A Look Inside GMN
As I go around the country and meet members, potential members, and funder network colleagues, three things about GMN operations always amaze people—the high number of volunteers, the low number of staff, and our voluntary dues structure.
Everything that happens at GMN happens because of its volunteers. These are members who step forward to serve on GMN’s board, organize regional chapters, help manage GMN operations, and conduct special projects. These volunteers come to GMN with critical skills, but are also able to gain concrete, resume-enhancing experience through their volunteer work and build strong, lifelong relationships with their fellow volunteers.
Here are just a few examples of what volunteers have recently accomplished for GMN:
- Developed an online community, which connects 1,500 members to relevant information to help improve the efficiency and effectiveness of grantmaking.
- Designed and delivered more than 10 hours of training and professional development to grants managers through regional programming.
- Defined the Body of Knowledge for the field of grants management.
- Selected and provided oversight for GMN’s annual audit, which resulted in an unqualified opinion for the organization.
- Led a 20-member team to design and deliver an annual conference for 400 grants managers.
- Published a newsletter that was read by more than 400 grants management professionals.
- Developed and vetted new content for the GM Guide which defines best practices in grants management.
- Organized and executed a webinar attended by more than 100 people.
- Conducted research and wrote Beyond the Recycling Bin: Greening Practices of Grantmakers, a report encouraging grantmakers to implement more greening practices.
To learn more about volunteering with GMN, click here.
Here at GMN, we use the term “staff” to refer to both GMN’s paid employee (me) and the consultants who support the work of GMN operations and volunteer teams. Combined, GMN has the equivalent of four full-time staff (FTE)—with 1 FTE supporting Project Streamline, 1 FTE supporting the conference, and the remaining 2 FTEs supporting everything else GMN does.
I’d like to give a special thanks to Karen Perry, who has worked part-time for GMN over the past year, supporting a variety of projects. She will be heading to graduate school this fall and ended her work with GMN in August.
GMN has never required its members to pay dues. This has its roots in GMN’s origins as an all-volunteer organization whose meetings were initially supported by in-kind member donations of space and catering. As GMN grew and created more sophisticated programs and services, it reached out to its members through an annual fundraising solicitation. This approach has two wonderful benefits for the organization and its members.
- GMN is the fastest growing funder network in the field. We attribute this to the voluntary dues structure, which allows people to join easily and see the value GMN brings to them before they or their organization make a financial commitment.
- If dues were mandatory, some current members would have to withdraw from GMN. Their organizations would not be able to contribute either because of reduced budgets or internal policies preventing support of membership organizations. We would miss those members’ participation in the online community, attendance at regional events, and volunteerism. Their loss would weaken the profession.
Along with nearly all nonprofits in the country, GMN was impacted by the economic downturn in 2009, falling short of our fundraising targets by $113,000. Thankfully, we were able to make up the shortfall from operating reserves, but worked quickly to develop new fundraising and earned income strategies, including a new fundraising category—Contributing Organization Members—which includes special benefits for participants. We’re also working to strengthen relationships with companies in ways that benefit GMN members through a year-round sponsorship program.
The 2010 fundraising appeal is well underway. Contributions of any amount are appreciated. We’d also like to know if your organization is unable to contribute at this time. Click here for more information about supporting GMN.
I hope that gives you a little more insight into the resources currently available at GMN to operate programs, plan events, and develop new tools, resources, and publications.
The GMN Examiner Editorial Team
The GMN Examiner is published three times a year through the dedicated efforts of GMN members and volunteers.
Ericka Novotny – Editor
Allison Gister – Associate Editor