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.

December 1, 2014

Overhead madness

MUST READ!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

The back and forth at the Agitator (Belford and Craver) …. and all the marvelous comments from people all over the world.

The back and forth at the Critical Fundraising Blog …. at the new Centre for Sustainable Philanthropy in the U.K.

Everyone in your organization should read this… THE WHOLE THING! It’s the comments that count. The original Agitator column stimulates the comments.

I’ll say it again: Read the whole Agitator thing! Now, read the whole Critical Fundraising thing!

And let’s join voices and tell the truth and explain. Explain through stories and metaphors. Don’t explain through data!

Convince some donors and get them to tell the story about why overhead matters.

Let’s launch a donor fight FOR overhead.

Keep up the critique of those silly watchdog groups who made this the center of their evaluations. Then after their leadership in furthering this fiasco… these watch doggies changed their tunes and said something like “of course, overhead isn’t bad; it’s necessary.” (Although they didn’t actually say they had helped further the fiasco and were sorry.)

Join the fight FOR overhead. Tell stories. Get your donors to tell stories about why overhead matters.

February 10, 2014

Overcoming barriers for board members

Read this useful book, Boards on Fire! Inspiring Leaders to Raise Money Joyfully by Susan Howlett. Easy and fast to read. Very useful tips for your work with your board and its members.

Susan explores 11 barriers: Expectations are unclear. The Context is Cloudy. The Board Doesn’t Own the Budget. Trustees Aren’t Engaged in Governance. The Mission is Muddy. Goals Aren’t Driving Behavior. Outcomes Are Vague. The Fundraising Strategy is Ill-Defined. The Board Isn’t Being Used Optimally. Leaders Aren’t Equipped to be Ambassadors. Trustees Haven’t Seen Good Models.

And she has ideas about how to storm the barricade, topple over the barrier – or sneak around it!

Susan begins the book with a wonderful exposé about fear. Fundraising might be like a first swimming lesson, Susan says. She once watched a mom scream at her child: “Jump in the water!” But he wouldn’t jump. Instead, he stood on the edge of the pool and cried and screamed, “Noooo!” Mom promised that the teacher would catch him. Mom promised all would be fine.

But Susan reminds us: “What the mother failed to appreciate was that the little boy’s response was cannily appropriate. He knew he couldn’t swim and he had no proof that the teacher would catch him. He knew that when he threw things into water, sometimes they floated – and sometimes they sank to the bottom.”

I love Susan’s comment…”Cannily appropriate.”  Of course our board members are afraid of fundraising. You know it. I know it. Susan knows it. And if we’re honest, why wouldn’t board members be afraid? This could be a new activity for them. They aren’t experts like you’re supposed to be.

January 29, 2014

Smart clients with smart thinking

I’m in my hotel room in Lakeville, Connecticut. Right on the New York border. Soon, I’m heading over to  Women’s Support Services in Sharon.

I’m WSS’s strategic planning consultant. Yesterday I was doing sessions with board committees. Today, some more. And I just have to share some of the very smart stuff I’m hearing. Very smart, indeed!

On every board meeting agenda, WSS includes a “board meeting principle.” They talk about a particular principle of good governance. What it means. Why it matters. Whatever.

How great is that? Every single board meeting, they remind themselves of good governance, exploring a fundamental principle of good governance. I think that is so cool.

“Let’s renew our vows annually. “ Dick said that. He reminded me that he is a pastor. His great point: Every year, each board member should reaffirm her or his commitment to the performance expectations. And what a wonderful way to say this. Renewing my vows to the organization, to its mission and vision and values. Renewing my commitment to fulfill the performance expectations. I vowed all this when I agreed to serve on the board.

— So what does a committee do? How is it different than the board? How does the committee make sure it doesn’t disempower the board – or just ask the board to rubber stamp committee decisions.

Maria observed that committees don’t make decisions (or certainly shouldn’t!) Committees process in more detail. They may recommend. But the governance committees of the board – they don’t make decisions.

Then Steve used this good language: Committees are part of oversight and control. (I talk about committees helping the board fulfill its due diligence functions.)

Steve went on to say that a major role of any committee is to educate the board and its individual members regarding their responsibilities —  and how to interpret information in a way that allows the board to own its accountabilities and board members to ask important questions.

Thank you, Women’s Support Services. Darn good work! And thank you for your commitment to creating a community free of domestic violence and abuse.


January 27, 2014

Simone’s two new books…fundraising…board members

Check out these two new books:

npEXPERTS Donor Retention Guide from Blackbaud. Show the Love Ain’t that the truth? Meet a few of the 13 experts in this new online book: Roger Craver, Lisa Sargeant, Pam Grow, Harvey McKinnon, Nancy Schwartz – and me, Simone Joyaux.

Here is just a sampling of topics:  •  The case for donor retention  •  It’s all about the stories you tell  •  Why perfect thank yous will make or break you  •  Engaging board members in the retention process  •  Using your annual report to boost donor retention  •  AND MORE!

Visit Amazon or Charity Channel Press now. Get your own copy of my new book, Firing Lousy Board Members – And Helping the Others to Succeed. 

Learn how to find good board members and help them become great. Make sure you have the right policies in place for the board and its work – and for the board members and their requirements. Try the evaluation tools. Learn how to give feedback. And – only if it is necessary – then you can enhance attrition or thank and release.

And, have you taken a look at any of these books — with contributions by me?



April 14, 2013

New resources in my Free Download Library

I’ve just added two new items to my Free Download Library on my website:

  • Version #2: Role of the Board
  • Version #2: Board member performance expectations

Versions #1 are still there. But I’m always thinking of new ways of saying things. And thinking of new things that are important.

So visit the Free Download Library and check out these new versions. 

And always remember the following:

  1. There is a difference between the board and the individual board member. These are NOT NOT interchangeable words.
  2. The first responsibility of the individual board member is to participate in the governance process. That’s what it means to be a board member. Go to board meetings, etc. etc. In Version #2 of the board member performance expectations, I’ve pulled together all the activities of being a board member.
  3. But the board member has another obligation – beyond corporate governance. I expect the board member to be a key volunteer, a leadership volunteer. So you will see assorted performance expectations for board members that happen beyond and outside of corporate governance. In Version #2, I’ve separated these to indicate that these activities are not part of governance but are equally important and non-negotiable.

I hope you find these new versions useful and helpful.

Filed under: Resources / Research

March 31, 2013

“I’ve never been so beat up in a workshop – and felt so great!”

People can learn – and must. Organizations can change – and must. Workshops can help. Reading the right books and bloggers can make a difference. Good conversations – with disagreement – can help. What are you doing to learn and change?

On March 29, 2013, I had the honor of serving as keynote presenter for the third annual East Bay Forum hosted by CompassPoint. The focus of the forum … UnderDeveloped: A National Study of Challenges Facing Nonprofit Fundraising.

More than 100 nonprofit organizations, mostly in the East Bay, attended…including development officers, executive directors, and board members…mostly teams from the same organizations. That’s the way to build understanding, learn and change – bring a team from the organization. Make sure that the team talks and then helps design and facilitate change in the organization.

Within 24 hours, I received an email from a consultant attending the session with one of her clients. Here’s what she said: “I am working with a small non profit to do a development audit and create their fund development plan. They have a lot of development challenges.
“I emailed the ED the study (the UnderDeveloped Report) a few weeks ago and she read it but did not quite get the full understanding of all that was lacking with her organization for successful fund development .
“But then she went to the workshop on Friday and today I was at their board retreat and she could not stop talking about the workshop. She said ‘I have never been so beat up in a four hour workshop and felt so great!’
“Now she gets it and the board chair is starting to understand and they both see that the board needs to be involved in fund raising and the role of the DD and investing in long term donor cultivation etc.
“So I am so inspired that this study and the workshop can have an impact and that DD/ED and board can make changes with the right information and commitment!”

How wonderful. That ED heard the problems identified in the report. She recognized her organization’s challenges. She understands that the organization can learn and change. Ask yourself: Do you know your organization’s problems? Are you prepared to face the challenges and learn and make change? Can you enable your staff colleagues, board members, executive director (if you are the development officer) to see the challenges, follow the body of knowledge, and make change?

It was a great morning there in the east bay of California. It was, of course, tough love day. Most days are tough love day with me. I love and respect the nonprofit sector and its role in community and democracy. But there is lots to fix for the nonprofit sector to be stronger and produce greater impact. Changes in fund development. Changes in governance. Changes in executive leadership.

Now is the time for your executive director, develop director, and management team to read UnderDeveloped. Read my January 3-part blog in response. Your fund development committee needs to read the study. And your board, too. Talk about the implications. Figure out how to fix this!

For help with change, visit the Free Download Library on my website. Read Simone Uncensored, my blog, and subscribe to my e-news. You will receive regular tips and ideas about how to be stronger, raise more money, and engage a top-notch board in top-notch ways. Maybe you’ll need consulting help. So find a good consultant.

Just do it, as Nike says. A trite phrase these days. But nonetheless. Do it. Fix yourself. Be all that you can be. You know what I mean!

Filed under: Leadership

August 8, 2011

Using committees

And not just for recommendations

Some random thoughts for you to remember – and explain to your boss and board:

1. Board committees help the board do corporate governance. These committees report to the board and the board directs and controls these committees.

2. Good committees don’t waste board time by making reports. Send reports to board members and they can read the reports.

3. Good committees don’t just make recommendations to the board. Sometimes committees refuse to make a recommendation. Instead, the committee explores options and engages the board in conversation. And the board decides.

4. Mostly, committees should engage the board in strategic conversation. That means the committee has to provide background information and set the context.

5. At the end of each committee meeting, the committee should explore the following:

— Does the board need to make a decision based on something we, the committee, have explored? If yes, will the committee recommend a decision to the board and seek board reaction to the recommendation? Or, should the board have a strategic conversation – facilitated by committee information – and the board should then decide?

— Do we the committee need to help build board understanding and ownership, but no action is necessary at this time?

— Do we the committee need to inform / expose the board to something now? And at some point in the future, the board might make a decision about something?

January 9, 2011

Committee job descriptions

What do you include?

Yes, please write job descriptions for your committees. See examples in the Free Download Library on this website. And if it’s a board committee, your board adopts the job description. Include these components:

Committee name | Reports to (board of directors if it’s a board committee) | Composition (for example, 5 – 7 members including board members and non-board members) | Meeting frequency (don’t get carried away with meetings!) | Purpose of the committee (a couple sentences!) | Accountabilities (And now you list the specific responsibilities.)

November 17, 2009

That damn executive committee

Destroy it!

I’ve ranted and raved about executive committees before. Just check my blog archive. I’m on a worldwide mission to destroy all of them.

Here’s what Marcia from Iowa said when she read my previous blog about executive committees: “The sentence that really resonated with me [in your blog] is – ‘Some organizations establish an executive committee to compensate for a weak board. Fix the board.'”

Marcia adds: “A person who is willing to sit on a board that uses an executive committee the way you, Simone, describe it might be wise to think about being part of that board. The fiduciary and oversight responsibility that belongs to a board member isn’t diminished by the number of meetings s/he attends. The full responsibility falls on all the board members.”

Marcia goes on to say: “My most recent board has had difficulty in getting members to attend meetings because they’re so disengaged. So the board decided to have meetings less often with executive meetings on the off months. Now, more of the members don’t have any idea what’s going on, and I can’t see how that’s going to make them feel more useful. Scary.”

Scary, indeed, Marcia. Hey everyone out there. Examine that executive committee. Read my past blog. Join the worldwide campaign to destroy all executive committees.

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