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Resource Development
5/5/2017 12:00 AM

Find new board members and funding with this community outreach event, as described by CEO David Cook in Board & Administrator.

CEO David Cook (Hendersonville, N.C.; said his organization hosts a quarterly event to increase awareness in the community. It’s called IAM—A Closer Look and is targeted toward bringing new talent, skills and money into the organization.

The board and its chair have a role in the event, too.

“IAM—A Closer Look is a one-hour tour and orientation to our nonprofit that we do every three months,” Cook said. “It is aimed at new pastors, prospective volunteers, donors and interested business persons.”

When board members and Cook attend chamber of commerce events, Rotary Club meetings and other community functions, they issue an invitation to visit the organization for IAM—A Closer Look.

The agenda for the one-hour event covers these activities:

  • A reception hosted by the board’s chair.
  • Welcome delivered by Cook.
  • Introductions of those who will be speaking.
  • Remarks from Cook that explain who IAM is and what the organization does.
  • A facility tour, hosted by the organization’s volunteer manager.
  • Perspectives on IAM’s work, from various voices involved with the organization, including a pastor, an IAM volunteer and a video testimonial from a client.

Cook wraps up the event with a description of organizational needs.

A question-and-answer session follows, and then attendees are asked to complete a form to evaluate the event.

Everyone who attends receives a folder with the annual report, the bimonthly Faith Liaison Newsletter, a basic organizational brochure, the volunteer opportunities brochure and a one-page information paper with the mission and vision statements and 2015 statistics, Cook said.

“Eight to ten guests typically attend the event,” Cook said.

“In general, we have enjoyed continued support from churches with new pastors who have attended, gained some new volunteers and added several new sponsors for our annual fundraiser and several individuals who later became board members,” he said. One recent new board member addition is the new pastor of one of IAM’s largest founding organizations, he said.

Members of the press have also received invitations to attend. “I think that has helped us with the excellent local coverage of our ministry and our various events through the year,” Cook said.

New donors have also stepped up as a result of attendance at the event. “Most recently, a donor put up a $5,000 matching gift challenge for our capital campaign, and another donor who is also now a volunteer contributed $5,000 to our crisis services,” Cook said.

The event evaluations are used to fine-tune the orientation and tour. “They have garnered very positive feedback,” he said.

Relationship with Board
4/28/2017 12:00 AM

When the CEO is new to a position, place emphasis on getting to know board members and staff.

Former Florida nonprofit executive Linda Osmundson recommends that new CEOs place high emphasis on an individual meeting with each board member during the first 100 days.

“In the first 100 days, a new executive should meet with every board member individually, preferably in the board member’s office,” Osmundson said. “Use this meeting to find out their agenda, why they are on the board and what their experience has been so far.”

The meeting is also a place where you can stress an important issue to you as the new executive: the organization’s complaint process. “Set the stage so if board members hear any complaints, they come back to the executive director,” Osmundson said. “If complaints are coming from staff, then the president of the board should deal with that right away with the whole board.”

During that first 100 days on a new job, the CEO should strive to meet individually with each staff member. “The executive director should also meet with the staff individually if possible or with employee leadership groups to talk about your decision-making style,” Osmundson said.

“I remember telling my new staff that most decisions would be made by staff because they best understand on a day-to-day basis,” she said.

An example: Who should make the decision about a program participant? That would be a staff decision, Osmundson said.

“Some decisions would be made by me after a lot of staff input. A few decisions would be made by me alone and I would be clear about which kind of decision this is,” Osmundson said.

Normally, if there was a decision needed regarding a board member, it was hers to make, she said. If it was a decision about something in the community, then that would be jointly made by the staff and by Osmundson.

“If you get all this done in the first 100 days, then you should be a success,” Osmundson said.

4/21/2017 12:00 AM

One Oregon nonprofit board recently had a painful reminder why its director should always be invited to the board meeting, said Jeff Stratton, The Board Doctor.

There is a reason I rail against boards that meet in executive session without their executive director. Here’s a story that should remind everyone that this is a bad practice:

“My board met with an employee and fired him—illegally,” said an Oregon administrator. The board had no documentation to back up its dismissal of the employee; in fact, the employee had never heard from anyone that he was doing a poor job.

The reason for the board’s actions, the administrator said, is that one board member didn’t “like” the employee at a time when money was tight at the nonprofit and layoffs were coming.

Not only did the employee start screaming about this, but so did the organization’s attorney and insurance company. The organization lucked out because all the employee wanted was his job back and his attorney’s fees paid, the administrator said.

“This taught me a lesson,” said the executive director. “Never let the board personnel issues belong to the executive director.”

There are really only a few good reasons a board should ever meet without its administrator present. You should review them, as should your board. They are:

  • when discussing the CEO’s annual performance evaluation and compensation;
  • when discussing a corporate compliance issue where allegations have been made against the CEO;
  • at the end of the audit review so the board can ask questions of the auditor without employees present; and
  • if there is an allegation of sexual harassment against the administrator.


Jeff Stratton, Editor

3/10/2017 12:00 AM

This resource from Board & Administrator helps board members assess their engagement level with the organization.

2/24/2017 12:00 AM

In Brian Foss and the Horatio Alger Association’s book, Governing Effective Nonprofits in the 21st Century, board members can find a wealth of practical information about serving on a board.

Below, you’ll find a terrific job description for a nonprofit board member.

A Sample Board Member’s Job Description for Any Nonprofit

  • Understand and support the mission, programs and services of the organization.
  • Accept the responsibilities of being a fiduciary of a corporation that exists for the public good using tax-exempt, tax-deductible funds.
  • Make a multiyear commitment to participate actively in governance meetings and programs.
  • Be among the first, most generous and consistent annual donors.
  • Invite new people to become involved in the organization’s work and to contribute financially.
  • Assist other governance leaders in building relationships that will help the organization fulfill its mission.
  • Be a steward of the public trust and a trustee of the organization’s mission and resources.
  • Keep the board’s work focused on governance issues, policy creation and setting strategic directions for the organization’s future in a transparent and ethical manner.
  • Keep the board focused on effectiveness in fulfilling the mission and programs, and creating an organization that is best-in-class.
  • As a fiduciary, ensure that the organization is diversely funded, approve the annual budget and monitor fiscal affairs, conduct an audit annually, have fiscal controls in place, review IRS Form 990, and plan for the financial future of the corporation.
  • Ensure the board has policies in place regarding board and staff conflicts of interest, self-dealing and transparency.
  • Understand how the organization raises its funds and approve all of the fundraising practices and external contracts for fundraising.
  • Leave management matters to the organization’s CEO and help the board and staff continuously differentiate the roles of governance and management.
  • Be an advocate and ally for the CEO, assuming such support is merited. Participate in the hiring, nurturing and evaluation of the CEO.
  • Keep the board focused on the organization’s mission.


Source: Brian Foss, Governing Effective Nonprofits in the 21st Century. Reprinted with permission.

1/27/2017 12:00 AM

Use the following exercise from The Board Doctor to assess your board’s understanding of its role.

Use the following exercise to determine how clearly your board understands its role. Identify those areas where the board lacks either knowledge or information, and make plans to find them the training they need. Remember: An untrained board is a disaster (for the CEO) waiting to happen.


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  • 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
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