Archive for April, 2012

Non Profit Board Resolutions — Year-to-Date

Thursday, April 26th, 2012

The clock is ticking to make and keep non profit resolutions

by Joseph John

non profit boardI just love the numerous applications I can download to my phone and my computer. One in particular that I have found very useful is a countdown calendar. I use the countdown calendar to illustrate the number of days until Christmas, my anniversary, my grandchildren’s birthdays, and other important dates. It really is a handy tool — and it’s fun to use.

As I looked at the app, it made me reflect

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on the passage of time this year — it was time to see how many days have sped by us this year. It was also time to see how many more precious days are remaining for non profit boards to work on, initiate, or complete their 2012 goals and objectives or resolutions.

As I write this article, it’s been 115 days since we greeted the New Year and twenty-five days since the end of the first quarter. There are sixty-five days left until the end of the 2nd quarter (half the year gone) and only 249 days left in the entire year. Do I sense panic yet — do you?

If you are a frequent visitor and member of a fitness center, look around and observe. Have the New Year’s New Faces disappeared? Have resolutions already been broken? Well, here we are 115 days or 16.42 weeks into the New Year and what has been accomplished with your non profit organization?

How many new friends have you raised? What specifically have you done to-date to create “friends” and awareness for your non profit organization?

Have you had your annual giving campaign? How did you do? What was unique about it? What lesson(s) did you learn? Could you have done better? How? Was there total engagement?

Did you say “thank you”?

Are you ready to embark on an annual giving campaign? What will differentiate this year’s campaign from years’ past?

Have you had a membership campaign? How many new members have joined your non profit organization? Why did they join? What did you do differently this year?

Have you had a non profit board member retreat? Did you begin creative planning sessions to “Open the box”…and then seal it? Have your board members been challenging each other to be creative and motivated?

Have you raised internal board member communication? Are you communicating better among yourselves so that the next resolution becomes a reality and a success?

Have you raised communication awareness in the community? How many board members have been inviting themselves to community events to talk about your non profit organization and how it benefits those around you.

Well, you can see that there are so many resolutions you could have made and I wonder if you did make some resolutions and have kept them or are working on them? If you recall, I wrote an article earlier this year about Twenty-12 resolutions. Here are the rest of the resolutions that I referred to in the article (minus all the supporting detail). If you’d like to see the detail, please see my article in the Bizceos.Com archives:

  1. Raise your hand.
  2. Raise the bar.
  3. Dust off the bylaws, vision, mission, and values.
  4. Take ownership.
  5. Sow the seeds of board recruitment.
  6. Try a fresh coat of paint.
  7. Plan for the future.

I end this article like I ended the article on Resolutions: Commit to excellence and resolve to keep your resolutions for 2012. Remember that by keeping your resolutions, the results and benefits will be positive for you, your non profit organization, and the communities you serve.

Did you hear me? You’re just not listening!

Tuesday, April 24th, 2012

We spend more time listening than talking — but often do it badly!

by Neil Kuvin

ListeningWith certainty I believe many of you reading this are in a career in marketing, public relations, communications, or a related field. I’m certain you’ve read a few articles, and books on this subject. I’ve written several Bizceos articles on the topic.

Listening is the most important constant element in communication. Listening doesn’t cost anything. However, It affects you and I every minute of every day! Thanks to technology that changes by the day, the world we live in at present gives us everything we need to know in less than a split second and perhaps makes people pay less attention to this all-important skill.

Active listening affects outcomes, whether you’re a college student taking in a lecture; an athlete going over game planning with your coaches; or a PR rep attending a client meeting. Heck, listening affects us all of the time at home. One of you complains, “You’re not listening to me.” With your wife husband, it’s not easy to hide behind a “my hearing is not what it used to be” excuse. Especially when you’re both in the same room, like the den, and you’re watching a ball game. Mute the sound, at least. And get in a position where you’re looking right at her/him.

Why did I choose to comment on listening, out of the blue? As a PR/Communications practitioner, I live it, and preach it to every client, every way I can. It is clear from recent invective that listening, without at least some attempt at understanding missing. The political racket (as in noise), will be an ongoing component in our lives. And who’s going to unwind the unbelievable clatter surrounding the Trayvon Martin tragedy. Where are your ears and brain cells, people?

I’m a huge Clint Eastwood fan. Everything he directs or stars in are always of a top-notch, impeccably professional nature. And they always have a message. I was at a friend’s home and happened to read a past edition of GQ Magazine that featured Mr. Eastwood on the cover. The journalist writing the article asked Eastwood about his life as a child and a special moment in his Academy Award nominated (2008) movie Changeling where the GQ writer was struck by a particular scene Eastwood directed in which a boy sits up in front of a radio to just listen.

Eastwood commented, “Life was pretty simple then (in the 50’s). Because TV was only available in major cities and there was slim pickins of programming. There was the radio. Everything was listening. So you imagined everything.” Regarding the movie scene involving the boy and the radio, he added: “There’s an art to listening. There’s not much of it going on in the world. As an actor, it’s the most important single function.”

When you listen to someone, particularly in a personal, private session, look into their eyes and try to focus on the pitch of their voice. That’ll keep you focused and involved. Don’t look away, even if there’s an event occurring in the background. You’ll find out right up front if the person who

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sought you out is hurting; wants to share a happy moment with you; is seeking out your advice; wants to convey and share with you a moment that brought them concern or created fear. You need to hear every word and sense every emotion.

Listening requires two things. No….not ears. It requires rapt attention and meaningful responses. An “I don’t know what to say” doesn’t work. ‘Active” listening means you understand; you’re involved and you care.

Business Ethics

Wednesday, April 18th, 2012

When are we going to sell right?

by Joe John

Business EthicsSince September of 2011, I have enjoyed writing about topics that impact the nonprofit sector. Hopefully you have found them both interesting and helpful. Writing about the nonprofit sector was a challenge by my BCG associates  — the challenge being to wed both my for-profit years of experience with my involvement with nonprofits for many years as well.

It has been fun. I was preparing another article this week focusing on communications among board members and the communities they serve. But then IT hit me. The “IT” was yet ANOTHER wave of newspaper and TV news that just took me over the edge.

The edge: The lack of public confidence; compliance departments growing; market conduct issues; the disappearance of Business Ethics. Serious issues in doing business that won’t go away. I got irate, again, and so I decided to dust off a speech I made a number of years ago to a professional group.

Our editors have helped me condense it into a white paper. I am using it simply as a forum to voice my unease about a problem that hasn’t gone away, and I’m getting very annoyed that ethical selling and business ethics is a topic we need to address. WHY is that!? Oh, well. Perhaps you’ll share my sentiments when you read the presentation.

I wish I could say “enjoy” — at least I’m hoping you will share my sentiments about ethical issues in the business world that just won’t go away.

To read this white paper, go to the upper right-side of this Website’s home page to “document links.”


Non Profit Board Member Burnout

Wednesday, April 11th, 2012

It Can Be Averted

by Joseph John burnoutIn many of my articles, I typically focus on non profit board members being action-oriented, being passionate about what they do, being involved and being engaged in every facet of the organization’s mission. But alas, at some point in time, there comes that wall — the wall of exhaustion. They’ve given their best, they’re tired, they paid their dues, and they realize it’s time time to

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go. Board Member Burnout (BMB) is something that can be AVERTED, before the symptoms occur. And what are those symptoms? Well, you’ve seen many of them — and perhaps have experienced them yourself. Here are just a few, which typically begins with disengagement:

  1. Poor attendance at meetings
  2. Lack of participation in events and meetings
  3. Lack of camaraderie and strained relationships
  4. Push-and-pull of obligations at home, work, or other nonprofit boards a person serves on
  5. Unwillingness to serve on any additional standing or ad hoc committees
  6. Tired of

    being the 20% that does 80% of the work (the proverbial 80-20 rule).

And the list of symptoms could continue. As aggressive as non profit boards attempt to be in recruiting new board members, that same energy needs to be channeled towards creative ways to retain board members, and then providing a thoughtful exit strategy for those departing the board. Remember the famous radio station, WIIFM (What’s In It For Me)? Well, the non profit board member needs to turn the station back on because now, that same person who once asked “Why do I want to join this board?” must now ask “is it REALLY time to go?” Yes, it’s ok to go — but hopefully for all the right reasons, and not because of a bad taste in one’s mouth about the organization, or because the person is suffering from one or more of the typical symptoms of BMB. A non profit board needs to be proactive in many facets of its operations, especially when it comes to recruiting and retaining board members. To be proactive requires a methodology of re-inventing or re-engineering itself, The organization needs to bring fresh minds, i.e., bodies, and new energy to the board. Sometimes, bringing new ideas and bodies to the organization does not require that person being a voting board member, as much as a willingness to assist with projects and initiatives in concert with voting board members. Does your organization want to be proactive, and one that attempts to eliminate Board Member Burnout? Remember, BMB is preventable:

  1. Review your bylaws to ensure there are shorter term limits for non profit board members. Are three-year term limits too long? What’s the right mix? Two-year terms with a maximum of two terms? Just make sure that serving on the board doesn’t create a mindset of eternity for the board member.
  2. Modify your bylaws to have a workable and functional number of board members so that the 80-20 rule can be reduced to a better ratio: 70-30? 60-40?
  3. Create committees above-and-beyond the “standing committees” — committees that will encourage rotation of board members to change the energy and interest levels. Add non-voting board members to committees to help carry the workflow.
  4. Remember the “X” and “Y” generations — get them involved, harness the power of their seemingly non –stop energy levels.
  5. Don’t make Fund Raising THE activity that seems to sap the strength of board members who want to contribute in other ways to the organization. If it appears that the annual fund raising is the only thing the organization lives-and-dies for, that organization will not gain nor retain many board members. The growth of the non profit organization comes from people who can contribute in many other ways to the help the organization achieve its mission.
  6. Say “thank you,” and then “thank you” again. What about those “atta’ boys!?” People may be humble and appear as if they don’t need platitudes and gratitude, but DO IT ANYWAY! Personal notes of “thank you’s,” special certificates, and other types of recognition to board members to show that the organization CARES, is one of the most gigantic steps towards board member retention.

When the non profit board member says “it’s time to go,” make sure the “know thyself questions” that were asked prior to joining the board can all be answered in the positive: I added value to the board. I became a valuable asset to my community. I became a TEAM player. I was passionate about this organization — and remain so. I DID make a difference. I’m a better person because of my service to this organization. It’s always pleasant to go out on a positive note. Make sure your organization provides that wonderful avenue of exit for dedicated board members.  

Identity Theft: Who do you think you are?

Monday, April 9th, 2012

by Neil Kuvin Identity TheftA potential and serious threat has captured the attention of our government. Economic espionage and identity theft is what it’s called and our country’s prosperity and national security

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is at high risk. Not to say that your company and you personally might wind up tomorrow to the nightmare of having every nickel of your company’s and your personal funds stolen. Happening this time of year is the result mainly of personal and corporation tax returns hitting the digital mailboxes and appearing to be yummy bait for these miserable characters. There was just a segment of one of the prime-time network news programs that highlighted South Miami Beach as one of the most active cities experiencing identity theft, where perps get your social security number or your business’ Fed. ID #. Think how easy that is for a waiter, oil change clerk, or anyone else who handles your debit card. Then, with your and other private (you thought) info, they open a debit account in their name with your numbers. They direct all incoming funds (like 2011 tax returns) to that account and then withdraw the funds as soon as they hit the account. And then close the account. So, what can you do to foil this expensive, reprehensible, illegal identity theft activity and protect your family and your business from identity theft?

  • Make sure you’re ready to respond. In the event that intellectual property is stolen, who within the organization will coordinate the company’s response? When will the board be notified? How will you avoid alarming employees? These are all important questions to answer before a potential theft takes place.
  • Are your people aware of potential threats? In most cases when intellectual property is stolen, an employee is involved in the process. To help combat theft, make sure executives, senior management and front line employees are fully aware of what constitutes the company’s intellectual property as well as what they are expected to do to ensure its protection. Communicate with your staff some of the steps your organization is taking to prevent, detect and investigate intellectual property theft. Doing so heightens the perception by employees that if they attempt to steal intellectual property, they will quickly be discovered.
  • Are you sharing too much information with third parties? Companies inadvertently share elements of their intellectual property with potential employees, customers and even the media. Prepare an inventory of relationships you or your company has with third parties and determine what, if any, details about your intellectual property might be unintentionally making their way into the public domain. Watch what employees disclose at industry trade shows. Review technical literature, service manuals, press releases and other material distributed outside the company.

These are only some of the steps you can take to secure your company’s intellectual property portfolio. Protection can only be accomplished if your company invests the time and effort to implement a fully integrated program. It’s an unfortunate fact that some employees will always find the path of least resistance to commit intellectual property theft. Invest the time today to uncover those paths before your employees, or other people you know steal information that is critical to your success, reputation and survival.

Crisis Media Relations

Thursday, April 5th, 2012

It’s a Crisis. Don’t play games with the Media.

by Neil Kuvin

mediaYou turn around outside your place of business and hello!! You’re looking into the barrel (in this case the lens) of a media videographer’s camera. You look to the right of the camera and there he is – the most annoying, arrogant member of the local media. He’s on a story-hunting safari ever since one of your long-time, executives was arrested for grand theft.

So, you think you’re ready for this. You think it’s like two gladiators crossing swords. You’re cool. You can handle anything. You’re tough and you’re ready. You attended one of your company’s “Media Crisis Communications” sessions a couple of years ago. You’re ready. Aren’t you?

You smile. He asks his first question: “How long did this fellow work for you?”

Think a minute. Make that 3 seconds. Remember the “pat” answers from that communications session?

1. Yes, I have the answer and here it is.

2. No, I don’t have the answer, but I’ll get it for you.

3. Yes, I do have the answer, but I cannot discuss it.

“OK,” you think, “Number 2 is easy” so that’s what you say. Turns out Mr. Arrogance is not easily put off. He’s working against a tight deadline and you’re going to slow him down? So he applies his “not ready to talk” tactic and throws in a “softball” to warm you up. And your smiling answer is Number one.

He then hits hard with an off-the-record, personnel question that Number 3 can satisfy. Hah, you think. This is getting easy. But he persists and persists, asking things about your arrested employee that are only supposed to be accessed by particular other employees in your company. How do you duck and run?

Let’s look at the situation with relaxed lungs and a dry brow.

There are some situations in which you can legitimately use the third option:

  1. The case is before the courts.
  2. For competitive reasons.
  3. Union negotiations causing a blackout have been imposed.
  4. Situations involving member, client, employee, or other forms of privacy.
  5. Employees have not yet been informed (but you’d better take care of that immediately).
  6. Securities legislation would be breached.
  7. Issues involving national security.

If the temptation to “no comment” is being used as a substitute for not wanting to deal with an issue, my advice is to wake up. In today’s world, you’re going to have to deal with the issue sooner or later. Sooner means on your terms. Later means on everyone else’s, not just the media. All over the media, fingers are being pointed at management or anyone who has control or command of conditions.

If you keep getting hammered; continuing along the “message, message, message” approach will eventually wear out the reporter (or irritate her/him). A really good, experienced reporter knows how to deal with your bobbing and weaving. So, prepare by having “Crisis Media Training” or at least a rehearsal where one or two of your employees ask you questions that may

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Enough Number 2 and 3 answers and you also risk the allegation that you refused to answer the question. Which in one instance or more you did. But, believe me; it’s better than hemming and hawing or “no commenting.” It also depends on how well you know the reporter. If it’s someone you’ve been working with for awhile, and it’s not a topic of public outrage, and a microphone isn’t being stuck in your face, it’s usually easier to move past the question and deliver a message you want to get out, particularly regarding this incident.

Your treasured reputation is at stake in these coming weeks and months. Anticipate. Rehearse. Take your own bullets first. Don’t use Number 3. Whatever the situation, be prepared!


Peyton Manning “Manningmania” and Public Relations

Tuesday, April 3rd, 2012

Mile-High Peyton Manning: Manningmania in Denver is a lesson in great public relations

By Peg McRoy Glover

Peyton ManningPeyton Manning, previously the quarterback for the Indianapolis Colts, recently signed a contract with the Denver Broncos. To say that his entry into the Mile-High City was an extraordinary media splash is to only mildly skim the surface what has been reported and written about this man.

In the interest of full disclosure: I am a native Hoosier who was relocated to Denver more than eight years ago due to a job transfer. It is hard not to love Colorado and all of the great athletic and entertainment opportunities one can desire. I have embraced all there is to enjoy in Colorado but my heart just couldn’t leave the Colts with Peyton Manning as quarterback.

So, on the morning of Tuesday, March 20, 2012, as I picked up the Denver Post, my heart leaped a bit when I saw Peyton Manning on the front page, above the fold and below, with the headline “Changing Horses,” (which was a nice nod to the West) with the subtitle, “Ex-Colts quarterback sidelined Tebowmania as Denver dreams big.”

Of course the front-page headline was an eye-catcher but it was the coverage of Manning in Section CC in that day’s paper that really grabbed my heart. On page 3CC there was a picture of Manning in 2005 embracing Josh Schmitt, a young man who played football for Cathedral High School in Indianapolis. Schmitt, his family and friends, had just lost his brother, Jeramy Schmitt, who suddenly passed away during football practice a few days earlier. It is easily discernible in the picture that Manning feels deeply this family’s loss.

The title of the article reads: “A mighty heart.” “Manning built a reputation as a hardworking player and dedicated humanitarian.”

The article also addressed his exemplary work ethic. John Henderson of The Denver Post observed: “His work ethic will put desperate rookies to shame, and his value as a superstar will send the Broncos’ franchise climbing up Forbes’ most valuable teams list. But Manning’s list of philanthropy glitters as much as his MVP trophies.”

It extolls his unflinching dedication to his PeyBack Foundation that includes such a significant donation to St. Vincent Health from the PeyBack Foundation that it remains undisclosed to this day.

Bob Kravitz, a columnist with the Indianapolis Star who has been reporting on Manning for the last 12 years, writes about Manning’s philanthropic endeavors, “Whatever you read about (Manning), he does 10, 20, 30 times more things that you never read about. I can’t tell you the number of e-mails I’ve gotten from people who said that Peyton did this, that or the other thing for a child or for a sick person that never made the news-paper, that wasn’t part of the PeyBack Foundation, that was just a random act of kindness.”

Being a current Denverite and native Hoosier, I received many calls, emails and social media contacts regarding Manning’s move. Arlene Jones-Street, who attended school with

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me in Indiana, posted on my Facebook page, “Please welcome Peyton Manning to your great state! You have gotten a wonderful human being.”

(Please note that her comment focused on what a wonderful human being Peyton Manning has proven himself to be over the years and didn’t focus on his exemplary QB performances.)

Of course in Denver there were Manning detractors who were very disapproving of Manning’s $96 million Bronco contract. One objector editorialized that Manning should give some of his millions to hungry kids.

Freelance columnist Mike Rosen jumped to Manning’s defense in an editorial published in The Denver Post on Thursday, March 29, 2012 with:

Actually, he’s (Manning) given far more than a few million dollars to fund

governmental social programs over his career, and the IRS will take about $30

million out of that Bronco’s contract. Manning is one of those rich 1 percenters in

the top bracket that account for 37 percent of all federal income taxes paid by

individuals. And then there are the millions he has given through the Peyton

Manning Peyback Foundation, supporting disadvantaged kids in Louisiana,

Tennessee and Indiana.

So if public relations is about inspiring others to tell your story, then Peyton Manning is not only a shining example of gridiron excellence and sportsmanship, he is also the high-standard benchmark in giving back emotionally, mentally and financially to communities.