Board Members Gone Wild

I was recently asked, by a group of executive directors, how do you contain a rogue (my word, not theirs) board member.  (Not a new or uncommon question at all.)  A few days later, I got an email from a wonderful board president seeking time to speak with me for advice on how to deal with—you got it—a rogue (again, my word, not hers) board member.

If you have ever seen footage of the impact of a rogue elephant, you know the damage that one lone Read more

When Boring is Better

Developing policies are a bore and a waste of precious time.  At least that seems to be the thinking of most board members, as demonstrated by the amount of time and energy boards commit to their creation, reliance upon and monitoring.  And yet, they are among the most important things a board should be doing as they provide for clarity, increased efficiency and, most importantly, allow the board to ensure that an organization’s values are both practiced and protected.  Along the way, they do a Read more

Saving the Sector

This is a message for all executive directors, from one to another.  If you don’t stop right now and look at your own performance, you run the risk of not only scaring off and pushing away all of the emerging leaders in your organization but in the sector as well.

For several years, I’ve been spending a fair amount of time with and collecting data from emerging leaders from across the sector in terms of organizational mission, age, size, tenure of their executive director, etc. I Read more

Mission Impossible?

A former board president of a nonprofit recently confessed to me that she and the rest of the board had no idea what the full mission of their nonprofit was.

This comment is scary, for sure, but unfortunately, not surprising.   For, truth be told, my best conservative estimate is that the majority of board members of nonprofits do not know the full mission of their nonprofits, do not know the full breadth and depth of the very thing they are charged with stewarding and protecting—the organization’s Read more

Board President: The Ball is in Your Court

Perhaps because I have spent the vast majority of my life in academic institutions or perhaps because as an adult, I started making my new year’s resolutions at Rosh Hashanah, I view September as the time of year to make new starts, new commitments, face new challenges.  Thus, today, in preparation for the start of the new year, I write with a double challenge:  to those reading this who are involved with nonprofits but not a board president and to board presidents everywhere.

To those who Read more

Are Nonprofit Boards Antiquated?

Are nonprofit boards antiquated?  I’ve give a lot of thought to this topic.  There isn’t a nonprofit executive director in this country who, frustrated beyond her/his last straw, hasn’t asked that question.  Or, let me correct myself, hasn’t made that question a statement:  “!#$%^&*!  Boards are so antiquated.  Why do we even need them?”

The reality, however, is that the theory of nonprofit boards is not at all antiquated; it is the practice that that gets in the way. But, truth be told, when boards are Read more

Please Don’t Pick Me

Yo, Board Presidents:  put aside your egos and listen up!  Are you really the best person for the job?

How do I dare even ask that question of someone who has been gracious enough and brave enough to volunteer her/his time to lead the leaders of an organization?  The many board members who are relieved that someone else volunteered to be board president so that they don’t have to, must be ready to ring my neck.  How can I suggest rocking the boat?  And how can Read more

Pass the Pepto Please

Those of you who know me, know that I love the nonprofit sector.  Some might even go so far as to say I’m a missionary for the sector.  But that would be inaccurate, as I am not out to “win” anyone over or convert them to my way of seeing things.  But I have knowingly volunteered and worked in this sector since what we then called junior high school.  In the many decades since then, I’ve held one and only one job in the for-profit Read more

Embrace Trust

Trust.  It is such a huge word for the nonprofit sector yet one we spend little time talking about.  Our whole currency, if you will, is based on trust:  our clients, donors, collaborators, and others trust that we will do a good job, deliver a valuable product, protect and steward our dollars, fulfill our mission promises, etc.  If these stakeholders stop trusting us, we are doomed.

Yet, when was the last time the staff and board of your organization talked about trust? What does it means Read more

Can We Fix Charitable Giving?

There is so much chatter these days about what needs to be done for nonprofits do to get the resources to survive these tough economic times, from what organizations should organizations do; to what should funders do; to what individuals should do.  But from what I’ve seen, with the only exception possibly being social networking, nothing is new.  But that’s not necessarily bad.

Pablo Eisenberg, who I have always deeply respected, but do so even more when he plays the role of “irascible critic,” had an Read more

Can We Fix Charitable Giving? November 13th, 2009 0 Comment