Women Entrepreneurs: Sharing Wisdom


The wisdom of experience is priceless. PeopleFund – a nonprofit that provides small business loans and other business assistance – celebrated the wisdom of Austin business women at the “PeopleSpring, Ladies, Lunch & Learn” networking and leadership event in Austin on May 31st.

The focus of the luncheon event was a panel discussion and Q & A with three leaders in the business community: Deborah Whitby, Austin Plumbery Owner; Meme Styles, MEASURE Founder & President; and Quita Culpepper, KVUE Anchor. Some of the key pieces of wisdom the panel shared with the audience of women entrepreneurs included:

  • Spend time on setting business processes and procedures early;
  • When you are struggling for balance, don’t forget self-care;
  • Remember that your community is a source of energy;
  • Own your destiny.

Thank you panelists, PeopleFund and event sponsor American Bank for a wonderful afternoon and for providing an empowering space for female entrepreneurs.


Image: Erler

Tips to manage, leverage, and energize your nonprofit board


The Texas Grants Resource Center’s May presentation was all about getting the best out of your nonprofit board. Long-time nonprofit consultant Tara Levy shared the top tips for leveraging your board to support your organization’s mission.

Tara is an experienced trainer and consultant on nonprofit leadership and management, including a decade assisting nonprofits at Mission Capital before launching her independent practice (Tara Levy Nonprofit Consulting). She has served nonprofits as a staff member, board member, and volunteer.

Here are just a few of Tara’s tips on board relations:

  • Mentor new board members (pair new members up with established members);
  • Have an annual board self-evaluation;
  • Do board succession planning (for example: consider having an Incoming Board President position);
  • Connect and enjoy each other as a team.

The TGRC provides events that will uplift, educate and connect in ways that make Austin’s nonprofit community even stronger.  This program furthers the mission of the University of Texas at Austin’s Division of Diversity and Community Engagement (DDCE). The DDCE’s Community Engagement Center (CEC) houses this program.



Image: Erler


Peer-to-Peer Fundraising Tips

Qgiv NTEN May 2018

Todd Baylis of Qgiv at Austin’s NTEN Nonprofit Tech Club – May 24, 2018

Nonprofit organizations are getting a little help from friends. More and more nonprofits are inviting their biggest fans to spread the word and help raise funds for their causes.

It is called peer-to-peer (P2P) fundraising and at their May meeting, Austin’s NTEN Nonprofit Tech Club chapter got a crash course from Todd Baylis, Qgiv President.

An organization’s supporters can reach out to their network of friends to introduce them to the nonprofit through crowdfunding, walk-a-thons, giving days and more. Todd’s top P2P tips include:

  • Engage donors;
  • Cultivate relationships;
  • Provide a sense of urgency (this will minimize procrastination);
  • Create templates of messages;
  • Provide training and guides for your fundraisers;
  • Incorporate badges;
  • Also, provide an opportunity for off-line gifts.

Oh, and don’t forget that Qgiv has a peer-to-peer fundraising platform that can help enhance P2P efforts.

Austin’s NTEN Nonprofit Tech Club, a program of the Nonprofit Technology Network (NTEN), has presentations every month. Click here for info about upcoming events.



Image: Erler

What Do Funders Think?

Funders Forum

Nonprofits: does it sometimes seem as if there is a cloud of mystery keeping you from finding out what funders want?

All clouds lifted on May 11, 2018  at the Annual Central Texas Funders Forum presented by the Grant Professionals Association – Austin Chapter. Representatives from regional funders were there to answer questions, provide channels of communication and develop ways to work together.

The kinds of funders included: private, corporate, and community foundations. There were panel presentations and small group opportunities to ask questions one-on-one.

This year the themes and tips for nonprofits that kept coming up included:

  • Think of funders as partners;
  • Demonstrate there is a need that you will be able to solve together;
  • Funders want transparent communication;
  • Funders want to hear how their gifts and investments are touching the community;
  • Evaluation of activities is they key to sustainability;
  • Funders don’t want surprises.

It is conversations like these that help both service providers and funders support the community.



Image Credit: Erler


Twitter for Nonprofits: Social Media for Social Good

Many of you know how much I enjoy spending time on Twitter. I want to share what I’ve learned with local nonprofits and help take the mystery out of Twitter. I’ll be teaching a class at Austin Community College’s Center for Nonprofit Studies on June 21st, 2018.  Here is the link for tickets.

You can learn how your nonprofit organization can use Twitter to support your mission. We’ll cover the basics: following and followers; conversations and proclamations; hashtags and handles. Participants will not only learn how Twitter can support your outreach strategy, we’ll also connect attendees on twitter – taking your community to the next level. This class will take place in a computer lab, so please come ready to log in to your (or your organization’s) Twitter account for exercises.

I hope to see you on June 21st at noon!



  • Get an overview of social media strategy and how Twitter fits in to a nonprofit’s social media strategy.


  • Tweets: Who sees them? What is the best content? When should I tweet? Where is my content seen? Why should my nonprofit tweet?
  • How do I use: #s, @s, lists, direct messages, notifications?
  • How do I “create community” (and gain followers).

Other Outcomes:

  • Connecting with classmates on Twitter.
  • Learning about conversations and proclamations: Who am I writing to? Who can see my tweets?
  • Answering your questions about twitter.

Social Media on a Shoestring – for Nonprofits

TGRC panel

Today the Texas Grants Resource Center presented a panel of social media experts who gave nonprofits tips for how to do social media on a budget.

Some of the tips included:

  • Remember to tell your story
  • Try to A/B test when you can
  • Know your audience
  • Speak to your audience
  • Remember to look at your analytics

Thank you again to the panelists for sharing your wisdom with the TGRC Partner Learning Program. This program’s aim is to provide events that will uplift, educate and connect in ways that make our nonprofit community even stronger.

To join the Community Partner list, send an email with “Subscribe as Partner” in the subject line to: erler [at] austin [dot] utexas [dot] edu

Experts on the panel:

Jon Lebkowsky CEO, Founder and Digital Strategist at Polycot Associates (offering web consulting, web design and development services especially to mission-driven organizations).

Tara Morrow, Digital Marketing Manager at Mighty Citizen (focusing on branding and digital strategy for mission-driven organizations).

Lisa Goodgame of Lisa Goodgame Consulting (creating strategic communications for social impact organizations).


Notes from SXSW 2018: Designing Culture

Not able to get to Austin for SXSW 2018? No worries – I took notes.

Here are the notes from the thought-provoking ‘Designing Culture’ session featuring:

  • Miguel McKelvey the Co-founder and Chief Culture Officer of WeWork; and,
  • Sarah Lewis an Assistant Professor of History of Art and Architecture and African and African American Studies at Harvard University.

As you likely know, WeWork is, what many would call a co-working space (but what WeWork calls ‘a platform for creators that helps people make a life, not just a living’).

The folks at WeWork have given a lot of thought to what ‘culture’ is – and how they can provide it to their members.

Very thought-provoking! Click here if you’d like to learn more about the session.

Ideas the session touched on:



Learning and Networking Opportunities for Nonprofit Professionals

Austin-based nonprofit professionals may already know of the services of the Texas Grants Resource Center – which offers grant-search support, such as access to Foundation Center databases.

But the TGRC also houses the Community Partner Learning Program – which provides events that will uplift, educate and advance in ways that make the Central Texas nonprofit community even stronger. Nonprofit professionals and advocates gain skills and insights to boost their social impact work.

Check out descriptions of some of the recent presentations below. And if you have not already, please sign up to get invitations to future events here.


Get Online! Using Google to Drive Traffic to Your Nonprofit with Robin Manas

Get Online! Using Google to Drive Traffic to Your Nonprofit with Robin Manas

Get Online! Using Google to Drive Traffic to Your Nonprofit by Robin Manas (Nov. 13, 2017)
Drive web traffic to your nonprofit’s site by using Google’s AdWords, free advertising offered to eligible nonprofit organizations. Nonprofits use these Google Ad Grants to recruit volunteers, attract donations and share organization information.


Susannah Erler of Greater Good Strategies

Grant Writing with Susannah Erler of Greater Good Strategies

Grant Basics: Write. Apply. Repeat. by Susannah Erler (Oct. 17, 2017)
A presentation about the key to finding the right grant opportunities and to writing strong applications! Susannah Erler, a Certified Fundraising Executive (CFRE), presented approaches and offered tips for taking your grant strategy to the next level.


Marisol Foster of the Webber Family Foundation

Marisol Foster of the Webber Family Foundation

Funder Focus – The Webber Family Foundation by Marisol Foster (Feb. 12, 2018)
A presentation by The Webber Family Foundation – a local funder that focuses on the gap between proficiency and potential in lower income youth. Executive Director, Marisol Foster described the philanthropic work of the foundation and the grant-making process.

Grant Writing Workshop in Austin

Austin – I’ll be presenting free workshop for the Texas Grants Resource Center (formerly known as the Regional Foundation Library) called Grant Basics: Write. Apply. Repeat.

I hope you can join us on October 17th from noon to 1 p.m. (click below for details and to RSVP).

#nonprofit #learning #fundraising #philanthropy


https _cdn.evbuc.com_images_36341673_212251679722_1_original

Nonprofits: Build Relationships (and Revenue)

Austin’s Regional Foundation Library (RFL) was fortunate to have “mediapreneur,” local do-gooder and global connector Ruben Cantu share his insights and knowledge with the group of nonprofit professionals who are members of the RFL.


He shared his formula for building relationships (and revenue) for nonprofit and social impact organizations. (First ingredient in the formula: get to know each other).

Check out more of what Ruben has to offer here and at the organizations listed below. Ruben is:

  • Board Member of I Live Here I Give Here (the organization behind Amplify Austin);
  • CEO of the LevelUp Institute, a career accelerator for first generation college students;
  • Executive Director of socialgood.us (formerly Austin+SocialGood), dedicated to a global conversation of how technology and social media can help solve social problems; and
  • Board Member of Austin Forum on Technology and Society.

Thank you Ruben!


How to Incubate Creativity

I had the pleasure of attending a 2017 SXSW Conference panel titled: How to Incubate Creativity. The conversation was inspiring – and reconfirms the importance of having spaces for artists and techies to create.

The panelists were:

I’d encourage you to visit their web pages to find out more about these interdisciplinary incubators that are hatching forward-thinking, creative projects.  And here are the notes I took as a recap for you:

SXSW creativity notes


Inspired by Creativity

So many passionate and creative people can be found at the 2017 SXSW Conference. Yesterday I met Monica Kang who does great work with Innovators Box   – an organization that “aims to redefine human capital potential and workforce culture by empowering all professionals with creativity and creative confidence.”

She had me sold when she said “I teach creativity.” Yes! (Plus, I love their sticker). Check it out!


Susannah (the Greater Good Geek) with the InnovatorsBox sticker!