An Expert Opinion: Food for Thought on Nonprofit Funding Evaluation

From time to time, NCLGBA looks forward to featuring commentary from industry and government experts on a variety of issues impacting local government budgeting. The following was posted to the NPLG listserv by Margaret Henderson, Director of the Public Intersection Project, UNC School of Government.

Margaret Henderson
Director, Public Intersection Project
UNC School of Government

During this time of year, local and state governmental organizations, as well as some foundations, are in the process of receiving and considering nonprofit funding applications, then making their final decisions.

The purpose of this email is to (1) serve as a sanity check for the challenges of the season and (2) remind nonprofits, foundations, and governments that it might be useful to schedule a meeting to assess how well the process worked this year and how it might be strengthened for next year.

Those of you struggling to compare the outcomes of different kinds of nonprofits might appreciate this blog by David Heinen, the director of public policy and advocacy at the NC Center for Nonprofits:

Those of you wondering whether your funding process accomplishes what you want it to might find this article useful as a guide for group discussion:

Finally, it can be beneficial for foundations and governmental funders to meet to exchange information.  Even though your work might seem different, you do serve the same communities and might share similar goals.

At the local level, this meeting might involve city and county governments, United Way, and community foundations.  At the state level, the meetings might be organized around topical areas, such as violence against women or redefining local economies,and involve regional/state foundations and state offices that manage state or federal funding streams.

Renewing efforts to exchange information across organizations about available resources, priorities, processes, the rationale behind decisions, and emerging developments is particularly critical during times of economic and political stress.

Thanks for all of your good work,
Margaret Henderson
Director, The Public Intersection Project
The School of Government, UNC-Chapel Hill

Summer 2012 Conference Update: Day Two

NOTE: Updates and additional content will be added.

The second day of NCLGBA’s 2012 Summer Conference featured several presentations from practitioners and field experts discussing important issues and sharing innovative and critical ideas with attendees.

The first plenary session focused on work/life balance and was presented by Shannon Tufts with the UNC School of Government. Energized attendees then split up between three strong breakout workshops.

Jeff Hughes, Director of the UNC School of Government’s Environmental Finance Center, shared information on trends and practices associated with local utility system revenues and means for rate setting (click here for video).

John Stephens, UNC School of Government Associate Professor, offered insight and suggestions on how budget staffs can address and manage conflict with staff, elected officials and citizens.

Concord’s Robin Barham also moderated a panel of staff from Concord and Asheboro, along with Mobile311 Vice-President Eddie Stanley, showing how their utilization of mobile technology improved efficiency and reduced operational costs for local solid waste services.

Check out the Live Blog Notes of the “Mobile 311” Discussion

During lunch, attending NCLGBA members approved a new slate of Board Members and Officers for 2012-13. April Campbell (City of Archdale) will serve as President in the coming year. New Board Members include Justin Amos (City of Charlotte, Treasurer), Lesley Reder (City of Concord, 2nd Vice President), Heather Drennan (City of Raleigh, 3rd Vice President), Debra Mack (City of Wilmington, Municipal At-Large Representative) and Bryant Morehead (Gaston County, County At-Large Representative).

Blake Hart  (Mecklenburg County) was recognized for his service as NCLGBA President for 2011-12. Regards were also extended for the service of retiring Board Members Katie McCoy (City of Charlotte), David Scarborough (City of Raleigh), Matthew Brinkley (Town of Chapel Hill) and Diane Price (Buncombe County).

Dr. William Rivenbark and Blake Hart also presented certificates to the three latest graduates of the Certified Budget Officer program.

Thursday afternoon sessions started with a plenary on Budget Presentation led by Hyong Yi (Mecklenburg County) and Susan Moran (Town of Cary). The lively discussion  was followed by two breakouts offering unique choices to attendees.

Check out the Live Blog Notes from the “Budget Presentation” Workshop

UNC School of Government instructor and Benchmarking Project head Dale Roegnik led a workshop on PowerPoint presentation. As the videos below show, Dr. Roegnik’s presentation went well beyond a simple tutorial, providing guidance and suggestions for enhancing visual communication skills.

Attendees also had the opportunity to visit the nearby Wilmington Convention Center, where the toured the facility and listened to local officials discuss the development and operation of the complex. Wilmington Finance Director Debra Mack spoke in depth about the challenges and process involved in acquiring financing for the facility, as well as ensuring its repayment.

Later in the evening, several attendees took part in a dutch treat “ghost tour” of the Battleship North Carolina.


Conference Live: Economic Forecast

Conference Live: Economic Forecast

During the Winter 2011 Conference, we will be live blogging from a couple of workshops, sharing some of the comments by presenters, as well as answers to attendee questions. Today, we will feature our final session, an Economic Forecast from Dr. Karl Smith with the UNC School of Government. The session will start no earlier than 10:15am, and should be underway by 10:30am.


SOG Workshops Focus on Evaluation

SOG Workshops Focus on Evaluation

Two upcoming workshops offered by the UNC School of Government focus on developing the skills necessary to be effective and versed in evaluation and performance measurement.

Click here for workshop announcement for UNC

On August 26th, David Ammons and Dale Roenigk will lead “Practical Analytic Techniques for Local Government.” This one-day course focuses on techniques for planning, monitoring, and evaluating programs and activities. Participants will learn about a variety of easy-to-apply analytic techniques and will discuss examples of successful analysis in local governments.

Click here to register for “Practical Analytic Techniques for Local Government”

On September 9th, David Ammons will also offer “Performance Measurement 101: Designing Measures in Local Government for Accountability and Results.” This one-day workshop focuses on the fundamentals of performance measurement and the design of measures having good managerial value for strengthening local government performance.

Click here to register for “Performance Measurement 101”

Both workshops will be presented at the Knapp-Sanders Building on the UNC-Chapel Hill campus and cost $125 each per person. Use the links above to register online for each, or click here to learn more about these and other UNC School of Government training opportunities.



UNC Economist Releases New Update

UNC Economist Releases New Update

Karl W. Smith, Assistant Professor Public Economics and Government for the UNC School of Government, recently published another edition of his Economics Bulletin. You can download this report for free at this page on the School of Government website.

Dr. Smith’s report highlights national and statewide economic activity on the basis of several indicators, including unemployment, inflation and productivity. His analysis leads to the following conclusion (excerpted below):

North Carolina was hard hit by the most recent recession in large part because of significant job losses in the financial sector. It is unlikely that the state’s financial industry will recover anytime soon. North Carolina faces significant headwinds moving forward. Nonetheless, the baseline forecast is for steady if tepid growth. Unemployment will remain high for some time, and restructuring will be difficult, particularly in the Charlotte region.
On the other hand, policy makers should be aware that significant risks still remain. The opportunity for stimulus funding is fading. Either the state budget will have to shrink in size or it will have to consume a larger fraction of economic resources. Either choice will involve significant sacrifice on the part of the state’s residents. This will cause obvious difficulty in balancing the state budget, but it also means that the very likely possibility of state employee layoffs will cause economic activity to be further slowed.

To see the actual report, click here (PDF).

Intro to Program Evaluation to be offered prior to Summer Conference

Intro to Program Evaluation to be offered prior to Summer Conference

The UNC School of Government will offer a special session of their “Introduction to Program Evaluation for Budget and Management Analysts” workshop on July 12th, the day prior to the Summer 2011 NCLGBA Conference, at the conference site in New Bern (Hilton Riverfront Hotel).

The workshop will be led by Dr. Maureen Berner with the School of Government. Registration is $220 for the workshop.

Those attending the Summer 2011 NCLGBA Conference can reserve rooms at the Hilton Riverfront for the evening of July 12th at the conference rate of $94/night (plus tax).

This workshop does count toward the North Carolina Budget & Evaluation Certification, a partnership program of NCLGBA and the UNC School of Government.

More information on the workshop is available at this page on the SOG website. To learn more about the Summer 2011 NCLGBA Conference, click here.

March 16th Webinar focuses on Citizen Participation for Budgeting

March 16th Webinar focuses on Citizen Participation for Budgeting

The UNC School of Government will offer a new webinar, “Citizen Participation in Local Government Budgeting” on Wednesday, March 16th, from 1 to 2:30 pm.  The cost is $95 per viewing site, and attendees can register online here.

The session will feature solutions and communication methods developed by local governments in North Carolina to engage citizens in the budgeting process with respect to sharing information, encouraging feedback and building common ground.  The session will also include an overview of the use of new technologies and media, including video, to present budget information to broader citizen audiences.

Click here to register!

Below is a description of the session from the School of Government:

Webinar: Citizen Participation in Local Government Budgeting

March 16, 2011; 1:00 – 2:30 p.m.

As a public leader, you have identified some tough cuts that might need to be made to your city or county budget.

  • How do you inform your citizens?
  • How do you think they will react?
  • What can you do to make this process most effective for you and your citizens?

Budget decisions in 2011 will be challenging as local governments face service cuts, increased fees, and other difficult choices. Citizen concern about the effects of increasingly tighter city and county budgets will be high. Informing citizens, listening to them, and having multiple ways to encourage informed opinions will be more important than ever.

This 90-minute webinar will help you:

  1. Inform your citizens about your proposed budget
  2. Run effective community meetings
  3. Learn more about citizen outreach and involvement

Registration: To register online, visit The registration fee is $95, whether the webinar viewed by a group or an individual.

Faculty Coordinator: John Stephens, Associate Professor of Public Administration and Government

For more information: Contact Lisa Sheffield, program manager, at 919.962.3464 or

Kelly, Rivenbark Publish New Edition of “Performance Budgeting”

Kelly, Rivenbark Publish New Edition of “Performance Budgeting”

UNC School of Government Professor William Rivenbark, along with UT-Knoxville faculty member Janet M. Kelly, recently published a second edition of Performance Budgeting for State and Local Government. This book is now available for purchase from the UNC School of Government Bookstore.

Description Excerpt:

This book describes performance budgeting as the integration of performance management components (planning, performance measurement, and benchmarking) into the three phases of the budget cycle used by state and local governments: budget development, budget implementation, and budget evaluation. The result is a comprehensive theoretical and practical framework for informing budget decisions. Janet M. Kelly and William C. Rivenbark enliven the text with frequent references to their original research and personal experiences with performance measurement, citizen satisfaction surveys, and financial management practices. The book also includes several case studies in performance budgeting and interviews with managers and practitioners.

Changes in the Second Edition include:

  • increased coverage of cost accounting procedures,
  • more attention to the role of citizen participation in performance management,
  • expanded focus to encompass budget implementation and evaluation, not just budget development, and
  • enhanced coverage of the management tools used to support performance budgeting, including long-term planning and the “balanced scorecard”.

Designed for use in undergraduate and graduate level courses in public budgeting/financial management, this book is equally useful for any student or practitioner involved in performance-based management.


“This book offers a refreshing approach to the topic by setting aside unconditional optimism and cheerleading for performance budgeting in exchange for a realistic, cautionary, and practical approach. Expanding beyond the parameters of a traditional textbook, the authors have truly integrated theory and practice to educate academics, students, and practitioners about what actually works for public organizations—and why.”

Deborah A. Carroll, The University of Georgia

This book is now available for purchase from the UNC School of Government Bookstore.

State Treasurer’s site now features web-based local financial analysis dashboard

During last week’s NCLGBA Conference, UNC School of Government’s Dale Roegnik announced that the School’s financial analysis tool for local governments was being integrated into an online dashboard through the website of the North Carolina State Treasurer.  This new online resource was launched this week (click here to visit the page).

The fiscal condition dashboard was developed a few years ago by Dr. Roegnik, along with Dr. William Rivenbark and Dr. Gregory Allison. Prior NCLGBA Conferences have featured workshops on data entry and use of the product. According to Dr. Roenigk, the School will continue to offer programs associated with analysis and application of this effective product.

Excerpt from an announcement on the School of Government website:

The County and Municipal Fiscal Analysis tool provides a systematic approach to financial condition analysis in local government. The web-based dashboard, a collaborative effort between the School of Government and the Department of State Treasurer, enables a search of five years of financial data for North Carolina counties and municipalities, and it provides a comparison with selected peers. This new resource is available without charge or subscription.

Additional excerpt from the North Carolina State Treasurer website:

The web-based dashboard on County and Municipal Fiscal Analysis is the result of a collaborative effort between the Department of State Treasurer and the School of Government at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Faculty members at the School of Government—William C. Rivenbark, Dale J. Roenigk, and Gregory S. Allison—developed the model to provide a systematic, but manageable, approach to financial condition analysis in local government. Staff members of the Department of State Treasurer’s Information Technology Division created the web-based dashboard. Staff members of the Department of State Treasurer’s State and Local Government Finance Division (Local Government Commission) collected the needed data to populate the dashboard as part of its statutory responsibilities of monitoring financial management practices in North Carolina local government.