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

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

A Board Member Says Thank You

I want to devote this column to what I am thankful for as a board member. The Native People Were Awesome! Tomorrow is Thanksgiving. I was taught in school that the Pilgrims and the Native People broke bread to celebrate a bountiful harvest. I was also taught that the Pilgrims wanted to thank the Native People for helping them survive their first year on this soil. This was ostensibly the first Thanksgiving. That story is mostly a myth, one that overpowers the true story of how European settlers treated Native People. I say it is mostly a myth because I… Read more

Expert Advice on Hiring a New Executive Director

I wanted to finish off my exploration of hiring a new executive director or CEO by asking an expert. Melissa Merritt has done executive searches for twenty years including ten years in the nonprofit sector. She shares her insights about how a board can prepare for a search and what makes the process most successful. This post is my final in a series about hiring a new CEO or Executive Director. The first post talks about a successful process. The second addresses how the outgoing ED should be involved. The third talks about the need for diversity on the search… Read more