Why You Should Join a Board

why you should join a board by don chamberlinWhile it seems like a big commitment, volunteering to serve on a nonprofit board is a lot more accessible than you might think.  There’s often an image of nonprofit boards being restricted to extremely wealthy socialites with no shortage of money or time on their hands.  Yet the reality is a lot different; nonprofit boards aren’t anything like corporate boards, and each one is different from the other.  Organizations could hope for board members with capacity, but more than anything else you want to find somebody whose passionate and influential.  Here are some of the reasons you should join a nonprofit, based off an article I found online:

Learning patience: A lot of words can be spoken over a conference table; people can argue, say stupid things and make brilliant observations.  Being able to wade through all of that will teach you patience.

Asking for money: When you were trick or treating as a child, you may have brought around a UNICEF box, asking for pennies for a good cause.  If you can ask for money as an eight-year-old dressed like Mickey Mouse, then you can absolutely ask for money as an adult board member.

Enriching your resume: Being a board member looks good on any resume.

Meeting interesting people: People who join boards are almost always interesting, choosing a more hands-on approach to charity than that person who just attends a charity auction once a year.  Being around such people will benefit you on numerous levels.

Playing nicely: Being on a board member with a bunch of people who are otherwise unconnected to you is all about diplomacy.  Learning how to turn your board into a team will benefit everybody leaps and bounds.

Understanding assets better: You’ll learn how to better read and understand financial statements, then ask a related question that will actually make sense.

Running effective meetings: If you find yourself as a committee chair who heads a group of people that don’t work for you, you’ll need to learn a very different set of skills than any regular staff meeting, which can improve overall leadership.

Stimulating your mind: Board service at its best will let you bring your full self to the table, something you can’t always do in an organization.

Appreciating the organization better: The closer you are to the work of a nonprofit, then the more passionate you’ll become about it.

Understanding Retirement Tools

Understanding Retirement tools by Don ChamberlinEven if retirement seems like a long way away, you should still be familiar with all of the tools in your retirement income toolbox.  You can use various plans to manage risks by strategically combining the retirement income tools at your disposal.  Here are some tips for better understanding the tools in your retirement income toolbox, based off an article I found online:

Total return investment portfolios: Making regular withdrawals from a well-diversified investment portfolio is a common way to obtain retirement income.  Systematic withdrawals don’t protect a retiree from longevity risk or sequence-of-returns risk, and may only protect from inflation risk when asset returns can keep up with inflation.  Such an approach lets you keep your nest egg growing to grow a large inheritance.  However, it’s particularly vulnerable to declining cognitive abilities, since it requires complex financial decision-making to properly manage.

Individual bonds: Often, you can hold fixed income assets to their maturity to support short and/or medium term spending.  Holding bonds can avoid selling them at a loss, although individual bonds don’t provide longevity protection.  While they may provide technical liquidity, selling them early to use them for other contingencies could lead to capital losses.  While managing bonds can get complicated if your mind starts going, retirees can take comfort knowing that there will be time for their stocks to recover before they must be sold, even in the face of a tumultuous market.  Using bond to provide income could also be easier for retirees to understand why the overall asset allocation is what it is.

Income annuities, traditional pensions and other annuity types: Partially annuitizing your assets can also provide an effective way to build an income floor for retirement.  Income annuities provide longevity protection by hedging the risks associated with not knowing how long you’ll live.  Consider questions such as whether or not you want to annuitize, an appropriate age to do so, how much you want to and whether you want to build a ladder of annuities over time.  Annuities help manage many risks, but they don’t provide any growth potential and life-only versions won’t support an inheritance on their own.

Social security: The ultimate form of income annuity, and generally one of the largest assets on the household balance sheet.  It provides inflation protection, longevity protection, protection from sequence of returns risk and survivor benefits.  Social security offers a better deal than any commercial providers; since income automatically continues over time, it also provides protections for cognitive decline.  The only risk it doesn’t help manage is spending shocks.

Housing wealth: This can be used in a variety of ways in retirement.  If care is taken to choose housing that will allow for aging in place, then it can provide inflation protection and some protection for the uncertain costs related to long-term care.  With long-term care needs, it could be used to live comfortably outside of an institution for a longer period, and housing wealth could be redeployed to cover the costs of institutional living when necessary.

Long-term care planning: One of the largest spending shocks facing a retired household is the need for ongoing long-term care.  A retirement income plan needs to account for this, and various tools are available to help control the impacts of long-term care costs on family wealth.

Other assets, insurance and income sources: A variety of other retirement income tools can also serve as a valuable source of retirement support.  Decisions made about Medicare or other health insurance can help to manage the risks of large healthcare spending shocks throughout retirement.  Part-time work can help support a more fulfilling lifestyle while also providing an extra source of income to help mitigate any risks related to market returns.  Social capital, or the ability to obtain help from family members or your local community is another source of support.  Access to these opportunities can help mitigate harms related to the various retirement risks.  Life insurance, business holdings and rental income from real estate are other potential assets that could serve as a source of support.

A New Wave of Philanthropy

A New Wave of Philanthropy by Don Chamberlin

Traditionally, philanthropic efforts have been fairly localized and dictated by somewhat limited exposure to causes, often introduced through religion or specialized education. But nowadays, thanks to changes in technology and the way newer generations interact with that technology, the way people give is radically changing.

Laura Arrillaga-Andreessen, a philanthropist and philanthropy professor at the Stanford Graduate School of Business, sees a noticeable trend in millennials. As she claims, they are a generation that are eager to give. She attributes these philanthropic interests to a few key factors.

First, technology has allowed this generation to be more aware of the world and the needs around them. Technology and philanthropy have begun to converge in a way where people are more informed of how they can help and who needs help, but moreover technology has made the process of donating easier and more accessible for people in all social classes.

As Arrillaga-Andreessen recently told the Wall Street Journal, “millennials have more social consciousness than any other generation.” This is illustrate by a 2012 study where 72% of college students said working for a firm that creates some kind of social impact is important to their happiness, and 65% of those college students would take a pay cut to work for those kinds of companies.

As philanthropy and technology continue to meet, trailblazing companies like Airware and Palantir Technologies set high standards as to how far for-profit organizations can incorporate non-profit and pro bono work into their initiatives for the greater good. For example, Airware is a commercial drone company that uses its drones to help protect African rhinos from poachers. Palantir Technologies uses its data analytics to deploy and analyze slave trafficking and natural disasters in developing countries. While Airware and Palantir Technologies have figured out useful ways of giving back through the services they provide on a regular basis, not everyone has caught on to the new way of philanthropy.

According to Arrillaga-Andreessen, the goal is to teach people on how to give back effectively, to have companies reprogram how they operate as a business and incorporate philanthropy as part of their purpose. Change has already begun to happen; now it’s just a matter of time. Arrillaga-Andreessen is confident that eventually even mobile phones will facilitate philanthropy by enabling services like mobile micro financing, money transfers, etc.

At the end of the day, philanthropy is about giving back, no matter the amount. It’s not something only those who are affluent enough can do. Giving back can take many shapes and forms. Giving back can be defined by a monetary contribution, by volunteer time, by offering services, etc. It’s exciting to see a new wave of philanthropy emerge. Technology will help us spread the good news.

Tiny Charities

There are millions of charities in the world, each with their own mission and problem to solve. In 2014, more than $350 billion was donated to nearly one million charities, but how many of those were reputable. In the flurry of holiday feelings, a crafty thief can easily profit off of the kindness of strangers by using names of mega-charities for their ill-gotten gains. What are some smaller charities that are deserving of your attention, and can insure that your dollar goes far as possible.


Don ChamberlinArcadia: An interesting take on the traditional non-for-profit, Arcadia’s approach is one that benefits us all. Research clean, renewable forms of energy, this small company in Rockport, Maine, has big dreams. With the right amount of help, we could help make the world better for our children, and their children’s children.

Pediatric Cancer Foundation: Children are the best of us. Innocently unaware of the world, youth affords an ignorance of hardship, but sadly not everyone is able to enjoy it. The Pediatric Cancer Foundation raises money for children battling cancer. Funds are used to help afford the best doctors and their flights to the children, ensuring they get the very best care.

Alpha House Tampa: A brilliant charity offering aid to women during their most vulnerable, Alpha House has several programs to help women who are expecting. Whether finding affordable medical care or vocational programs to help them get back on their feet, Alpha House wants to do everything they can for the next generation of mothers.

No matter who you choose to support, contributing to a charity brings its own set of returns. The feeling of giving without expectation of return, aiming to improve someone’s life, is a gift all on its own. So when choosing which charity is deserving of your hard-earned money, consider the little charities. A dollar given for a better world is a dollar for us all.

Giving on a Budget

Giving is a gift unto itself. Whether donating to a charity or simply giving food to someone with an empty stomach, charitable donations come in many shapes and sizes. However, not all of us have the ability to donate thousands of dollars, even if the cause is something we feel deeply passionate about. But did you know there are a number of things you can donate without breaking the bank that can still make a difference? Below is a list of the best things to give when money isn’t the most abundant.

Don ChamberlinDid you know that almost 75% of accrued airline miles go unused in their lifetime? Well, if you are in the mood to give and have a few spare miles, why not put them to good use? The Hero Miles Program, designed to help veterans and their families, have produced nearly 50,000 tickets over its several years of operation. Giving back to wounded veterans is an honorable task, and you don’t need to be bursting at the seams with spare cash to do it.

Another excellent way to turn your rarely used rewards into donations is by giving away your credit card rewards points. Many card companies have adopted this process, enabling you to direct your rewards to whomever you choose. Whichever charity you decide, they will surely be happy to receive your generous gifts, and the tax-deductible donation is an excellent bonus for a good deed.

Few know that the excess energy produced by solar panels can be given as charitable donations. Gridmates, a Texas-based organization, uses the excess energy and redistributes it to low-income residents struggling to keep the lights on. A brilliant way to turn a naturally occurring resource into an act of kindness, you can donate the gift of light and heat for little to no cost.

First Ever All-Women Honor Flight

On September 22nd, Honor Flight made history by arranging the first all-women veterans honor flight to Washington, D.C. Recognizing that historically, women veterans have not received the recognition they rightfully deserve for their service, especially compared to male veterans, Honor Honor Flight Blog Post - Don ChamberlinFlight decided to make the event extra special and incorporate as many women veterans as possible. Although previous honor flights had of course been open to women veterans, few would attend.

For those who may not be familiar with the Honor Flight Network, it is an organization that was founded out of two separate ideas with the same goal. Honor Flight provides veterans with the opportunity to visit the various monuments in Washington D.C. in order to pay their respects to their comrades. The idea first came to retired Air Force captain and veteran, Earl Morse, who realized that many older veterans had yet to visit the National WWII Memorial in Washington D.C. After the first honor flight took place in 2005, Jeff Miller, a small business owner from North Carolina was inspired to help out as well and began his own organization. Eventually, both groups decided to merge and the Honor Flight Network was born.

The idea for an all-women veteran honor flight was initially brought up by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affair which had asked Honor Flight with help in organizing the event. However, the Honor Flight Network decided to take matters into their own hand and organize the event themselves. With the VA’s help, Honor Flight was able to send out applications and invitations to eligible veterans. Shortly after, they had received an unexpected response of 250 applications despite only having space for about 140 participants.

According to Cheryl Popp, the director of Honor Flight Tri-State, the organization had to take a different approach in order to ensure fairness in selecting the participants. To do so, they organized all applicants alphabetically and then from oldest to youngest. Honor Flight gives top priority to veterans over the age of 65. In the end, what they did was select the 72 oldest veterans and 72 of the youngest veterans that were eligible. Veterans under 40 were able to participate as Honor Guards – a position which normally doesn’t require one to have served in the military but in this case, all Honor Guards were women who had served as well.

Several of the women who attended had made a career out of military service and many more had served numerous tours throughout the years. The event was also helpful to many veterans who had lost contact with other fellow veterans throughout the years, and were happy to meet more women who had this similar and often unique experience.

Watch more news on this Honor Flight event.

Soles4Souls: Finalist for the Salute to Excellence Awards

Each fall, the Center for Nonprofit Management honors Middle Tennessee nonprofits with the Salute to Excellence awards dinner, the largest nonprofit awards event in the country. This year CNM is celebrating on Thursday, October 22 at the Omni Nashville Hotel with its esteemed group of finalists. Soles4Souls Salute to Excellence Award

This year, a total of 12 awards and more than $250,000 will be presented to nonprofit organizations across Middle Tennessee. The celebration will showcase the winners success stories as well as the contributions leaders in the community have provided over the years.

CNM has been a home to Middle Tennessee’s nonprofit leaders since 1986. They provide their nonprofit board members, executives, and staff the opportunity to enhance their services through skill-building workshops and their annual Bridge to Excellence conference.

Once again, Soles4Souls has been chosen as a finalist for this years awards!

In response to the nomination, Soles4Souls Executive Director Buddy Teaster stated, “Being named as the Memorial Leadership Award winner was one of the highlights of 2014. We have worked hard to get Soles4Souls back on track and helping more people in need. And we’re proud of what we’ve achieved. To have the Nashville community recognize that as well meant more to our team than anything else could have.”

Soles4Souls was founded after the world experienced two consecutive years of catastrophic natural disasters. Following the 2004 Indian Ocean Tsunami and 2005 Hurricane Katrina, philanthropists and shoe company executives came together to provide footwear to the victims of those disasters. Out of those efforts, Soles4Souls was born with the goal of eradicating poverty and empowering individuals. Today, they are a global social enterprise committed to fighting poverty through the collection and distribution of shoes and clothing.

Click here to see the full list of 2015 Salute to Excellence awards finalists.