Once Again! Do Nonprofit Directors Face Cyber Security Risks?


Once Again! Do Nonprofit Directors Face Cyber Security Risks?

By: Eugene Fram     Free Digital Photo

Viewer Favorite: Updated & Expanded

The cyber security (CS) debacles faced by Target, Sony Pictures and others may seem far afield from the concerns of nonprofit directors, except for the giants in the area, like AARP. However, think about this hypothetical scenario.

A group of high school students hacked into the computer system of a local nonprofit offering mental health services and gain access to records of clients, perhaps even placing some of the records of other teenagers on the internet.

What due care obligations did the board need to forestall the above situation? A move to recruit directors with special expertise in information technology or cyber security would be nonproductive. A nonprofit director has broader responsibilities such as the overview of management, approval of budgets, fostering management and staff growth etc. Similarly, when social media became a prominent issue a few years ago, boards debated the advisability of seeking directors with that specific kind of background. Today, a consultant with management experience in the area is likely needed to provide guidance to directors on these social media issues.


Nonprofit Board Recruitment Process Calls For New Approach

id-10066412Free Digital Photo

Nonprofit Board Recruitment Process Calls For New Approach

By: Eugene Fram

One thing is certain about nonprofit director turnover is a board completely turns over about every four to six years. * With that fact in mind, both board and management need to act as interim “talent scouts” for potential directors who will be competent to tackle the sometimes unpredictable challenges of the future. Just as unexpected crises will confound the new president elect and his colleagues, those who occupy the nonprofit boardroom must be well equipped to deal with the inevitable issues that are certain to arise.  **

Current recruitment processes in many nonprofit organizations commonly rely on familiarity with past directors whose terms have taken the obligatory year hiatus between tenure periods. Or a superficial scan is done of who’s “available” that may conveniently favor friends and relatives—indeed often legacy directors. The process rarely includes “dark horse” candidates that could allow fresh viewpoints to broaden meeting discussions. And although recruitment grids can be filled by mid-career professionals with special expertise, they lead time compressed lifestyles and may show little interest in the governance function or strategic planning– so critical to running an organization. It becomes clear that the board needs new and different recruiting options.

Following are different approaches that nonprofits can apply when seeking 21st century board members. ***

Find atypical candidates.

This can involve identifying active board members in other nonprofits that are about to term-out of their current positions. In some instances, colleague CEOs or friends on other boards may help identify some of these types of candidates. Also seek the names of people who have had broad experiences in business or professions and are about to retire from full-time positions. Make finding atypical candidates a plank in the strategic plan because it calls for a different and more difficult approach to recruiting.

Look beyond the resume to candidates’ behaviors.

Nonprofit organizations have generally recruited board members on the basis of their working background title. Any attorney with expertise has been acceptable. But, for example, a board  most often needs a corporate practice attorney who will become a behavioral role model for the other directors. It also needs several directors with strategic planning experiences. In recruiting a business CEO, it becomes necessary to assess personality. Some CEOs are great team players. Others have been successful as authoritarian figures. Taking recruiting actions like these have not been built into the DNA of nonprofit boards.

Make diversity a priority

Diverse boards are usually a requirement for nonprofit organizations. But many boards do not pay serious attention to this requirement. Community centered boards, for example, may have gender diversity but continually recruit from family, colleagues, neighbors and friends, a homogeneous cohort. The 21st century calls for boards to be both diverse and inclusive and must recruit well beyond these four cohorts.

Recruitment needs to be speedy and efficient.

Knowledgeable candidates will first judge the nonprofit as to how well it has been managed or whether or not it is on the road to becoming better managed. Except for a person who is highly dedicated to the mission, nobody wants to join a board or organization in conflict. A desirable candidate will also judge the nonprofit board on the basis of how the recruiting process is conducted. A rapid, transparent and efficient recruitment process provides positive evidence.

In my view, much of nonprofit board recruiting is focused on who is available, rather than the board rigorously seeking who should be available.   There is a need to use the four points listed above to add more rigor to the process in order to seek tomorrow’s leaders today.

* The national median board tenure for nonprofit board members cited by several studies.

**Example See: “Going for Impact” ©2016 https://goo.gl/Dwa9le

*** http://www.davidsonwp.com/five-tips-for-hiring-tomorrows-boards-today/










Board and executive director trust issues? Look at these problem areas


  • Each party may occasionally step on the other’s toes
  • Over aggressive directors can go too far
  • There must be a fair but robust CEO evaluation process
  • Does the board provide growth opportunities for the CEO?

Click link for insights:    goo.gl/akvlE7





Getting The Most From Your Nonprofit Board


From: Tony Martignetti–Nonprofit Radio     Free Digital Photo

Thanks to today’s guest 10/28/2016, Eugene Fram, professor emeritus at @Rochester Institute of Technology, and author of “Going For Impact: The Nonprofit Director’s Essential Guidebook.” Let’s takeaway!

  • strive for excellence; your board & CEO should avoid mediocrity
  • avoid excess deference to CEO, board chair & major donor board members
  • be explicit about board members’ responsibilities & expectations, don’t turn it into into legalese
  • bad news must rise to management & the board
  • have a vibrant recruiting process, don’t dumb it down
  • your board’s most important job is hiring and overviewing the CEO and developing robust assessment processes
  • develop high levels of trust between Board-Management-Staff
  • understand the big differences between outcome and impact.
  • so much more, listen!






A Special Relationship: Nurturing the CEO-Board Chair Bond*


A Special Relationship: Nurturing the CEO-Board Chair Bond*

By Eugene Fram              Free Digital Photo

Viewer Favorite – Updated & Revised

Here are tips to assure the best possible partnership between the board chair and CEO.

Keeping boards focused on strategic issues is a major challenge for nonprofit leaders.  This leadership crisis is intensified by the fact that board chairs tend to have short terms (according to BoardSource, 83% stay in office only one or two years). Thus, nonprofit CEOs ** and board chairs need to bond quickly. For the good of the organization, they must come together swiftly and create a partnership that works. Here are golden rules for the CEO and board chair to follow: (more…)

Better Board Governance. Is it the same for both business & nonprofit organizations?


Better Board Governance. Is it the same for both business & nonprofit organizations?

By: Eugene Fram                  Free Digital Photo

Viewer Favorite: Updated & Enhanced

Both BoardSource in 2015 and the Charted Global Management Accountant (CGMA) in 2012 have issued reports on improving board governance. The former group focuses on nonprofit boards and the latter focuses on business boards globally.* Both the nonprofit and business organization reports listed the following prime areas for board improvement or focus: The CGMA report called for improved strategy development & risk analysis; better boardroom behaviors; better relationships between board & management. The BoardSource report asked for improved focus on strategy, with much less emphasis on operations; more board commitment, engagement, & attendance; better self-assessment, recruitment & development.

Although the CGMA report does not differentiate the types (strategic vs. operational strategy) the “risk oversight” notation can indicate there is a need for greater board focus on long-term strategy. For nonprofit boards, the strategic side of planning is often neglected. There has been a decades-long board culture support for directors’ involvement in operational decisions, often leading to board micromanagement and less strategic interest.


Establish a board culture that limits micromanagement



Nonprofits need substantial trust between board members and management.  If all board members and the CEO understand the board mandated boundary line for governance versus operations decision-making, both sides will recognize their responsibilities with limited board micromanagement.  This is not to say that each may overstep the boundary line on rare occasions, but infractions must be approached professionally with partnership civility.