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…)

Nonprofit Board/Staff Relationships: An Uncomfortable Partnership?

Nonprofit Board/Staff Relationships: An Uncomfortable Partnership?

By: Eugene Fram

I have always been of the opinion that nonprofit directors don’t give sufficient consideration to the relationships between the board and staff. The following passage reasserts the complexity of such relationships and why misunderstandings might occur on either side of the fence. (more…)

Should Mature Nonprofits Allow Board Micromanagement?

Should Mature Nonprofits Allow Board Micromanagement?

By: Eugene Fram

Viewer Favorite:  Updated and Enhanced

Accepted View of Micromanagement: “…Directors spend more time with the details of the operations instead of planning its short-term and long-term growth strategies. …
(http://linkd.in/1q84pMm)

The Need for a Micromanaging Board
Board micromanagement is an appropriate approach when a nonprofit is in a start-up stage. Financial and human resources are modest, and the volunteer directors must assume some responsibilities normally executed by compensated staff. The chief executive often has managerial responsibilities as well as a list of clients to service. It is not unusual to promote a person who is only familiar with direct service to become the first chief executive of the organization. In turn , this neophyte manager has to depend on board members for managerial counsel and direction. A culture of board dependency is created out of necessity.

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Identify Nonprofit Staff Groups To Help Drive Organizational Change

Identify Nonprofit Staff Groups To Help Drive Organizational Change

By Eugene Fram

Nonprofit executive directors tend to think of the staff professionals as individual contributors. These individuals are persons who mainly work on their own and not as team players – for instance, counselors, health care professionals, curators and university faculty. However, many executive directors fail to recognize that these individual contributors can be grouped according to identifiable types, with differing work value outlooks. Each group needs to be managed differently to drive change in today’s fast moving social, political and technological environments. Nonprofit board members need to use these groupings in their responsibilities for  overseeing promotable staff members.    (more…)

Once Again! What Does Nonprofit Board Oversight Mean?

Once Again! What Does Nonprofit Board Oversight Mean?

By: Eugene Fram

Updated & Revised

I have a daily (7 days a week) subscription to Google Alerts on “Nonprofit Management” and “Nonprofit Governance.” Every week, three or four nonprofit case stories surface, in these listings, related to inadequate oversight by nonprofit boards of directors.  Many of the cases result six or seven figure dollar losses to the nonprofits. Following is my personal list of what reasonable board oversight means to attempt to help nonprofit boards of directors to avoid such losses. (more…)