Steve Smith worked with us to re-build our board of directors in 2008. Board members came to understand "best practice" and developed job descriptions that are still informing our work. Steve helped us to pull together stakeholders and identify new community resources. We were surprised to realize the support available right in our own community! Board members felt comfortable with Steve right from the start, he took time to understand our organization and made sure that all of our work was a good fit for us. Steve tailored his work to our needs and the board took full ownership of the results
Chris Casserly, Executive Director of Rochester NH Child Care Center

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Board Development Masquerading as Board Orientation

Recently I’ve worked with a couple of clients seeking to “elevate the game” of their Board of Directors. In each case there’s a small contingent who see the value of developing Board skills in working more as a Strategic Board rather than as a Micromanaging or Absentee Board. How leaders deal with this kind of dilemma is quite a challenge. It comes under the old saw, “You can take a horse to water, but you can’t make it drink.” So as the consultant-in-waiting, what can I do to help facilitate progress?

What I’ve started doing is recruiting the nonprofit CEO and Board Chair to help find a team of current Board members who will help organize an orientation. From my experience thus far, it works to engage experienced, seasoned members to help outline and then deliver an orientation session for new-to-newer Board members. And part of the preparation for this session is for experienced Board members to do a bit of research and prepare a piece of the presentation and then facilitate the discussion that will follow.

Many members of our nonprofit Boards feel as though they know all there is to know about governance and don’t want to waste their time. This attitude of “you can’t teach me anything new” can undermine a Board’s advancement. I believe nonprofit leaders and consultants interested in working with Boards who may be a bit stubborn about their need to learn, can engage these volunteers and seek their help in getting an important job done.

So each year when there’s orientation for new Board members, tweak the process to engage more seasoned members of the Board. Get them involved. This can help get the group on the same page and working better toward common mission purpose.

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Teaching in Seattle

I’m looking forward to coming to Northeastern University’s Seattle campus in late-May to teach a hybrid version of the Nonprofit Fundraising class. I’m excited to be putting my show on the road for the first time for the College of Professional Studies. I’m working with Seattle-basd nonprofits to bring practitioners in to serve on a discussion panel. Respond here if you’re interested. And I’m recruiting a nonprofit to work as our “client.” In exchange, client nonprofit will receive a Donor Acquisition Plan. This class runs online from May 19 to June 28 (six weeks). But I’ll be in beautiful downtown Seattle Saturday and Sunday May 31 and June 1 for some face-time fundraising fun!

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Optimize Content Strategy: An Infographic

I found this excellent Infographic on Twitter recently.

It’s from Angela Hausman, PhD and it puts in one easy, accessible place key elements for content marketing.

7 Steps for an Optimized Content Strategy: http://bit.ly/OOHWHK.

Check it out. Try it out.

Focused marketing applies to nonprofits as it does to a for-profit business plan.

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Clinton Global Initiative: Students Convene for Some Problem-Solving

Bill Clinton and his Foundation will convene a university-student gathering at Arizona State University, Tempe Arizona March 21 – 23 to do some heavy lifting on global problems that need fresh solutions. http://bit.ly/1l0gvZk.

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Haven From Hunger Gets Strategic

On Friday, March 14 at 8:00 in the morning a room full of community leaders will gather to help set the strategic direction for Haven From Hunger.

Among Massachusetts North Shore community service agencies, Haven From Hunger is among the leaders in serving the poor. Literally and figuratively. Four nights a week at the Haven HQ on Wallis Street in Peabody, staff and volunteers serve in the vicinity of forty people a hot meal. And along with the meal, a chance to gather with others, have some conversation, and learn that there are people in this community who care.

In Peabody, Salem and Lynnfield The Haven operates food pantries providing emergency food to those who need it. Whose Food Stamps (SNAP) run out at the end of the month, who just got laid off, or who just find themselves on a day or a week or more…down on their luck.

The need in these communities far outstrip The Haven’s current capacity to serve. So it’s time for some action to grow the program, reach more people.

Because people should not have to go to bed hungry at night.

And beyond the tangible reality of the food, there’s the intangible need to know that there are people in the community who want to help. And WILL help.

If you’re a reader of this blog and you happen to be in the vicinity of Peabody Mass early this Friday morning, please let me know by responding to s.p.99smith@gmail.com and I’ll be sure there’s a place for you at breakfast Friday when we help determine best direction for this great nonprofit in serving its clientele.

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