When Founders Stick Around

I shared a story about a board that needed to become more professional in how they chose board officers. From its founding, the organization was very casual about how who stepped into leadership. As a result, they did not always get individuals best suited for each role. And, they discovered that a casual process can create uncomfortable situations. Organizations and boards go through stages as they grow and mature. The way things are done and the roles people have change over time. In this post, I share a story from an individual who was the second Executive Director of an… Read more

How NOT to Choose Board Officers

From a board member somewhere in the US I have been on many boards some dysfunctional and some wonderful. One of the most wonderful boards was an organization that focused on community health centers. It had grown from a small organization in the 1970s to having about 400 staff. It was great; well run; a poster child for its industry. I was honored to be asked to join the board.  I served on it for 15 years and chaired it for a couple of years. I chaired through the onset of the affordable care act and the changing of the… Read more

Something’s Wrong if You Need Healing Sessions

In this article, I am starting a series that will focus on transitions, especially around founding boards and Executive Directors. In this story, an individual working on capacity building with a nonprofit describes how the emotional attachment board members felt to the organization’s mission prevented them from providing good governance. Making change required lots of listening and changing the board. Emotion and Passion Prevent Strategic Discussions From a board member somewhere in the US. I was a representative of a granting organization that was also working on capacity building. The organization was 15 years old. Its board members had come… Read more

Advice to Prospective Board Members

In my last post, I shared a story about a board member who did not look closely enough at financials and joined the board of an organization that was in trouble. They ended up closing down the organization which was heart breaking for many. This individual urged board members to “dig deep” into financial and legal issues. In today’s post, I share from two board members. Both provide a check list that they recommend using when deciding whether or not to join a board. These lists are also useful to current board members who want to ensure that they add… Read more

Dig Deep Before Joining a Board

I did not ask to look at all of the financials. I just took their word that they were okay.  The organization was a passion project for its founders. They were in a period of their lives where they were asking: do they stop doing the work or do they ramp it up? At the same time, the organization received a large grant from a big foundation that was interested in building their capacity. The organization decided they would accept the grant, build a team, and use this generous gift to develop a strategy to double down on the work… Read more