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Posts Tagged ‘Capacity Building’

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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Nonprofit Employment Practice: Do We Practice what we Preach?

At the NH Center for Nonprofits Summit in Manchester NH September 23, Ruth McCambridge challenged those present to bet beyond “Do as I say, not as I do.”
Many nonprofit leaders criticize fast food outlets and Walmart and other major national corporations for paying non-sustainable wages.
Nonprofits in home health care and other direct human services practice this same behavior. They pay subsistence wages to employees…wages that can’t cover food, housing, child care, health care….under the excuse that their mission is service to people in need. Not recognizing that they are creating a class of people who depend on State and local benefits to supplement their wages.
It’s time to pay the piper.

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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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The Path Is the Goal

Scrolling through Twitter this evening, I came to a post from @DeniseWakeman: The path is the goal – Buddhist Saying. This stopped me short. Made me think. Why am I getting a ring of truth from this? I did a Google search of the title and found the title of a book by Chodyam Trongpa. A Short book on Buddhist meditation. The essence: Meditation is the way into finding answers to life’s big questions.

The parallel that rings true for me is an analogy with relationship fundraising in the nonprofit realm. To help secure commitment from donors to the nonprofit mission, we need to facilitate the connection. This takes investment in building a relationship. A little meditation won’t hurt.

At the start of class meetings in the Northeastern University MS Leadership program, I turn down the classroom lights, ask students to close their eyes and to become fully present in the here and now. Right here. Right now. Something I learned from Yoga. The good Yogi take the first five minutes of Yoga class…to get us quiet, close our eyes, breathe with thought, and excise all unnecessary thoughts from consciousness. To be fully present in this moment, ready to practice.

I find that this helps my students in my Leadership and Nonprofit Management classes disregard their Smart phones and laptops and get right with what we are considering in that time we have together.

I encourage friends who lead nonprofits to get board meetings, staff meetings off to this kind of start. To clear the mind of the extraneous and be fully present. Right here. Right now.

I encourage you to take a Yoga class. To dissolve in the experience. And to consider that sense of mindfulness as a goal for how you engage friends, volunteers, staff, donors, the people you serve. The path is the goal.


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Strategic Thinking VI: Recruiting to Build the Nonprofit Board

Is your Nonprofit outgrowing your current Board? Does it seem no matter what you do, there is a lack of zip from most Board members?
It’s a tricky proposition to achieve Board development, even as the Nonprofit is evolving. We want to build capacity for our Nonprofit to better deliver the mission, and generate revenue that makes this possible.
Here are a few suggestions to get things moving in the right direction:
– You need at least two or three members of the current Board who get the need for change and are willing to work to make this happen.
– The chair of the Board needs to be an ally who will work with a core Board group and the Executive Director to get things moving in the right direction.
– At the next Board meeting, be totally transparent with what is happening: A recruitment effort supported by the Chair and led by a committee (Governance? Nominating?) appointed by the Chair to identify candidates, interview them, ask for resumes, work with a job description that accurately lets qualified candidates know where this is going and what is expected.

Some candidates may not agree to join the Board. Perhaps they will serve on a committee. This gives them a chance to get to know you and the organization. If commitment develops with this approach you can build a cadre of Board prospects starting with committee appointments.

This is hard work, and requires more effort than just the Executive Director.

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