Do you lead with intent?

Across America nonprofit boards get a grade of B-. Not bad in my opinion, but there is always room for improvement. BoardSource’s survey Leading with Intent: A National Index of Nonprofit Board Practices in 2015 revealed six key findings and the sector’s letter grade.

The key findings are:leading-with-intent-color

  1. Boards demonstrate room for improvement. The study found that boards are better at financial oversight and compliance. Where they can grow is strategy work and community outreach. (Not sure where to start on this, contact PCNRC and we can help you.)
  2. Board members need to speak out more. One of the 10 Basic Responsibilities of Nonprofit Boards is to enhance the organization’s public standing. It is crucial to engage in community outreach and advocacy.
  3. Board diversity is increasing but gaps persist. BoardSource research shows that boards are shrinking in size and thus recommend to build the board carefully. Increasing diversity (gender, age, profession, skill sets, etc.) will make your board stronger.
  4. Best-in-class boards pay attention to culture and dynamics. A strong leadership culture creates an effective and productive board.
  5. Board members need to embrace their roles as fundraisers. Unfortunately, “fundraising remains [to be] the [greatest] weakness of nonprofit board.” Don’t dismay – with knowledge comes power (and solutions). Boards can choose to seek training to help improve upon their fundraising skills. For example, the Barbara Burt Leadership Fund.
  6. Finding financial stability amid constant change requires strategic leadership. With demographic, economic, and political forces, our society and sector is always changing. Strong and strategic leadership is vital to continue successfully.

The 2016 Leading with Intent survey is now open. You can participate by clicking here.

Ethnic Diversity in Boards

A recent Board Source study looked at racial demographics of nonprofit board members as compared to the 2014 U.S. census. Below are the main findings. diversity

  • 25% of all boards remain all White.
  • People of color remain underrepresented in nonprofit leadership as compared to their representation in society.
  • 80% of board members are White as compared to 73% of all Americans.
  • 9.9% of board members are Black as compared to 12.7% of all Americans.

Many nonprofit boards discuss diversity; however, there is a disconnect between planning and follow through. In the study, a few questions were posed to help guide a nonprofit board to include diversity on their recruitment agenda. One such question is “why do we want to diversify our board and how will a diverse board enhance our organization?” First, it should be more than a numbers game or to fill a quota. It is also about diversity of behaviors, practices, perspectives, and experiences. With a diverse board, it “sends a message and sets an example about the organization’s values.”

Hopefully the board agrees that diversity is important. However, what processes are in place to recruit diverse board members? The answer according to the Board Source study is to “establish written diversity policies, develop intentional plans to recruit diverse board members, provide equal access to board leadership opportunities, and pay careful attention to social inclusion practices.” In addition, existing minority board members can aid in “identifying the success factors that got them on your board, and the barriers they may have encountered on the way, which need to be removed.”

To read the full study, click on Race-Role-Board-Recruitment.

Please take our poll below to find out how our local nonprofits stack up to the national survey.

2015 Stewardship Award: Call for Nominations

Foellinger LogoThe Foellinger Foundation is taking nominations for the 2015 Stewardship Award. They are due by July 10th. 

The award is designed to emphasize the important role of individual board members in the governance of nonprofit organizations.

The Stewardship Award honors the efforts of current or recently retired eligible Allen County nonprofit board members whose actions have contributed to the achievement of at least three of the Ten Basic Responsibilities, as identified by BoardSource.

Nominees and representatives of their organizations will be invited to a special recognition luncheon on October 21, 2015 

 Please consider nominating one of your outstanding board members for this award.

The organization whose nominee is chosen as the recipient of the 2015 Stewardship Award will receive:

$15,000 operating support grant

up to $10,000 for special board training

 Nominations are due July 10, 2015. Nomination materials below or at .

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Reflections on BLF14: Post #16 – Celebration and Communion

Lettie Haver, as the new Land Trust community outreach specialist will spread the word about ACRES.

This is the final Reflections on BLF14 post and it has been submitted  by Lettie Haver. The PCNRC is proud to say Lettie was employed by the Allen County Public Library at the time; was the co-chair of Get on Board and was one of the people instrumental in the success of the project and the extraordinary opportunity to showcase our community’s efforts in engaging emerging leaders at BoardSource Board Leadership Forum 2014.

As the then co-chair of the Get on Board committee, I feel the most significant takeaway from our conference travels came from our time together without an agenda, and in an altogether new environment.

Traveling half-way across the country brought us all out of our shell, into a space of relying on each others’ natural strengths, caring for each other, communicating through challenges, breaking bread together, discovering more about each other, and seeing the world through new eyes.

By the time I drove the Get on Board team home from the Indianapolis airport at 1:00 am on a Saturday morning, pop music blasting to keep me alert on the road, we had spent countless hours, days and nights, supporting each other and sharing new experiences in new settings.

We were shaken from our individual and group norms.

I learned to take myself a little less seriously, to ease up, if just a little, on the stress I placed on achieving Get on Board’s goals. My team showed me how to play, to laugh, and enjoy each others company.

Good leaders know that how well their people work together depends on celebrating wins, building teams and developing relationships. Great leaders invest energy in connecting deeply.

Our leaders understood that attending Board Leadership Forum would translate to many community gifts. Twenty years from now, I wonder how this group of people will move through our cities and towns. How will our connection play out?

As you know from reading this series, our shared experience of participating in Board Leadership Forum offered many practical, tangible skills and knowledge.

I posit that the greatest value is in the hearts of the six folks pictured here: we connected. You cannot ask for better in community work, in life. I am grateful.

Reflections on BLF14: Post #15 – The Founder’s Journey

Reflection on 2014 Board Leadership Forum, this is the second review submitted by Kent Castleman.

Attending the Big Leadership Forum by BoardSource was a great experience for me as a non-profit executive director, founder, board member and Get on Board Committee Member.

We are very blessed to have the level of training and non-profit board governance we have in Fort Wayne and Allen County which has been led by the Foellinger Foundation, but supported and embraced by many other funders and supporters.

GOB in Washington, D.C. at the Board Leadership Forum last autumn.
GOB in Washington, D.C. at the Board Leadership Forum last autumn. Kent Castleman is on the far left.

The session called the Founder’s Journey dealt with situational case studies and fictional scenarios you could use for board development activities.

All of these situations led to discussion on the role of the CEO/Executive Director as a founder.

The presenters also discussed Legacy Visioning Strategies that help in facilitating a conversation around the legacy of the organization and the legacy of the founder.

The following are points that I documented as questions to ask in an organization where the founder is still present:

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Reflections on BLF14: Post #13 – For Us, By Us Governance

Reflection on 2014 Board Leadership Forum, submitted by Donald Gage.

The conference was a great learning experience since I am new to the non-for-profit world. I learned a lot but it was not until I sat down in the Holmead room at 3:00 p.m. on Tuesday October 9, 2014 that I realized I wasn’t alone.

GOB in Washington, D.C. at the Board Leadership Forum last autumn
GOB in Washington, D.C. at the Board Leadership Forum last autumn. Donald Gage is on the far right.

I went to this particular break out session thinking I was going to get the answer to a few questions I had been struggling with but in return I realized I was not the only one struggling with these questions such as:

  • Where are minorities when it comes to board service?
  • How does the conversation get started about diverse board service within the community?
  • How do I speak for the African-American community?
  • How do we recruit and engage minorities?

None of my questions were answered. Others in the room were asking the same questions.

Recruitment, engagement and sustainability of a diverse non-profit board and/or committee is a nationwide struggle. It reassured me that I was not alone.

Many minorities have walked away from board service for one reason or another. Individuals in the room discussed the importance of current minority board members mentoring potential members.

An individual in the room asked me how would he recruit me?

My answer to that gentleman is that most likely our paths would not have crossed.

I have lived in Fort Wayne for over ten years and it was not until I came across Get On Board two years ago that I had the opportunity to sit down with non-profit organizations to learn how I can make a difference in my community.

I found comfort in knowing that Get On Board is providing the opportunity for community members to receive training and access to local non-profit boards whose mission resonates with them.

Governance by design is not easy but well worth it.  Does your board reflect the community that you serve?

Reflections on BLF14: Post #12 – Executive Succession: Don’t Leave it to Chance!

Reflections on 2014 Board Leadership Forum, submitted by Carrie Minnich. This is the last review by Carrie.

GOB Washington
The GOB in front of the Washington Monument. Carrie Minnich is standing on the right.

Executive Succession: Don’t Leave it to Chance! (Tom Adams)

According to Mr. Adams, 67% of nonprofit executives plan to leave in less than four years.

  • (10% in less than one year,
  • 24% in one to two years,
  • 33% in three to four years, and
  • 33% in more than five years.

With the increase in the number of retiring executives, nonprofits need to plan for succession to ensure organizational sustainability.

Not only will planning for the departure of the organization’s leader mitigate risk but will also increase the transition success.

Three approaches to succession planning were discussed.

  1. Succession essentials – Having an executive backup plan and succession policy.
  2. Leader development – Developing the talent pool of possible replacements; internal succession.
  3. Departure-defined – An executive director has decided that he/she will leave in two to five years. The organization does not publicly announce the executive director’s intentions but uses the next two to three years to plan for the transition.

It was recommended to combine succession planning and sustainability planning.

In addition to a succession plan for the organization’s leader, sustainability planning includes intentionally looking at the organization’s focus, asking if the right people are involved, how much cash is in the bank, and who does the organization need to work with to be successful.

Many boards are currently or will be facing the need for executive transition in the near future.   Your board should be proactive in planning for the transition in your organization’s leadership so that your organization can have a smooth transition.