How many is enough?

Recently, I’ve felt a lot like I am watching a great tennis match, say one between Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal: he’s up, he’s down; he slammed it, he lobbed it.  Except the “he” is nonprofits and the up and down, slammed and lobbed are coming and going:  that nonprofit is closing its doors, this nonprofit is expanding to Philadelphia.  Unlike a tennis match, though, I’m not sure there are always winners.

On top of that, a few weeks ago, I got into a very public, Read more

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

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

Best Practices for Nonprofit Excellence

I love the New York Times.  I’m not one of those snobs who thinks that if you aren’t reading the NYT you aren’t reading a paper, though.  It just does good journalism—and more. 

The Times recently announced that the application for its fourth annual Nonprofit Excellence Awards[1] (to be awarded in June 2010) is now available.  (By the “fourth annual” I figure this isn’t a fly-by-night deal, but something that is really here to stay.  So, it is safe to sing its praises.)  But this Read more

Term Limits for Nonprofit Boards

 In response to a recent blog, I was asked the following question:  What is your opinion on term limits for board members and officers?  Opinions are one thing of which I have no shortage.  So, be careful what you ask!

The debate on term limits has been waging for decades, if not centuries.  So, there is no “settled” answer to this question.  But my own answer is very firm:  term limits—both for board members and officers—are a must.  My reasons underlying this Read more

Stressed ≠ Important


Before leaving on vacation, I foolishly allowed myself to agree to working with a client on my first evening back.  But the client was most solicitous and understanding, and upon arrival asked about my vacation, even wanting to see pictures.  She asked an interesting question:  what insights did you gain?


At the time I laughed, as I rarely thought of work, but the question kept gnawing at me.  My answer began to take shape over the course of the Read more

Stressed ≠ Important July 30th, 2009 0 Comment

Supersize me?


True confession:  I was not always a popular feminist, even my feminist peers.  I didn’t believe that just because we wanted to be regarded as equal to men—we already knew we were, if not superior to—that we had to be the same as men.  We didn’t need to mimic them, working ridiculously long hours, barking orders, wearing suits, being cut-throat;  but rather, we could be just as successful if we played to our strengths and did things our way, bringing Read more

Ask Not What Your Nonprofit Can Do For You

Though President Obama (that feels so good to say and write!) wasn’t specifically addressing members of nonprofit boards of directors in his inaugural speech, I hope they were listening.   “The question we ask today is not whether our government is too big or too small, but whether it works …. Where the answer is yes, we intend to move forward. Where the answer is no, programs will end. Those of us who manage the public’s dollars will be held to account — to spend Read more

Very, Highly, Truly, Rather, More Unique


It seems like such a platitude to start out the new year with a blog about new year’s resolutions.  So, I’m putting out a suggestion, planting a seed for folks to consider.  And that is this:  get over yourself!  You are only hurting your organization and the client base you profess to want to serve. No exaggeration, but conservatively, 80% of nonprofits we work tell us they are unique.  Their challenges are unique, their situation unique, their issues unique, etc.  “It is hard for us Read more

Have you lost your compass?

Announcement:  there will not be, now, tomorrow or ever, a $700 billion or even an $85 billion bailout for the nonprofit sector.  So, when we say we are businesses, don’t get too carried away with that thought.  Remember, we are businesses that must be beholden to our mission, balancing our bottom line with how well we are delivering on the promises of our mission.  Like so many other examples of the past, we are facing another perfect example of the fact that “we must run like Read more