COVID Advice: Act Quickly and Plan for a Marathon

I have been thinking about the last crisis in 2008, how it impacted nonprofit organizations, and what lessons could be learned. I reached out to several people who I thought would provide good perspective, people who have served on many boards and as funders. In this post, they offer their insights from the last crisis as well as thoughts about this one. I interviewed in alphabetical order: (See bios below.) Robbie Bach, former President of the Entertainment and Devices Division at Microsoft and currently a speaker, author, consultant, and nonprofit board member. Michael Brown, Chief Architect of Civic Commons at… Read more

Involve Your Board, Don’t Push Them Away!

In this unprecedented time, how is your organization treating its board members? What can and should board members be doing to support your organization now? I have spoken to a handful of board members in the last couple weeks. These have been casual conversations as we all check in on each other. I have heard two very different scenarios. Increase Reliance on Your Board in a Time of Crisis In one group, board members feel their organization’s staff and leadership have reached out to the board and all are working together on short- and long-term planning. Staff at some front-line… Read more

How to Prepare for a Successful Donor Ask

In this post, I share a story from a fundraising professional about the importance of preparation to making a successful ask. He describes how he tries to identify the best person to make each ask and then thoroughly prepares for each meeting so the asker – whether it is a board member, the ED, or someone else – is confident in their role. This post is the latest in my series about fundraising for nonprofit organizations. Other posts include: Successful Fundraising Requires a Great Story Fundraising Strategies for Large Institutions Organizing for Fundraising Success Having Board Members Thank Donors Role… Read more

Creating Strategic Board Agendas

I have a couple complaints about board meetings. One is that they can be incredibly boring and unproductive. I wrote about this in my last post and will address the issue in this post with ideas on how to create and structure an effective board meeting agenda. I start with the assumption that the reason to get everyone in the room (or online) at the same time is to interact. If you spend your entire meeting on committee reports, you could just send them by email. I can read them at home or the office and use the time to… Read more

New Year’s Resolution: No More Boring Board Meetings!

I have served on a lot of boards which means I go to a lot of board meetings. Honestly, lots of board meetings are – well, I have to say it – boring. You sit and listen to presentations and committee reports, take an occasional vote, and do little else. Let’s start with the assumption that the reason to get together in one room or on one call is so people can talk to each other. To carry out fiduciary responsibility, board members need to be able to ask about finances, risks, and progress toward goals. To be thought partners,… Read more