Michigan Nonprofit Association Blog

MNA’s Blog is designed to give you, the nonprofit community, an informal look into the issues currently facing Michigan’s nonprofit sector and an opportunity to share tools, resources and best practices. It’s also a way for us to get to know each other a little bit better through candid discussions of the topics, challenges and opportunities that our sector deals with on a regular basis. Check back daily and participate in the discussions by posting a comment or emailing our bloggers. We love hearing from you!

Rising Stars: Michigan Teens Making a Difference in their Communities

By Tammy Pitts, MNA Director of Communications & Marketing

He’s headed off to college this week, but 17-year-old Garret Lewis of Mason has been busy all year giving back.

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What will the future look like for Southeast Michigan's nonprofits?


Over the last 18 months, nonprofit organizations in the region have spent much of their days in a reactive state: responding, experimenting and working to survive in order to continue serving community needs.

But the critical events of COVID-19, vaccination engagement, a heightened sense of racial justice and issues of climate change have also forced nonprofit leaders and those who support their work to look beyond the immediate, to consider the future.

How has this storm of challenges altered the nonprofit world, for better or worse, causing leaders to question and reimagine their systems of funding, models of work, governance and values? 

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What will the future look like for Southeast Michigan's nonprofits?

By Sarah Williams, Contributing Writer - The Nonprofit Journal Project 

Over the last 18 months, nonprofit organizations in the region have spent much of their days in a reactive state: responding, experimenting and working to survive in order to continue serving community needs.

But the critical events of COVID-19, vaccination engagement, a heightened sense of racial justice and issues of climate change have also forced nonprofit leaders and those who support their work to look beyond the immediate, to consider the future.

How has this storm of challenges altered the nonprofit world, for better or worse, causing leaders to question and reimagine their systems of funding, models of work, governance and values? 

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The Nonprofit Journal Project Continues

Throughout the pandemic, nonprofits have been on the ground in communities solving issues, adapting programming and service models to meet the most critical needs.

Many have formed partnerships with one another and outside agencies in order to strengthen their impact and survive funding challenges. They've embraced innovation and leveraged technology to reach communities in new ways, providing food distribution, housing and healthcare to education and the arts. 

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Maximizing Efficiency with Canva

By Sarah-Grace Motley, MNA Marketing & Digital Engagement Manager

More engaging and eye catching design can not only elevate your nonprofit's mission, but also help your organization increase your impact, get additional funding, recruit volunteers, and more. Nonprofits often don't have time to spend on complex graphic design nor do they have budgets to hire outside to escalate the branding and impact of the organization. Lucky for you, Canva is your solution.

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Michigan Nonprofit Association Announces CEO Transition

The Michigan Nonprofit Association (MNA) today announced the resignation of CEO Donna Murray-Brown, whose departure is prompted by a spousal job change that will take her family out of state. Murray-Brown will stay on through Dec. 31 and provide consulting services as needed through the first quarter of 2022.

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The Way Forward: Nonprofits face long recovery, uncertainty

There's a lot of discussion about things getting back to normal, but that's not yet the case for nonprofits and the people they serve.

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Celebrating inclusion and diversity during Pride Month: Conversations with Colleagues

By Tammy Pitts - MNA Communications Director

Pride Month is still going strong, and we are turning the volume way up as we amplify and celebrate diversity, equity. and inclusivity. At Michigan Nonprofit Association (MNA), our core values include diversity, equity, inclusion, and justice, and we support and embrace a work environment where our LGBTQ+ colleagues can be their authentic selves. Pride Month is a month dedicated to the uplifting and celebration of LGBTQ+ voices and that includes some of my colleagues. But before you hear their stories, a quick history lesson on why we are celebrating Pride this month. On June 28, 1969, police in Manhattan, New York raided a gay bar called the Stonewall Inn sparking a series of riots and protests in the LGBTQ+ community and igniting the modern gay rights movement. Pride is celebrated every June in honor of the Stonewall Uprising which was a tipping point for the gay liberation movement. Pride Month also honors and celebrates some of the most influential and inspiring role models from the LGBTQ+ community.

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What you need to know about Juneteenth and why we should all celebrate

By Tammy Pitts - MNA Director of Communications

You’re probably hearing a whole lot about Juneteenth these days as we get closer to June 19, 2021. I always find it surprising when people tell me they don’t know about Juneteenth. As a child, I knew exactly what Juneteenth was because my mother was a firm believer in children learning about Black history. On June 19, 1865, Union soldiers led by Major General Gordon Granger arrived in Galveston, Texas to inform enslaved African Americans that the war had ended, and they were now free. I can only imagine the shock and jubilation the slaves felt. Actually, they had been free since January 1, 1863, when President Abraham Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation, but according to history buffs, the Emancipation Proclamation had little impact in Texas due to the small number of Union troops on hand to enforce the order. Slave owners ignored the order until General Granger’s regiment showed up with plenty of manpower to force the locals to comply and free the slaves. Texas was the last Confederate state to have the proclamation announced according to Cliff Robinson, founder of Juneteenth.com.  

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Make your voice heard in Michigan's redistricting process | Opinion

In 2018, voters passed an amendment to Michigan’s Constitution, establishing the Michigan Independent Citizen Redistricting Commission (MICRC). Michigan citizens have a historic, first-time ever opportunity to actively participate in the process of drawing new district lines that will govern where they vote and influence the kind of candidate who will represent them. This process is called redistricting — it happens just once every decade, and it is happening right now in Michigan. It is a nonpartisan, transparent and fair and open process.

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Michigan nonprofit receives boost in funding for youth mental health

By Tammy Pitts - MNA Director of Communications

The pandemic has taken a heavy toll on youth mental health with hospitals nationwide reporting an increase in kids battling anxiety, depression, and feelings of isolation due in part to the stress of the pandemic. But even before Covid-19,  mental health problems such as anxiety and depression were already on the rise among children ages 6 to 18, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. And that is why nonprofits like CARE of Southeastern Michigan and the services it offers are so important. The nonprofit recently received a $50,000 grant and will use the funds to support youth mental health. “Some of the issues that teens and youth are experiencing are isolation from their friends and activities, and they have had to redefine their rites of passage and their caregivers are experiencing an increase in stress,” said Susan Styf, MNA member, and president and CEO of CARE.

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Meet the 2021 American Express NGen Fellows

Building stronger, more effective next generation leaders. That’s the goal of Independent Sector’s initiative, NGen: Moving Nonprofit Leaders from Next to Now. And as part of the initiative, we welcome our new 2021 cohort of the American Express NGen Fellows program, part of the American Express Leadership Academy.

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Internship Report: MSU graduate thrives in virtual internship; gains unique experience

By Tammy Pitts - MNA Communications Director

Among the benefits of an internship is the opportunity to gain real world work experience, personal development, career exploration, and networking. And Erica SooJin Song says she learned a lot from her experience as Michigan Nonprofit Association’s human resources intern from 2020-2021. To quote Erica directly, “It’s really been a great work experience. This internship has been my favorite and it’s the one I am most proud of; it’s been very rewarding.” Erica graduated from Michigan State University last month after receiving her master’s degree in human resources and labor relations. She was involved in various projects here at MNA, and I had the pleasure of hanging out with her for a little bit to discuss her school and work life, plus she filled me in on the “prince” in her life. Yes, you read that correctly. Here is the tale of Erica and Prince Zuko. Well, mostly this blog post is about Erica, but keep reading-- the part about the prince is coming up.

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Internship Report: MSU Student Gets Public Policy Experience at Michigan Nonprofit Association

By Tammy Pitts - Director of Communications

When the pandemic struck in 2020, many internships were canceled that spring and summer impacting students who were counting on those jobs and professional experience. The connections internships enable can be crucial for job seekers, especially seniors who are in their last year of college. 

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Remembering George Floyd on the anniversary of his death

One year ago today, people worldwide watched in horror as George Floyd, a Black man was murdered on the streets of Minneapolis, after an officer kneeled on his neck for over 9 minutes. Mr. Floyd’s dying words, “I can’t breathe,” became a rallying cry and sparked nationwide protests, and a racial reckoning against police brutality. He was cruelly robbed of years of life he might have spent with his daughter, family, and friends.

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Metro Detroit nonprofits aim to get community voices into redistricting process

"We're working to specifically promote racial equity so that communities of color, most importantly, who happen to be often the ones who are underrepresented and underserved, have a voice in processes like these for the next ten years," says Mariana Martinez, director of civic engagement initiatives for MNA. "We know that these maps will be drawn for the next ten years, so this is a good time to get involved."

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Volunteers are a vital part of Michigan’s COVID-19 vaccination effort; MNA staffer gives back

By Tammy Pitts - MNA Director of Communications

Chances are, when you arrive at a vaccination clinic in Michigan the first person to greet you is a volunteer. And one of those volunteers last month at Ford Field was Michigan Nonprofit Association’s Meridith Murley. The mass vaccination clinic in downtown Detroit opened in March for a span of eight weeks with the goal of inoculating as many Michiganders as possible inside the stadium.

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What is Imposter Syndrome and Why It’s Worse for Women of Color

By Nellie Tsai - Social Innovation Officer

Nellie Tsai Headshot

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Michigan Nonprofit Association Releases Statement Following Verdict in Minneapolis

While Tuesday was a momentous and historic day, we cannot forget that true justice is a world where George Floyd is still alive. True justice is his daughter Gianna being able to hug her father, and Mr. Floyd laughing and talking with his siblings at a family reunion. The fact that millions of people around the country were on pins and needles about the outcome of the verdict tells us that we are far from the end of this fight against inequality. It took a recording, multiple witnesses, and the largest racial justice protests in history to shift public opinion about the true plight of Black people in America. What we got was not justice, it was accountability. Accountability shouldn’t be this hard or this uncertain.

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PPP Loans may run out prior to May deadline

Funds for a paycheck protection program loan also known as a ‘PPP loan’ may run out before the May deadline. The Michigan Non Profit Association is urging small businesses and non-profits to apply before it’s too late.

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