Optimize your relationship with your board with Board & Administrator

  • Get your board members to take an active role in fundraising
  • Enlist your board’s help in working through a revenue shortfall
  • Enhance your board members’ emotional connection with your mission
  • Help your board evaluate mission impact and program sustainability
Use discount code BANW5 and SAVE 20% SUBSCRIBE NOW!

Other Products of Interest

Board Leadership
Board Leadership helps you discover, explain, and discuss innovative and alternative approaches to board governance with the goal of helping organizations achieve effective, meaningful, and successful leadership to support and implement their missions. Read More
Corporate Philanthropy Report
is the monthly newsletter that covers the latest trends and best practices in corporate and foundation giving and provides grantmakers and nonprofits the tools they need to maximize the impact of charitable efforts. Read More
Executive Director Succession
5/20/2016 12:00 AM

Consultant Terrie Temkin said the board must help ensure its new executive director doesn’t butt heads with the previous administrator.

It’s clearly the board’s responsibility to ensure that a new executive director doesn’t come into conflict with the organization’s previous CEO. That can happen if the board isn’t diligent about the limits it places on the former exec’s involvement with his old nonprofit. Here’s how a board needs to approach the issue:

First, it’s the board’s responsibility to direct and coach a new executive. “When the board hires someone new, it needs to communicate the direction the board wants to go in the first place,” nonprofit consultant Terrie Temkin (Miami, Fla.) said. If the board wishes for the organization to move in a different direction, this should be communicated to the new administrator, Temkin said.

And if you accept a position where the previous administrator will continue working as a consultant, boundaries need to be placed on that involvement, Temkin said. Otherwise, there is a decent chance the former CEO will be left standing and his replacement will take a fall, she said.

For more information, go to

Grievance Procedure
5/13/2016 12:00 AM

Use these strategies from Board & Administrator Editor Jeff Stratton to improve your grievance procedure.

Staff griping undermines teamwork and breaks down staff morale.

What’s worse is that employee complaints can bring down the executive director if they are not managed properly.

When a Minnesota executive director phoned the Hotline recently (515.963.7979;, she was seeking ways to improve the grievance procedure at her nonprofit. This is what I suggested:

  • Understand that some grievances are legitimate and you have a responsibility to let the board hear them. If an employee brings an accusation of harassment or fraud against you, for example, it should be brought directly to the board. The board is legally responsible for the organization and needs to be in the loop from the start.
  • Staff complaints should be channeled through a formal grievance procedure. Key to the effectiveness of any formal grievance procedure is your guarantee that an employee won’t get in “trouble” for bringing an issue forward or face retribution from a supervisor for bringing a grievance.
  • Establish a clear chain of communication. Employees must know who to contact. First, attempt to resolve the problem with the other persons involved, and if that is not successful, take it to the next highest management level.
  • Be very clear that run-of-the-mill grievances should not go to the board of directors. It’s your job to handle day-to-day management issues such as staff complaints or concerns. You manage staff while the board sets policy. Be sure to include a statement that bringing staff complaints directly to the board is considered inappropriate.
  • Set forth a specific procedure for bringing a complaint. Be sure to document each step the employee should take to work through the process.
  • Respond in a timely manner. Your policy should set time limits for supervisors and the executive director to respond to an employee concern. Work through complaints expeditiously.
  • Re-emphasize that persons who bring complaints will not be penalized. The best way to make a grievance procedure stand the test of time is for the executive director to enforce this principle. When employees witness others bringing their issues forward without penalty, you build trust in your grievance procedure.
  • Obtain the backing of the board. For a grievance procedure to work, the board can’t entertain staff complaints. A board member has to stand up before his colleagues on the board and say: “I am too busy to listen to staff complaints. That’s the administrator’s job. If we are going to hear employee gripes, I don’t have the time to serve on this board.”


Jeff Stratton, Editor


Nonprofit executive compensation
5/6/2016 12:00 AM
Find out which titles nonprofit executives use most frequently, along with the highest-paying titles, in B&A’s 2014 Nonprofit Executive Compensation Report.

The chart below shows that “Executive Director” remains the most common title in use among respondents. Fifty-seven percent of survey participants report using the title “Executive Director.” The next most reported title, “CEO,” is used by 16% of respondents.

It’s interesting to note the wide discrepancy in salary by title. The average pay of an “Executive Director” is $111,895, while a “CEO” earns $134,485 and a “Director” makes $94,791.

4/1/2016 12:00 AM

Use this Board & Administrator post-meeting evaluation form to ask board members to assess their work.

3/25/2016 12:00 AM

Develop a roles and responsibilities chart to teach nonprofit board members to focus on policy.

Sometimes the nonprofit executive must be a mind reader.

That’s because nonprofit board members can be really hard to figure out. Sometimes they want complete authority over decisions. And other times they look at you as if to say, “Why didn’t you just go ahead and do this? It’s your responsibility!” That’s where the talent for mind reading becomes a career necessity.

Yes, ideally the board makes policy decisions and stays out of your management decisions. But rarely are things so cut and dried. That’s because there are three real-world problems that can make your decision-making dicey:

  1. Many board members don’t know their proper responsibilities, even after they have been oriented and trained. So they don’t know which decisions are the board’s and which belong to you.
  2. There are plenty of gray areas where responsibility is not clear.
  3. A board has the power to make any decision it wants to — right or wrong.

What the nonprofit needs is a clear-cut list of responsibilities for both board members and the administrator. That way, board members will know their own responsibilities — and respect yours. Who does exactly what isn’t really the key issue here. What’s vital is that everyone on the board and administrator team discusses and then agrees who will be responsible for what — and sticks to the agreement.

If you and your board make the time to develop a decision-making chart, you should see a positive effect on board meetings. Once the board has specified who will make decisions, meetings should become shorter and smoother because everything has been sorted out in advance.

As a team, the board and administrator should decide who is responsible for making each decision. Be sure to tell your board where you think you should be responsible, but be willing to live with their consensus — even if you don’t agree.

Note: I’ve listed a few responsibilities below to help you and your board get started. But be sure to customize this list to your own organization and the types of decisions you typically face.

When developing your own list, you will have a good opportunity to discuss board responsibilities. Give your board some guidelines, such as the following:

  • The board handles the “what” — such as our organization will provide a new program. The executive handles how the policy will be implemented — such as who will staff the new service, where and when.
  • The board makes decisions that set the direction for the entire organization. The executive makes decisions that affect individuals.
  • Law often dictates who must make a decision.

Responsibility Chart for the Administrator and Board

Label each item with one of the following:

A = Administrator has complete authority to make the decision.

I = Administrator has authority to act and then inform the board.

P = Administrator must seek prior approval from the board to act.

B = Board must make the decision.

  1. Write a grant proposal.
  2. Submit a grant to a funding source.
  3. Discipline an employee who comes to work intoxicated.
  4. Change board-meeting times or frequencies.
  5. Purchase new computers with budgeted funds.
  6. Set minimum salary for new staff.
  7. Determine rules for staff dress.
  8. Terminate a supervisor’s contract.
  9. Accept audit of the organization’s finances.
  10. Appoint people to an advisory committee to advise the administrator about community needs.
1/15/2016 12:00 AM

This chart from Board & Administrator Editor Jeff Stratton provides guidance on roles for the board and staff.


    Username: Password:
  • Content Directory

    BAN subscribers can now log in to browse all articles online!
    Browse Content
    Free Content
  • Free E-Alerts

    Sign up to receive exclusive content and special offers in the areas that interest you.
  • Subscription Formats

  • Meet the Editor

    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
Copyright © 2000-2015 by John Wiley & Sons, Inc. or related companies. All rights reserved.