Reflections on BLF14: Introduction to Nonprofit Debt

 And other gems from the 2014 Board Leadership Forum, submitted by Laura Boyer

GOB in Washington, D.C. at the Board Leadership Forum last autumn
GOB in Washington, D.C. at the Board Leadership Forum last autumn (Laura is third from the right)

The Get on Board* committee is made up of a handful of talented people who are passionate about our community.

At its core, the GOB* initiative encourages nonprofit board service among  young professionals and other untapped emerging leaders.

Through the hard work of our committee co-chairs, we recently had the honor of sharing our story nationally with other nonprofit leaders at the BoardSource 2014 Board Leadership Forum.

Here is my first post, and gems from some of my favorite sessions:

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Your Organization’s Mission & Vision Statements

vision.missionWhether your organization is brand-new or well-established the board of directors still needs to determine the mission and purpose, or vision.

For a new nonprofit, developing the mission statement is a critical first step in defining what the organization plans to do and what makes it different from other organizations in the same field. You can learn more about defining mission & vision statements on Grantspace, and discover the questions you need to be asking before writing in this Philanthropy Journal article, “Creating Effective Mission & Vision Statements… “.

If the organization has been around for decades it may be time to look closely at that statement and consider rewriting it to better reflect the organization’s current circumstances. In fact, the IRS encourages all nonprofits to create mission statements and regularly review them. Joanne Fritz asks Should You Change Your Mission Statement?

Some mission statements are so complicated that board members have difficulty explaining the purpose of their organization. Start by asking your board:

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Executive Transitions … are Inevitable. Prepare with Reliable Resources

Every organization faces an executive transition sooner or later.

Even in emergencies, organizations that plan ahead are better prepared to serve their missions through the change.

Not long ago, Marilynn offered a program on resources to guide you through the process. We’ve updated those here.

As we welcome so many new nonprofit (and library!) directors to our agencies, and as so many boomer leaders consider retirement, let us all consider the necessary steps to a successful executive transition.


Link to May 23@4 Powerpoint Presentation, “Executive Transitions” Continue reading

Board Diversity and Inclusiveness…

who's on your board
Who’s on your board?

Shouldn’t be Illusive

If the make-up of your board in any way resembles the configuration seated around the table in the photo on the left – your nonprofit may be in trouble!

Diversity has become an adjective used in regard to the nonprofit sector board of directors for many years now, yet some nonprofit organizations still find themselves wondering how to be diverse and inclusive.

The following excerpts come from the Colorado Nonprofit Association’s P&P Planning Toolkit and demonstrates the importance of inclusiveness with regards to your organization’s continued success. Continue reading

Above Board: Millennials and Nonprofit Boards

Where you’ll find bits & pieces of information about, and for nonprofit boards

“As a young professional, I’ll admit that “Join a Nonprofit Board of Directors” was never on my list of career goals. Likewise, “Recruit a Board Member Just Out of College” isn’t high on the strategic plan of most nonprofits. But now, I’m a 29-year old with 6 years of board experience across as many different organizations.  […] And I’ve realized how valuable board service can be for a Millennial, and how valuable Millennials can be to nonprofit boards.”

From Millennials and Nonprofit Boards: 10 Tips for Finding Each Other by Kyle Gracey

YLNI_GOB-8The PCNRC and YLNI are just completing their second year of the Get on Board project, with funding support from the Foellinger Foundation. The intent of this project is to engage young generations in serving community nonprofits, through volunteerism and board stewardship.
Save the Date for the next Board Bootcamp: October 18th from 9-1.
Nearly 70 individuals have participated in Board Boot Camp and over roughly 80 nonprofits have met with many of those Boot Camp graduates and others at Get Connected events already. The program has been very successful and will continue for another two years, starting in October and all of this makes the following LinkedIN blog by Kyle Gracey very timely.
“For Millennials, a generation that already shows a strong interest in volunteering and public service, board work can be a great way to give back to your community or country, will give you direct experience in financial and personnel management and organizational strategy, and can expose you to senior contacts at a variety of other companies and organizations, since your fellow board members will likely be much further in their careers than you.
For boards, we Millennials are tech-savvy, extremely passionate, as a generation, about issues nonprofits work on, and part of the very group who will be the next nonprofit leaders and recipients of nonprofit services”.

Fireworks on the Board?

photo by davidmonro via Flickr

It’s surprising that fireworks in the nonprofit boardroom don’t happen more often considering that all the factors for conflict are those under which nonprofits operate daily.  Such as these:

  • Change: board members, board leadership, staff; funding sources; reporting requirements; policies
  • Diversity: differences in culture; personalities; education
  • Limitations: time, space, resources, qualified personnel
  • Power: who’s in charge

All that is needed is a hot topic, fiery temperaments, and differing opinions to set them in motion, and when the fireworks erupt they can rival those of the 4th of July!

If your board has a problem or any of the ingredients above which may develop into one you may find solutions in one of the following books in the PCNRC:

Taming the Troublesome Board Member by Katha Kissman. 658.422 K64T.  “This book ehlps to avoid troublesome behavior by reminding us of the need for proper selection and orientation. it helps deal with the problems that do surface from those mistakes. And finally, it helps identify and resolve the individual troublesome behavior problem quickly and with as much grace as possible.” Foreward by Richard W. Snowdon, III.

The Best of the Board Café: Hands-on Solutions for Nonprofit Boards by Jan Masaoka.658422 M37B. “What a great compilation of digestible board tidbits that get at the heart of nonprofit leadership. Reading this book is the next best thing to talking through your board troubles with a trusted friend.” Marla J. Bobwick, V.P BoardSource.

Culture of Inquiry: Healthy Debate in the Boardroom by Nancy R. Axelrod. 658.422 AX2C. “…how does a board develop a culture of inquiry?  I believe that it cannot do so unless four building blocks are in place: trust, information sharing, teamwork, and dialogue.” Author.

Structures and Practices of Nonprofit Boards. Second Edition. 658.422 D18S, 2009. A good guide to creating structure in a nonprofit to strengthen the organization. In particular for this post is Chapter 6: Board Dynamics. “Successful boards focus on purposefully developing the critical elements of board leadership, composition, structure, and practices. they also pay attention to the development of the individual board members and of the board as a whole. They continually strive to promote a working environment that encourages collaboration, partnership, engagement, trust, respect, flexibility, and interaction.” Chapter 6 excerpt.

Above Board

Where you’ll find bits & pieces of information about and for nonprofit boards
BoardSource Nonprofit Governance Index

Boardsource gi mapSince 1994 BoardSource has conducted a one-of-a-kind national nonprofit survey of executive directors and board chairs. A recent e-news from them reports that over the past two years:

  • 25% of nonprofits dipped into reserves or endowment
  • 25% lost revenue due to diminished public funding
  • 19% downsized operations or reduced services
  • and 22% cut staff
In a brief review of the Governance Index report the Philanthropy Journal noted that

“despite rising expectations, most board members are reluctant to participate in fundraising activities and identify potential donors. Fundraising continues to be the weakest area of board performance, according to most respondents.”

Considering the bullet points above it is important that board members realize that insuring adequate resources is one of the board’s basic responsibilities.