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Employee Files: Why Privacy Matters

Employee Files: Why Privacy Matters

Posted in office operations / filing / staff team

Your non-profit likely has a privacy policy. If your non-profit has a website, you for sure have a privacy policy. The policy likely talks about how you will collect and store information about your customers, clients, and maybe stakeholders. But have you thought about a version of a privacy...


How to Apply for the Grant When You Don’t Qualify

How to Apply for the Grant When You Don’t Qualify

Posted in stakeholders

Funders are in the business of granting money and they welcome applications from groups or organizations that help to meet their mandate. Funders also have a handful of requirements that an applicant must meet to qualify to apply for funding. Sometimes those requirements state an organization...


Easy Non-Profit Bookkeeping

Easy Non-Profit Bookkeeping

Posted in financial management / annual audit / bookkeeping

No one tells a prospective executive director that a big part of running a non-profit is all the accounting. The ED is responsible for recording all the revenue that flows into the organization, all the payments that go out, and to make sure it all balances. No bookkeeper. If a non-profit...


Keep Your Cool with Negative Feedback

Keep Your Cool with Negative Feedback

We’ve all been there. A participant didn’t like the way a program was handled. An evaluation is filled with negative comments. A volunteer doesn’t agree with the new direction the organization is headed. An anonymous survey seems to bring out the nastiest responses. A client makes a snap...


Write a Report for the Board Without Creating Anything New

Write a Report for the Board Without Creating Anything New

Posted in strategic plan / operations plan

In the relationship between governance (the board of directors) and operations (usually the executive director and staff team), there is a nice balance. The board, using their linkage to the stakeholders, creates a governing vision for the organization, called the strategic plan. The...


Let the employee do most of the talking at the annual performance review

Let the employee do most of the talking at the annual performance review

Posted in executive director / staff team

The report card style annual performance review has become an obsolete process. Gone are the days of saving up all the failings of your employees and presenting it to them at year end, along with a few positives just to cut the sting. Still, there is a responsibility as an employer to identify...


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...


Write Your Own Executive Director Succession Plan

Write Your Own Executive Director Succession Plan

When an executive director leaves their position, it doesn’t really matter how much notice is given if there isn’t a written succession plan in place. In small non-profits, without a dedicated HR staffer, no one has the time for hiring. It’s a hot mess at best and squeezed in over coffee breaks...


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...


The Secret Code Book to a Non-Profit’s Vision

The Secret Code Book to a Non-Profit’s Vision

Posted in policy / members / stakeholders

Here’s a fun fact, where I am, Bylaws are not a legal requirement, and yet, most non-profits have Bylaws. Bylaws are the rules created by the founding members to regulate the organization. They can be changed, but not easily. Bylaws are the rules created by the members. This is how it starts....


Is your non-profit incorporated? (and why does it matter)

Is your non-profit incorporated? (and why does it matter)

Posted in policy / members / stakeholders

Non-profit leaders, be it board members or the executive director, need to have a firm understanding of 4 key documents a non-profit uses for legal status, governance, and operations. Becoming familiar with these documents is not simply an orientation tool, rather, it is a critical step to...


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...


Still using the traditional petty cash box in the boss’s office? How’s that working?

Still using the traditional petty cash box in the boss’s office? How’s that working?

Petty cash is a small pool of money used for incidental expenses. Petty cash is different from a non-profit’s normal bill paying system because it is for much smaller amounts and for items that need to be purchased more occasionally. An example might include buying a couple of stamps at the...


How to Stop Non-Profit Policies from Becoming Mind-Numbingly Boring

How to Stop Non-Profit Policies from Becoming Mind-Numbingly Boring

Posted in office operations / filing / policy / board meeting

Non-profits have sooo many policies. Policies that define the work of the board. Policies that define what an executive director is and isn’t allowed to do. Policies that tell the staff team what they can and cannot do. A non-profit’s policies, from governing to operational, are the rules that...


Five Ways a Non-Profit Executive Director Can Survive When the Job Gets Ugly

Five Ways a Non-Profit Executive Director Can Survive When the Job Gets Ugly

Posted in executive director / self care

Being a non-profit executive director can be a very rewarding experience. It doesn’t take long in the job to see the impact of the organization’s work and to feel truly proud to be part of the team. Those moments are a wonderful gift, and a time that should be savoured, if only because there...


The Challenges of Setting Up a Non-Profit Home Office

The Challenges of Setting Up a Non-Profit Home Office

Posted in office operations / risk management

It’s hard to believe it’s been three years since offices were shut down and we started working from home. At the time, it seemed like a temporary move, kind of like being displaced because of a city street repair… in a couple weeks we’d be right back to normal. Not even close.   As the...


Checklist for an Easier Non-Profit Audit (Because We Aren’t Magic)

Checklist for an Easier Non-Profit Audit (Because We Aren’t Magic)

Posted in financial management / annual audit / year end

Not all non-profits will have an annual audit each year. The legislation for annual financial review will vary from province to province and state to state. Regardless of the complexity of any assessment of a non-profit’s financial records and systems, presenting well organized information is...


When is the Best Year End Date for a Non-Profit

When is the Best Year End Date for a Non-Profit

Posted in financial management / annual audit / year end

Year end for a non-profit is a busy time. Accounting will need to be wrapped up and the financial files sent off for an audit or financial review. Sometimes it can take several weeks to get all the files tidy and ready to go. Then it can take another few weeks for the auditor to complete the...


When to Answer a Question with a Question

When to Answer a Question with a Question

Posted in executive director / self care

Most decisions at a non-profit will cross the executive director’s desk at some point. While we might have an amazing team, we will still field questions about budget limitations for programs and advice for challenges. We are often the first stop for questions about the operations of...


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....


How to Draw Out Challenges Weighing On Your Team

How to Draw Out Challenges Weighing On Your Team

Posted in executive director / staff team / staff meeting

A typical staff meeting can feel very productive, have a great conversation, but still not reveal the stressors a team is facing. The reluctance to speak up can vary with reasons from being unsure if a topic is appropriate, to feeling it won’t matter. But is does matter because a healthy staff...


Good Old-Fashioned Survey

Good Old-Fashioned Survey

Posted in strategic plan / operations plan

Each year, a non-profit will create a strategic plan that is responsive to the needs of clients, members, and stakeholders. But, how do you know what those needs are? You ask, and here’s how. Throughout its operating year, a non-profit will offer all different kinds of programs and...


A Board Meeting Agenda is a Little Like a Game of Go Fish, Do You Have Any 2’s?

A Board Meeting Agenda is a Little Like a Game of Go Fish, Do You Have Any 2’s?

Posted in board meeting

One of the jobs of an executive director is to support the board of directors to do their job. The executive director, usually a paid employee, is often tasked with doing the work to prep for board meetings, so the volunteer board will have everything they need at their fingertips during...