantees, community: We see you, we hear you, and we value you during this time of crisis 

Posted on by Tanuja Dehne, Dodge President & CEO

Much has developed over these recent days as we – as individuals, organizations, and communities – absorb and adjust to what the coronavirus pandemic means for how we keep ourselves and our loved ones safe and how to confront this crisis as one community. 

The Dodge Foundation is no exception. Like many organizations, we are simultaneously making decisions and adapting how we work as we follow the news and gather information from each other and our grantee and philanthropic communities. It has not been easy, and we are focused on holding true to our values and vision of an equitable New Jersey. 

This virus is revealing to us our interconnectedness in a very personal way. It is showing that the health and well-being of one is bound to the health and well-being of all.  

The Dodge Foundation has implemented the following as precautionary measures for everyone involved and especially those who are most vulnerable: 

  • We are closing our offices at 14 Maple Avenue in Morristown for two weeks through at least March 27.  
  • All meetings of outside groups scheduled to be held at Dodge’s offices, including our third-floor meeting space, are suspended until May 1. 
  • Our staff is working remotely, and we are minimizing participation in in-person meetings, gatherings, public convenings, and conferences until May 1.  
  • Site visits for grants in our current cycle will be held virtually or inperson on a casebycase basis. 

As we continue our daytoday operations remotely, our program, technical assistance, poetry, and operations staff will continue to review and adapt how we will engage in these challenging times and to keep our constituents informed.  

We recognize that, like us, many organizations are prioritizing safety. We also recognize that for some of our grantee community, that the plans you described in your grant application are changing. We support you in making the programmatic and operational changes necessary for the health and well-being of your staff and the communities you serve. We stand by you during this emergency situation. 

Please feel free to reach out to your program director if you have any questions or concerns.   

Local funders are beginning conversations about how to best support the organizations that are on the front lines of addressing the impact of this pandemic. At Dodge, we are particularly interested in what philanthropy can do to focus on equity and how the needs of the most vulnerable may be met.  

In partnership with the Center for Non-Profits and the Council of New Jersey Grantmakers, we are sharing a Rapid Response COVID-19 survey to understand how New Jersey’s non-profit community is affected and to convey your needs to funders, policy makers and others. 

We encourage you to take this survey by Tuesday, March 17 to have your voice heard. Please note that the Center for Non-Profits is asking for only one response per organization, so if you already completed the survey, please do not do so again.

Thank you for all you are doing to serve your community’s needs.



Posted in Community Building, Philanthropy, President's Message | Leave a comment

Nonprofit Professionals of Color Collective explores self-care, solidarity, and more

Posted on by Dodge


The second session of the new Nonprofit Professionals of Color Collective, a monthly leadership workshop series providing a space where nonprofit professionals of color may engage in a supportive community for growth, professional development, and meaningful peer relationships, is all about love.

The next gathering of the Nonprofit Professionals of Color Collective is Feb. 28 at Rutgers-Newark, 15 Washington St, Newark. There are limited seats available and registration is required.

Click here to register.

This month’s session will center on the theme of love with a focus on:

  • Self-care
  • Respectability politics in the workplace
  • Racial healing
  • Solidarity for professionals of color
  • Plus, morning yoga (optional, bring your own yoga mat) and alcohol-free networking from approximately 9 a.m. to 10 a.m.

The Nonprofit Professionals of Color Collective series is designed so people can attend one or all sessions and still benefit. The series will be facilitated by 144th & Vine’s Tyneisha Gibbs and Rutgers IEL Acting Executive Director Victoria Fernandez.

We hope organization leaders recognize participation in the series as a valuable opportunity for their staff of color. Registration is first-come, first-served.

The Collective is open to nonprofit professionals of color working in all levels of service in the nonprofit sector including executives, directors, direct service staff, entry-level staff, board members, and more. This includes those who identify as, live their daily lives as, and understand themselves as people of color. 

While participants will find additional benefits from attending all the gatherings, the series is designed so people can attend one or all sessions and still benefit. Professionals of color are invited to join the Collective for the whole series, for topics of particular interest, or join the group only for the happy hours. The series will likely take place at locations in Newark and central Jersey.  

If you are not able to attend this session but would like to be added to the mailing list for future events, please sign up here using this link.



Posted in Diversity, equity, Events & Workshops, Technical Assistance | Leave a comment

Building a strategic planning process that works

Posted on by Dodge

Technical Assistance Hero for Homepage

Strategic planning documents are valuable, but it’s the actual planning process that really makes a difference in the quality of the end product. How can you be sure that the time you spend building a strategic plan will provide you with the information you need to make good decisions in the coming years?

Trimarco Headshot smJoin Dodge Board Leadership Facilitator Allison Trimarco to explore these questions during our March webinars, offered as part of our Board Leadership Series. The webinars are open to Dodge grantee staff and boards and others in the New Jersey nonprofit community.

This two-part webinar will help you decide how to structure your planning process for maximum effect. Topics covered will include different approaches to strategic planning, methods for gathering data to inform decision-making, ways to engage stakeholders effectively, and strategies for prioritizing goals and objectives.

If your organization does not have a strategic plan (or is using an outdated plan), this webinar will get you ready to tackle the process


Part 1: Noon to 1:15 p.m. on March 5
Part 2: Noon to 1:15 p.m. on March 12

Curious to learn more about Dodge’s Board Leadership Series? Download the brochure here.

Please reach out if you have any questions. Email Wendy Liscow or Judy Ha Kim.

Posted in Events & Workshops, News & Announcements, Nonprofit, Technical Assistance | Leave a comment

Sustainable Jersey green teams gear up for a complete count in NJ

Posted on by Sustainable Jersey

sj census

In a little over a month, the U.S. Census will be in full swing. Homes across the country will begin receiving invitations to complete the 2020 Census either online, by phone or by mail. The count is mandated by the U.S. Constitution and conducted by the U.S. Census Bureau, a nonpartisan government agency.

The Census determines how much federal funding New Jersey receives for a variety of programs, its congressional representation, and allows New Jersey to plan and manage public goods appropriately. A complete and accurate count will help ensure that the political power, health, and safety of every community is maintained or enhanced in the upcoming decade. We only get one chance every 10 years to get this right — it is important to make sure that New Jersey gets a fair share of the pie.

Sustainable Jersey is encouraging school and municipal green teams to step up to help improve New Jersey participation rates in the 2020 Census. Since green teams are already engaged in community outreach efforts and are a trusted voice in the community, green team members can have a significant impact on educating municipal and school officials, along with the general public on the importance of a complete count, the safe and easy methods to complete it and connect with those in hard-to-count communities to improve the count across the state. 

New Jersey Green Teams and the 2020 U.S. Census

In Cape May County, the Upper Township Green Team is actively engaged in 2020 Census outreach. With Sustainable Jersey’s guidance and links to U.S. Census Bureau resources, Upper Township Green Team Chairperson Ralph Cooper learned ways to get the green team involved. Under Cooper’s guidance, the Upper Township Green Team became an official partner with the municipality’s Complete Count Committee. A Complete Count Committee is a volunteer committee established by local governments, community organizations and others, to increase awareness and motivate residents to respond to the 2020 Census.

Through the strength of the green team network, Cooper facilitated having Lori S. Carlin, the partnership specialist for the 2020 Census for Atlantic and Cape May Counties, speak at the January 23, 2020 Rotary Club of Ocean City-Upper Township meeting. Cooper, who is also the co-chair of the Atlantic-Cape May Counties Sustainable Jersey Regional Hub, shares the Census resource materials with all of the green team leaders through Basecamp, an online team communication platform. In addition, the Atlantic-Cape May Counties Sustainable Jersey Regional Hub will be highlighting the importance of the 2020 Census Complete Count as part of its March 2020 meeting on Resiliency and Emergency Planning.

“Sharing accurate Census information is a vital part of ensuring that all towns receive adequate funding for disaster planning and mitigation,” Cooper said. “The green team is using our established communications network to spread the word on the importance of the Census. We shared Census links on our social media and sent a communication to our email list.”

Schools participating in Sustainable Jersey for Schools are also involved in Census outreach. Egg Harbor Township High School, a certified school with Sustainable Jersey for Schools, was awarded first prize in a video contest sponsored by the League of Women Voters of Atlantic County. Students were invited to create videos and songs to encourage their families, friends, and fellow community members to participate in the 2020 U.S. Census.  Watch the first place video by Egg Harbor Township High School students Nardeen Saleep and Timothy Medina: Video Contest Winner.


Nearly $23 billion in federal funding for New Jersey depends on Census counts, including support for:

  • EDUCATION: School programs and services such as special education, free and reduced lunch, class size reduction, classroom technology, after-school programs, Head Start and more.
  • INFRASTRUCTURE AND HEALTH CARE: Medicaid, SNAP, Transportation Planning, Environmental Programs and more.
  • POLITICAL REPRESENTATION: Census data defines congressional and state legislative districts, voting precincts, and the number of seats each state gets in the House of Representatives. As a result, New Jersey has two fewer representatives in Congress and two fewer electoral votes than in 1990.

2020 Census Webinar: Earn Points by Making Sure Your Community Counts

Municipalities, schools and school districts that are engaged in 2020 Census education and outreach efforts can also earn Sustainable Jersey and Sustainable Jersey for Schools certification points. The details are included in the Sustainable Jersey 2020 Census Flyer. Community members are invited to watch Sustainable Jersey’s 2020 Census Webinar. It was hosted in partnership with the Advocates for Children of New Jersey (ACNJ). ACNJ is coordinating the statewide New Jersey Counts nonprofit coalition.

The Role of Municipal Green Teams in the Census

Sustainable Jersey municipal green teams are encouraged to work with a Complete Count Committee. Search Complete Count Committees in your area, using the Interactive Map. If your town does not have a Complete Count Committee, green teams can still access Census Bureau outreach resources available online to educate the community about completing the 2020 Census.  Resources include:

The Role of Schools and Green Teams in the Census

As a teacher, principal, superintendent, school board member and education advocate, Sustainable Jersey for Schools participants can help contribute to a complete count by sending information to students’ homes that explains how and why to complete the 2020 Census and the importance of counting all children, especially those under age five or those living in complex households. Complex households are those that include large extended families, multiple families, children whose parents are not living in the home, and children who do not live in the home all of the time. Resources include:

It is up to all organizations and individuals to get involved and make our voices heard.  An accurate and complete 2020 Census is the first step to ensure that everyone has good roads, schools and representation now and in the future.


For more about Sustainable Jersey: Website  Facebook  Twitter   Instagram   LinkedIn




Posted in Community Building, Environment, Informed Communities, Sustainable Jersey | Leave a comment

An update on our new vision: Announcing our equity theories of change for our program areas 

Posted on by Tanuja Dehne

Program Thoery of Change

For 45 years, the Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation has nurtured leaders, ideas, and institutions that use creative problem-solving to promote a sustainable future. The Foundation’s focus has been New Jersey, carrying out its work in program areas that have adapted over time in response to social, economic, and cultural changes.

In June 2018, the Dodge Foundation adopted a new vision for the future centered on equity with a revised mission, values, a new equity definition, goals, and a strategic plan to guide us. We are proud that from this process emerged our vision for an equitable New Jersey through our support of creative, engaged, sustainable communities. Our board and staff together affirmed that, for Dodge, equity means aligning our resources to address historical, institutional, and structural impediments so that New Jerseyans of all races and communities have what is needed to realize a quality life.

Following the development of our strategic plan, we entered a deep learning and review process to begin to define how the majority of Dodge’s grantmaking would benefit under-resourced and under-represented communities. Supported by Hillombo LLC and Dragonfly Partners, and informed by research, evidence, and best practices in the field, we developed new equity theories of change for each of our program areas — Arts, Education, Environment, Informed Communities, and Poetry. This learning and exploration process has been both challenging and enriching.

The Foundation supports achieving equity in its many different forms, including but not limited to income, race, gender, disability, and neighborhood. This phase of our work places an emphasis on people and communities of color, and yet equity requires the inclusion of all people and organizations. Therefore, our strategies and processes will include and benefit all of New Jersey and will change and evolve over time.

The program theories of change were approved by Dodge’s board in the fall. I’d like to thank the Dodge Foundation Board of Trustees for their commitment and leadership in this process, starting with our new vision and now with our new equity theories of change.

To help translate our theories of change into the day-to-day practices of grantmaking, we continued our work with Hillombo LLC and Dragonfly Partners and developed an equity rubric to frame conversations about each organization’s equity journey and to make our approach more transparent to our partners. We look forward to sharing more about this tool and what we are learning in the coming months.

Dodge has been in transition over the past four years. Throughout this time, most of our grantees have continued to receive funding under our existing guidelines. We know to achieve equity we will need to do things differently. Pursuant to our new program theories of change, we will devote energy and resources to support communities and work centered on equity with both new and current grantees.

Honoring our value of respect and our relationship with grantees, we expect that changes will take place over time as we continue to learn and build new relationships. We recognize that different funding decisions may impact our current and past longtime funding relationships and potentially destabilize organizations or program delivery. Therefore, we strive to be deliberate and transparent as we respectfully phase out grants that are not in keeping with our emerging strategies.

We know our strategic plan is an early step on the Foundation’s equity learning journey and that we have more work to do to align our program, internal, external, and finance goals with this vision. I know from listening to many of you that you are excited that we are centering our work on equity and are anticipating the opportunity to learn more about how that will look in practice.

I am proud of our program directors and staff for their deep respect and commitment to grantmaking and programs that will support an equitable New Jersey. Our work inside Dodge will continue as we lean into our strategic commitment to equity. I am energized and humbled by the progress we have made thus far and the journey ahead.

We look forward to working together with you to achieve an equitable New Jersey.

tdehne1Tanuja Dehne is the President & CEO of the Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation. Established in 1974, the Dodge Foundation has distributed nearly $500 million in grants and technical support to New Jersey nonprofits, with a focus on the arts, education, the environment, informed communities, and poetry. As a former Dodge Trustee, Tanuja helped shape the foundation’s new strategy, which envisions an equitable New Jersey through creative, engaged, and sustainable communities.

Posted in Arts, Community Building, Diversity, Dodge Insights, Environment, Informed Communities, News & Announcements, Philanthropy, President's Message, What We're Learning | Leave a comment

Dialogue across difference: Engaging with polarized perspectives

Posted on by Beth Zemsky, Dodge Board Leadership Facilitator

Two people having a serious conversation. Photo Courtesy of The Gender Spectrum Collection /Creative Commons

Two people having a serious conversation. Photo Courtesy of The Gender Spectrum Collection /Creative Commons

In this time of increased polarization, there is interest and concern about how to have productive conversations with colleagues, friends, family, and loved ones about diversity, inclusion, equity, and social justice issues.

By utilizing an intercultural developmental approach, we can gain perspectives and skills to reach across divides to be more effective in our interactions. The Intercultural Development Continuum (IDC) provides us with a framework to meet people where they are, engage them in effective dialogue, maintain positive relationships and preserve our personal integrity.

IDI Continuum

The IDC describes the developmental orientation of Polarization as a mindset characterized by an “Us vs Them” perspective. People who primarily experience difference through a polarized lens tend to have a strong commitment to their own worldview, distrust people who they perceive as different from themselves, and discount information that contradicts their worldview. As a result, trying to persuade through sharing data and information tends to be counter-productive. When people are deeply polarized, they tend to have confirmation bias (i.e. selective attention to data that confirms their already existing belief system while discounting all other information). In addition, the attempt to contradict a deeply held polarized belief system can result in a “backfire effect” that contributes to people doubling down on their existing belief systems despite information or facts to the contrary.

So, what are we to do instead?

First, having a productive conversation requires preparing yourself to see if you are ready and able to engage in a dialogue with good intent. Once you are prepared, it is then important to have engagement strategies to be effective in achieving your goals for the interaction. Below are some suggestions…

 Preparation Tips

  • Determine your goal for the engagement. Do you want to reinforce your own worldview? Be right vs effective? Build a relationship? Move someone to consider another perspective? The clearer you are about your purpose, the more effective you will be in choosing the most adaptive strategy to achieve your goal. If you are not clear about your purpose, you might want to postpone the conversation until you are.
  • Know your triggers. It is hard to stay clear, on purpose, and adaptive when we are triggered. What are the physiological signals to watch for to let you know you are triggered? What do you do when you are triggered? Withdraw? Attack? Go numb? Appease? Be prepared to recognize and deal with your reaction. If you are triggered, you might want to postpone the conversation until you are feeling more grounded.
  • Remember authentic relationships tend to be built on curiosity, dialogue and empathy, not on ideology, jargon, or the transmission of data.
  • Reflect on what you know about the other person. Who are they? What matters to them? What are their values? What struggles have they had? Who in their life, particularly those they care about, might be impacted about the concerns or issues you most care about?
  • Be prepared to use your intercultural knowledge and skills. What we often experience in interactions with people whose primary orientation is Polarization/Defense (Us vs Them) is anger. However, most often what is underlying the expression of anger is a perceived fear that something they hold dear (e.g. a belief, a core value, way of life, etc.) is being threatened. The developmental intervention for people with a Polarization mindset is to support them in finding commonalities, even when commonalities with the people they perceive to be “them “are not readily apparent. Being open to empathize with their perceived sense of fear, even if you disagree with its location or target, can be a place to start.
  • Transformation takes time. Shifting someone’s mindset will likely take more than one conversation. Check in with yourself about your energy, level of commitment, etc.

Engagement Tips

  • Listen to understand. Be sure you aren’t just waiting to plan a response.
  • Be curious. Ask about their concerns, fears, hopes, and visions for the future.
  • Empathize as you are authentically able to do so.
  • Share how you are feeling, your concerns, fears, hopes, and visions for the future. Be real.
  • Tell stories that help connect their experience, issues, fears, or concerns to those of someone (or a group) who they might have perceived as a threatening “them.” Try to help them discover commonalities to support a shift from “us vs them” to “we.”
  • Find stopping points so that you can end a conversation in a place of understanding and then revisit the conversation.
  • Follow-up. Once a rapport is established, a follow-up conversation can go deeper through sharing more experiences and stories to support the development of empathy and a more complex worldview

We will likely have a number of opportunities to practice these skills. Remember, in interactions with people who are different from ourselves and/or have different beliefs, our assumptions about their perspectives often get in the way of connection. If you wish to have an authentic dialogue, we have to discover, negotiate, or create commonality. My hope is that these tips will help you do so.

zemskyBeth Zemsky, a Dodge Technical Assistance faculty member, is Principal at Zemsky & Associates Consulting, LLC, and a qualified administer of the Intercultural Developmental Inventory (IDI).




Posted in Board Leadership, Diversity, equity, inclusion, Technical Assistance | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Join us for our live Board Leadership webinars and get answers to your finance and strategic planning questions

Posted on by Dodge

TA illo for website

We are excited to invite Dodge grantee staff and boards and others in the New Jersey nonprofit community to join us for two webinar offerings part of our Board Leadership Series this February and March. The webinars cover topics that are on the top of every nonprofit leader’s mind during these uncertain times: Financial Health and Resilience and Effective Strategic Planning.

Each topic is covered over two sequential sessions, and we strongly recommend registering for both. You do not need to be registered for the Board Leadership Series to participate.

About the webinars

Achieving Financial Resilience, facilitated by Hilda Polanco

Organizations that are financially resilient have a comprehensive understanding of their financial health and are able to strategically anticipate future needs. In this two-part webinar series, we will explore the values, resources, and practices that are foundational to financial resilience, focusing on the board’s role in building a resilient organization. Participants will gain an understanding of what it means to be financially resilient, how your organization stacks up, and strategies for becoming more resilient over time.

Specific elements to be covered:

Culture of inclusion, transparency, and team-based decision-making process;
Multi-year planning, scenario planning, and ongoing financial performance management;
Balanced revenue mix and appropriate capital structure; and
Building and maintaining adequate operating reserves, better known as Liquid Unrestricted Net Assets (LUNA).


Part 1: Noon to 1:15 p.m. on Feb. 6
Part 2: Noon to 1:15 p.m. on Feb. 13

Building a Strategic Planning Process that Works, facilitated by Allison Trimarco

Strategic planning documents are valuable, but it’s the actual planning process that really makes a difference in the quality of the end product. How can you be sure that the time you spend building a strategic plan will provide you with the information you need to make good decisions in the coming years? This two-part webinar will help you decide how to structure your planning process for maximum effect. Topics covered will include different approaches to strategic planning, methods for gathering data to inform decision-making, ways to engage stakeholders effectively, and strategies for prioritizing goals and objectives.

If your organization does not have a strategic plan (or is using an outdated plan), this webinar will get you ready to tackle the process.

Part 1: Noon to 1:15 p.m. on March 5
Part 2: Noon to 1:15 p.m. on March 12

Please reach out if you have any questions. Email Wendy Liscow or Judy Ha Kim.


Posted in Tidbits | Leave a comment

President’s Message: Living Our Vision

Posted on by Tanuja Dehne


Two years ago, Dodge outlined bold goals in our Strategic Plan, and 2020 is about living our vision.

Living our vision is just that — living, doing, being. Centering our work on equity means centering all of our work on equity, including our internal operations, how we work, our policies and procedures, communications, financial management, and our grantmaking.

To do things differently we won’t be able to do everything the exact same way we did them before. We have to make room, make space, including head space, and make time. This requires a mindset shift — a different way of thinking about and deploying our resources, time, and talent.

During my first 100 days as Dodge president and CEO, it was important to me that we set ourselves up for success by beginning to create structures that will help promote the mindset shift required to do things differently and to live our vision. We began by setting intentional goals that aligned with overarching organizational goals and personal development plans. We then created interdisciplinary and diverse teams to advance these goals and shifted roles and perspectives giving us new opportunities to flex our leadership muscles as well as our listening, coaching, and mentoring skills. We also designed a budget that included resources for additional learning, collaboration, and grantmaking as we welcomed our newest team member, Dodge Chief Financial Officer Camilo Mendez, who brings with him new perspectives and experiences. We tried to remove some of the traditional internal roadblocks for making the shift.

And now we work on time. Mindset shifts and making time are no easy tasks and are deeply personal. During the first staff meeting of the year, I invited staff to observe how we manage our time and energy levels, and am encouraging them to take back the power and control so we can make the shift — and hold ourselves accountable for how we use our time. Thirty days into the year, we still grapple with how we will fit it all in or not.

During that same first meeting of the year, we were also intentional about our intentions for the new year. We gave ourselves the time and space to be aspirational on how we wish to live and be, and how we will show up. My personal intention is to have grace and compassion towards myself, my team, and to everyone we encounter in our work and on this journey. Change will not happen overnight or even 30 days into a new year.

We have a lot ahead of us in 2020 and our journey continues. Our aim is to share with you our story of what we are doing to center all of our work on equity and what has worked and perhaps what has not. Many in the field are on similar pathways.

Over the next months, I will be sharing updates about the progress we’ve made on our program-level theories of change and how we will practice living our vision this year through our grantmaking, practices, and how we hold ourselves accountable.

We hope that sharing our updates and story — both the “a-ha” moments and the mistakes we are bound to make — with transparency and humility will inspire you to share yours.


tdehne1Tanuja Dehne is the President & CEO of the Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation. Established in 1974, the Dodge Foundation has distributed nearly $500 million in grants and technical support to New Jersey nonprofits, with a focus on the arts, education, the environment, informed communities, and poetry. As a former Dodge Trustee, Tanuja helped shape the foundation’s new strategy, which envisions “an equitable New Jersey through creative, engaged, and sustainable communities.”

Posted in Dodge Insights, equity, Leadership, Philanthropy, President's Message | Leave a comment

Hiring the Executive Director: Keystone of board responsibility

Posted on by Laura Otten, Dodge Board Leadership facilitator


Embracing new leadership models: Free Press and Free Press Action recently announced Craig Aaron and Jessica J. González will lead the organization together as co-CEOs, saying in an email announcement, “We see clear benefits in sharing responsibility for the organization’s health and success and in having a strategic thought partner on executive decisions. We will walk the talk on our race-equity values, starting at the top, modeling real power sharing and collaboration in line with our values.” Photo courtesy of Free Press


One of the tasks you’re not likely to find on board members’ lists of favorite things to do is “hiring a new executive director.” But, like it or not, there’s a good chance it will be on their must-do lists in the next three-to-five years.

In 2006, a Bridgespan study announced that the nonprofit sector was going to lose 640,000 executive directors in the next 10 years. Fortunately for those on boards back then, that threat didn’t come to fruition, largely because the Great Recession of 2008 delayed a lot of Baby Boomers’ retirement plans.

Fast forward 12 years, and those previously shelved plans are being dusted off now as executive directors of a certain age are beginning to retire, and will continue to do so over the next several years. Add to this trend the employment patterns of Millennials, who, along with Generation Xers, tend to stay at organizations a handful of years and make up the replacement pool for executive directors, and the odds are very good that many nonprofit boards are going to be looking to hire their next executive director from this pool.


High-performing boards already have a succession plan (see this white paper on succession planning) in their bank and are regularly reviewing it and updating as necessary. They are prepared and ready once their executive director announces their intent to resign. (Really well prepared boards have a succession plan for both a planned and an unplanned departure).

Boards that have not yet created a succession plan should get started, but only if they have at least a year’s lead on the ED’s departure. It will save a lot of headaches and angst when a resignation is announced. Boards with less than a year before their executive director is likely to leave shouldn’t bother with a succession plan for this leader – it’s too late. But once they’ve hired their next ED, they should create that succession plan.

Regardless of whether or not you will be hiring with a succession plan as your guide, there are some considerations that boards either should, or could, be addressing now.

First, and definitely necessitating forethought, is the fact that there is a very good chance that the leadership model you are now accustomed to — a solo leader — will not be the model you will have going forward.

Millennials as Leaders

Millennials like co-leadership, and there is much to be said for that model, at least for nonprofits. Many performing arts organizations have had a shared leadership model for decades, with a managing director and artistic director sharing the responsibility for leading the organization. More often than not, both positions report directly to the board and have equal authority over different aspects of the organization.

The beauty (but don’t get too excited, as there is a beast in this scenario) of co-leading allows an organization to hire two experts: one with mission expertise and the other with business expertise. They need someone who gets the mission inside and they also need someone to run the business side of things — the money, the HR, the systems, the development. In the past, this business savvy was not normally found in the person who knew the mission content; today, however, with the growing number of graduate programs in nonprofits, that is no longer the case.

Despite the fact that today we could find everything we want in one person, millennials prefer to share the responsibilities of the job, or to have a partner in the work. That addresses one of the common complaints that so many executive directors find in their jobs – that they have no peers. In addition to wanting to work with others, rather than going it alone, millennials like competition, something that can only come from working with others. And, millennials are demanding a work-life balance. It is far easier to achieve work-life balance in a job that can suck the life out of you when you have a partner who can pick up half the load.

Embracing New Leadership Models

Smart boards will think proactively about the pros and cons of having a co-leadership model for their organization. They will think about the strategic priorities and the leadership needs of the organization for that point in time.

Another model of co-leadership parallels the model of co-leadership for a board: an internal ED and an external ED. In this model, one ED position focuses inside the organization, paying attention to things like programs, human resources, certain strategic priorities, while the co-ED focuses externally, paying attention to things like building relationships with the community, partners, and collaborators and focusing development and other strategic priorities.

Both would work with the board and collaboratively work “on” the organization.  (The tension for every ED is finding the right balance of working in the organization and on the organization, with too many focusing on the former over the latter.  A co-leadership model encourages more working on the organization).

Now for the “beast” of this model. First: no question, this model costs more money. This is not job sharing in the sense that there is one job being shared by two people, each of whom is paid a half-salary. This model demands two full-time positions, with two full-time salaries, that when worked collaboratively fill one mega job.

The next generation of leaders will not follow the path of Baby Boomers who were too willing to take on a mega job for a miniscule pay, which wasn’t healthy for either the organization or the people in those jobs. Thus, boards that take this on intentionally will be preparing ahead of time by identifying the sources of the additional dollars needed to cover the cost of pending co-leadership.

The second “beast” in this model is that the success of co-leadership is ultimately dependent upon the ability of the two individuals to work well together. That requires mutual trust and respect, something that more often than not develops over time and experience, rather than right out of the gate. While hiring is so often a roll of the dice, despite our best efforts, the roll of the dice with this model is even more fraught.

Proactive Hiring

Here again, forethought is needed, to hire proactively rather than reactively. When boards hire without a strategic plan, they are far more likely to hire reactively. If they liked what they are losing, they hire that. If they didn’t like what they are losing, they hire the opposite. Hiring reactively may seem smart, but it is hiring for the past and not for the future. As great as what you had may have been, it still might not be what will be needed for the future, even if that future is just three years away.

Boards must think about what they will need going into the future, what they will need to increase the likelihood of successfully achieving their strategic priorities. A good public speaker may have been important in the age of oral communication, but going forward, the written word — even if it is 280 characters or less, may take precedence.

Boards always want their executive directors to be strong fundraisers, but depending upon where an organization’s current development capacity and focus are, it may be important that the next executive director be strong in A rather than B.

Hiring the next executive director is one (of many) areas where resorting to the comfort of what has always been done can lead to great harm. Thinking about the possibilities of this important position in the organization is a key opportunity for the board to stretch its generative thinking muscles, think outside the boxes of the past and really imagine that leader for their future. There may be nothing more important that a board does that year.

Embracing Inclusivity

Lastly, give thought to how you will include staff in the hiring process. Those on the board who come from the corporate world may not understand or appreciate the important role that inclusivity plays in the nonprofit sector and, thus, may not see a need for bringing staff into the process.

The downside of that, however, ranges from lacking staff perspective in the hiring process, to a disgruntled staff feeling disempowered, to the extreme of a staff taking out its resentments on the new hire. Given how easy it is to avoid any of these kinds of outcomes, there is no reason to allow any of it to happen.

Moreover, just as there is an array of staff responses to being cut out of the hiring process, there are multiple ways to include them, and none is mutually exclusive.  In fact, the more of these options used the better.


  1. Boards should absolutely seek staff input — be it through a focus group or a survey — on what it sees as essential for the next executive director to bring to the table.
  2. At least two staff members may be on the search committee as equal members of the group. These staff members must understand that they are there as representatives of the whole staff, and not just themselves. In addition, these staff members must have a clear understanding of what they may and may not share with the rest of staff about the process, candidates, etc.
  3. The finalists should meet with staff in some forum. Here again, these options are not mutually exclusive. Candidates could have an all-staff meeting, make brief opening comments and then engage in Q&A. Candidates could meet with a subset of staff, having that subset pull from all tiers of the org chart. Candidates could meet with senior staff only, or just with those staff who would be direct reports. Regardless of the method(s) selected, the board must have a means for getting participants’ feedback on the candidates.

Regardless of which of these options are used, boards must make two things crystal clear:

  • First, it must be clear that while it wants everyone’s input, that does not mean that everyone’s ideas will show up in the final job description or the final candidate.
  • And, second, it must be clear that, ultimately, it will be the board, not staff, that will decide on who is hired.

There is no more important decision that a board member can make during her/his tenure on a nonprofit board than the hiring of an executive director (artistic director, if a performing arts organization).

To not give this duty the care and attention it merits, and that the mission and clients deserve, is the ultimate act of irresponsibility.

laura-head-shot-500Laura Otten, a Dodge Technical Assistance faculty member, is Executive Director at The Nonprofit Center at LaSalle University.


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A new leadership collective for professionals of color in the sector

Posted on by Dodge



The Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation and Rutgers Institute for Ethical Leadership are excited to announce the launch of The Nonprofit Professionals of Color Collective, a new leadership series beginning this month.

The Nonprofit Professionals of Color Collective is designed to provide a caucus space for New Jersey nonprofit professionals of color to engage in a supportive community for growth, professional development, and meaningful peer relationships. It will be facilitated by Victoria Fernandez, acting program director of Rutgers Institute for Ethical Leadership, and Tyneisha Gibbs, founder and principal of 144th & Vine, and held monthly over the course of nine months at locations in Newark and Central Jersey.

At the heart of the Nonprofit Professionals of Color Collective is the belief that “nonprofit leaders, no matter their experience, can benefit from a multi-pronged approach to professional development and that leaders of color are rich with knowledge and will benefit from a nurturing and stimulating support network,” Fernandez said.

The Nonprofit Professionals of Color Collective is not your typical leadership or workshop series.

Over the course of the gatherings, participants will be invited to engage in sessions about relevant topics for nonprofit professionals of color, enjoy facilitated peer-to-peer time, receive one-on-one coaching, peer and executive mentoring, and hang-out with plenty of like-minded social profit sector movers and shakers.

Potential facilitated topics covered throughout the series include: Class and colorism, safe spaces and intersectionality, recognizing inner power, shifting systems, and navigating upward mobility, recognizing and managing allies, politics in the workplace, speaking truth to power and consequences, and fundraising.  

Nonprofit professionals of color working in all levels of service in the nonprofit sector, including executives, directors, direct service staff, entry-level staff, board members, and more. This includes those who identify as, live their daily lives as, and understand themselves as people of color.

Dodge and the Institute for Ethical Leadership are collaborating on the series. As part of our ongoing commitment to providing technical assistance opportunities for our grantees, the series is in alignment with our recent strategic plan and vision for an equitable New Jersey through creative, engaged, sustainable communities.

Many of our grantees have asked us to support a caucus for professionals of color over the past several years, and we are pleased to partner with Rutgers Institute for Ethical Leadership. The Institute has demonstrated their commitment and expertise to supporting leaders of color through their multiple training programs.

The series launches with an Opening Gathering from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Friday, Jan. 24 at Rutgers-Newark. Advance registration for each workshop, limited to 50 participants, is required.


Posted in equity, Technical Assistance | Leave a comment
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