Confessions of A Social Entrepreneur
Blog on questions like how many board members should a nonprofit have, how to raise money for your nonprofit, and how to fundraise for a non-profit


Confessions of A Social Entrepreneur

How much should my board members contribute financially?

by Chataun Denis on 03/15/14

Considering that many grant funders are now asking the question "What percentage of your board members contribute financially?", it is wise that boards begin to make this a participation requirement. I am often asked if there is a standard amount that each board member should be contributing. My response is always that each member should give according to their ability to give. As a rule of thumb, boards should have some representation of the clientele the organization serves. In these cases, the individuals may not have much to give financially, but they may offer unique insight into how the program can be improved. This information can be just as valuable as cash.

One option is setting a Give or Get requirement. If a person cannot give personally, they should be assisting in fundraising efforts. Getting may involve selling event tickets, hosting a yard sale fundraiser or house party where they invite other people to give cash donations. Perhaps they are able to meet their fundraising requirement by personally contributing some part and fundraising the remaining. Regardless the method, EVERY board member should make some financial contribution. After all, if your board isn’t financially vested in the organization, how can you expect a foundation to be?

PNC & Mary Kay Grants

by Chataun Denis on 03/06/14

I received these grant notices via email and thought they may be helpful to those of you who have, or know someone with programs in these areas.

PNC Grants

PNC has two pockets of funding; 1. PNC Foundation; and 2. PNC Charitable Trusts. The Foundation awards grants to nonprofits that focus on: Education, Economic Development, and Arts and Culture. PNC Charitable Trust grants vary with respect to the program focus area. However, the funding is more limited in terms of geography (the states where programs are located). Both the Foundation and the Charitable Trust have the regions detailed on the website.

In 2013, PNC Charitable Trust issued over $44 million in grants. The deadlines are ongoing. The application must be submitted using their online system. Follow this link to view the guidelines and links to start an application.

Mary Kay Grants

Each year the Mary Kay Foundation awards at least one grant to a domestic violence shelter in every state. The award is typically $20,000. The deadline is April 30, 2014. Click here for more details.

If you would like to apply for PNC or Mary Kay funding and you want help writing a winning grant proposal, I am here to help!

Book a Grants Planning Consultation by March 31st and get $25 off.
You can book your appointment at

Should I use my family and friends as board members?

by Chataun Denis on 03/03/14

I caution against asking family and friends to be board members as this will likely cause frustration for the founder later on. My reasoning is that many people add family and friends because they think they need a certain number of members in order to complete the federal tax exempt application. So, they think of the people who are closest to them.

This becomes a challenge later, when the nonprofit is formed and the work needs to be done. These people who were added to the board for convenience likely will not be the ones the nonprofit needs to reach its full development. If you want family and friends to be board members, make sure they are passionate about the cause, they are committed to doing the work, and that they will invest their time, resources and talent to making the non-profit be all that it can be.

Is there a required number of board members to start a non-profit?

by Chataun Denis on 02/27/14

There is no required number of board members when forming a 501c3 non profit organization. I recommend when you are ready to start up a non profit that you start with at least 3 members. I suggest 3 because you will at least have coverage for the main positions of the Officers, or Executive Committee. The Officers make up the Executive Committee, which is a sub-committee of the board that, except for the power to amend the Articles of Incorporation and Bylaws, the Executive Committee shall have all of the powers and authority of the Board of Directors in the intervals between meetings of the Board of Directors, subject to the direction and control of the Board of Directors.

The positions of the Officers should include: Chair, Vice Chair, Secretary and Treasurer. They are also referred to as President, Vice President, Secretary and Treasurer.

Funding for Youth Programs

by Chataun Denis on 02/25/14

I am the product of a youth development program for at-risk teens. It's how I got my first job with the City of Dayton's Parks and Recreation Department when I was 14. I worked 3.5 hours a day throughout the summers picking up trash at City parks. It wasn't much but it changed my life for the better.

If not for that job keeping me busy and helping to pay the bills, my life may have turned out very different, and for the worst. As such, helping youth development programs get the funding they need to make a difference is the core focus of my work.

Here are a few of the grants I have been able to get for my clients with youth programs.

1. Build A Bear, avg award $1,500
2. Atlanta Foundation, avg award $5,000
3. Atlanta Braves Foundation, avg award $2,500
4. Atlanta Women's Foundation, avg award $10,000
4. BJ's Foundation, avg award $5,000

Some tips when applying:
1. Emphasize the changes your program recipients have experienced as a result of participating in your program.
2. Make sure the outcome data you include is factual and has been measured.
3. Emphasize the financial strength of your organization.
4. Refer to your strategic plan and the business strategies therein.
5. Clearly articulate your program description. Include the details but be brief.

If you would like to apply for funding for your youth programs and you need help making your program "Grant Ready", or you need help writing a winning grant proposal, I am here to help!

Book a Grants Planning Consultation by March 31st and get $25 off.
You can book your appointment at

Nonprofit or Forprofit?

by Chataun Denis on 02/19/14

Should I start my business as a nonprofit or for-profit?

Since this question is asked so frequently, I thought I'd address it here. There are so many of us who desire to earn a living, living our passions. In my consulting world, these same people tend to automatically think nonprofit is the only way to go. This same line of thinking also applies for people who may not want to create their own jobs, but who just want to give back.

To be of service and to give back, a nonprofit isn't always necessary. If you have love in your heart and you want to help someone else, there are an unlimited number of opportunities whereby you can volunteer. If you already have a business and you want to give back, you can create a giving program as a part of your existing business. Either way, accomplishing your community service goals can be achieved without the responsibilities of forming a nonprofit.

For more advice on this and other related topics, check out our Video Blog FAQ title, "Should I Start My Business as a Nonprofit or For-profit?"

Creating Your Dream Job

by Chataun Denis on 02/14/14

Perhaps you have a passion for youth. You grew up in challenging circumstances and experienced a hard-knock-life. As a result, you have the desire to give back in a way that helps youth facing the same challenges you faced. Say your vision is to create a youth program that offers workshops, mentoring and field trips. Your big vision is having a facility to operate the program, a recreational facility of sorts. The million dollar question is, how do you get there?

Getting to your big vision may take time but there are steps you can take to get started. First, write down your ideas. Writing your thoughts down on paper helps to clear your mind. Second, decide on a few workshops that you would like to offer. What do the workshops look like? Give them titles. When do they occur? How long do they last? Where will they be located? How are they beneficial to the youth who will attend? How much does it cost to host the workshops?

These are all questions you must answer in order to develop a solid business model for your idea. Instead of trying to launch a full-scale recreational facility, you can start out by offering a few workshops to existing youth-serving nonprofits. Design the curriculum. Set your fee. Sell YOU! Make your difference.

What's your dream job?

by Chataun Denis on 02/12/14

In the last blog posting, I talked about using our God given gifts to create businesses that afford us the opportunity to live our dream lives. In this posting I'd like to delve a little deeper. Turning your gifts into a businesses can be easy. Your product is YOU; what you do with ease; your passions; what you do well and that takes minimal effort on your part.

Our economy is evolving. The General Management Consulting Services Industry is ripe for individuals who have a gift and can learn to turn those gifts into value for other people and businesses. My gifts are writing and strategic thinking. I have used these gifts to build for myself and my community a business that has generated over $150k in revenues for me and over $3 million in revenues for nonprofits.

In the next postings, we'll discuss industry statistics, how easy it is to enter the industry, and some simple steps you can take to live your dream life and create your dream job.

Living your dream life?

by Chataun Denis on 02/05/14

My dream life is picking strawberries on a sunny and breezy Monday afternoon…Hiking Red Top Mountain on Tuesday morning…Having lunch with a girlfriend on Wednesday…Sleeping till noon on Thursday and earning my money for the week on Friday. This is my dream life and Grant Source (my business) is my benefactor.

I believe each of us has that one THING that we enjoy and do really well; it’s what people tell us we’re good at; what they notice about us. This THING, I believe, is God’s gift to us to earn a living. How many people do you know who hate going to work every day? Imagine a world where each person earns a living doing what they love to do…doing what they do best. Imagine living your dream life. What does your dream life look like?

Starting Out Tax Exempt

by Chataun Denis on 10/24/13

The IRS website provides information about critical points of intersection between exempt organizations and the IRS. The content in the site includes explanatory information, and links to forms that an organization may need to file with the IRS. The materials cover five stages in an organization's life cycle:

  1. Starting Out: Creating an organization under state law, acquiring an employer identification number, and identifying the appropriate federal tax classification.
  2. Applying for Exemption:  Acquiring, completing, and submitting application forms; how the IRS processes applications; and getting help from the IRS during the application process.
  3. Required Filings:  Annual exempt organization returns, unrelated business income tax filings, and other returns and reports that an organization may have to file.
  4. Ongoing Compliance:  How an organization can avoid jeopardizing its tax-exempt status, disclosure requirements, employment taxes, and other ongoing compliance issues.
  5. Significant Events:  Audits, private letter rulings, and termination procedures.

Did you know there are many types of nonprofit tax exempt business classifications? Below are a few. For more information, visit the IRS's website.

If you are considering starting a nonprofit, or you are managing an existing nonprofit in the start-up stages, definitely visit the IRS's website.

Our business planning workbook will help you Bring Your Nonprofit Idea to Life as easy as 1-2-3!

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Click on a link to read topic related articles. 

Starting Your Nonprofit

Funding Your Nonprofit

Fundraising & Development

Board Development

Social Entrepreneurship

Branding Your Nonprofit

Strategic Planning

Starting a Grant Writing Consulting Business

Grants for Individuals

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