101| Community resource. Have a question about board processes and dynamics? Check here. For easy reference, we’ve compiled the answers to questions we’re frequently asked into one resource.
201| Members only resource. It is not unusual for unhappy or troubled staff members to contact board members directly about management concerns. How should you address this approach?
201| Community resource. Many nonprofits employ advisory councils — a collection of individuals who advise and support the governance work of the board or the management tasks carried out by staff.
201| Members only resource. Board chairs play a critical role in ensuring their organization’s health and well-being. Yet few organizations formally orient or prepare their board chairs for stepping into the role. We expect these individuals to know what to do and how to do it, to simply pick up where their predecessors leave off.
201| Members only resource. It’s real people — with their individual strengths, weaknesses, and interpersonal styles — who bring an organization to life and affect its ability to succeed. And real people who serve as board chairs and CEOs. When attentive to their human factor as individuals and as partners, great things can happen; when inattentive, dysfunction will likely follow.
201| Members only resource. It is not always easy for a board to see the line between management and governance. Board members need to consider themselves overseers, not implementers. When boards overstep the line between governance and management they can easily become micromanagers.
201| Members only resource. A common complaint of those in nonprofit organizations is the difficulty in finding effective trustees/board members. Once potential candidates are identified, they must be properly vetted and then convinced to serve.
201| Members only resource. The board delegates the management and administrative duties to the chief executive. To ensure that the right person is running the operations assumes that regular performance reviews take place.
201| Members only resource. The board has the responsibility of ensuring the existence of adequate resources for the organization. However, the board alone should not and cannot handle all fundraising activities. The chief executive takes the leadership role in development planning and engagement of all key individuals. In this brief paper, we introduce you to the chief executive’s fundraising responsibilities.
201| Members only resource. Some organizations traditionally divide the executive leadership duties among two or more individuals. Others choose this option as an innovative way to structure management or to get through a strenuous period before the right person is found to manage the operations. Co-executive leadership, however, does not come without challenges. Duties and relationships need special attention. Both chief executives and the board must feel comfortable about the arrangement.
201| Members only resource. As soon as it is feasible, most boards designate or hire their first chief executive who then manages the daily affairs. The chief executive reports to the board and other staff hired later on report to the chief executive. The structure defines accountability but everyone working together for the same objective is what makes these partnerships succeed.
101| Community resource. Executive sessions provide an opportunity for the board to meet in private. As they normally are closed meetings, often restricted only to board members, it is advisable to set straightforward rules and communicate openly their function and purpose.
301 | Members-only resource. When a nonprofit board faces the painful decision of firing the CEO, it can do great and unnecessary damage to the organization. However, by focusing on mission, integrity, clarity, and accountability, the board is likely to inflict only wounds that heal and, in healing, leave the organization stronger.
201| Members only resource. Serving as the chair of the board is not a role for the indolent and undecided. To accept the responsibility to be in charge of a nonprofit board and to serve as an effective leader — not just a figurehead — assumes that the chair possesses the characteristics and conduct that make the job produce results.
201| Members-only resource. It is not unusual for a board member to be interested in a staff opening in an organization. The board member may feel that she has the necessary skills and previous experience with this nonprofit. However, when a board member wants to move from governance to management or administration, it is important to follow fair hiring procedures and avoid any preferential treatment.
201| Members only resource. The chief executive is responsible for the overall administration and management of XYZ, including service programs, fundraising, and business operations. The job description outlines the areas of responsibility include planning and evaluation, policy development and administration, personnel and fiscal management, and public relations.
201| Members only resource. Clarifying job expectations is essential for both employees and supervisors. The position of chief executive of a nonprofit is no exception. Since one of the key tasks a board has is to evaluate the chief executive’s performance once a year, it is important that a mutual understanding and agreement of the anticipated accomplishments exists between the board and the chief executive.
101 | Community resource. Practicing self-management can enhance the relationship between the chief executive and the board and yield benefits for the entire nonprofit organization.
201| Members only resource. In strong boards, members comprehend their role as the fundamental unit guiding the organization. In some weak boards, individual board members seem oblivious to their specific expectations and obligations and are content to be led by others. When the entire board is complacent — a bit too comfortable with status quo or too submissive to authoritarian rule — a potentially detrimental situation threatens the organization as well as individual board members.
201| Members only resource. In addition to general leaves for all staff, the board can award special sabbaticals to the chief executive. Some boards also question whether allowing board members to take time off would provide benefit the organization or simply create insurmountable legal concerns.
201| Members only resource. The decision-making power in a nonprofit organization is shared by different entities. The full board resides at the top of the authority pyramid but it is neither realistic — nor desirable — for this group to make every single decision within every organizational activity.
201 | Members-only resource. Most nonprofits start as all-volunteer organizations. However, the time will come when hiring staff is a must. This can liberate the board and allow it to focus on its primary governance responsibilities, but it can also challenge the board in its new supervisory role.
201| Members only resource. We are all motivated to serve on a board for different reasons. For a board to accomplish its mission, it must attract members who are committed to the cause, want to be engaged, and find their board service satisfying.
201| Members only resource. There are many ways to keep former board members involved in a nonprofit, but it is more difficult to define the role of a departing chief executive. Is it appropriate to invite them to stay in close contact? Should a former chief executive join the board? Before answering these questions, it is wise to clarify the relationship between the former chief executive, the new chief executive, and the board.
201| Members only resource. If an organization grows as hoped and planned for, a “working board” will eventually reach a point when it’s time to transfer the organization’s management, administration, and operations to staff and staff-led volunteers.
301| Members only resource. Nonprofit leadership transitions can be risky. Organizations seeking new leadership have, essentially, three choices: grooming an inside candidate, which is fairly uncommon; or seeking an outside candidate either from within or outside the nonprofit sector. This paper will focus on outside-candidate transitions.
101| Community resource. Different nonprofits will have different expectations of board members based on their size, mission, or particular challenges. Understanding what an organization needs will help you match your motives, interests, time commitments, and personal goals to that organization so that you can make a valuable contribution.