Reimagining Governance – Interview with Co-Leads

We all know that the standard, one-size-fits-all model of governance does not work for every organization. In fact, it probably does not work for most organizations. In my reading, I came upon the Reimagining Governance Initiative of the Ontario Nonprofit Network (ONN) in Toronto. I reached out to the co-leads, Linda Mollenhauer from Ignite NPS and Erin Kang from ONN to hear more. Here is what I learned: How did Reimagining Governance get started? Linda: About three and a half years ago, a few governance consultants were talking about our frustrations with the way governance was working and it occurred… Read more

How Do You Know That?

After my last post which encouraged board members to ask hard questions, several readers asked what questions? Board members need full information to make good decisions. And that means asking lots and lots of questions – the ones that break out of group think, that uncover hidden issues, and that get to the essence of unseen problems or opportunities.  I started brainstorming questions and came up with a very long list. So, I decided instead to share just a few really key questions. I organized them in five areas: finance, program, funding, staff, and board. But you will see that… Read more

The Story of a Controlling CEO and a Weak Board

Organizations can have great CEOs and weak CEOs and manipulative CEOs. Organizations can have strong boards and weak boards. In today’s post, a former staff person describes an organization with possibly the worst combination — a controlling CEO and a weak board. The story also raises the question of intersectionality. Is it distracting for a woman’s organization to analyze data about women of color, women with disabilities, gay women, rural women, poor women? Does intersectionality diminish the focus on women? This staff person insists – and I agree – that if you don’t address intersectionality, if you don’t dig deeply… Read more

Board Chairs Should Keep Full Board Informed

Challenges arise in every organization and with every board. If you are the board chair, you have to decide what to bring to the full board. As chair, you don’t want to cause panic when a situation can be easily handled. But you also have to remember that the board chair does not have more power than the rest of the board and that the full board has fiduciary responsibility for the organization. Other board members cannot exercise this responsibility if they don’t know what is going on. Plus, we all work to bring great people onto a board. The… Read more

Expert Advice on Conflict of Interest

In my last post, I shared a story of a school — they tried to figure out how to hire and then supervise the son of the head of school who was best qualified for a position. They had great intentions but there were too many conflicts and they ended up with a well-intended mess. Understanding conflict of interest and managing it appropriately is extremely important for boards. Not doing so can lead to legal risks. In today’s post, I interview Lorri Anne Dunsmore. Lorri Anne is an attorney with Perkins Coie, specializing in tax exempt organizations. She defines conflict,… Read more