Pressure Test Your Nonprofit’s Fund Development Efforts

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Pressure Test Your Nonprofit’s Fund Development Efforts

By: Eugene Fram

It’s no secret that nonprofits do not excel in the craft of fundraising. A 2015 study reported that 65% of CEOs gave their boards academic grades of “C” or below for efficacy on this front. Yet most will agree that without the continuous influx of financial support, the mission to which the directors have committed themselves will fail!

I clearly remember examples of this deficit from my own board experience—one in which I served on the fund development committee for a small nonprofit which met monthly for about a year. A sincere and hardworking board chair headed it, but the meetings took place without the presence of the CEO.   Many ideas with merit were exchanged such as developing a reserve fund, “get or give” board requirements etc. There was a lot of talk but no implementation, and after a year of pure discussion, a new president, who convened a new committee, disbanded the group.

A review of the pressure points in key fundraising activities would have taken the group from talk to action and further implementation. Here are three activities and their variations that I consider most critical to nonprofit development processes:
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Improve Your Nonprofit Director Onboarding Process

Improve Your Nonprofit Director Onboarding Process using Going For Impact

New guidebook covers

What to Know, Do and Not Do

As a veteran director with extensive experience on 12 nonprofit boards I have been “treated” to a wide variety of on-boarding sessions for new directors.

They’ve ranged from asking:

  • Every new director to read a 2.5 inch policy manual.  (I checked the size!)
  • Having experienced board members sit next to new ones at meetings.
  • Listening to the CEO review the entire policy manual.

Going For Impact: The Nonprofit Director’s Essential Guidebook lets you improve such sessions by making on-boarding governance material more meaningful and interesting. For example:

  • Use the book’s 150-item Index Strategically: Ask new directors to read specific topics (e.g., micromanaging; outcome vs. impact data; responsibilities of the board) and relate the readings to their new board.
  • Select Key Chapters in the Book: Choices include topics such as Nonprofit Culture Presents Challenges or There’s a Boundary Line That Shouldn’t Be Crossed. Then later – in either formal or informal sessions – have the CEO and/or board panels discuss the topics with the new directors.
  • Give All New Directors a Copy of the Book: Ask them to skim or read the book’s content, which encompasses 112 pages, and list topics of greatest interest.   Then hold three or four informal on-boarding sessions, led by experienced directors that relate to the selected topics.

Going for Impact can also be utilized by creative boards and CEOs to develop retreat agendas that can help enhance their board’s governance perspectives!

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

Nonprofit Board And Internal Working Environments—No Pieces of Cake!

Nonprofit Board And Internal Working Environments—No Pieces of Cake!

By: Eugene Fram

People who work in the business community sometimes view nonprofit organizations as “cushy” places to work. The truth is that today’s nonprofits have challenges that are very different from those of the corporate world–and typically struggle to accommodate parameters such as restricted finances, increasing wage costs that must aligned with ever expanding client needs. In addition, board members must be concerned about personal liabilities under special legislations such as completing the IRS Form 990 and The Intermediate Sanctions Act. * Not easy!

A recent article in the Wall Street Journal discusses the hypothetical release from “grind” pressures a business executive might experience when moving employment to a nonprofit. ** Following are some of the specific advantages cited by the article (in bold) followed, by some of my real world observations.

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Corporate Governance Principles Make Sense to Nonprofits

Corporate Governance Principles Make Sense to Nonprofits

A blue-ribbon group of public directors, people like Warren Buffett, has developed a nine page “manifesto” that presents  commonsense operating principles for boards of publicly traded companies. Their objective is, “To provide a basic framework for sound, long-term oriented governance.” * My immediate response to the document was that about half of the guidelines can be easily translated into useful advice and/or caveats for nonprofit boards. The benefits as suggested by a Chinese proverb are, “A wise man learns from his own experiences, a wiser man learns from the experiences of others.”

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The Devil’s Advocate on a Nonprofit Board: Asset or Liability?

The Devil’s Advocate on a Nonprofit Board: Asset or Liability?

By: Eugene Fram

Viewer Favorite Updated and Enhanced

An unwritten rule for nonprofit board membership is that it is best to “go along to get along.” But sometimes a nonprofit director’s “no” vote to an action that has had inadequate discussion can allow him/h to avoid tax penalties that have been levied on other board members for lack of due care.

Stanford University research results indicate that groups with a lone minority dissenter outperform other groups where all members agree. In addition, these groups…”are more successful than (groups) in which all members disagree and fall prey to escalated emotional, difficult-to resolve (group) brawls “ *

The key to success, according to these data, is to,” … have a devil’s advocate (DA) on the nonprofit board. … This is a person or a small board minority that “has the sensitivity to see the differences, perceives them as conflict, and then communicates about the differences in non-confrontational ways.” **

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“Going For Impact” Can Be Helpful to Nonprofit Boards & Managers.

I recently encountered two different nonprofit board related problems.  The first was a board member, a major donor, who was constantly bringing minor issues, such as the type of hall cleaning fluids being used, to the CEO & board colleagues.   Another was a board chair whose organization had a highly competent CEO.  But the person needed to have better interpersonal relationships with individual board members.

If your board is encountering  these types of  “wicked” problems, the book, “Going For Impact: The Nonprofit Director’s Essential Guide Book–What to Know Do and Not Do.” can be of substantial assistance.

http://www.rit.edu/news/story.php?id=56652&source=enewsletter

Establishing Effective Nonprofit Board Committees – What to Do.

Establishing Effective Nonprofit Board Committees – What to Do.

By Eugene Fram

Updated & Revised. 

Following are ways that many nonprofit boards have established effective board committees using my governance model as described in the third edition of Policy vs. Paper Clips.

https://goo.gl/j4EK5P

• In the planning effort, focus board personnel and financial resources only on those topics that are germane to the organization at a particular time. For example, financial planning, long-range planning or short-range planning. However the board needs to be open to generative planning if new opportunities present themselves or are developed via board leadership. (more…)