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Posted on in Fundraising

Six people, soon to become five by attrition, sit around a board table. “There’s so few of us to do the work” one of the members sighs.

The obvious answer? Recruit a couple more people who are inspired by the organization’s work with autistic children and would be honored to be among those responsible for the agency’s well-being.

Yet the board hesitates.

We have to clarify our committee structure...

Our financials look too dicey…

We need to get through a tricky personnel matter…

The people we most need won’t want to join this club.

The rationalizations for inaction go on and on. 

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Posted on in Fundraising

Ever been to a potluck where everyone brought dessert? Or a gathering that ended up with 12 different kinds of chips?

A potluck works best with a signup sheet – and curation. People feel responsible for doing their best on their own unique dish; and they’re assured there won’t be three sets of brownies, or five kinds of pasta.

There are lessons here for the organization of a board of directors into committees. 

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Posted on in Fundraising

In a well-run company, leadership development on staff is nurtured, planned, designed.

Why not on boards?

Why do we so often manage board member behavior by default, hoping we have the good fortune of “landing” the next leader through happy accident?

Just like great staff leaders are built through cross-training, shadowing, and education, great board leaders learn by watching the best and by having the chance to spread their wings, little by little, in positions of greater authority and breadth.

By planned growth, in other words. 

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Posted on in Board Development

A team is only as good as its leader.

A common saying, along with thousands of other leadership quotes.

So let’s unpack what this means for a nonprofit board of directors.

What’s the relationship of a nonprofit board chair and their team?

And how come, when a leader wants to step down, there never seems to be anyone ready, willing – and able – to take their place?

And is there anything we can do – short of “firing” a weak leader (which can throw even a well-run nonprofit into chaos) – to improve the board’s development of strong voluntary leaders?

Of course, the answer is yes.


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Posted on in Fundraising

In the corporate world, staff development is a given (or at least ought to be, according to standard management practices). And part of bringing someone up through the ranks is giving them increasing positions of authority (with support), and seeing how they do.

So, too, in nonprofits – and on nonprofit boards.

How often does a board chair want to move on, but doesn’t because “there’s no one to step up?”

That’s not happenstance. Real, yes. But accidental, only sort of.

It’s determined by neglect – of the board leadership ladder.

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