The parable of surfing dogs, your board, and fundraising

Topping the list of most often asked questions from frustrated nonprofit CEOs and ministry heads is “How do I get my board to grab hold of fundraising?” I long for curiosity about the basics of good governance. But given the financial situation (miserable) of the majority of small to mid-size nonprofits, a shift in focus […]

Tips, strategies, and things to avoid as you plan your next board meeting

“If it weren’t for the meetings, serving on this board would be a joy. I’m all in on the mission, but one more rambling, mind-numbing agenda and I’m out of here!” I hear variations on this lament too often from board members bored out of their minds by meetings to nowhere. Perhaps you’ve said as […]

IF you want to change your board, THEN . . .

The always insightful Seth Godin’s reminder via his blog that “all change involves an if/then promise” speaks to almost any aspect of organizational life. However, if you’re a regular reader of Generous Matters, then you expect me to apply Godin’s wise principle to board governance and/or fundraising. Not wanting to disappoint, that’s what I’ve done […]

Deciding who should sit on your board

Should donors ever sit on your board? This headline to a Nonprofit Quarterly blog asked the oddest questions I’ve seen in a long while. “Who else would you want on your board?” I muttered to myself. With the gold standard for giving by board members set at 100 percent of the membership, there shouldn’t be […]

Nonprofit boards aren’t as inept as the headlines suggest

The online nonprofit press is abuzz over the 2015 Survey on Board of Directors of Nonprofit Organizations, with headlines suggesting nothing but bad news. However, after digging into the report for myself, I’m here to dispute the board bashers. The survey results (at least as I read them) simply don’t support the sorry soundbite summaries. […]

Board self-assessment in three easy questions, but not so easy answers

Over the years, I’ve noticed an odd psychology to board self-assessment. Leadership hopes for a glowing report or, at the least, more praise than criticism. Yet when the outcome is as wanted, there’s grumbling from some around the board table about time and money wasted on a bunch of happy talk. Apparently there’s not much […]

Rules of engagement for board and staff

The worry in the president’s voice was palpable as he described his board’s move to a committee structure. Having grown from 8 to 11 members, the board was beyond functioning as a committee of the whole. However, horror stories about leaders done in by blabbing staff and board committees gone rogue had made the president […]

10 habits at the heart of exemplary board governance

In a recent article, I pointed board members who fancy themselves as difference makers in the direction of the board development committee. My reasoning? No organization will be stronger than its board, at least not in the long-term, which makes helping to build a strong board the most important work a board member can do. […]

Board Ts and Ts

Within the nonprofit sector, three words – time, talent, and treasure (sometimes restated as work, wisdom, and wealth) – are used as a short-hand definition of board members’ contributions to mission fulfillment with economic vitality. And for good reason. The word trio describes to a “t” what organizational heads want from the individuals sitting around […]

Strategies for avoiding meddling by meeting

As part of prepping for a workshop with a nonprofit board that’s new to me, I asked the chair to name his must-be-addressed topic for the day. Almost before the question was out of my mouth, he shot back his answer. “I need help in structuring meetings so that the board stays out of administrative […]