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Mike Burns's Blog (78)

Nonprofit Board Duty of Obedience versus Duty of Care

In a little town south of Atlantic City there sits a six-story elephant Lucy is a National Historic Site (built in 1881) and she is in a bit of disrepair needing attention. But wait! PETA will help. PETA (the anti-cruelty-to-animals folks) has offered to throw-in some cash if they can also highlight, using Lucy, the plight of circus animals.

The Board of the organization that owns and is committed to the preservation of Lucy has however rejected PETA's offer saying that anything that…

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Added by Mike Burns on October 27, 2015 at 2:32pm — No Comments

Nonprofit Board Strategic Direction #Nonprofit Boards

While there is no specific reference to governance in the following Philadelphia Inquirer article, I pose that the article is very much about nonprofit governance.  The topic: what to do when your whole sector is flailing.  The sector: volunteer…

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Added by Mike Burns on October 7, 2015 at 3:32pm — No Comments

Nonprofit Board Fiduciary Duty of Care

The following Wall Street Journal article is about a lot of topics in the nonprofit governance world. I thought framing my own thoughts around a nonprofit board's fiduciary duty of care to be one area of focus but beyond this subject is a rarely displayed "what can happen" when there's a new chair "in town" and when there are questions of competency (re paid staff) and transparency (financial and program) and the board's own fulfillment of its duty to provide complete oversight. Certainly…

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Added by Mike Burns on September 22, 2015 at 3:22pm — No Comments

Nonprofit Governance and the Law

In one of those "render under Caesar" (check your New Testament for greater understanding) and what appears to be a NIMBY challenge, the Tampa officials are basically on-attack of a homeless shelter that by many standards, appears to be doing its job--providing shelter to the homeless of Tampa. But it's clear from the Tampa Tribune article, that not everyone is pleased with the job the Shelter is doing and for the moment, using the courts and law enforcement to solve their perception of the…

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Added by Mike Burns on September 11, 2015 at 10:38am — No Comments

Nonprofit Sustainability Strategies

For a growing nonprofit with a small board, those interested summer students are a crucial revenue stream. And getting the Academy’s studios ready by the first day of the program was imperative.

“We don’t have board members donating $100,000,” said board chair Andre Tchelistcheff, an architect who led the renovation. “The school is financially viable.”

These three sentences in a Wall Street Journal article on the Gelsey Kirlkland Academy's new space and future highlights that…

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Added by Mike Burns on September 4, 2015 at 3:09pm — No Comments

Nonprofit CEO Compensation

Once again, nonprofit CEO salaries are in the news. This time the focus is not on the traditional nonprofits but the religious nonprofits and more specifically, pastors. And, as much as I must honestly grit my teeth to say this, given the focus, this salary "issues" is a subject the media loves to rattle about but if they want to point swords, they should be doing so at the boards who approve these salaries.

I remain a firm believer that the media would serve the taxpayer and donor…

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Added by Mike Burns on August 26, 2015 at 2:55pm — No Comments

Nonprofit Board Diversity Matters

In my experience, nonprofit board composition is pretty homogenous - that is to say that I find that nonprofit boards tend not to stray in composition from the folks who first organized the organization. This would lead one to suggest that nonprofit board diversity doesn't matter that much. Possibly.

HP' which is going to be splitting into two corporations (same CEO on both boards) has announced that its boards "will comprise leaders with some of the most diverse backgrounds and…

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Added by Mike Burns on August 21, 2015 at 10:13am — No Comments

Nonprofit Board Matters

This weekend I discovered a book that was published several years ago (April 2009) that strikes me as worth a brief mention here. The book, Owning Up...14 Questions Every Board Member Needs to Ask by Dr. Ram Charan..strikes me as worth a discussion because it poses some questions that could be helpful in framing the work of the nonprofit board.

I'm not actually that familiar with Dr. Ram Charan, a kind-of guru in the for-profit governance world but he appears to be well regarded in the…

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Added by Mike Burns on August 14, 2015 at 2:36pm — 1 Comment

Nonprofit Board Loses $100,000

What exactly should a nonprofit board do when it learns that its trusted Treasurer has redirected some of its funds?

Below is the Washington Post story about the theft experienced by the Talbot Watermen Association. The Treasurer helped herself to the nonprofit's funds and members of the organization called the cops. Presuming that the nonprofit has liability insurance, much of their loss should be recovered.

The good news. Below the Washington Post article is what the…

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Added by Mike Burns on July 31, 2015 at 2:22pm — No Comments

Nonprofit CEO Complaints

Generally, when I ask nonprofit CEOs about their boards there are two types of answers: polite and complaining. Usually both types of answers are given by each CEO I encounter. So, it should come as no surprise when an accounting firm asks 100 nonprofit CEOs about their boards, the responses are less than positive. It's kind-of just the way it is as CEOs only have so much control over their boards and boards have such wide--ranges of experiences and are in various stages of development and…

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Added by Mike Burns on July 22, 2015 at 3:54pm — No Comments

Nonprofit Board Values Matters

Values matter and should drive the policies and practices of a nonprofit.

In the so-called City of Brotherly Love the so-called Sisters of Mercy (yes, irony on both counts) fired a teacher because she is married (a value the Roman Catholic Church does embrace) but, wait for it, to another woman.

According to the core values of Roman Catholicism, relationships including marriage between two people of the same sex is not permissible. So, when the Sisters of Mercy (again, irony)…

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Added by Mike Burns on July 15, 2015 at 2:19pm — No Comments

Nonprofit Board Efficiency and Effectiveness

The following Comstock Magazine article offers prescriptive (not necessarily research based) advice to nonprofit boards on how to be functional. Again with this presumption that nonprofit boards are predominantly dysfunctional! Now I'm not denying that there are indeed dysfunctional nonprofit boards (this is pretty much my stock and trade as a governance consultant) but nonprofit boards by-and-large function, they just do not always function efficiently and effectively.

My first wish,…

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Added by Mike Burns on June 23, 2015 at 3:17pm — No Comments

Nonprofit Board Values

Ok. The folks who have modified but effectively stood-by their anti-gay position that gay scouts cannot join the ranks of scout leaders have made another value statement: The Boy Scouts of America has banned water-gun fights saying that it's not kind" for scouts to shoot each other with "simulated firearms." The organization's new National Shooting Manual also forbids the use of potato guns and marshmallow shooters.

I'm not quite clear what impact this edict will have on the Scout's…

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Added by Mike Burns on June 4, 2015 at 11:06am — No Comments

Nonprofit Governance Matters

President Obama has started a new foundation focused on assisting young men in disadvantaged communities.

The Wall Street Journal article about this effort had offered three pieces of information: the foundation's origin/purpose; financial support, and the board. Nonprofit governance matters.

Here's what was stated about the board:

(News Corp) vice president and global head of government affairs, Toni Cook Bush, will sit on the organization’s board and leadership team.…

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Added by Mike Burns on May 12, 2015 at 2:57pm — No Comments

Nonprofit Board Host not home

If nonprofit boards are the surrogate owners of a nonprofit representing the public/taxpayer's interests, it stands to reason that good governance would mean that the board would sit ever ready to listen and hear the needs, wants and interests of the many stakeholders/constituents of what the nonprofit has to offer. If a board accepts this concept it then must also accept and value the concept of community engagement.

In last week's conference on governance, David Renz of the Bloch…

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Added by Mike Burns on May 4, 2015 at 3:27pm — No Comments

When Good Donors Do Bad Things

Well-meaning supporters can undermine their own good works with certain annoying actions

ILLUSTRATION: GARY HOVLAND FOR THE WALL STREET JOURNAL
By 
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Added by Mike Burns on April 16, 2015 at 3:10pm — 1 Comment

Nonprofit Governance Book Review

I just completed reading "Corporate Concinnity in the Board Room: 10 Imperatives to Drive High Performing Companies" by Nancy Falls published by Greenleaf Book Group Press (www.gbgpress.com).

For sure you will learn two items in this book.  First, concinnity is a real word and can be used in a sentence. According to most references…

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Added by Mike Burns on April 11, 2015 at 12:31pm — No Comments

Nonprofit Board Stages of Development

Nonprofit boards go through a number of stages to reach maturity.  

I have framed these stages to be akin to human developmental stages: infancy, juvenile, adolescence and maturity.  My study suggests that boards in their infancy and early juvenile stages tend to pay more attention to operations and management (often being operations and management) and when past this, begin…

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Added by Mike Burns on March 23, 2015 at 2:02pm — No Comments

Nonprofit Board Responsibility

   You may remember when as kids and something went bad (a dish broke, the dog got out, a fuse blew from a key put in an electric socket), your first response to the authorities, aka your parents, was to say "I don't understand how that happened" or "I didn't do it".

The board of the Interfaith Housing Development Corporation of Bucks County (PA) has pretty much taken…

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Added by Mike Burns on March 12, 2015 at 1:36pm — No Comments

Nonprofit Advocacy Matters

There are times when it can really matter that a nonprofit's board and staff step-out to support legislation that supports its mission. When nonprofits sit on the side-lines of political discussion, unlike the AARP or similar member organizations, bad things can result for nonprofits.

Take for example the bins that are used by Salvation Army and Goodwill. These recycling collectors have pretty much defined the industry where folks can donate their goods for cause. Well, the for-profit…

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Added by Mike Burns on February 23, 2015 at 10:30am — No Comments

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Neighborhoods: What is Working

Open Street Project

An Open Streets Family Reunion: Reflections from the 2018 Open Streets Summit

By Ryan O’Connor, Director of Programs, 8 80 Cities Recently 8 80 Cities wrote a blog post about open streets being a labour of love. That being the case, the 2018 Open Streets Summit in New Orleans felt like a family reunion of sorts. It was rejuvenating to see old and new friends who share our passion for open streets and are working tirelessly to create healthier, happier, and more connected communities across the world. The event, which took place on September 15-16, brought together more than 50 leaders who currently organize open streets programs or are interested in bringing the...

The post An Open Streets Family Reunion: Reflections from the 2018 Open Streets Summit appeared first on Open Streets Project.

Open Streets Summit Draft Agenda

We hope you are getting ready and feel excited about the Open Streets Summit in Gretna/New Orleans! Taking place from September 15-16, 2018, the Summit will feature tours, presentations and networking opportunities with open streets champions and organizers from across the continent. Attendees will learn about the nuts and bolts of starting or scaling up open streets programs, including: Route design and planning Partnerships with business and officials Social inclusion Safety and logistics Marketing and promotion Program evaluation through measurable goals and metrics If you haven’t done it yet, click here to register for the Open Streets Summit only or...

The post Open Streets Summit Draft Agenda appeared first on Open Streets Project.

Open Streets Summit Speakers Announced!

The Open Streets Project is proud to announce that Ed Solis from Viva Calle (San Jose, CA), Romel Pascual from CicLAvia (Los Angeles, CA), Jaymie Santiago and Charles Brown from New Brunswick Ciclovia will join us as speakers for the 2018 Open Streets Summit in New Orleans and Gretna! Taking place from September 15-16 2018, the Summit will feature: Behind the scenes tour of the City of Gretna’s inaugural open streets program. Workshops, presentations, and networking opportunities with open streets champions and organizers from across the continent. Training and inspiration for both -novice and experienced- open streets organizers and supporters...

The post Open Streets Summit Speakers Announced! appeared first on Open Streets Project.

Local Initiatives Support Corporation

What Zombies Can Teach Us About Vibrant Communities

This month, LISC and Cornell University will co-sponsor a conference on comprehensive approaches to turning vacant and “zombie” homes into community assets—and upending the conditions that create them in the first place. Helene Caloir, director of LISC’s $75 million New York State Housing Stabilization Fund, describes how this work is part and parcel of the broad challenges of revitalizing neighborhoods, dismantling racial inequity and sparking economic mobility.

“Café, Cultura, Vida”

As Hispanic Heritage Month comes to a close, we checked in with Sandra Flores, owner of Azukar Coffee, a small business percolating on the South Side of Phoenix that shows just how important a local gathering place can be to a neighborhood.

Changing Health by Changing the Community

In an op-ed for the Richmond Times-Dispatch, LISC CEO Maurice A. Jones and Howard Kern, president and CEO of Sentara Healthcare, describe how their new $100 million will take aim at the social determinants of health in Virginia. Investing in housing, job training and placement, education and transportation, among other requisites of a healthy life, are key to closing the life expectancy gap and creating a strong economy, they argue. Now is the time for corporations, nonprofits and charitable organizations to play leadership roles in making those investments a reality.

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