Archive for October, 2012

Non Profit Boards — Are You Recruiting?

Monday, October 22nd, 2012

Is Your Non Profit Board Focusing on the Younger Generations — the “X’s” and “Y’s”?

by Joseph R. John

One year ago, in one of my articles, I asked some very pointed questions: What is your non profit organization’s game plan for recruiting and retaining new board members? Who in the community are you approaching to fill the pipeline for a steady stream of quality board members — and future donors?

I recently made a presentation to a group of board members from a statewide and international non profit organization. During the first half of my presentation I focused on “to-do’s and must-do’s” for a Board Member. I then moved on “to-do’s and must-do’s” for the entire Board. During that part of the presentation, I asked the attendees the following question: “Who is forty years old or less? Please raise your hand.” The results were sobering. Let’s just say only a couple of hands went up. It was déjà vu. It was confirmation of what I wrote about last year and continually talk about — whenever someone lends me an ear.

It’s pretty safe to say that every board member in your non profit organization knows numerous people who represent both the “X” and the “Y” generations. Your non profit organization needs to put a full court press on talking to those individuals and inviting them to your functions. The board of directors can’t afford to let membership skew solely to the boomer side and not have younger members coming into the organization.

Let me also suggest just one place where you can begin recruiting for new board members. I’m sure there are colleges and universities in your area where you can approach the Placement Officers and explain to them your plan to grow the organization and the composition of the board.

Your plan, as you outline it to the Placement Officer, is to find young-and-upcoming individuals to become board members. You’re looking for the Placement Officer’s recommendations of very good students, very good citizens, and potential leaders. By adding seniors, recent graduates or graduate students, the non profit organization will be providing a living classroom by teaching leadership skills, creating community involvement and awareness, learning friend-and-fund raising, as well as receiving outstanding “real life” on-the-job-training.

And just as importantly, the addition of people the Placement Officer recommends will help breathe new life into an organization and challenge it to take an inward look at itself and ask “WHY” on many organizational issues. It’s exciting how your organization can re-invent itself while becoming better than ever with the addition

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of new, young members on the board.

Oh, yes, did I also mention that this life experience and board training will also look very good on the student’s resume. This is a win-win-win situation for the student/young board member, the institution of higher learning, and, of course, the organization. Actually, there’s another “win” — the community you serve benefits from this methodology.

Let’s briefly review some basic characteristics of each group which I shared in the article a year ago:

Generation X (born between 1965 and 1980): flexible, value work/life balance, technologically adept, independent, resourceful and self-sufficient. *

Generation Y (born in mid-1980’s): tech-savvy, family-centric, achievement-oriented, and team-oriented.*

Any coach or general manager of a sports team knows the importance of building a strong bench, having a strong farm team, and creating as many pipelines of recruiting as possible. The same scenario applies to non profit boards. Remember the additional perks of recruiting the younger generations — they too will provide additional pipelines to increasing membership and revenue in their spheres of influence.


by Joseph R. John

Non Profit Board Best Practices

Tuesday, October 16th, 2012

Moving your Organization from “WHY” to “WHY NOT?”

By Joseph John

Hopefully, you’ve read my article about the “WHY?” exercise for non profit boards. It’s an important and very healthy question to ask on a periodic basis. The “WHY?” is the backbone of your board’s annual physical. Everything may appear to be fine and running smoothly, but like any good annual physical exam, it will reveal some things going on with the non profit organization that need to be addressed before a serious illness takes place.

Stagnation is something every organization should fear. The same old, same old practices of non profit board members must be challenged to provide responses other than “because.” And with that being said, why not look at the Best Practices of other 501 (c) (3) organizations. Yes, Best Practices. It’s a common exercise in the for-profit world to look outside the organization and see what is working for the competition. Well, let’s not use the word “competition,” but nonprofits should be looking outside at other organizations for periodic reviews.

Think about it. There are literally tens of thousands of non profit organizations in the U.S. Do you know how many are located in your town? Well, why not challenge your organization to step outside and see what some of the others in your town are doing. Envision 15 board members on your board. Those 15 people either sit on other boards or know people who are board members. They can provide the necessary information for your Best Practices Exercise.

Now, roll up your sleeves. You should be able to obtain, essentially, a minimum of 15 sets of the following items for your analysis: vision, mission, values, bylaws, training guides, communications processes (internal and external), FAQ’s, code of conduct, operations manual, fund raising procedures, membership recruiting, and the list goes on.

The next step is to establish several ad hoc committees to review the documents that have been collected. Remember that this does not have to be a laborious process as you examine and prepare to report back. You are looking for: 1) new ideas, 2) a better process or procedure, 3) “ah hah” ideas that aren’t in your current processes and procedures, 4) creative ideas for marketing and communications, 5) short and long term projects for consideration, and lots more.

The final step is the “tell back.” A special board meeting or board retreat must be scheduled specifically for the Best Practices review — don’t shortchange the process!

The committees will report to the board the discoveries that were made and what may possibly work in the non profit organization because it appears to work in another. Remember that the organizations don’t have to be related at all. That’s the beauty of Best Practices. As a matter of fact, the more diverse the organization from yours, the more “ah hahs” you will uncover for possible implementation in your organization.

This exercise will always generate a very spirited “WHY? Well, WHY NOT!” Now, don’t forget that all the great ideas need to be prioritized for possible implementation. The proverbial “don’t bite off more than you can chew” applies with the Best Practices exercise. Some ideas can be implemented immediately, but there will be many practices that will require timelines to ensure success and seamless implementation.

By implementing a Best Practices exercise, your board can avoid potential stagnation and create a group of non profit board members whose mantra

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will be WHY? Well, WHY NOT!


Big Bird Gets a Beak Full of “Political Civility”

Monday, October 15th, 2012

by Neil Kuvin So

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the big yellow creature that’s been living in our TV sets since 1969 has a bump-and-run with Mitt Romney and now, President Obama. And social media has never seen the likes of the incredible traffic created as a result. So, what’s the big deal? In the life of just about every major National election, you can likely track the emergence of one comment, sound bite or event that may have changed not just the outcome of that particular election, but of the entire course of history for the WORLD (caps intended) from that moment forward. Think about it. When it comes to something this important, and millions of voters yet undecided are in play, it’s not the so-called “stakes” that get raised. It’s the unbelievable responsibility of the American voting public to use more than emotion and influenced opinion, before entering their voting booth on November 6. What’s Big Bird got to do with running a country? Mr. Romney says he would cut federal funding for PBS if he were elected. Nothing personal, mind you. “I love Big Bird,” he was quoted as saying. He just wants to find budget-balancing opportunities. The truth be told, “Sesame Street,” as just one of the many programs funded by federal dollars directed to the Center for Public Broadcasting, represents a very small percentage and amount of dollars in the overall budget. “Is it really necessary to have a military budget larger than every other country in the world?” asks Mr. John-Robert Curtin, who spent nearly two decades as General Manager of the PBS TV station in Louisville, Kentucky. Mr. Curtin goes on to note, “The cost (around $400 million) of one fighter jet could fund PBS for a year.” The day following the 1st debate, Mr. Obama is quoted as saying, in reaction, “He’ll get rid of regulations on Wall Street, but he’s going to crack down on Sesame Street!” As a former President and General Manager of WHAS-TV, I understand and appreciate the media’s role in all of this. However, when media exacerbate the situation by guessing and positioning this as the lead story at 6 or doubling-down on page one, it only creates a “I better pay attention to this” environment where every negative and demeaning word of embattlement will be underscored, capitalized and re-run. What we have here is the blooming into flower (or is that a weed?) of over a year of nasty, demeaning and downright derisive politicking. From both sides. And some of it very personal. When you disagree with your next-door neighbor, do you call him a liar and accuse him of making up his own facts? Who says this uncalled-for disrespectful, shameful rhetoric makes you any more worth voting for? Why is the immediate response from either of you to make the other appear to be a phony or otherwise less of an intelligent candidate for the office? I understand that most people just take all this pomposity as part of the theater that is politics. But, after more than 60 years of witnessing election dancing, I’ve never been this conscious of verbal battering. Consider the millions of children – many of them now adults – who can claim Big Bird as a major contributor to their early learning years. The influence of that seven-foot yellow carpet with a voice is incalculable. Mr. Romney, I wonder if your PR people, in prepping you for the debate, really condoned your use of that lovable creature as a target for your critical verbiage. I bet you wish you hadn’t taken their advice now. Mr. Romney: you are addressing the President of the United States. If you won’t show some respect for Mr. Obama, at least recognize and value the position of President which you are pursuing. And President Obama, the opportunities to find “gotcha” moments are not impressive or are they admirable. All those millions of “Sesame Street” fans are learning what? from your “got you back” moment? With the serious sobering conditions existing throughout the world, and certainly here at home, is this squabbling over a fictitious character getting us anywhere closer to finding solutions for the overwhelming problems we face? Sir, as leader of the free, indeed entire world, your tactics, demeanor, and show of respect for your challenger should be prominent and practiced in every instance. In the words of that famous PR practitioner from LA, Rodney King, “Can’t we all just get along?”