Nonprofit Boards-Governance

April 6, 2018

One of my most favorite things!!!

Saint Mary’s University of Minnesota…. Masters Degree in Philanthropy and Development….

Why? The STUDENTS!!! All ages and life experiences and types of nonprofits and different countries and… All committed to challenging assumptions, and exploring, and lifelong learning.

Faculty like Audrey and Gary and now Tom Ahern has joined the faculty!! And we have other new faculty members, too.

Constantly modifying and strengthening the curriculum. (For example: I’m going to spend more time on social justice in the first course students have.)

  • Fundraising of course… planning and major gifts and a really marvelous real life solicitation with a real person!!!
  • Fundraising communications
  • Strategic planning
  • Leadership: Legal and ethical issues in nonprofit organizations
  • Governance (That’s me!)
  • Philanthropy and development: frameworks for thinking and learning. (That’s me, too!)

Part of the program is online. A masters degree in ONE YEAR only. Just 4 semesters. WOW!!!. Students begin with summer 1 residency…Fall and spring online. And then you return to campus once more for summer 2 residency. AND YOU’RE DONE!!

AND THEN!!!!!!!! THE RESIDENCY. Those weeks on campus each summer. Oh wow. I LOVE the residency. Face-to-face. Talking and arguing and applying learnings and experience. Intense. Fun. And building relationships that stick with you on and on.

Contact Cheryl Pray (cpray@smumn.edu) our marvelous Executive Director. Contact me and I’ll tell you all about the program.

Join us! We learn and have fun and create enduring relationships.

 

 

 

March 19, 2018

Answers to the Savvy Fundraiser’s Quiz Show

My March newsyletter introduced the Savvy Fundraiser’s Quiz Show. As promised in the newsyletter, here are the answers!!

Question #1: What’s the most important thing a board member does?

  • Attend board meetings.  X
  • Give an annual financial contribution.
  • Help raise money.

Answer: To be a board member, you must participate in the process of governance. Corporate governance only happens at board meetings because governance is a group activity. Yes, the other two choices are obligations of board members, too. But the single most important thing is attending and participating in board meetings because that’s where/when governance happens. Visit the Free Download Library on my website and read all the materials about governance/boards/board members.

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Question #2: What’s the one thing a board chair should NOT do?

  • Serve as spokesperson for the organization   X
  • Get to know the various staff people.   X
  • Provide regular advice and counsel to the CEO/ED.   X

Answer: This is a trick question. The board chair should NOT do any of these!

  • The CEO/ED serves as the spokesperson for the organization. The CEO/ED can assign someone else to serve as chief spokesperson for a particular issue or moment in time. That could be the board chair or the fundraiser or or and and and and. It’s the CEO/ED’s decision.
  • Of course, the board chair may meet any number of the staff – same holds true for other board members. However, the board chair does not “get to know” staff. Like about families and friends and life and the job and… That can jeopardize the separation of management and governance.
  • So what does “regularly” mean? Of course, the CEO/ED and Board Chair prepare board meeting agendas together. Talk with each other about issues that come before the board. And the CEO/ED can certainly ask the board chair for advice and counsel, or vice versa. But be very very careful. Regularly? Ok. Once/month if the board meets monthly. Periodically an email about something . But if the board chair and CEO/ED talk/meet weekly? On no! Biweekly updates or something? Be careful!!! Sounds like the board chair is acting as CEO/ED. And the actual CEO/ED is just the chief operating officer. Be very very very very careful!!!!!!

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Question #3: Who needs to be the governance expert in your organization?

  • Board Chair
  • Executive Committee
  • Chief executive (CEO/ED or whatever title your organization uses)   X

Answer: The one person we can count on is the CEO/ED. Hired. Paid. Professional! S/he is obligated to learn this stuff and lots of other stuff, too. Read! Workshops! Experience. Etc. And just because a board member has served on many boards does NOT NOT NOT mean s/he knows the governance body of knowledge, etc. etc. In my experience, most boards are mediocre at best. And far too many are dysfunctional. I hold the CEO/ED accountable for both mediocrity and dysfunction. By virtue of position, the CEO/ED is required to be highly knowledge about governance – and also be a darn good enabler to help the board chair facilitate good governance. (And if your board doesn’t listen and allow you to enable — then work diligently to change the board members. Or find another job. You deserve better.)

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The Savvy Fundraiser’s Quiz Show has many more questions and answers. If you want me to publish more in my newsyletter, just let me know.

February 12, 2018

Cool stuff

Do you know CharityChannel – and its press?

You should. I think CharityChannel Press is publishing more fundraising / nonprofit sector books than anyone else these days. And pretty cool titles, too! For example: 50 Asks in 50 Weeks. Fundraising for….Churches…Museums…Hospitals and…(Separate books!) The Nonprofit Consulting Playbook. Storytelling in the Digital Age. Opening the Door to Major Gifts. And so many many more! Just take a look!

CharityChannel Press published my book Firing Lousy Board Members. Have you read it? You probably should. All about boards and board members and making sure you don’t have to fire them. [In fact, just carry the book around in front of your board and board members… And maybe they’ll be curious and choose to learn and you can help them!]

And how about this…. CharityChannel’s Masters of Fundraising Summit. On line for your convenience. Reduced price for your wallet. And good presenters for your learning!

Are you continuously learning? What’s on your bookshelf? What are you reading?

August 14, 2017

Online learning

February 1, 2017

Do you read 101fundraising?

You should. International crowdblog on fundraising.

Check out Matthew Sherrington’s “12 insights from the crystal ball: Get your fundraising ready for the future.” 

Share with your boss and your board.

I responded by saying that I particularly #6, #9, and #11. That was my feeling yesterday when I read the blog. Of course, I actually like them all.

But #6, #9, and #11 are particularly special to me. Because fundraising is not that icky thing shoved off into a corner… Fundraising is not a means to our organization’s so very important end. Fundraising – and the philanthropy it generates – is meaningful and special and essential in its own right. Fundraising – the resulting philanthropy – represent the donor’s aspirations. Your NGO is a means to fulfill that donor’s aspirations.

So read. Share. Think. And fix your organization!!

By the way, check out Monsieur Sherrington’s twitter feed… Sharing cool historical facts.

December 5, 2016

Building the best organizations

What don’t we know?

How do we recognize that there’s stuff we don’t know — and we don’t know that we don’t know?

How do we confront that we don’t even know that we don’t know stuff?

How do we build into an NGO the concept of regularly exploring / discovering what we don’t know?

And this can happen in every or any part of our work anywhere.

[A conversation I had with Michael Campbell at HFPG‘s consultant workshop that I delivered in early December.]

October 31, 2016

Are you bored with CRQs?

I hope not. Because asking and talking and (sometimes but not always) deciding is the business of business. This is your work. And the work of your colleagues and boss and board and …

More CRQs…especially focused on boards and governance:

  1. How can we create a board environment that is hostile to apathy and the rejection of diverse opinions? (Cohort 15)
  2. How do we create a culture that allows us to question whether we’re doing governance or management at board meetings?
  3. To what degree – in what ways – might program and services be affected when a board lacks diversity? (Pleasance, Cohort 23)
  4. What are the red flags that the board needs to be aware of? (Cohort 20)
  5. How does an organization make sure that not only is the community represented in the organization’s deliberations – but that the community is actually heard? (Brenda Brown, Cohort 23)
  6. How can boards know what they don’t know? (Cohort 23)

These are the kinds of cage-rattling questions we ask in my classes at SMUMN. And these are the kinds of CRQs that we strive to begin answering. Join us. We have lots of fun and learns lots more.

September 20, 2016

Errant thoughts…#3

Did you read my blog on BoardSource — focused on destroying executive committees? Tons of comments. Good back and forth.

Maybe you could print all this out and have your board members read it. And then…. Drum roll please…. Talk about it.

Because your board gets to decide if it wants an executive committee. Even if your bylaws say there is an executive committee, the board can initiate a change in the bylaws.

So check out the blog and all the back and forth. (Just scroll down!) I think all boards ought to have this conversation.

September 15, 2016

Errant thoughts…#2

Sometimes I write multiple blogs at a time. And then schedule them into the future. Sometimes I have so many thoughts crashing around in my brain that I have to write multiple blogs and a newsletter or two all in one sitting!

So I’m still in the plane flying to Anchorage. The students in Cohort 25 just keep inspiring me – so I keep writing.

Here’s another errant thought:

  1. Have you asked your board members how satisfied they are with board meetings? For example:
  2. Are we talking about the right stuff?
  3. Have we provided you with the right information to talk effectively about the right stuff?
  4. Have all of us together create a safe environment to ask questions, challenges our own assumptions and those of others, talk candidly…And disagree?!?!?

Notice that these are evaluative-type questions. These are not the type’s of questions that would, necessarily, generate conversation. These questions might just produce responses on a likert scale.

I think that’s okay for this kind of evaluation. Then the board can talk about the results. Because sometimes we’re just so mad at the board and we blame everything on the board members. And we forget to look in the mirror at ourselves!

 

September 9, 2016

Errant thoughts…#1

I’m in an airplane flying to Anchorage, Alaska to work for a couple days. I’ve been thinking lots about governance. Just cause I often do. And because I’ve been reading final papers (on governance) from Cohort 25 at SMU.

So here’s an errant thought: What if we constructed a set of games (maybe like Jeopardy or ??) and used it as part of a screening interview with candidates for board membership? Then we’d grade how well they did and if they qualified…

Okay. That’s not practical. But what questions do you think should be asked of candidates? Just like the questions you invent for interviews with possible employees…

For example:

  1. What does the concept “corporate governance” mean to you?
  2. What have been your best and worst governance experiences?
  3. If you were assessing the quality of a board and its members, what kinds of questions would you ask?
  4. How would you explain the purpose of a board to someone who has never served on a board?
  5. How would you describe what makes an excellent board member to someone who has never served on a board?

What do you want to add?

 

Simone Joyaux, ACFRE, Adv Dip, is an internationally recognized expert in fund development, board and organizational development, strategic planning, and management.

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