The report of the first ever national study that gathered the perspectives of nonprofit board chairs has been released. I am privileged to have been part of the research team conducting the study which was done by the Governance Affinity Group of the Alliance for Nonprofit Management. The report, Voices of Nonprofit Board Chairs, reflects the voices of 635 nonprofit board chairs from across the United States. The study is a first step in hearing directly from board chairs about their experiences and perceptions, highlighting the importance of the board chairs and also the significant dearth of research about them.
Today I want to share some insights about a subject that’s been top of mind for me lately…. Capacity.
Isn’t the holiday season wonderful? People are so generous and thoughtful. In fact, the Network for Good Online Giving Study* found one third of all online giving happens in December. What surprised me, though, was that two thirds of the December online giving occurs December 30-31st!
But . . . what about the rest of the year?
As a nonprofit leader you are dealing with change all the time. Today I was listening to several executive directors share the impact on them personally of having to make changes related to budget realities as they start their new fiscal years. Considering their comments and my own experience, I have three tips for coping with change to share with you.
Time has gone by fast! I can’t believe it was two months ago that we decided to sell our home and move. As a result, I have been reflecting on change and how moving provides insights for how change happens for you as a nonprofit leader. The elements of change and process of managing it are common no matter what it’s about. Let’s start with the first four.
Behind closed doors? Last time we talked about how executive directors can feel shut out when their boards have executive sessions without them. I pointed out that there is not agreement about whether or not boards should have these sessions. When executive directors and their boards establish and follow a good process and clear guidelines trust is built and concerns are mitigated. Here are some things to consider when thinking about executive sessions.
The board-executive director relationship is a dance. The whole team is dancing together! One thing that can throw everyone off balance or mess up the cadence is how the board manages (or doesn’t) executive sessions. Most executive directors do not want their boards to meet without them on issues other than their performance or compensation. Other executives don’t seem to be bothered by it and some even encourage it. Not only is there disagreement about the practice, there is even disagreement about the definition!
A new executive director is struggling with a board chair who acts like, but doesn’t admit, that he wishes he was in her position. A board president is frustrated because the executive director is very defensive whenever feedback is given. A long-time executive director believes his board chair has no confidence in him because she keeps telling him what to do and how to do it. Everything suffers, or is at best mediocre, when this partnership is not optimal.