The Latest

Board Members Can Only Wear One Hat at a Time

Board Members Can Only Wear One Hat at a Time

Posted in board of directors / board positions

The board of a non-profit does its job by taking a strategic leadership role, not an operations role. That doesn’t mean a board can’t also handle the day-to-day work if there are no paid staff. Confusion happens because its hard to understand how board members are both strategic leaders...


Easy Non-Profit Financial Filing System

Easy Non-Profit Financial Filing System

Posted in financial management / office operations / filing

It’s a typical non-profit office day and you are working on the accounts. Let’s imagine you’ve paid a bunch of bills, entering each one into your accounting software. Let’s also imagine you’ve opened the mail and there are a few receipts as well as a grant payment. And finally, you create a...


Finishing Strong

Finishing Strong

Posted in operations plan / year end

Many of the non-profits I work with are starting their 4th quarter in January, with a year-end date of March 31st. That means 3 short months to complete the operations plan for the year, and to have met the priorities outlined in the strategic plan. Sometimes, in that final stretch before year...


Two Documents to be a Stronger Board Member

Two Documents to be a Stronger Board Member

Posted in board of directors / board meeting

The holidays are a great time to relax and unwind with family and friends. But if you’re a non-profit board member, it can also mean an extended period that you are away from a regular board meeting. Governance skills can get a little rusty. When a meeting is finally called, and maybe the...


Back to Work After the Holidays Without the Overwhelm

Back to Work After the Holidays Without the Overwhelm

Posted in vacation / staff team

The holidays are over. If you haven’t returned to the usual work week, that will likely be happening very soon. Its no fun when the holidays come to an end. Navigating those first few days back after a holiday can be a little depressing and a lot overwhelming, with all the paperwork, emails,...


Snow Day

Snow Day

Posted in emergency / staff team

We are in the middle of a big windstorm as I write this. I understand the wind will bring a blizzard overnight. I’m doing my best to try not to think about power outages, no heat, no internet, and all the panels the wind is ripping off my patio cover. The flickering lights and the on/off...


Don’t Hate Everyone at the Same Time

Don’t Hate Everyone at the Same Time

Posted in executive director / self care

Let’s get real for a minute. Sometimes the work of an executive director means you hate everyone – your team, your board, your clients. The trick is to not to hate everyone all at the same time. Last week was a rough one for me. People were NOT happy, and they clearly blamed me. It doesn’t...


I’m Sorry, John Doesn’t Work Here

I’m Sorry, John Doesn’t Work Here

Posted in staff team / stakeholders

This is the season when most non-profits will begin to think about strategic planning for the new year. One of the key components in any strat plan is a review of what’s going on with stakeholders. But we spend so much time staying in touch, monitoring trends and needs, that we can often forget...


Quick Win – Don’t Let Luck Determine Your Success

Quick Win – Don’t Let Luck Determine Your Success

Posted in programs and services

Have you ever attended an event (virtual or in person) that seemed to go off without an issue? Maybe discussion seemed to flow naturally, or maybe the presentations seemed to really connect with the audience. How does that happen? It isn’t a secret. Its planning, planning, and more planning....


Busy Week

Busy Week

Posted in hiring / executive director / self care

I’m having such a busy week and it isn’t even half finished. Sometimes balancing the job and home life can begin to feel frenetic. So, I did something this week I don’t normally do. I hired help. Weird thing is that in my work as an executive director we hire help all the time. We have a...


Care

Care

Posted in executive director / self care

Not my usual post this week. I wanted to take a moment to check-in with you. To see how you are doing. With everything going on these days, it can be pretty hard to get out of bed in the morning. Sometimes I forget with all the rush of the day-to-day operations of a non-profit that needs to...


Stale-Dated

Stale-Dated

Posted in financial management / annual audit / bookkeeping

Last week we talked about using a spreadsheet to keep track of the accounting for a smaller non-profit. This week let’s talk about a common bookkeeping challenge you might face when working on your non-profit’s accounts, the stale-dated cheque. Regardless of the bookkeeping method you...


Is Your Strategic Plan a Little Dusty?

Is Your Strategic Plan a Little Dusty?

Posted in strategic plan / operations plan

Have you ever wondered how a non-profit’s strategic plan ties into its operations plan? Where does the information come from? How does it all tie together? Would it surprise you to learn that a non-profit’s strategic plan and operations plan are pieces in the circle of data flowing through...


The Executive Director's Private Notes

The Executive Director's Private Notes

Posted in executive director / year end

Executive directors take a lot of notes. It might be notes at a staff meeting. It might be notes at a training session. It might be the handwritten notes at a board meeting. It might be notes when meeting with a funder. What do you do with all those notes? Well, I’ll share what I do with mine....


Anatomy of a Policy

Anatomy of a Policy

Posted in policy / risk management

Operating policies are the rules required for a specific task in how your non-profit will be run. You don’t need to have operating policies for every operational task, only for required tasks. Some of those required tasks might include, handling cash, cell phone etiquette, branding rules,...


Who Takes the Minutes

Who Takes the Minutes

Posted in board meeting

Who takes the minutes at board meetings? This sounds like a simple question, but the answer is… it depends. There isn’t a rule that is set in stone. The minute-taker is likely different at different non-profits. When deciding who should take minutes, or if you are evaluating what you are...


Orientation Plan

Orientation Plan

Posted in hiring / staff team

I started a new (virtual) employee this summer and because it was a very busy time, I created a very detailed orientation plan. It was very successful, and I thought I would share with you how I structured that plan. We are a virtual team so everything we do is handled by distance. But it...


Bylaws vs. Policies

Bylaws vs. Policies

Posted in policy / board of directors

When your non-profit first started, bylaws were created following the guidelines outlined in your provincial act and regulations. Your bylaws likely include items like the types of memberships you offer, the number of board members you must have, and the kind of activities your organization...


From No Employees to a Paid Team

From No Employees to a Paid Team

Posted in job description / staff team

When a non-profit first starts there will be a team of volunteers who handle all the work. They might also double as board members. Those early days are usually pretty lean, but everyone pitches in and the work gets done. When a non-profit grows a little more and the work that's required is...


A More Flexible Board Meeting

A More Flexible Board Meeting

Posted in board of directors / board meeting

A board meeting is more flexible than most people realize. Sure, there are a few things that are necessary legal steps. For example, approving the agenda, approving the previous meeting minutes, and following the correct process for making and seconding motions. After that you can create a...


A Road Map for Non-Profit Boards

A Road Map for Non-Profit Boards

Posted in board of directors

I like road maps. I like knowing where I’m going even if I kind of already know where I’m going. Non-profits benefit from all kinds of road maps. The strategic plan is the king of all road maps. Then the operational plan, then individual work plans, and job descriptions, and policies, and,...


Planning for a New Member of the Team

Planning for a New Member of the Team

Posted in hiring / job description / staff team

I'm Hiring Again [groan] Today I learned that one of my direct reports will be going on maternity leave. In Canada, that means they can be away for up to 18 months. So..., I'll be hiring again. It is a lot of work and I don't love it, but that's the job. It got me thinking I should update the...


Re-Balance a Meeting

Re-Balance a Meeting

Posted in staff meeting / board meeting

What determines the success of a meeting? Is it finishing on time? Is it making sure all the agenda items were covered? Is it taking the time to let everyone speak? Is it keeping the meeting moving along at a quick pace? You can do a couple of quick tests to check to see if your meetings...


Do the Work

Do the Work

Posted in executive director / vacation

I’m a fan of colour field painting; paintings with large fields of colour that are less about gesture and meaning and more about process. [No, you aren’t reading the wrong blog.] As an aspiring colour field painter, I want to learn everything about this style of art. So, a few years ago, a...


Are you keeping secrets? I am. I’m sorry. I’ll do better.

Are you keeping secrets? I am. I’m sorry. I’ll do better.

Posted in operations plan / staff team

I’ve been with my organization for almost 10 years and while I have no thoughts of leaving, a nagging question keeps coming up, am I doing tasks that might be hard for someone to take over when I retire. I’ll give you two examples. I handle all the bookkeeping* using Sage50 Pro. I know...