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Showing posts from November, 2008

Governance Courage

Linda Compton, President and CEO of BoardSource, opened this year's Board Leadership Forum by citing a variety of implications this economic crisis will bring to nonprofit work.  She offers this challenge, as well: So, now, more than ever, we need courage as nonprofit leaders, as our organizations look to us for the way through these challenging times. Now is the time for board members to ask the courageous questions:  How do we respond to the new financial environment? How can we continue to carry out our mission? What changes do we have to make? And how can we best position ourselves to be ready when the recovery comes?   You can read her entire message here .

Required Reading for All Trustees and Directors

When it comes to stepping up to the plate, it doesn't make any difference if your institution is a small-budgeted organization running on volunteered energy or a large and complex cultural entity -- nonprofit boards and their leadership staff are responsible for the financial health of their institutions.  That they be held accountable for this basic tenet of nonprofit governance is what the LA Times art critic Christopher Knight's "open letter" to the board members of the Museum of Contemporary Art is all about. The Chronicle of Philanthropy states, "Writing in the  Los Angeles Times,  Mr. Knight — who notes that in 1998 the museum operated with a $50-million endowment, now rumored to have shrunk to $7-million — says the trustees “must call an urgent board meeting, gather round the table, pull out your checkbooks and calculators, and stay in that room until you have cobbled together at least $25 million.” He suggests this act be followed by budget cuts and the c

Get into Turnaround Mode

I’ve added another blog to my list after discovering it for the first time earlier this week.    Balancing the Mission Checkbook is  written by Kate Barr, the Executive Director of the Nonprofit Assistance Fund in Minneapolis, and she covers a broad range of leadership topics, but particularly focuses on financial management issues. Here’s an excerpt from one of Kate’s October 2008 posts where she suggests that nonprofits ought to address this period of economic uncertainty in much the same manner as they would address an organizational turnaround – that is, boldly, with a plan and with determination to follow it. Brandeis University Press has just published The Art of the Turnaround: Creating and Maintaining Healthy Arts Organizations by Michael Kaiser, president of the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington DC. A short excerpt from the book is available from The Chronicle of Philanthropy . Kaiser offers ten basic rules for every turnaround: 1.  Someo

It's Nice to be Nice to the Nice

Beth Kanter is one of a handful of authorities who’s actively engaged in using social media in the nonprofit arena and writing about it daily on her blog.  I encourage you to check out her Beth’s Blog , which is jammed packed with great information and ideas, especially if you’re unsure or even skeptical about the place of electronic networking in your institution. Beth recently blogged about the Center for Nonprofit Excellence Annual Conference, where she presented a couple of sessions.   Her take on the conference keynote is valuable for all nonprofit leaders: The keynote was from Bill Toliver called "It's nice to be nice to the nice."  Some key takeaways: Your nonprofit can't continue to do a good job if it’s doing an average job of doing too many things. Nonprofits have a moral obligation to the highest quality work. Change your concept of what a campaign means.   Is there a better way forward?  You need to blend the best practices of marketing and socia

Managing Change: A Few Random Thoughts

How to make change without turning off the volunteers?  That was a question posed at the recent annual meeting of the Western New York Association of Historical Agencies in Buffalo. Since we humans generally tend to be change-averse creatures, I think that's a good starting point when considering how to approach change within organizations. Whether it's changing the paint color or the exhibits, the annual fundraising event or the number of standing committees, recognize from the outset that some folks will be down-right unhappy (and others merely perturbed). It's imperative to embrace those affected by a change with the process of decision-making and/or solution-finding.  Why?  Well, obviously, the more ownership a person feels in a decision, the more that person will support it.  And ownership is about having some sense of control.  Many people opt out when they feel they have no control over decisions, over change that is affecting them.   Easier said than done, however.