Reflections on BLF14: Post #4 – Consensus-based Leadership

Gems from the 2014 Board Leadership Forum, submitted by Laura Boyer.

GOB in DC

GOB in DC at the 2014 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.

I have experience with collective decision making, so I was excited to hear more about it from consultants who train people in the process. They demonstrated the benefits of their process visually by lining us up in different formations that represented different forms of hierarchies.

The traditional business model, where everyone reports to a superior, had the greatest potential for communication delays, errors and personal agendas getting in the way. Specialized small groups reporting to a main leader or group of leaders were the most efficient way of getting everyone’s input.

We heard from a board member who had trained in the model and rose to a high leadership post in his organization. Since everyone has a voice in the consensus-based model, it is easier for people to shine who aren’t obvious leaders. The model encourages facilitates leadership from “talented introverts.” That was an “Aha!” moment for me because I have seen it happen and achieved it myself.

Submitted by Laura Boyer

A special thanks to Laura Boyer for taking the time to share her experiences at Board Leadership Forum 2014 with our community of nonprofits.  You are much appreciated Laura!

Marilynn Fauth

 

Reflections on BLF14: Post #3 – Legal issues for Nonprofit Board members

Gems from the 2014 Board Leadership Forum, submitted by Laura Boyer.

GOB in DC

GOB in DC at the 2014 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.

Legal issues for Nonprofit Board members – Two lawyers who specialized in assisting nonprofits with their business posed questions based on actual cases. The stories seemed so outlandish that they could not have possibly happened.

  • One executive director of a nonprofit who had years of international travel expenses had never saved a single expense reimbursement receipt. The board members of the organization were forced to pay special tax penalties that the IRS prohibits from being covered by insurance or paid by the organization.
  • Other worst case scenario examples that could have been prevented by proper board oversight:
    • prominent private school had full-time “volunteer” teachers who were given “gifts” of $20k per year with no withholding taxes taken out resulting in huge tax penalties;
    • organization didn’t pay its accountant’s bill, so accountant stopped work;
    • Then, organization didn’t file its tax returns for 3 years, automatically losing its 501(c)(3) status. All board members must educate themselves on their legal responsibilities.

Lack of professional expertise is not an excuse. All nonprofits should regularly consult with accountants and attorneys to review their business practices.

Submitted by Laura Boyer

One more gem from Laura’s BLF14 experience will post soon – watch for it! The topic will be:

Consensus-based Leadership – I have experience with collective decision making, so I was excited to hear more about it from consultants who train people in the process. They demonstrated the benefits of their process visually by lining us up in different formations that represented different forms of hierarchies.

Reflections on BLF14: Post #2 – Non-profit fraud

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

GOB in DC

GOB in DC at the 2014 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. 

Non-profit fraud  – A forensic accountant showed board members why it was necessary to review the organization’s finances.

He told the story of one chief technology officer who bilked 100s of thousands of dollars out of a nonprofit. The trusted officer created a fake company to bill for computer equipment the nonprofit never received.

The scheme was huge – if the nonprofit had all of the servers it had paid for, it would have had more server capacity than the Chicago division of Google.

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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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