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Deborah Brittan
  (Left to right) MBA student Toria Crichlow
and Nongovernmental Organizations
Fellows Maria Cecilla Molle and Fabiola
Worm talk with Deborah Brittain
following her lecture.
 

Nonprofits Encouraged to Follow King's Example

1/16/2004 --

ANN ARBOR, Mich.---Nonprofit organizations need look no further than the late Martin Luther King Jr. and the Southern Christian Leadership Conference for a blueprint for success, says Deborah Brittain, immediate past president of the Association of Junior Leagues International.

King used his mind, mouth and money to promote a vision of justice and equity for all in his "beloved community," noted Brittain, whose Jan. 14 Martin Luther King Jr. lecture was sponsored by the University of Michigan Business School and Michigan's Nonprofit and Public Management Center. The center is a collaboration of the Business School, the Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy and the School of Social Work. Earlier in the day, Brittain spoke to Business School students enrolled in Strategic Management of Knowledge in Professional Service Firms, an upper-level undergraduate course taught by Lynn Wooten, assistant professor of marketing.

Effective nonprofit organizations share the following characteristics, Brittain said.
Mission. The group's mission must be clear, concise, compelling and well understood so insiders are proud of what they are doing and others support the organization's activities.
Strong leadership. A nominating process must match talents with organizational needs.
Strategic thinking and programs. Activities and services of the highest quality must reflect strategic thinking and produce measurable results.
Communications. Internal and external communications must be relentless so people within the organization understand how their efforts fit into the whole and others want to contribute.
Branding and image. This is one area where many nonprofits fall short, said Brittain, adding, "If you have a good brand and image, it says you do good work."
Technology. The latest technology must be used at every level, from membership and finance to public relations, to save time and money.

Nonprofits also must pay close attention to such basics as sound budgeting, updating bylaws, building links with the community, and recruiting and retaining members, Brittain said.

The veteran nonprofit leader encouraged audience members to use their minds to critically assess their organization's mission and vision, analyze current and future trends, establish interim and long-term goals, and monitor and evaluate progress so the nonprofit can "change by design." Volunteers and paid staff also must use their mouths to contribute to discussions and ask for resources, Brittain said, and support the organization's work with their money and time.

The Junior League, founded 103 years ago, has 294 chapters in four countries.



For more information, contact:
Mary Jo Frank
Phone: 734.647.4626
E-mail: mjfrank@umich.edu