Nonprofit CEO performance

How Do Nonprofits Determine CEOs’ Productivity?


How Do Nonprofits Determine CEOs’ Productivity?

By: Eugene Fram

Nonprofit organizations can’t have bottom line profits. If they did, CEO productivity determination could be less complicated. Determining a fair CEO benefit, based on productivity, can be a complex issue for a nonprofit board. Providing too little or too much can be dangerous for the organization and possibly the board members. Although the spadework for benefits needs to be done by a small committee, the entire board needs to fully agree on the rationale for the final decision. (more…)

How A Nonprofit Board Director Can Initiate Positive Change

How A Nonprofit Board Director Can Initiate Positive Change

By: Eugene Fram        Free Digital Image

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A nonprofit board member comes up with an idea that he thinks will do wonders for the organization. He is convinced that establishing a for-profit subsidiary will not only be compatible with the group’s mission but may even bring in new sources of revenue. It’s his ball–now what’s the best route to run with it? All too often in the nonprofit environment, initiating change can be as daunting as trying to get consensus in the US Congress! There are, however, certain interpersonal levers, which, if pushed, can accelerate the process–although one hopes that not all the levers will be needed in any specific situation. (more…)

6 Approaches to Innovation for Nonprofit Boards

6 Approaches to Innovation for Nonprofit Boards

By Eugene Fram                     Free Digital Image

The Bridgespan Group, supported by The Rockefeller Foundation,  recently completed an exciting research study. The results identified “six elements common to nonprofits with a high capacity to innovate” * Following are some suggestion how to implement these elements. (more…)

The Wells Fargo Debacle—Insights for Nonprofit Directors



The Wells Fargo Debacle—Insights for Nonprofit Directors

By: Eugene Fram                          Digital Free Image

Like apples and oranges, a comparison between a $23 billion corporation and a typical nonprofit organization is hardly appropriate. Yet the recent upheaval at the Wells Fargo Corporation provides a cautionary tale for those who serve on nonprofit boards.

On September 8, 2016, the following report appeared in The New York Times: (more…)


International Journal of Not-for-Profit Law / vol. 18, no. 1, February 2016 / 78
Nonprofit 501(C)(3) charitable organizations and 501(C)(4) social welfare organizations
fall under two IRS regulations—the extended annual Form 990 and the Intermediate
Sanctions Act (Act). Form 990 requires answers to 38 corporate questions on corporate
governance operations. The Act covers prohibitions related to providing or seeking
excess benefits. Most board members know about the Form 990, but few know about its
board obligations; and few board members and managers know the Act exists. With the
IRS aggressively enforcing the Act to eliminate faux nonprofits, unwitting nonprofit
board directors and managers can become ensnared financially.
Two classes of nonprofit organizations, 501(C)(3) charitable organizations and 501(C)(4)
social welfare organizations, are covered by two IRS regulations not applicable to for-profit
corporations. One regulation requires the organization to file an IRS Form 990 each year, including
financial data plus answers to 38 questions related to corporate governance. Many board
members may be unaware of their obligations to be involved in preparation of the form each
year. If there were an audit involving the 38 board questions, further, board members might be
expected to know about any exceptions to be reported, such as conflicts of interest. For example,
any board member whose firm or employing firm has a business relationship with the nonprofit
must specify it as a conflict of interest on Form 990 and probably abstain from voting on related
issues. Also, if the report is late, the nonprofit must file an IRS form, and the board needs to be
advised of the situation.
If the organization ignores any of the requirements, it can lose its tax-exempt status—a
penalty already imposed on thousands of smaller nonprofits. In some instances, moreover, failure
to heed the requirements might leave nonprofit board members open to personal liability for
failing in their corporate duties for “due care.” (more…)

Big Data Are Great—But Imperfect Metrics Work for Nonprofit Boards!

Big Data Are Great—But Imperfect Metrics Work for Nonprofit Boards!

By Eugene Fram

Nonprofit boards need to expand their evaluations of nonprofit managers and their organizations adding more behavioral impacts * to their evaluations.
For example it might be the number of volunteers that have been trained by the organizations. But boards must go to the next level in the 21st century.
In the case of volunteers, they must seek to understand the impacts on those trained. They need, for instance, to understand how well these volunteers are assisting clients and how they are representing the nonprofit to the clients. The training is a process, but their relationships with clients are impacts.

Qualitative data must be developed to the next level, and the average nonprofit CEO will argue that he/she doesn’t have the staff or expertise to develop impact data. Engaging an outside organization to complete a simple project can cost thousands of dollars. (more…)

Suggested & Field Practices From Most Viewed 2015 Blog Posts

Suggested & Field Practices From Most Viewed 2015 Blog Posts

By Eugene Fram

Currently my blog-site has over 350 posts on nonprofit governance. Following are six 2015 posts that stand out based on viewer interest.

The nonprofit’s 3 or 5-year strategic plan has been completed with the entire board management and staff reading from the same document. But what about the shoals that must be bridged before its benefits can be implemented? For example:

For a nonprofit organization, it is necessary to hire a president/CEO or executive in whom the board can place a high degree of trust. But along with the trust, the board must ROBUSTLY annually evaluate the CEO and the organization’s performance.

For-profit organizations or nonprofit organizations, in my opinion, have five identical basic board guidelines. For Deloitte Partners, a worldwide accounting and financial advisory firm, these constitute board responsibilities that can’t be delegated to management. The board has responsibilities to have: a viable governance structure, annual assessments of (board and) organizational performance, driven strategic planning, improved management talent and assured organizational integrity. A relentless pursuit of these lofty goals will enable nonprofits to be “on the mark.”

Following are four nonprofit areas that call for strategic scrutiny and, if recognized by several other current board members as constraints on the future of the nonprofit, the process may allow individual directors to seek positive change:

With high performing nonprofit boards, directors will rarely be invited by the CEO to participate in operational decisions. As a result, management will always have more information than the board. Yet the board still needs to know that is happening in operations to be able to overview them. The name of the game is for the CEO to communicate the important information and to keep directors informed of significant developments. Still, there’s no need to clutter regular board meetings by reporting endless details about operations. Following are some practical suggestions:

These data and comments can lead one to conclude that all nonprofit boards are dysfunctional. I suggest that nonprofit boards can generate a range of dysfunctional behavioral outcomes, but the staff can muddle through and continue to adequately serve clients.