Posts

How to Run Successful Capital Campaigns: An Interview with Amy Eisenstein

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Is your organization looking to raise more money…

Use the Word "Profit" to Get Your Board's Attention!

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Who’s making the decisions about fundraising budgets and investments…

How to Enlist Your Dream Team Board

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Wouldn't you love to enlist the right team of people who can…

10 Basic Responsibilities of Nonprofit Boards

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There's so much confusion about the appropriate job of a nonprofit board member.

Lots of boards ask me to help them understand what their work really is. I often refer to a list that BoardSource created a few years ago that has become a reference in our sector.

Here's the list. I'll be discussing these responsibilities in my upcoming blog posts. There's lots to talk about here! What do they really mean? How do you implement them?

Ten Basic Responsibilities of Nonprofit Boards From BoardSource

  1. Determine the organization's mission and purpose. It is the board's responsibility to create and review a statement of mission and purpose that articulates the organization's goals, means, and primary constituents served.
  2. Select the chief executive. Boards must reach consensus on the chief executive's responsibilities and undertake a careful search to find the most qualified individual for the position.
  3. Provide proper financial oversight. The board must assist in developing the annual budget and ensuring that proper financial controls are in place.

How to Create a Hard-Hitting Hands-On Planning Session With Your Board

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Ah, death by strategic planning!Don't get me started on how AWFUL and what a TIME WASTER strategic planning can be. At least the way we do it in the noprofit sector.I am organizing a "hard-hitting, hands-on planning session" with an organization that has been wandering aimlessly for a few years. They wonder why they can't raise money? Here's the answer - their vision is not juicy enough to get excited about.Here's our agenda for our planning session: (I've changed the names to protect the innocent!)
  • Reconfirm Good Cause's vision and mission.
  • Reach consensus on what Good Cause wants to do in order to implement its vision and mission in the coming year and in the next 5 years. (broad framework here for the longer time period.)
  • Identify strategic directions and set some firm goals around each direction.
  • Answer the question: "how will we know if we have been successful?"
  • Determine the critical success factors that will make or break the new goals.
  • Agree on the board's role in creating success for Good Cause and what each person is committed to doing.
  • Set next steps so that the staff can flesh out a complete operational plan for the coming year.
I had to tell the staff - you can TRUST me that it will not be a WASTE of time. I told her that I will not facilitate a meeting that I wouldn't attend myself. : )

Fundraisers are on the Front Lines of the Battle

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The New York Times today ran an opinion article about a new study…

How Board Members are Helping the Boys and Girls Club Make Their Year-End Goals

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I'm just back from the Northeast Leadership Conference of the Boys and Girls Club of America where I spoke yesterday afternoon at their Regional Leadership Conference. IMG_0117(Love those BGCA folks!)Here's what Dovie Prather, the Senior Director of Development Club Resources for BGCA Northeast Region, shared with me about their year-end fundraising strategies.(That's Dovie in the picture right here along with Glen Staron, Vice President, Boys & Girls Clubs of America, Northeast Region, and me.)Dovie spends her time coaching board volunteers and staff in the various Boys and Girls Clubs in her region - from Maine to Maryland. She has worked with her share of reluctant board members who don't want to go on fundraising calls.But the staff needs the board members to help if they are going to make their goals.And face-to-face visits are a key part of her year-end fundraising strategy recommendations for her Boys and Girls Clubs.She's counting on those one-on-one calls for $1k or more with key supporters to help the Clubs meet their goals. (See my earlier blog post on Focusing on Individuals to Make Your Year-End Goals). We all know that we can count on individuals this fall far more than we can count on our foundation and corporate supporters.But most of her board members think they won't be successful in face-to-face visits. And she doesn't really want to send the board members out alone anyway.So here's her solution:

How to Coach Your Board Volunteers

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How important is it that you coach carefully any of your volunteers? And you need to choose them carefully too!I am commenting today on a LinkedIn discussion. The person who started the conversation told of a private school where two different board volunteers spoke about fundraising to the other parents. The first volunteer who spoke complained about "slack parent giving" last year, particularly compared to faculty/staff giving. And he was dressed in a monotone of gray.Wow, just the sort of delivery designed to get parents charging ahead to support the annual fund! Make folks feel bad and you're lost before you start.The second volunteer was a more "flamboyant" presence. He went on about how generous parent booster giving had been last year - to sports and extra-curricular activities. He was engaging and warm.The first volunteer was deadly (he had a track record of defeat), and the other one was enthusiastic (he had experienced success.) Clearly the person who had a negative and defeatist tone would never inspire other volunteers.This also shows that you can't expect every single board volunteer to be a great fundraiser. I think it's delusional to expect all board members to be able to be effective advocates for the cause or successful fundraisers. We need to select, train and "pump up" our volunteers carefully!I like to script my folks - or at least give them talking points - so they make an appropriate and engaging presentation. Negativity or arm-twisting never work!Never trust a volunteer to get up in front of a crowd and deliver the right message. Remember, they aren't in the business, they are just beginners (usually). So take control, brief them and give them the talking points.If you're really on top of things, actually schedule a formal rehearsal with them. Put them in front of a fictitious group of people and let them practice.

Top Tip to Maintain your Nonprofit Board's Momentum and Motivation

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A question I am frequently asked is, "Once I get my board fired-up, then how on earth do I keep my board members motivated and enthusiastic? Whenever the board members gather together, we get excited and energized about our work. But my board members frequently get distracted with other priorities. What to do?"The first thing you must do is take responsibility for keeping your board energized. If you are the nonprofit CEO, do everything you can to keep them going. AND if you are the chair of the board, also, do everything YOU can to fan the flames of your board members' energy.The most important thing is to take responsibility and don't expect that someone else will assume this role. Do you know the saying, "If it's to be, it's up to me?" Well, here's the perfect place to implement that idea.If your board is gonna stay excited, motivated and energized, it won't happen without YOU taking the lead.You can't expect your busy board members to keep focused and energized on their own. If you leave it up to them, you just may be disappointed. This is "Volunteer Management 101" - and the number one job of managing volunteers is motivating them.Here is a real life best practice example from a board I am currently serving on. This is from the CEO of Lillian's List, a political action group on whose board I serve. Our CEO, Carol Teal, is just about the best nonprofit CEO I've ever had the pleasure of working with.

The Number One Way to Get Your Board Members to Follow Through

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iStock_000006450448XSmallSo many nonprofit board members are enthusiastic and well-meaning but too often they back out of their commitments. Bet you have run into this problem!And I have been on the other side too, as a board member. In the heat of an exciting discussion, I suddenly found myself making personal commitments. Then later, in my office, I thought better of those ideas and was not so very enthusiastic about them.In nonprofit organizations, it's hard working with volunteers, who actually don't HAVE to do anything anyway. You simply can't MAKE volunteers work. That's why I always say that we are in the motivation business.You have to be able to motivate and charge up your board members and volunteers if you want them to be productive. It's a rare nonprofit volunteer who can keep herself fully pumped up with excitement and enthusaism all the time!Here's my secret weapon in motivating my volunteer committees. And it's an old standby of teamwork and leadership theory: PEER PRESSURE.Here's the most important thing to know about board members: they never, repeat, never want to look bad in front of their peers.

Ways to Liven Up Your Board Meetings - and Your Board

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Focus the agenda on results. Decide what is needed most out of…