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Nonprofit Executive Compensation
8/25/2014 12:00 AM

Please help your fellow nonprofit executive by completing Board & Administrator’s 2014–2015 Survey of Nonprofit Executive Compensation.

Each year, Board & Administrator for Administrators Only publishes a report on nonprofit executive compensation. Your input will help our editorial team build an informative tool that subscribers can use throughout the year to benchmark salaries in their area and assist them when negotiating new contracts.

The deadline to participate is Nov. 15, 2014, and responses are STRICTLY confidential.

The 2015 Nonprofit Executive Compensation Report will be mailed to current subscribers in the March 2015 issue of Board & Administrator for Administrators Only.

To participate in the survey, go to

Thank you for taking the time to complete Board & Administrator’s 2014–2015 Survey of Nonprofit Executive Compensation.

Chain of Command
8/15/2014 12:00 AM

The IOWA Principles and Practices for Charitable Nonprofit Excellence offer guidance on how board members should respect the chain of command.

When it comes to the board and staff connection, the board chair and administrator need to be the clear leaders in spelling out roles to all parties. If the board chair is committed to a board/staff connection that keeps items like board/staff communication and board requests for staff work going first to the executive director’s office, then individual board members are less likely to violate the chain of command. If they do, they will likely butt heads with the chair.

The IOWA Principles and Practices for Charitable Nonprofit Excellence offer discussion-worthy points about the board/staff relationship:

“Nonprofit organizational success depends on the clear delineation of responsibilities and mutual respect between the board and the staff.


“1. The board chair must have the skills, the executive director administers.

“2. The executive director is appointed by and terminated by the board.

“3. Board stewardship is a major responsibility and time commitment of the executive director. It is essential for the executive director to respond promptly and openly to the board. Executive directors are most effective when they understand, respect and foster the role of the board.

“4. The board chair and the executive director are the intersection between the board and staff. There must be a trusting and open relationship of mutual respect between the board chair and the executive director.

“5. The board must function as a board and speak through the board chair to the staff. The staff must function as a staff and speak to the board through the executive director. While individual members of the board and staff will work together, converse and learn together through board committees and other organizational activities, it must always be recognized that ‘the buck stops’ with the board chair and the executive director.”

For more information, go to


Jeff Stratton, Editor


Strategic Planning
8/8/2014 12:00 AM

President/CEO Lloyd VanderKwaak (Johnston, Iowa) said his board uses a Governance Agenda to concentrate on strategic issues.

President/CEO Lloyd VanderKwaak (Johnston, Iowa) said both his organization’s board and foundation board benefit from the use of a high-level Governance Agenda that focuses board members on four key strategic areas:

  1. Governance. Activities designed to strengthen and revitalize the board.
  2. Strategic. Activities from the organization’s strategic plan that require the board’s attention throughout the year.
  3. Operational. Results that must be achieved based on board-approved documents such as the budget.
  4. Development. Fund development activities that require board involvement.

“Key board committees and our foundation board receive assignments from this list, and that becomes the boards’ agenda for the year,” VanderKwaak said. “Each quarter, the board receives a Governance Scorecard using red, yellow and green as indicators of their progress.”

It can be tricky for the nonprofit executive to keep his board focused on board issues and let the staff handle operational matters. With his board’s attention focused squarely on strategic items included on the Governance Agenda, VanderKwaak said they have “negotiated that divide.”

“We’ve identified those items that require the attention of the board during the year,” he said. “This makes it okay to focus on those items that require a governance partnership between our directors and the leadership of the organization.”

VanderKwaak said that during his 22 years at the organization, strategic, high-level work has played a key role in driving organizational growth and the expansion of the nonprofit’s mission. “Our strategic plan is a dynamic document that doesn’t sit on a shelf,” he said.

The organization’s success is due in part to the integrated processes they use that promote an effective governance partnership between VanderKwaak and the board, he said.

The board has been working at strategic planning for so long that it’s become their mode of operation, VanderKwaak said. “The strategic plan is a governance document that drives annual planning for the board and staff,” he said. “The board’s annual Governance Agenda is aligned with the organization’s Operating Plan. The board-approved operating and capital budget are aligned with strategic priorities as well as operating priorities.”

The board’s Governance Agenda is used by two boards: the organization’s governing board and the foundation board of trustees.

The Governance Agenda is designed to be brief and high-level. Detailed versions of the Governance Agenda for both the governing board and the foundation board outline the strategies the boards will use to meet their goals in the coming year, VanderKwaak said.


Governance Agenda


We will be uniquely positioned in Iowa to improve the health and well-being of children with special health care needs.

October 15, 2013

Governance Agenda



  • Recruit and/or retain 7 directors and 4 trustees
  • Complete governance and financial audits — 2012/13
  • Review the quality oversight system

Strategic Focus Areas in the Strategic Plan

  • Positioning
  • Health and well-being
  • Children and families
  • Iowa

Operations Areas

  • Review the 2012–13 Organizational Evaluation
  • Achieve financial targets
  • Continue the ChildServe Center expansion and capacity planning
  • Continue succession planning and leader development


  • Raise $650,000 for the ChildServe Fund
  • Host three events: Bubble Ball, Golf Fore the Kids, ChildServe Run
  • Complete the $3 million I AM ONE capital campaign
  • Formalize a donor awareness and cultivation program

Source: President/CEO Lloyd VanderKwaak, ChildServe, Johnston, Iowa.

Board of Directors

Detailed Agenda

  1. Governance and Oversight
    • Recruit and/or retain 7 directors
      • Recruit 4 new directors to succeed John T., Linda K., Bill L., Mike G.
      • Retain 3 directors to serve a second term: John B., Dave M., Jim S.
    • Recruit and/or retain 4 trustees
      • Recruit 2 new trustees to succeed Chris R. and Marshal P.
      • Retain 2 trustees to serve another term: Brian L. (1), Pete C. (2)
    • Complete 2 organizational audits
      • Governance audit
      • Financial audit
    • Review the quality oversight system
  2. Strategic Focus Areas
    • Positioning
      • Population health and medical home
      • Marketing
    • Health and well-being
      • Physiatry and physician clinics
      • Care quality
    • Children and families
      • Pediatric rehabilitation
      • Home and community services
    • Eastern Iowa opportunities
  3. Operations
    • Review the 2012–13 Organizational Evaluation
    • Achieve financial targets
    • Net income of $400,976
    • Program contribution of $9,262,921
    • Continue the ChildServe Center expansion and capacity planning
    • Complete the ChildServe Center expansion/begin remodeling
    • Begin implementing the capacity expansion plan
    • Continue succession planning and leader development
    • Senior leaders and ChildServe councils

Source: President/CEO Lloyd VanderKwaak, ChildServe, Johnston, Iowa.

Board of Trustees

Detailed Agenda

  1. Board Development
    • Recruit 2 new trustees to succeed Marshal P. and Chris R.
    • Retain 2 trustees to serve another term: Brian L. (1), Pete C. (2)
  2. Fund Raising and Resource Development
    • Raise $650,000 for the ChildServe Fund
    • Complete the $3 million I AM ONE capital campaign
  3. Special Events
    • Golf Fore the Kids on September 16, 2013
    • The Bubble Ball on March 29, 2014
    • ChildServe Run for the Kids on May 10, 2014
  4. Donor Awareness and Engagement
    • Identification of key current and potential donors
    • Host individual donors and groups at ChildServe
    • Build awareness and donor engagement

Source: President/CEO Lloyd VanderKwaak, ChildServe, Johnston, Iowa.

10/11/2013 12:00 AM
Longtime Board & Administrator-For Administrators Only reader CEO Rod Braun (Pella, Iowa), offers strategies to improve this example grievance procedure.

Take a couple of minutes to review the following problem resolution/grievance process used by one nonprofit to resolve employee grievances. See if you can spot the danger area for the executive director.

Then read the comments from longtime Board & Administrator reader CEO Rod Braun (Pella, Iowa) that will improve this policy to make it work better for the administrator.

Problem Resolution/Grievance Process

  • Employee grievances have been defined as anything in the employee’s work relationship that causes distress, complaints or feelings of having been treated unfairly or improperly by a supervisor, department head, member of the administrative staff or fellow employee. It is only natural for occasional problems to arise between employees, or between an employee and a supervisor. Administration recognizes this, and will maintain the following orderly grievance procedure:
  • Any employee with a problem or grievance related to his employment may present the grievance to his immediate supervisor, who shall give it prompt consideration and a reasonable answer if it is within her jurisdiction to do so.
  • If the employee is not satisfied by the action taken under Step 1, within seven (7) days after the supervisor takes the action, she may present the grievance in writing to her department head. The department head will meet with the employee and attempt to resolve the matter.
  • If the employee is not satisfied by the action taken under Step 2, he may appeal the matter to the Administrator. If the matter is not resolved to the employee’s satisfaction by the Administrator, the employee may, within seven (7) days after such action is taken, make a written request for a hearing. At this point in time, the Administrator shall appoint three (3) or more organization employees from departments other than the employee’s department to serve as a committee to conduct a hearing on the matter. The committee shall investigate both sides of the issue and, within five (5) days after the investigation is completed, make a recommendation to the Administrator. Promptly thereafter, the Administrator shall make a decision on the matter. The Administrator’s decision will be considered final.

From the CEO’s perspective, Braun’s main issue with this policy starts with step 3. “I’m not fond of having an appointed group of employees from other departments acting in an advisory capacity and then making a recommendation to the CEO,” he said. “I think word would get out in an organization that an employee with a concern took it to the appointed group but that the CEO went against their recommendation.”

If that happens, expect two possible outcomes: one is that no one will ever want to be appointed to hear such a grievance for fear the process is just tokenism and the other is that since the appointees are only advisory to the CEO, the aggrieved employee would probably see the process as a waste of time.

On the pro side of step 3, Braun said it can be argued that CEOs don’t always make perfect calls and that is why he is asking for a recommendation from an appointed group. “For this policy to work effectively, I think the CEO would have to follow the recommendation at least ninety-five percent of the time,” he said.

If you are a CEO with a grievance policy like this, periodically give data to your employees so that you can demonstrate your veto of the appointed group’s recommendation is seldom used, Braun suggests.

The CEO can use an approach similar to this one but without creating a formal appointed group. “When a grievance gets to my level, I generally consult with a small group of senior management staff before making a decision,” he said.

Braun also periodically explains some of the positive outcomes of a grievance (such as grievances that led to policy or practice changes). “People often think that if you file a formal grievance you will get fired or never receive another pay raise,” Braun said. “The CEO needs to be able to demonstrate some positive outcomes from employees who have used the procedure.”

To address this reprisal issue and further improve this policy, add some type of statement that retaliation/reprisal will not be tolerated against any person filing a formal grievance.


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    Jeff Stratton

    Jeff Stratton has edited Board & Administrator since 1992. As the Board Doctor, he has advised thousands of executive directors and board members on issues like prevention of
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