Author Archives: Tafara Pulse

Exploring the Benefits of Hiring Interim Staff Leadership

by Tafara Pulse

When it comes to experience, Maree Bullock has done it all during her nonprofit career.   She was Executive Director of the W. Clement & Jessie V. Stone Foundation for 29 years before joining The Alford Group, and has served as a board member for many of Chicago’s esteemed not-for-profit institutions. Given her leadership skills, her extensive time as a CEO, and more recently her time as an interim executive director, I was eager to hear her perspective on how interim leadership can help strengthen an organization in transition.  I took the opportunity to sit down with her and ask a few questions about her time as Interim Executive Director for The Lake County Community Foundation (LCCF).

Maree Bullock

Continue reading

The Role of the Nonprofit Board – Board Qualifications and Responsibilities

If you’ve ever been part of a Board, you know that people join Boards for any number of reasons – personal, professional, social, self-interest, dedication to the mission of the organization. There are many benefits to individuals for volunteering as a Board member, not least of which is feeling that you’re giving back.

But, whatever the reason for Board membership, it’s always good to have a reminder handy of what the primary reasons are for the Board’s existence, and what the roles are that Board members fill. And, whether you’re a new or seasoned Board member, it’s good to know what your organization expects from you – and to check in on that from time to time to make sure your expectations are aligned.

We’ve put together a list of qualifications and responsibilities of Boards from our own experience and the resources at BoardSource. We also included some of the ideas from Governance as Leadership: Reframing the Work of Nonprofit Boards by Richard Chait, William Ryan and Barbara Taylor.

Let us know your thoughts on this list. Is there anything missing? What is your top choice for most important qualification or responsibility? Click the link below to see the full list.

Board Member Qualifications and Responsibilities

Finding Your Organization’s Voice By Listening

With non-profits working even harder to do more with less, it becomes even more important to find out if your stakeholders – volunteers, donors, prospects – are actually hearing your messages.   Do you know when, where and how your stakeholders want to hear from you?

The number and variety of communication channels have increased exponentially in the past five years, as have the expectations of our audience.  Prospects, donors, and volunteers expect to be able to engage in a vibrant, multi-pronged conversation about the things they care about.  It’s your responsibility to be part of that conversation.  Not as a megaphone, but as a genuine contributor – listening, asking questions, learning and sharing what you know.

The first step to doing this well is to find out where your stakeholders are, and what they are saying about you.  In a word: listen.

There are many different tools available to help you listen.  The first, and often most overlooked – is to simply ASK people.  Put an article in the newsletter, a feedback form on your website, or create a simple online survey using a tool like SurveyMonkey or Zoomerang.

Determine what keywords people use to search for you, and for the issues you address.  Search those keywords and see where the active conversations are taking place.  Set up Google Alerts to have links to conversations, articles and blog posts based on the top 10-15 keywords sent to your email, or use an RSS Reader such as Google Reader or NetVibes to further organize your listening, and reduce your email clutter.  Identify the most influential people in those conversations, and begin to follow them as well.  Other tools you can use include Technorati, Boardreader, Backtype and Delicious tags.

Start with the keyword searching, and build from there.  You won’t be able to adapt all of these tools overnight, but listening is the most important first step into deepening your capacity to interact with stakeholders in a meaningful way, and help ensure that your communications are shared in a place and way where people can and will listen to you.

For additional ideas and resources, check out Beth Kanter’s Social Media Listening wiki, Mashable.com, or NTEN’s We Are Media wiki as starting points.

– Debbie Marchione,  Senior Consultant, The Alford Group