Donors may not care about results, but boards should

“Despite years of claiming the contrary, donors still don’t really care about nonprofit performance or impact.” In fact, as blogger and student of philanthropy Tim Ogden reports, a majority of donors believe there “isn’t much difference between nonprofits, that any giving is good, and performance measures are a waste of time and money.” For all […]

Get governance or get off

I feel the pain of nonprofit CEOs and development staff who rail about board members’ reluctance to step up to the fundraising challenge. I’ve served on the development staffs of three Christian colleges, including a short stint as a VP for Advancement. For the past 15 years, I’ve provided development counsel to faith-based nonprofits. I’ve […]

When your board comes to a fork in the road . . .

My work this week is with a theological school board in the midst of a presidential transition – board members standing at one of those Robert Frost moments. You know the drill. Two roads in front of them. One familiar and comfortable. The other, less traveled by peer institutions.

What if the board truly believed God owns the organization?

It’s been ten years and counting since the board of which I am the current chair opted for Policy Governance. And still the identity of our owner(s) eludes us. We took up the question again at a recent meeting. Comments fell along the usual lines until a board member suggested God as the owner. Silence. […]

Reflections from a generous giver on asking, thanking, and growing donors’ hearts

The following reflections on money, faith, and fundraising as ministry come from Don Meyer, a Buffalo, NY businessman whose generosity is well-known in Christian circles. When Don speaks, ministry leaders listen. And speak he did at a recent meeting of the MOPS (Mothers of Preschoolers) International board, on which I serve alongside Don’s wife, the […]

The Music Man syndrome and board member (mis)perceptions

I just returned from a board retreat, and once again, I’m in awe of the ability of board members to NOT see their organization as others see it. In fact, it’s the rare board that thinks of the organization as anything less than the bee’s knees. The best of its kind. Top flight. World class. […]

My mother-in-law’s Christmas cactus, Policy Governance, and a meaty metaphor

Next to a pithy phrase, a meaty metaphor is my favorite rhetorical device. It’s possible to say a lot with a few words. Case in point: my mother-in-law’s Christmas cactus as a stand-in for Policy Governance. “Say what?” you ask. “Stick with me,” I answer. Following the death of my mother-in-law, I accepted responsibility for […]

7 mid-summer projects for more productive board work in the fall

On Monday of this week, I highlighted a list of spruce-up projects guaranteed to enhance your fundraising results come fall. But it’s not just development staff who can make hay while the sun shines. Board chairs and other governance leaders can do so as well. The dog days of summer are a great time to […]

Advice for anxious board chairs (and members who are led by them)

With a board meeting staring me in the face, I feel a bout of performance anxiety coming on. Everything I’ve taught or written about board chairs – all 25+ years of pontificating about “best practice” – comes back to haunt me in times like this. I really do believe that no organization can be stronger […]

Three reasons not to invite former board members back

One year off and then on again is the assumed rhythm of board life. The by-laws of almost all nonprofit organizations allow valued members to come back to the board after a 12-month respite. No surprise then if board members describe the familiar cycle as standard, or even, best practice for filling the board roster.But […]