Sure, to be an effective working team, nonprofit board chairs and executive directors need to understand their roles, responsibilities, job descriptions and traditional boundaries. But some of the most effective nonprofits have a board chair-chief executive relationship that goes way beyond neatly striped lanes. While we think of younger, less sophisticated organizations as having board leaders involved in the day-to-day staff operations, a study of 16 nonprofit board chairs
While the archetypical Silicon Valley origin story involves a couple of guys working in a garage, nonprofits tend to be launched by a few people talking passionately around a kitchen table. In both cases, it’s a humble beginning to a profound journey that tests the characters, energy, brains, staying power, and very souls of those involved. And that’s the joy of it. Whether brought together by a founder who’s rallied friends and allies, or a group of like-minded people who’ve
A beleaguered executive director once complained to me about a board member who loved to play “boss.” This board officer would “check in on” various staff members to see how they were doing and give them impromptu feedback and suggestions. This did not go over well with the Executive Director, whose job description it was to supervise staff. “I wish she'd stay out of my lane,” she grumbled. Was supervising staff anywhere in that Board Member’s job description? Before you slam
From the 1980s to the 2000s, my desk, at whatever nonprofit I was working at, always had a pile of well-thumbed issues of The Grassroots Fundraising Journal. This publication, featuring the sturdy wisdom of then-publisher Kim Klein, saw me through the basics of direct mail and direct asks, and working with board members — both reluctant and gung ho. So when I heard Kim Klein was presenting at the 10th annual Nonprofit Leadership Institute at Pepperdine University last week, I
“Better to remain silent and be thought a fool Than to open your mouth and remove all doubt.” If you are a nonprofit board member, you should never think this thought. Never ever ever. You were selected to be on a board because you are not a fool. And your job in nonprofit governance is to ask the hard questions, the stupid questions, any questions. The fate of your organization depends on it. In fact, the mantra for nonprofit board members should be just the opposite: “Bette
A strong board is key for the success of any nonprofit, and becoming a strong board takes work. Many volunteer board members find there is a lot more to nonprofit board leadership than they realized. To support the success of nonprofit organizations and their boards of directors, the Center for Nonprofit Leadership at Cal Lutheran University is presenting its 2018 Board Leadership Institute. I'm honored to be serving as the lead faculty, working with these truly amazing, top
Play, purpose, and potential. Ideally this is what we have in our work, and what we grow through our work. That’s what I learned yesterday from Grace Keohohou Hao from the Coach Excellence School and Catherine Kort in their workshop at California Lutheran University's Center for Nonprofit Leadership. As a nonprofit leader, I’ve experienced plenty of purpose in my jobs. But that didn’t always translate to play or potential. When we’re at play, we look forward to going to work.
In a perfect world, nonprofit board and staff leadership would coordinate as gracefully together as dance partners gliding across the ballroom floor. In reality, they often resemble that awkward couple unsure about who’s supposed to lead and who’s supposed to follow. We all know what that looks like and worse, what it feels like to get our toes stepped on. How can boards and staff people avoid the “two-left-feet” phenomenon and manage to step together towards success? One way