board of directors

Can we do this in only 3 days?

Can we do this in only 3 days?

Posted in emergency / policy / board of directors / board meeting

Your non-profit has been selected to apply to a special funding program. Not tiny little peanuts funding, we’re talking 6-figure, big-bucks. No problem. As a non-profit executive director, you are very experienced writing grant applications. The catch? This odd little funding program requires...


Call to order: 4:02 PM

Call to order: 4:02 PM

The board meeting is coming up and your job, as the executive director of the non-profit, is to prepare both the reading package and your own reports. Avoid hurt feelings and wasted time. The challenge comes in understanding the nuances between what parts of the reading package are created by...


5 weird truths about being a nonprofit ED

5 weird truths about being a nonprofit ED

A non-profit executive director is one of the strangest jobs. One minute you will be writing a major grant application and the next you are cleaning the bathroom. Some days you’ll be a leading force for the sector, speaking with confidence and enthusiasm, next you’re hauling twenty thousand...


A non-profit's guide to online banking

A non-profit's guide to online banking

Non-profits have many reasons to embrace online banking (e-banking). It might start with a desire to make faster payments to independent contractors, to encourage easier donations, or simply avoid the time it takes for in-person banking. When an executive director begins to investigate...


When board members make operational suggestions…

When board members make operational suggestions…

Posted in executive director / board of directors

Every executive director gets them. Operational suggestions from individual board members. The requests usually happen away from board meetings and are almost always given under the guise of trying to be helpful. One or two operational suggestions here and there will feel uncomfortable but...


Strategic planning: does the executive director have a role?

Strategic planning: does the executive director have a role?

Heading into strategic planning season can be a confusing time for a non-profit executive director. Strategic planning can feel like it is all about the board who will be spending time reviewing and interpreting the wants and needs of clients, members, and stakeholders. The same wants and needs...


Executive Directors can help boards make better decisions

Executive Directors can help boards make better decisions

Non-profit boards make a LOT of governing decisions. When the decision-making system is working well, the board might conduct its own research, develop committees, and have discussions. That’s the dream. The reality is it rarely happens that way. Don’t expect volunteer board members to have...


Is it better to keep board meeting discussions private?

Is it better to keep board meeting discussions private?

Posted in board of directors

Years ago, at a board meeting, there was a pretty robust discussion about a hot topic. As the executive director, I wanted my board to have all the background information to make an informed decision. So, I spoke frankly, and provided a lot of detail, thinking it would be kept confidential....


Governance Policy: Easy Four-Part Structure

Governance Policy: Easy Four-Part Structure

Posted in policy / board of directors

The board of a non-profit has a complex job. It is accountable to the stakeholders to meet the strategic goals, while at the same time governing the organization and monitoring management. No experience, no time, no problem! Non-profit board members rarely come to the position with a wealth...


Non-profits don’t have a top dog

Non-profits don’t have a top dog

Non-profits have different structures and different groups of people who handle different tasks. It can be difficult to tell who’s the boss from one organization to another. Some will have no employees, and some will have many. Some will have a governance board, and some will have an...


Governing Policies: The Primary Role of a Non-Profit Board

Governing Policies: The Primary Role of a Non-Profit Board

Posted in strategic plan / board of directors

Governing policies are probably one of the most challenging set of rules a non-profit will have. The policies themselves are not that difficult to understand, but it is the role of the governing policies and their place between the bylaws and the operational policies that...


Keep the Governing Vision Forward-Thinking

Keep the Governing Vision Forward-Thinking

Posted in board of directors / board positions

Spring is in the air and in my world that brings all the prep and planning for the annual meeting and new board members joining the team. Last week I shared some thoughts about board terms, the set length of time a volunteer holds a position as a board member before having to run for...


How long do I have to do this?

How long do I have to do this?

When a volunteer considers joining a non-profit board, one of their first considerations is the length of the term. A board term is the set length of time the volunteer holds a position as a board member before having to run for re-election or leave the board. For a potential nominee...


Does a Non-Profit Really Need Board Committees

Does a Non-Profit Really Need Board Committees

Posted in board of directors / board committees

Sometimes, a non-profit board of directors has more work than the time at a regular board meeting will allow. It might be board recruitment, or drafting policy changes, or even working with a facilitator to plan board training. That’s when board committees step in. A board committee is...


Being a New Board Member Can Be Intimidating

Being a New Board Member Can Be Intimidating

Posted in board of directors

Does this seem familiar? There is a participant who regularly takes part in the programs and services of the non-profit. They are a regular donor, contributing to fundraising campaigns. Eventually they start volunteering at events, selling tickets, and helping distribute promotional material....


Make it Easier to Meet Quorum

Make it Easier to Meet Quorum

Posted in board of directors / board meeting

Non-profits are legal entities, governed by a board of directors. The decisions a board makes, happen at board meetings. Decisions might be simple, such as approving the agenda, or complex, such as deciding employee wages. To prevent a splinter group of board members from meeting privately...


The Strategic Plan IS a Non-Profit’s Road Map for the Year

The Strategic Plan IS a Non-Profit’s Road Map for the Year

Posted in strategic plan / board of directors

The new calendar year has us all writing new year’s resolutions, spending some time reflecting on the past year, and making plans for the new year. We spend time in the office supply store sorting through planners and deciding the system we want to use to map out our goals for the coming year....


What do you do when a board member goes rogue?

What do you do when a board member goes rogue?

Has there been a time when a board member didn’t follow policy and no one, you or other board members, said anything? Has a board member reported tasks that they’ve handled when they were neither asked, nor given the authority, to handle those tasks? Has a board member been making decisions...


The Board Speaks With One Voice

The Board Speaks With One Voice

Posted in policy / board of directors

When a non-profit board is being developed and new members added, there is excitement to embrace the diverse perspectives of a wide range of stakeholders. But having many different voices at the table can sometimes make it challenging for a board to make decisions. If a board doesn’t...


Getting Started with Board Recruitment

Getting Started with Board Recruitment

Posted in board of directors / board committees

Your non-profit has done the work. You’ve got a nominations committee ready and willing to get to work finding new board members. There’s a team of other board members and staff helping to build a list of names of potential nominees and keeping a keen eye out for more names to add. But...


Nominations Committee

Nominations Committee

Posted in board of directors / board committees

On paper, its easy to have a full and complete list of potential candidates to join a non-profit board of directors. Doing the work of speaking to all those candidates can be a challenge. Who takes on this important job? Dumping the recruitment task on the same group of board members each year...


The Board Works for the Stakeholders

The Board Works for the Stakeholders

Posted in strategic plan / board of directors / stakeholders

The nominations committee is hard at work looking for new board members. But there are differing opinions. Some committee members want to look for accountants, and lawyers, and doctors to try and build a board of business professionals. Other committee members want to look to the...


6 Actions to Reduce the Stress of Being a Non-Profit Board Treasurer

6 Actions to Reduce the Stress of Being a Non-Profit Board Treasurer

Posted in board of directors / board positions

Perhaps the most avoided position on a non-profit’s board of directors is that of Board Treasurer. The Board Treasurer is responsible for overseeing all aspects of a non-profit’s financial system, from policy development to internal controls, from budgets to the annual audit, or from...


The Role of a Non-Profit Board Vice-Chair

The Role of a Non-Profit Board Vice-Chair

Posted in board of directors / board positions

A non-profit board has many tasks to handle, and if there is no paid staff team, that list can become quite long. While the Board Chair is the leader of the board, the job is usually too much for one person. That’s where the role of Vice-Chair (Vice-President, etc.) becomes important. The level...


The Role of a Non-Profit Board Chair

The Role of a Non-Profit Board Chair

Posted in board of directors / board positions

Non-profits are complicated entities. There are strategic priorities to fulfill, board meetings that need to follow protocol, and often a team of volunteers who are helping to do the work. In a small non-profit, with few, or no, employees, the Board Chair is a critical position for...