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The charge from the executive director to the board members was daunting, although the intent was to be inspiring: Raise $80,000 from new donors.

Yet instead of rising to the challenge, board members are cowering in their seats.

The scene is reminiscent of a high school classroom where the students aren’t prepared – people sink lower and lower in their chairs, hoping not to be called upon.

How can we turn this around?

How can we transform a board goal into a guiding light, not a looming threat?

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Posted on in Fundraising

Who’ll chair this year’s Annual Barbecue-A-Thon?

When board member Cynthia raises her hand, everyone is grateful, appreciative, and relieved. The matter’s settled till the next year.


If the next time you think about fundraising volunteerism is when you need the next hand raised, you’ve lost a real opportunity to get the right person doing the best job.

Nonprofit succession is not just about executive directors, or board chairs. It’s a year-long effort to build an evolving leadership team: a diverse and complimentary lineup of responsible, effective volunteers. 

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Posted on in Fundraising

We spend our nonprofit lives providing service, meeting challenges, pushing for change…and putting out fires.

We juggle, we track, we focus.

We solve what’s in front of us and, if we’re lucky, we get to look around the corner a quarter – or a year – ahead.

But when do we, as nonprofit leaders, get to move beyond the critical-now quadrant, to the key-but-not-pressing arenas?

If not in August – when? 

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Posted on in Board Development

Same old, same old…

How many board rooms have the same tired faces around the table, the same hands being raised (or sat on, to avoid volunteering for yet another assignment)?

The same combination of reliably strong performers, people who can’t be counted on, wild cards?

The same “We did it this way last year” voices, “That never works for us” laments, “My network is all tapped out?

Inserting someone new – or better yet, a couple of people – can be a key piece of the answer to board ennui. 


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Posted on in Fundraising

All hail the visionary leader! Charismatic, far-seeing, imaginative, wise… the nonprofit CEO is expected to be all things to all people, and s/he tries hard to oblige.

But where does that leave the board?

In the CEO’s corner cheering them on, for sure – but what about the board-staff partnership? How can a real partnership exist when one party is a full-time-plus superstar and the other has a different (FT) job?

It’s a nonprofit management conundrum that plays out across finance, program, planning, governance – and of course fundraising. 


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