Nonprofit Management

October 1, 2018

Management. Government. Society. Community. LIFE!!!

Some favorite YouTube videos.

I use them in my classes at SMUMN – where I teach in the masters program in Philanthropy and Development.

If I were on staff at an institution (instead of being a consultant) – I’d insist all staff watch these together….And then talk.

HEY! What a great way to start a board meeting…periodically watching something like this and talking about the implications for your clients, your donors, your organization, the community, and on and on and on…

EVERY SINGLE ONE OF THESE MARVELOUS VIDEOS is about the work that you and I do. The work that pretty much any human being does.

EVERY SINGLE ONE OF THESE INSIGHTFUL VIDEOS is about life…your life and mine, and the beneficiaries of our work and the volunteers helping in our organizations, serving on boards.

AND EVERY SINGLE ONE OF THESE HUMAN AND HUMANE VIDEOS is about our donors.

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Watch these. Share these. Explore the implications. Learn. Make change. Do and be better.

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Ahmen, “Batman of Social Impact.” Nonprofit leader by day and hip-hop artist by night. His marvelous opening for IFC 2017. I was there. I took the knee with my hand in a fist.[ https://twitter.com/TheResAlliance?lang=en]

#likeagirl “What does it mean to do something like a girl.” [https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XjJQBjWYDTs]

Ash Beckham: We’re all hiding something – coming out of the closet. [https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kSR4xuU07sc]

Brené Brown and vulnerability. [https://www.ted.com/talks/brene_brown_on_vulnerability]

“What is Privilege?” The privilege walk is one of the most insightful, saddening things I’ve ever seen or experienced. Better than watching it, you can actually do it. [https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hD5f8GuNuGQ]

 

May 7, 2018

Knowing what we don’t know…

How does your organization identify that which it doesn’t know – and learn about all that? Here are some of my ideas…

  • Diversity of life experience within staff and board: Gender identity. Sexual orientation. Socioeconomic status. Faith. Race/ethnicity. Profession. What else?
  • Intentional conversations about knowing what we don’t know – and learning about it.
  • Exploring cage-rattling questions to stimulate meaningful conversation.
  • Regular monitoring of the external environment, your organization’s internal environment, your organization’s specific field of endeavor, the nonprofit sector itself.
  • Reading across various disciplines.

What else?

April 23, 2018

How do we know what we don’t know?

I know that I don’t know much about sports (of any kind). And I don’t care that I don’t know much. I can make fun of myself. I can ask others. And there’s no substantive impact on my life or my friendships or my business or….

There’s lots of stuff I do know. And I know how to fill in the gaps of lots of my not knowing.

But what about the important stuff that I don’t know and don’t know that I don’t know it? I think that matters.

Not knowing what I don’t know…That’s worrisome. For me and my life. For my business. For my clients and my community and my society and my world.

How do we know what we don’t know? By reading lots. By connecting with diverse people. By exposing ourselves to unfamiliar things. By venturing beyond where we’re comfortable.

It’s the same for our organizations. First, decide it’s important to monitor what we don’t know and figure out how to know what we don’t know. Build this into your organizational culture. Establish systems and procedures to do this. Engage regularly in conversation at both staff and board levels.

Knowing what we don’t know… And knowing what we don’t know that we don’t know… Both are super important!

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.

 

 

 

April 2, 2018

From my archives. I have archives?

Every summer I head to Saint Mary’s university of Minnesota. I’m on faculty in the Masters Program in Philanthropy and Development. One of the greatest experiences of my life!

And I’m working on new stuff for summer 2018. Are you going to enroll? Check it out! Marvelous and rigorous program for those who want to focus on leadership and scholarship to build stronger organizations, stronger communities, and a stronger world.

This summer we will welcome Cohort 28.

Here’s a blog I wrote back in summer 2010. When I was on campus with Cohort 20. Our great conversation produced some cage-rattling questions for professionals, the profession, charitable organizations, and society itself. Questions like:

1. What does trust mean? Why does it matter?

2. Who is the nonprofit accountable to?

3. How comfortable are you being lost?

4. What makes someone part of a community? What does being part of a community entitle us to, obligate us for?

5. Why does society seem to feel that nonprofits should operate in “poverty-like” ways?

6. Why does a willingness to accept lower wages (than for-profits) seem to be an indicator or qualification for working in the nonprofit sector?

And here’s more from Cohort 20…bumper stickers!

1. Is lost actually found?

2. Don’t mistake leadership for strong talking.

3. Perhaps it’s called development because we find the answer – only questions that lead to more questions.

4. Rise up!

5. Mutiny!

March 26, 2018

Rationalization is pretty much crap…

Neuroscience tells us so. So does psychology. Yes, indeed. Rationalization is pretty much crap.

Charles Green inspired me today, as I write this blog.

I keep recommending Green’s newsletter, TrustedAdvice. Check out the issue “Smarts, Selfies, Shuttles – and Trust.” Read about the explosion of the space shuttle Challenger. Read about all the mistakes in decision-making.

YES! MISTAKES! You and I and our organizations make those same kinds of mistakes. Unfortunately, we keep talking about how wise we are and how smart we are and how rational we are. As Green notes, “our over-estimation of our rational behavior” and our “confirmation bias” can cause disasters big and small.

Green’s newsletter inspired me to  go to the original sources — and share with you. The original sources like Daniel Kahneman and Amos Tversky. These two – along with others – established the cognitive bias for our human errors. Biases. Heuristics.

Kahneman won the Nobel Prize in Economic Sciences for his seminal work in psychology, challenging the rational model of judgment and decision-making. (And he said it was a joint prize with his partner of so many years, Tversky, who had died previously.)

I have Kahneman’s book Thinking Fast and Slow on my business book shelf. I need to get off my butt and read it!!!!!

Or maybe I should read Michael Lewis’ book The Undoing Project, all about Kahneman and Tversky and their years of research and discovery. Lewis is the author of Moneyball, The Blind Side, and more.

I’m wandering. I get to do that in my own blog!!!!

Back to my beginning. Rationalization is pretty much crap. We aren’t rational. But we justify our decision-making by saying we’re rational. 

Imagine talking about neuroscience and psychology — and NON-rationalization — at a board meeting. Just enough to get everyone on board that we have to be very very very very careful. Imagine talking about NON-rationalization with staff … and carefully figuring out how we avoid the human error that lives in us all.

Maybe by confronting the crap, we’ll reduce the mess. Just maybe.

 

 

 

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.

March 6, 2018

TREAT for you and your colleagues at work

SUCH A GREAT IDEA from Lollypop Farmthe Humane Society of Greater Rochester (NY)

TREAT…. Like for a dog or kitty or horse or ….

But in this case, it’s a TREAT for one of your colleagues. Together Recognizing Exceptional Actions Today….

You want to commend a colleague for something great today. Just take a look!     (By the way, check out Lollypop. Great photography. Wonderful writing. Interesting programs.)

February 26, 2018

Fun inventing new things!

Driving in the car…Tom and I talk a lot. (And when hiking, too! We have to carry pad and pen.)

The other day we were talking about inventing new stuff – for clients and for speaking and books and articles and…

We presented in Tucson in January. Our AFP Southern AZ pals are so supportive when we invent new stuff. We test new ideas there.

  • Our joint plenary: Savvy Fundraisers’ Quiz Show…This is soooooo cool and fun and everyone talks and there’s laughing and!!
  • Then Tom did a whole new writing workshop thing.
  • And I did a drawing workshop.

YES! Drawing. Mapping. Diagramming. How and why it can work. Participants posted their drawings. We took pictures. Hey Tusconians…I hope some of you are trying this at work!!

Sometimes when you’re well known, people think you only can do or present about the stuff you’re already known for. I suppose some people are like that. Actually, I do know people like that.

But how boring. Tom and I are always inventing and changing and reinventing and…

I like it best when an organization or conference or host comes to me and says: “We have this tiny kernel of an idea. We think maybe you could develop this.” Oh my gosh. Wow. How cool. Yes yes yes. (Of course I do know what I really don’t know and can’t or won’t learn enough about to provide a good experience. Honestly, I will say…”Digital? Nope not me!” Or “techonology including robotics – hey, I’ll fall over laughing…”)

Someday I suppose I’ll choose no longer to read and learn and initiate and invent and… But I’m planning on that not happening for a long time. I’m having too much fun still learning and changing and inventing and….

Hmmm….. Now what do I want to do? I did that whole power thing at IFC 2016. But there’s so much more and different to do about power. More about social justice. Maybe how to hire the best fundraiser, interview questions and all. I want to deeply explore measures for nonprofits and how to do it and teach it and tools and… Maybe the process of founding an organization (oh that is done sooooo poorly so often!) How about managing or getting rid of founders… More and more people talk to me about how to start and grow their own businesses. Maybe that? Or really really how to effectively enable your boss and board members and the board itself to do well what they’re supposed to do and stay away from the other stuff. Too many people (EDs and FRers) just don’t know how to do this.

So much to do. Why don’t you ask?

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?

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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