Endorsements

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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Nonprofit Board Orientation: Building Shared Vision

Helping the new member of the Board of Directors feel at home is the responsibility of the executive director and the chair of the Board.

The work of putting together a great orientation session and an effective Board manual of course can be delegated, but it’s the job of the nonprofit leadership to make sure that this work is done, and that it’s done well.

Having a two-hour session (including lunch or dinner) featuring the CEO, the Board chair, the treasurer and the chair of the development committee can help give the incoming members a good picture of what’s important and what’s expected of all Board members.

Conducting this session in such a way that engages the new members so they get to ask questions, and offer their viewpoints on key issues facing the organization lets them know that leadership expects even new members of the Board to hit the ground running. And along with this information comes an expectation that the new members will volunteer for at least one committee assignment. And how many events during the year are Board members expected to show up and participate in? All of this should be understood before the commitment is made, and the new members should be ready to sign up at or shortly after orientation for the important work that lies in front of this nonprofit.

A business-like approach that communicates the importance of what the nonprofit does, and the contribution of each and every member of this Board of Directors. Helping the entire Board, including the new folks, get into sync gives the group a chance to articulate and then work toward a shared vision for the future. Delivering the mission with a strong sense of purpose.

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New From Nonprofit Quarterly: How NPO’s are Using Social Media

Current issue of Nonprofit Quarterly features some data on how Nonprofit Organizations are using social media, and some recommendations how to use social media more effectively. Worth a look! http://bit.ly/1Qarn72.

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Tribute Gifts: Honoring a loved one or friend with a charitable gift

Memorial Day 2015 is just around the corner (May 25). it’s a USA national holiday that dates back to 1866, when Decoration Day was declared to honor soldiers who lost their lives in the Civil War http://www.va.gov/opa/speceven/memday/history.asp.

Today, we honor all our war dead on Memorial Day. Many nonprofit organizations over the years have launched memorial gift programs. Family members and friends of the war dead make tribute gifts in honor of the deceased to help a nonprofit that meant a lot to the fallen soldier, sailor, marine.

Now nonprofits have tribute programs. Supporters are encouraged to remember a deceased love one…or, honor a living person’s birthday or anniversary or college graduation with a special gift to help a charitable cause in the name of the loved friend or family member.

I recommend that if you have a newsletter that goes to your supporters, to encourage donors to make such gifts to support a nonprofit they care about in the name of a person…as a mark of celebration or a mark of remembrance.

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Five Tips for Board Bonding

The Board of Directors is an odd species.
Customarily, there are twelve to fifteen members. They meet regularly: Quarterly. Monthly. Alternate months.
Some Boards grow and develop nicely. What’s the correct potting soil mix? Amount of sunlight? Fertilizer (there’s usually an abundance of that available)…that fosters a thriving healthy Board to keep your Nonprofit mission in proper focus?
From my experience, and training at BoardSource and Leader to Leader and NH Association of Nonprofits, these are five of the keys to Nonprofit/Board success:
Active Governance Committee These are the keepers of the Holy Grail. They are on the lookout for new Board members who can contribute to data-driven decision-making. Who enjoy working with people.
Focused Meeting Agendas Once in a while, the discussion can get off-track. And once in a while this can be beneficial. But generally, Board leaders keep things moving and the give-and-take is targeted to issues that will help this group make intelligent, well-informed decisions.
Strategic Direction The Board knows where the organization is headed and stays focused on helping it accomplish the mission. At each meeting we hear about progress in achieving goals the Board has set.
Time for Play The Board takes time now and then for some social activities. Dinner and conversation. A learning experience that sheds new light on one of the nonprofit’s goals. It’s not all about the formal meetings.
Be Prepared Members come to meetings having read the attachments to the agenda. Leaders know that they can’t overload the work, or members will drift off. Keep agenda do-able in 2 hours.
Following these few steps can put you on the road to higher levels of effectiveness. And along with it, higher levels of Board member satisfaction. And that’s the truth!

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Is Baltimore Hearing from Its Leaders?

From the time of Freddie Gray’s arrest Sunday, April 12 to his death in a Baltimore hospital on Sunday, April 19 it seemed (from the outside looking in) that Baltimore was simmering. Something was brewing, and it started to boil over (according to media reports) on Friday, April 24. Reports in national media linked the treatment of Freddie Gray by Baltimore police as symptomatic of a predominantly white police force handling African American residents they are sworn to protect with excessive force. Not on every occasion. Not every white officer. But it seemed there has been a small segment of the force that abuse their power.
This is not an unusual phenomenon in our USA. How can this be?
So now in recent days we have seen the backlash. The destruction of businesses, of private property, of police vehicles and against police themselves. We know that two wrongs don’t make it right. But we know desperate people commit desperate acts.
So where is Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake in all this? Religious leaders? Sports heroes of the city? Where are the voices of people who all might listen to? Who will come to the neighborhoods and listen to what folks in the poorest blocks of Baltimore have to say?
Where is the problem-solving attitude?
Where are the nonprofit leaders of Baltimore in all this?
National media are giving us pictures of a burning CVS store. People making mayhem in the streets.
Why is it when I Google Baltimore, one of the first phrases I see is “Baltimore riots”?
Can we see some efforts of peace-makers trying to get the situation back to simmer?
Cities that can’t organize to resolve their problems give off a feeling of a cause that is lost.
If our leaders can’t bring the forces of the city together to resolve our problems they have lost their will to lead.
Who will step up?

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