This morning at the gym I listened. I closed my eyes and just listened. First, I became more aware of the voices. Some clear—I could understand the words—and some not—just recognizable as voices. Next, it was the music being piped throughout the gym above our heads. (Not too loud thank goodness.) Then, more startling sounds.
Seems to be a lot of buzz about US nonprofit boards getting a B- grade as reported by BoardSource in its 2014 governance index. School told us the numeric underpinnings of that grade; not so in this report. I wonder what a B- really means. Is it good? Bordering on average but still above average?
BoardSource has released the findings from its 2014 governance survey. 846 chief executives and 246 board chairs responded. There is a lot to read and digest and I am reading and thinking – reading and thinking. I want to share a “quick take” of some of the findings.
“Concentrate all your thoughts on the work at hand. The Sun’s rays do not burn until brought into focus.” Alexander Graham Bell
You know you will achieve what you focus on so be sure to bring the power of focus (like the burning rays of the sun) to the implementation of your goals. It works. But, I’ve learned it is not enough.
Happy New Year! You have probably had a lot of messages in your inbox about goals. Goals are what we think about this time of year. Is it really worth our attention? A ten year Harvard study and neuroscience tell us it is.
Thank you for all that you do to enrich our communities and our lives. Everyday I have the privilege to connect with nonprofit leaders and everyday I am inspired by each and every one of you. My thanks to you are personal and deep.
We are entering the “season of giving.” Statements like “It is better to give than to receive” abound. Holiday traditions warm our hearts: turkey and trimmings, baking cookies, mistletoe, caroling etc. I read an article by Suzie Orman (Success December issue) this morning and, while her advice focused on giving and spending money during this season, I was struck by how it applies to nonprofit executive directors and board members. See what you think.
When I was an executive director this was the time of year when we began working on our annual fund drive. We asked board members for new names. They agreed to personally sign letters. We worked on what to write. You know the drill. I was not a fund development professional and we did not have good research to inform our strategy. Now you do.
At a meeting with several executive directors this past week, an interesting question came up now that Fall, and thus election season is upon us. Can (or should) an executive director (ED) endorse a candidate? While the consensus was that an ED should not endorse a candidate as the ED of his/her nonprofit, the views were mixed about whether or not it would be OK to endorse “personally.” The challenge for some EDs is how to extricate their personal and professional identities from each other. This led to a broader discussion of nonprofits and lobbying.
Last week I attended a large gathering of nonprofit leaders in Austin, TX. One of the keynote speakers was Diana Aviv, the CEO of the Independent Sector (IS). She spoke eloquently about their research on what strategies make nonprofit advocacy efforts most effective. Many nonprofit leaders—perhaps especially board members—don’t consider how advocacy could advance their missions. After hearing from over 500 nonprofit organizations, the IS identified five key approaches for effective advocacy. These may be very relevant for your nonprofit.