foundation boards

Lifestyle & Behavioral Information – Some New Ways To Seek High Performance Nonprofit Directors

 

 

 

Lifestyle & Behavioral Information – Some New Ways To Seek High Performance Nonprofit Directors

By: Eugene Fram            Free  Digital Image

Viewer Favorite—Updated & Revised

Over the last several years, I have conducted nonprofit board recruitment projects. The boards with which I worked had rather similar challenges.
• They had concerns recruiting sufficient numbers of board members to fill their needs.
• Current board members, largely composed of younger people, in the 30-40-age range, had significant problems balancing work and family obligations and attending board and committee meetings.
• Attendance was sporadic. Although the boards were small, directors really did not know each other, and another director sent a subordinate to attend board meetings. In one case, a well-regarded director never attended meeting and only occasionally met with the ED to offer advice. One director, with decades of experience on a board, admitted she did not know other directors. In both instances EDs and board chairs had significant power. One ED complained she was doing the work of operating the organization and operating the board, and She had too much potential liability.
• Although these organizations, with budgets in the $8-$10 million range were operating successfully, the EDs involved realized that they were in line for long-term problems if board recruiting didn’t change. (more…)

Does A New Nonprofit Board Director Really Understand Your Organization? The Board Nurturing Challenge!

Does A New Nonprofit Board Director Really Understand Your Organization?  The Board Nurturing Challenge!

By: Eugene Fram       Free Digital Image

Viewer Favorite—Undated & Revised

The careful nurturing of a board member, whether for-profit or nonprofit, is critical. The pay-off of a robust orientation process is an informed and fully participating board director. The following are very similar occurrences in both for-profit and nonprofit boards:

The CEO of a transportation firm agrees to become a board director of a firm developing computer programs. He has risen through the transportation ranks with a financial background, but he knows little about the dynamics of the computer industry.

A finance professor is asked to serve on the board of a nonprofit school serving handicapped children. She has no children of her own and has never had any contact with handicapped children, social workers or teachers serving handicapped children. (more…)

Is Your Nonprofit’s Mission Disruptable? Remove “Rose Colored” Glasses!

Is Your Nonprofit’s Mission Disruptable? Remove “Rose Colored” Glasses!

By: Eugene Fram

The missions of many in independent book stores have been disrupted in recent years, although a few with unique offerings seem to be making a comeback. Nonprofit board members and managers may feel their missions are immune to disruption. They come to the following conclusions, using the proverbial rose-colored glasses.*

  • Our board is doing a great job!
  • We have no worries—we have (or just hired) a great CEO or Executive Director!
  • When push comes to shove, our board can raise big dollars!
  • Our board of directors is like a good family!

But nonprofit realists know it can happen—they point to Easter Seals that successfully modified its mission when polio vaccine was introduced. In contrast, many nonprofits offering face-to face counseling services failed to understand the impact of new pharmaceuticals, the number of counseling agencies declined. (more…)

Creating High Performing Boards–A Veteran Nonprofit CEO’s Insights

 

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An Important Guide to Creating High Performing Boards, February 14, 2017

 

The nonprofit governance model outlined in Policy Vs. Paper Clips (https://goo.gl/j4EK5) has served my organization extremely well for more than two and a half decades. The proof of the model’s value is the growth and performance of our organization, our respected stature in the community (and beyond), and our ongoing ability to recruit top talent to our Board. Our Board governance structure has made possible several bold decisions over the last 30 years that have changed the trajectory of our organization.

 

Thirty years ago I was a brand new leader of a not for profit agency in Rochester NY with an annual budget of $5M and 160 employees who served 800 clients a year throughout 5 counties. Today, I am still the CEO; however it is a very different agency, having expanded its services significantly, broadening the populations we serve throughout 35 counties with a budget of 37M and 800 employees with a much bigger impact of 150,000 clients served annually. I feel very fortunate that early in my agency career that the book’s author (then a respected professor at a major university in my city) accepted my invitation to come talk to my Board about the model and its advantages for our nonprofit.

 

We adopted the model soon after and ever since it has defined our governance structure. We’ve only made one modification (creating a separate audit committee) because it was required by state regulations. Here’s why I think the model has been so powerful for us:
  • The basic premise that the Board and CEO are partners who mutually respect each other’s roles is paramount to our success.
  • The Executive Committee serves as the “steering committee” and sets the Board’s annual agenda and priorities, and fulfills the key role of being the CEO’s “sounding board.”
  • Our lean committee structure (Assessment & Planning and Resources) allows for substantive discussion on important issues. Board members who aren’t officers have only one commitment and can devote both time and attention to their committee’s mission.
  • As CEO, I work very closely with the Executive Committee to ensure the right leadership is selected to serve in officer roles. The Executive Committee also provides “succession” for senior Board leadership. Typically committee heads are groomed for Board Chair, though this position can also be filled from other officer roles.
I’ve lived the model for a very long time and happily attest that it works!

 

A. Gidget Hopf , Ed.D., is President and CEO of Goodwill of the Finger Lakes and its affiliate The Association for the Blind and Visually Impaired-Goodwill Industries of Greater Rochester.

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Nonprofit Directors/Trustees/ CEOs/ Senior Managers–Improve Board Operations

  •  Have a way to effectively measure “client impact.”
  •  Build CEO/board fundraising capacity.
  • Develop a motivating/friendly process for on-boarding new directors.
  • Reduce # directors/trustees who “micromanage” management.
  •  Develop strategic discussions at meetings.
  •  Develop a broad framework that separates policy & strategy development from operational activities.
  • Have a board/staff relationship that is built on trust.
  • Have task forces that deliver more effective, timely results.

These books can help!    Please share with others who can benefit!

both-books

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Eugene Fram, EdD, Professor Emeritus
Saunders College of Business
Rochester Institute of Technology

frameugene@gmail.com

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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:
(more…)

Once Again! Nonprofit CEO: Board Peer – Not A Powerhouse

Once Again! Nonprofit CEO: Board Peer – Not A Powerhouse

By: Eugene Fram

Some nonprofit CEOs make a fetish out of describing their boards and/or board chairs as their “bosses.” Others, for example, can see the description, as a parent-child relationship by funders. The parent, the board, may be strong, but can the child, the CEO, implement a grant or donation? Some CEOs openly like to perpetuate this type of relationship because when bad decisions come to roost, they can use the old refrain: the board made me do it.

My preference is that the board-CEO relationship be a partnership among peers focusing on achieving desired outcomes and impacts for the nonprofit. (I, with others, would make and have made CEOs, who deserve the position, voting members of their boards!)

There are many precedents for a nonprofit CEO to become a peer board member, some without voting rights, some with full voting rights. One nonprofit group is university presidents, where shared governance with faculty bodies can be the norm. For example, when General Eisenhower became president of Columbia, he referred to the faculty in an initial presentation as “Columbia employees.” Later a senior faculty member informed him “With all due respect, the faculty is the university.”

Another nonprofit group is hospitals where the CEO may also be or has been the chief medical officer. The level of medical expertise needed to lead requires that a peer relationship be developed. Also if the hospital CEO is a management person, he and the chief medical officer must have a peer relationship, which extends to the board.

Hallmarks of a Peer Relationship
• The CEO values the board trust assigned him/her, and carefully guards against the board receiving surprise announcements.
• The board avoids any attempts to micromanage, a natural tendency for many nonprofit boards.
• When a board member works on a specific operating project, it is clearly understood that he is accountable to the CEO for results.
• The CEO has board authority to borrow money for short term emergency needs
• The CEO understands need for executive sessions without his/her presence.
• The CEO understands the need for robust assessment processes to allow the board to meet its overview duties.
• Both board and CEO are alert to potential conflicts of interest which may occurs.
• Both value civil discussion when disagreements occur.
• The board realizes that nobody does his/her job perfectly, and it does not react to occasional CEO modest misjudgments.

Summary
Elevating a nonprofit CEO to a status of board peer does not automatically make the CEO a powerhouse. The board legally can terminate the CEO at will. However, in my opinion, the following benefits can accrue to the organization.

The peer relationship help will:

• Help the organization to build a desirable public brand.
• Allow a capable person to interface with the media.
• Define a role for the CEO to lead in fundraising.
• Allow the organization to hire better qualified personnel.
• Allow the organization to present a strong management environment to funders. After all, top people readily communicate with people in similar positions.