Voices of Nonprofit Board Chairs reflects the voices of 635 nonprofit board chairs across the United States. The study was conducted by the Alliance's Governance Affinity Group and is intended as a first step in hearing directly from board chairs about their experiences and…
Added by Mike Burns on August 26, 2016 at 11:28am —
The following is not a case unfamiliar to my work. On too many occasions I have been called upon to help resolve the "relationship" between a nonprofit organization and it's "arm" designed to raise money on its behalf. The issues are as relational as they are transactional although most frequently stimulated by one or another transaction that just didn't sit well with the other party. The question at its core: where does the fiduciary duty lie most: with the "parent' institution or with the… Continue
Added by Mike Burns on August 5, 2016 at 11:27am —
As timing is everything (think summer reading) and a new Star Trek movie has just been released I just happened to come across, Make It So. Make It So, by Wess Roberts and Bill Ross offers leadership lessons from Star Trek The Next Generation (which for those of you who are not Trekkies, is the series with Jean-Luc Picard as the captain of the starship Enterprise).
So, if you would like to combine your thirst for entertaining with educational reading, Make It So (Pocket Books, 1995)… Continue
Added by Mike Burns on July 29, 2016 at 10:40am —
Board members that judge a "book by its cover" may seriously lose-out on opportunities in prospective CEOs. That's my basic takeaway from the following Washington Post article about a study that examined how:
CEO's "faces" send messages; Continue
"looks" for for-profits are likely different than what nonprofits (and their donors) desire; and, bottom line, there may be some truly hidden gems out there that get missed because of personal bias by board members or just plain mis-judgement. I…
Added by Mike Burns on July 12, 2016 at 8:48am —
Talk about a life lesson in fulfilling one's duty of care AND addressing personal risks, the NC New Schools board is a case example that couldn't be better. Simple lessons: one of the first questions a nonprofit board member should ask: do you have Directors & Officer's Insurance? Another question each year: has our D&O Insurance been paid?
Of course, the board should have been asking a lot more questions to understand first, how the organization was doing that it was heading… Continue
Added by Mike Burns on June 29, 2016 at 2:59pm —
In a Philadelphia Inquirer article, in a story about the purchase of Muhammad Ali's childhood/young adulthood home, the current owners stated:
The museum was not set up as a nonprofit. "I did not want anyone else to tell me how best to re-create the home or how to preserve Muhammad's most important legacy. This was to be the purest vision of the legacy of Muhammad Ali, without interference or baloney from committees," said Bochetto.
Neither he nor Weiss will get one red cent… Continue
Added by Mike Burns on June 15, 2016 at 2:18pm —
The following article from the Cape Cod Times reveals how challenging and how much time the bringing together as "one" a nonprofit merger process can take. I of course don't know all the details but given the differences in size between the two organizations, acquisition may be a better label for what is being negotiated. While indeed, the two may become one, one museum is larger with more resources. The reality being faced by the smaller institution, that it is losing money, may be the… Continue
Added by Mike Burns on May 31, 2016 at 3:05pm —
The following Washington Post story highlights an issue that many nonprofit boards must face at some point: when is donor money "too" tainted? The question, presumably answered through long and tedious debates, is about values and of course, just how much a particular board's values are worth in the pursuit of mission. And, in the pursuit of mission, why doesn't "any means" justify the "ends"? The story about the National Parks asks these questions while recognizing that the "public" via… Continue
Added by Mike Burns on May 18, 2016 at 8:30am —
According to the 2015 study on nonprofit boards compiled by David F. Larcker, Nicholas E. Donatiello, Bill Meehan, Brian Tayan, "Many nonprofit boards need significant improvement. Directors lack sufficient skills, resources, and experience to meet the needs of most nonprofit organizations. Over a quarter of nonprofit directors do not have a deep understanding of the mission and strategy of their organization. Most boards lack formal governance structure and process, and nearly a third are… Continue
Added by Mike Burns on April 20, 2016 at 3:54pm —
Four obligations: this is what my associate Jeff Wilcox ((Jeffrey R. Wilcox, CFRE, is president and chief executive officer of The Third Sector Company, Inc.) contends are the simple parameters a nonprofit board should follow to be great.
The first obligation is guaranteeing to the community that a resilient organization is at work on its behalf. Fiduciary accountability is just the beginning. Community equity runs a close second. A vote of no confidence in an organization and its… Continue
Added by Mike Burns on April 13, 2016 at 9:06am —
The Concord Leadership Group via Associations Now has completed their 2016 survey of 1000 CEOs, board members and others to provide some lessons about nonprofit strategic planning, CEO succession planning and other nonprofit matters. I would pose that 1000 responses is certainly worth a heads-up.
I must observe that the survey authors have a pretty negative feeling about the nonprofit sector (read their forward) and even their interpretation of the survey responses was pretty negative… Continue
Added by Mike Burns on April 1, 2016 at 9:59am —
Board member recruitment is never an easy task. But let's say your nonprofit is successful in identifying a candidate, is the criteria for selection singularly a set of skills, knowledge, expertise and lens that make the candidate the "right" fit? I would propose there to be one more element: passion for mission. And how to measure or determine passion? While action (lots of experience or knowledge about the mission is an indicator of passion, I pose that the candidate's understanding of the… Continue
Added by Mike Burns on March 23, 2016 at 9:02am —
"She was their landlord and she raised the rent," he said. "There's nothing illegal about that." This is the attorney's response for his client facing federal prosecution for stealing or misappropriating federal dollars. Not illegal? Not a violation of the fiduciary duty of care (self-dealing and conflict of interest)? I beg to strongly differ that, the list of harm the accused has done against her health…
Added by Mike Burns on March 11, 2016 at 11:34am —
I think it's quite common for many folks to assume that it's the Exec or CEO at a nonprofit who calls the shots. But what happens when the board, a nonprofit's legal owner, calls the shots?
In the case of the Clearwater, Pete Seeger's nonprofit environmental organization, the CEO stepped down citing his own disagreement with the direction the board had decided to take. The board decided that renovating their ship, the source of mission, was more critical than spending money on their… Continue
Added by Mike Burns on March 4, 2016 at 8:31am —
"Individually excellent but better together". If there was ever a ringing endorsement for consolidation, this is the statement regarding the bringing together of 17 high schools and four special-education Roman Catholic schools in Philadelphia. Four years ago the schools, all independently run and operated were faced with the possibility of closing as their primary sponsor, the Roman Catholic Archdiocese positioned that there just wasn't enough money. But alumni and others got together,… Continue
Added by Mike Burns on February 17, 2016 at 8:58am —
I don't know anything about the gentleman who wrote the following, but his thought about a nonprofit board's 4th duty (not legally binding) gives one pause. I would offer that I think Mr. Cagna's offering fits better in building-out on what BoardSource describes as a nonprofit Board's three roles: fiduciary, strategic and generative. But where exactly to fit his thinking (role or duty) is not as critical as the focus of his thinking. Indeed, what Mr. Cagna does is…
Added by Mike Burns on February 2, 2016 at 10:00am —
Nonprofit Board Liability
"Act in good faith." This is the expectation and standard used in the courts to assess the extent of liability and responsibility for actions taken by individual board members.
According to Legal Dictionary.com, acting in good faith is the "honest intent to act without taking an unfair advantage over another person or to fulfill a promise to act, even when some legal technicality is not fulfilled. The term is applied to all kinds of transactions." I… Continue
Added by Mike Burns on January 15, 2016 at 1:05pm —
In the US, there are three distinct structures that to a stronger or lessor degree serve the citizens: public, corporate, and nonprofit. Each can affect the other in a number of ways recognizing that the public and corporate may have, through money, more of, but not exclusively, an impact on the other.
There has become more recently a clear recognition that nonprofits, (501(c) 3s in particular could and should exert their own strengths to influence what happens in the public sector… Continue
Added by Mike Burns on December 15, 2015 at 11:58am —
Do you remember the 60's bumper sticker: It will be a great day when the schools get all the money they need and the Air Force has to hold a bake sale to buy a new bomber? Well this article suggests that's exactly what the folks in Charlotte are doing - holding bake sales (not literally) to raise money for pretty big-ticket items.
The following Charlotte Observer article not only challenges the methods Charlotte nonprofit boards are using to raise funds, but calls board members "too… Continue
Added by Mike Burns on November 24, 2015 at 10:58am —
The following LA Times story describes a nonprofit board that I believe has seriously lost its focus and the mission. The story is about the County Fair which has morphed into an entertainment venue (that's ok - it more than pays the rent) but doesn't even have 4H at the annual fair anymore. Imagine! And of course the other big news - pays just under $1 million to its CEO! (Note, I generally believe the media is misguided in its focus on executive salaries but this may be an exception for… Continue
Added by Mike Burns on November 6, 2015 at 3:40pm —