Tag Archives: communications

Please be our next board chair

By Molly Hansen, Vice President, The Alford Group

 

 

“Please be our next board chair. Joe, Sarah, and Ben have all turned us down and Andrew doesn’t want to stay on for another term.”

Has this ever happened to you or in your organization? With thoughtful planning and leadership development you can create a reality where begging for board officers and committee leaders just doesn’t happen.

In a 2015 BoardSource survey, only 49% of nonprofit CEOs agreed that their organizations had an effective process in place for officer succession. CEOs often navigate (survive?) multiple chair transitions, and cited building a board leadership pipeline as being among the most important area for board improvement.

A recent Board Effect blog post cites the report Succession Planning for the Non-profit Board Chair that finds:

“Most organizations can survive the successful election to the Board of an individual or two whose group participation skills and leadership attributes are less than stellar, as other stronger members of the Board will generally neutralize any adverse consequences to the organization. However, placing Board members into the organization’s highest leadership positions is a much higher-stakes proposition. Persons in elected leadership positions with mediocre leadership skills will, at best, do no harm, but might cause the association to miss strategic advantageous opportunities. Persons with poor leadership skills may create organization dysfunctions that may take years from which to recover, if ever.” Continue reading

Making the Most of Volunteers

Are your volunteers worth their weight in gold, or are they simply weighing you down?

By Laura Edman, Vice President, The Alford Group   Read Laura’s Bio

Have you ever thought to yourself, “Why do I bother with volunteers? It would be so much easier if I just do this myself.”

I admit it; over my 30-plus years as a fundraising professional, that thought has crossed my mind more than once. Yet whenever that happens, I think about the many times during my career when volunteers have made the critical difference between success and failure, between reaching that stretch campaign goal and falling short, or between successfully recruiting that key board member and having them turn down the opportunity.

So, how can you make sure that your volunteers really are worth their weight in gold, instead of being too much trouble to bother with? Here are some tips that might help you and some resources for more information. Continue reading

Three Corporate/Social Sector Partnership Conversations I’m Having Right Now

By Diane Knoepke, Vice President, The Alford Group

 

Over just the past few months, we have been the beneficiaries of an absolute embarrassment of riches in terms of high-powered convenings and insight-filled reports related to corporate/social sector collaboration and investment. I dare say we are seeing an unprecedented level of research and conversation about the role of companies in driving social sector outcomes and vice versa. While digesting it all can feel like sipping from a firehose, I’m finding that so many of my partnership conversations right now are coming back to three themes, all of which are supported and driven by these great insights coming from all corners of the corporate social innovation and philanthropic worlds.

#1 Heightened consumer expectations, and how companies are responding

Sixty percent (60%) of Americans now expect companies to play a greater role in society, particularly given the new administration. Tina-Marie Adams, Midwest Managing Director of APCO Worldwide, shared this data point at last month’s Social Innovation Summit, drawn from research her firm had recently completed. This is further borne out by data from Cone Communications’ 2017 CSR Study, which found that “millennials are putting their faith in companies to ignite change,” with 71% of millennials hopeful that business will take the lead (compared to U.S. average of 63%). Continue reading

Keeping in Touch

Thank you to my colleague, Debbie Marchione, for her post last week on communications.  A simple concept – yet often over looked.  She illustrated that we have many ways to communicate these days and we need to do our best to take advantage of those communication lines.

Communications is an active process, a thoughtful process and even a deliberate process.  It does not come easy and requires work on the part of the communicator and the receiver.  For the most part we are the communicators seeking to give information to the receiver.  The receiver is mostly passive and we may not be sure (unless we take Debbie’s advice) that our message is getting across to them.

Last summer I was at a meeting with other consultants listening to a panel presentation comprised of significant foundation executives.  One of the representatives told a story that the only time he heard from any charity is when it wanted more money.  No one ever talked with him to ask for advice or counsel, to give him updates on the last grant or to provide data or information in a general way on the issues an organization may be addressing by fulfilling its mission.  In other words, communication was very “thin” and did not allow for relationships to be formed in a meaningful way.

About 25 years ago (before the computer age) I was attending a workshop at an AFP Conference and the late John Miltner, who at the time was the Vice Chancellor for University Relations at UC Irvine, was speaking about donor communications and relationship building.  During the course of his talk he opened his briefcase and took out 50 four by six index cards and indicated that these cards represented the 50 most important donors to UC Irvine.  At the time I thought to myself, “Do I know who my 50 most important donors are?”

On each card he had birth dates, anniversary dates, children’s names, addresses, phone numbers, the last contact date with the donor, the next contact date planned and who would be the contact leader from the University.  UC Irvine probably had over 10,000 donors, yet these were the Top 50 and John kept them with him all the time, working the list and utilizing the Chancellor or a Dean to keep the lines of communication open on a one to one basis.  John knew how to “keep in touch” with those who had made or could make significant contributions to his University.

Who are your Top 50 current or potential donors?  How are you “keeping in touch” with them?  Share your ideas and strategies so that others might learn from you.  I look forward to your thoughts.

All the best,

Tom