Every organization is approaching and responding to COVID-19 differently, but regardless of the approach – certainly, all have been considering what fundraising will look like in the coming months and year. We know a rough road lies ahead and no one can predict what this recovery will look like; however, there is some good news.
The Lilly Family School of Philanthropy tracks giving during disasters, and what they’ve seen so far with COVID-19 is record levels of seven-figure gifts being made to organizations. America is being more generous than ever.
The initial shock and fear– or denial – of the Coronavirus outbreak has shifted into, “How long can this possibly go on?”
Just like every person, institution, business and organization, the nonprofit community has never been through anything like this. As a board member of a nonprofit organization, are you wondering how you can help during this time of crisis? Or perhaps you’ve already jumped into the deep end of daily tasks and are trying to help the staff do their jobs?
What does it mean to lead through crisis? Many CEOs are asking themselves this question as they navigate the uncertainty of a global pandemic and an economic Black Swan. We all have heard “let’s hope for the best, plan for the worst” along with “we will get through this.”
It is during times of crisis that leadership matters and the way that leadership shows up can make or break an organization. President of The Alford Group, Brenda B. Asare spent time with Dr. Lee Barker, President Emeritus of Meadville Lombard Theological School discussing leading an organization through challenging times.
It’s the beginning of a new year, and across the country Boards of Directors and staff members are gathering for annual retreats – a time to renew and refresh vision for the many challenges and opportunities in the year ahead.
You might be wondering, what scenarios could unfold in the course of planning for 2020 and beyond? We have a few examples to share. Someone on your organization’s Board of Directors may have a big hairy audacious goal for future growth and impact. Or you may be facing a cash flow crisis that requires tough trade-offs and strategic pivots. You may find strategic discussion running in circles from a lack of cohesion between staff and board leadership and your organization’s roles in the community.
Without a clear vision or strategic objective, it will be difficult to generate volunteer enthusiasm and energy for the work necessary to make 2020 a success.
During my tenure as the head of development with the YMCA of Greater Seattle, I was lucky enough to be there for the organization’s 125th anniversary.
As the 120th year of the YMCA of Greater Seattle loomed ahead, I asked our public relations volunteers if we should start getting ready to celebrate. Their reply? A resounding, “No! Save it for the big one at 125 – but start planning now.”
“Five years out?” I thought to myself. “That seems crazy!” But as we started to explore the significance of the 125th and realize that no update had been done on our history timeline since the 100th – not to mention electronically capturing our history and thousands of photos dating back to the late 1800s – we had lots to do. Continue reading “Getting the Most From Your Upcoming Anniversary”
While presenting at a recent AFP lunch meeting, I asked the audience, “How many of you have at least a few board members engaged in your major gift fundraising efforts?” Not to my surprise, only a handful of the more than 100 fundraisers in the room raised their hands. Then I asked, “How many of your board members are passionate about your mission?” As you would imagine, everyone in the room raised their hand! So, how do we turn that passion into fundraising action? Here are a handful of tips and tools to get results: Continue reading “Five Tips: Engage Your Board in Major Gifts Fundraising”
The secret to a successful corporate/social sector partnership is for each partner to be simultaneously self-centered and other-focused. In this video post, Diane Knoepke talks about the three ways we are failing to live up to what we know about what makes these partnerships work.
Don’t we all agree that the most precious things in life are worthy of our best attention, effort and care? In the fundraising world, the most precious “things” are our donors and their philanthropic dollars.
Who among us has the luxury of a daily schedule that is just waiting to be filled with new ideas and activities? Nobody that we know! So let’s take 15 minutes – only one percent of our day – to ponder ways to work smarter and multiply the impact of our efforts, and benefit the most precious “things” – our donors!
How do you make sure that your donor stewardship is intentional, timely and effective? You need to plan for it! Wonderful ideas for individual stewardship activities, timelines and plans abound on the internet, so we aren’t going to reiterate them here. The idea we are offering is a strategy for multiplying the impact of your stewardship planning process by also using it as an engagement opportunity for key donors, staff and board members. Continue reading “Multiply Your Impact: Enlist Key Donors to Create a Meaningful Stewardship Plan”
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 “Making the Most of Volunteers”
How to find great, or even good, nonprofit board members is an ongoing challenge. For many nonprofit organizations the board development issue feels especially urgent right now. The competition for good board members is increasing.
The philanthropic environment has nearly recovered from the Great Recession, but many philanthropists are still very cautious about where to invest their dollars, time and energy. Organizations who have been largely supported by government grants and contracts, their long-held intention to diversify their revenue through board members with financial capacity and connections, are now faced with the reality that it’s harder than they thought to find strong board members.
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.
Last week, I wrote on how staff should be working to support the efforts of their not-for-profit board members. A few days later I received a comment from a reader encouraging me to write about the board members’ responsibilities. Over the years, I have kept a list of board member responsibilities that I have used during training sessions and board retreats, and I’ve allowed board members to offer comments and suggestions to edit, revise, and clarify their roles. Here are several points from that document for your review and comment:
First, I believe boards have two functions: one, to “guard the mission” of the organization; and two, to hire, advise, and if necessary, replace the executive director (or CEO).
Roles for Boards to “Guard the Mission”:
Provide leadership to and approve a strategic plan for the organization
Assure that programming and financial allocations are focused on fulfilling the mission (guarding against “mission creep”)
Assure that proper financial stewardship is maintained
Contribute financially to the organization according to your means
Advocate for the organization to secure community and financial support
Open doors for staff who are seeking support from others
Continue to expand your knowledge of the community needs that the mission of the organization is addressing, and your knowledge of best practices to meet those needs
Participate in board meetings, demanding quality presentations from staff, and providing equal quality on your part during board and committee discussions
Offer your talents and time to serve on committees and/or as a committee chair or officer; when accepting an assignment, fulfill it to the best of your ability
Roles for Boards to “Hire, Advise and/or Replace” the Executive Director:
Annually set expectation goals for the executive staff leader that parallel and/or complement the goals in the strategic plan
Annually evaluate the executive staff leader on his/her performance toward fulfilling their goals and the organization’s strategic plan
Be available to offer expertise and counsel to the executive staff leader when called upon to do so
Hold executive sessions of the board that include the executive staff leader, and some sessions that do not include the executive staff leader, to discuss strategic direction of the organization and operational issues that need to be addressed by the board
Develop a succession plan that has both emergency implementation guidelines as well as strategic implementation for retirements and natural transitions
Hold the executive staff leader accountable for results, and when results are not consistently met, replace the executive staff leader
Recently I was conducting a board retreat and as we were discussing board roles and responsibilities, two comments from board members present were quite memorable. First, as a board member, you are part of a team – so be a good teammate and team player. Second, a board member should be willing to accept any role, including board chair, without aspiring to have that role. The second quality speaks to servant leadership and the importance it has for the success of a quality board and a quality organization.
So what have been your experiences and observations, and what else do you know about board roles and responsibilities? I look forward to your comments and insights.