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Archive for the ‘Capacity Building’ Category

Relationship Check-up: The CEO and the Board Chair

We can have a solid strategic plan, a clear concise mission, an ample donor database. But if the CEO and the Board chair don’t have and seek a strong working relationship, it undermines confidence of staff and rest of the Board and can limit the nonprofit’s capacity to succeed.
So what are some indicators that can help us know we’re good with this relationship?

    Conduct of Board Meetings

: The chair formulates the agenda, in consultation with the CEO. They discuss the agenda about a week prior to each meeting. The Board is the source of nonprofit governance. The CEO and staff execute the program and are accountable for its successful delivery.

    Communicating with Community.

There are roles that should be clarified on when the CEO speaks on behalf of the organization, and when the chair of the board does. This should become a policy, adopted by the Board and reviewed each time a new Chair is elected. So when the nonprofit takes a position on a matter that the community should hear about, we (insiders) know who will speak on a key issue.

    Assessing Performance of the Nonprofit

As a general rule, the CEO oversees performance assessment of staff. And the Board Chair or his/her designee conducts an annual performance review of the CEO. And that review is based on the job description and objectives agreed-to by the Board and CEO at the beginning of each year. This clarity of purpose helps avoid subjective assessments that are not based on pre-determined important factors.

We could discuss more. And I’m happy to have that conversation if you reach out and seek my advice and guidance in making leadership relationships work.

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Developing Fundraising Skill in the CEO

Today, most nonprofits seek a CEO with fundraising experience. Generally, that experience is in the annual campaign and major gift fundraising.
But at times, the nonprofit Board hires a new CEO who has built successful special events. With the expectation that this new leader will apply that ability successfully.
My advice to Board search committees is, negotiate with the top candidates on how this will be applied in six month blocks of time from hire date. What is the hoped for result? What experience and qualities of the candidate can be best applied to get improved results?
Building on a solid track record has the best chance of success. Focusing on candidates who get the mission, who communicate with enthusiasm, who seem most engaging with other people…look for the skills that will have the best chance at success.
Then monitor progress along the way.

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Transparency and Accountability

For nonprofit organizations to achieve their highest level of effectiveness, there must be accountability.

Effective nonprofits adopt performance standards for the executive director and a self-assessment process for the Board itself.

Nonprofit executives adopt sound performance review process to assure staff are working to achieve their responsibilities.

And high-functioning Boards have an annual or semi-annual review process in place of their executive director.

Transparency is a value we should strive for. There needs to be sound processes of evaluation in place so we know we’re measuring what’s important, and report to our clients and supporters how we’re doing. Our successes. As well as areas we’re working to improve.

It’s continuous improvement that contributes to nonprofit effectiveness.

For assistance in putting such systems in place:

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Concentration of Wealth and Impact on Public Welfare

We seem in the USA to be on a track of more concentration of wealth in the hands of a very few. And then we hope that Warren Buffet and Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerberg et al will use their wealth for public good.
There are many foundations that direct wealth to nonprofits with a plan and with a reliable history.
There are individuals like Mr Zuckerberg who has a big idea and works with State of New Jersey to impose a new approach to education to the Newark schools.
Many of our fellow Americans think the super rich can work their magic on major national security problems or major social welfare challenges. Clearly, this is a serious misunderstanding.
We need to identify the right examples that actually bring improved conditions and apply tax and foundation assets to those. In a thoughtful and well-informed way.
The road we’re on at the moment is wasting valuable resources of the USA and not bringing us to resolution.

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Now that We’ve Got ’em, What Do We Do with ’em?

So the Governance committee has been out and about seeking volunteers who would like to join our Board. And who bring something we need to the table.
They identified a volunteer on the finance committee, and one from the HR committee who have worked with us for nearly two years and feel like the move up to the Board would be a good experience.
Our Board meets 4 times a year. Twice in fall, once in winter, once in spring. Off for the summer. Our chair runs excellent meetings. Never more than two hours. Always have a client join us to tell us her story at the start of our meetings. To set the right tone.
Beyond members of standing committees, Governance committee members recruited a couple of others from the community. We were fortunate to find an estate planner at a mid-size law firm in town who cares about our mission and would like to help us get our legacy giving program off the ground. And a small business owner whose Mom was helped by one of our program professionals decided this would be her opportunity to “give back.” She has been very generous in many ways. But it was pretty clear to the volunteers on Governance that this young lady is an eager-beaver whose business is soaring and who will bring some adrenaline to our cause.
So. Four new board members joining what will be a group of fourteen. Three members will rotate off. They have hit the ceiling on term limits and, no hard feelings, agreed it was time to move on. Good to know we can call on each of them if we need them.
So. Healthy board. Strong capacity for growth.
Outlook is good.

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