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Posted on in Fundraising

Janet’s been a reading tutor in Sunrise Community Center’s Book Buddies program for a few years now. She recently did a terrific job organizing a fundraiser to raise some extra cash for the program. She makes her own donation to Book Buddies each year, and seems pretty reliable and involved.

Let’s ask her onto the Sunrise Community Center’s board!

Well, yes, but…

There’s a long journey from program volunteer to organizational board member, and Janet’s board orientation – and training through the whole first year – will need to help her to make that leap. 

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Posted on in Nonprofit

It’s August. Time slows down, people go out of town, and those of us left around may actually have time on our hands.

So that’s the time to think big picture, figure out what’s in the way, and develop a skeleton plan to move forward through those shoals.

In that vein, we’ve been talking about succession with a couple of groups these days – board chairs planning a year or two ahead, executive directors looking at retirement (or second careers), development directors thinking about how to leave the nest in good shape to take on the next challenge.

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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 Fundraising

Earlier this month, Carnegie Hall announced a new board chair – Robert F. Smith, a private equity titan named by Forbes last year as the second richest African-American (after Oprah Winfrey).

Quite a catch for Carnegie Hall, for multiple reasons – and a welcome relief after the controversy surrounding the resignation of its previous board chair Ronald Perelman.

But there’s one thing about the ascension of Robert Smith to board leadership that really stands out – his route in the door. His introduction to Carnegie Hall was not through a board member, or even a recruiter – it was through a contact of Carnegie’s executive/artistic director, Clive Gillinson.

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Posted on in Board Development

There’s no substitute for first-hand experience.

A board member, executive director and director of development agreed, at last week’s Nonprofit Excellence Awards Panel produced by the Nonprofit Coordinating Committee of New York on Excellence in Fundraising and Resource Development, with this Steve Jobs quote: “A lot of times, people don’t know what they want until you show it to them.”

Rather than asking cold – for board members, for donations, for resources – the answer, for panelists from New York Common Pantry and Red Hook Initiative, is to involve people in the organization as volunteers.

To show them, by proximity, the important work (and the recipients of the services) – in order to sell them on the mission. 


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