Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Younger Board Members

There's been a bit of an online discussion recently about why nonprofit boards don't have younger members.

Emily Hearst had an excellent post on her Board Life Matters blog, titled Why Don't More Members of GenX and GenY Join Boards? which got a great response. Then, Rosetta Thurman took her turn in her post titled Do Nonprofit Boards Really Want Younger Members? on the Chronicle of Philanthropy site. Both posts make excellent points, but I'm compelled to add my 2.0 cents here.

First, as is well known, boards, if left alone, tend to recruit themselves (i.e., people who look, act, think, live, etc. as they do). Thus, it's important for board recruitment to be a joint board-staff's the only way to break out of the homogeneity bubble.

Second, many senior staff have come to depend more and more on boards either primarily or solely for fund raising. (As an aside: This is a very, very bad thing. When boards are concerned only with development, they aren't concerned enough about planning, strategy, financial oversight, etc.) With this increased emphasis on boards as a conduit for incoming cash, staff make the assumption that the board members need to be rich--and that only older people have, or have access to, money.

Wrong--just look at the texting response to Haiti. Younger people bring huge networks of friends and associates with them. They (and their friends) are nearly bottomless resources of volunteering and donations--even if only in small amounts individually.

Lastly, boards often don't have two-three-four board slots open at once, and younger people tend to stick together. Imagine, if you were 28 and invited to join a board whose average age was 58, how you'd feel, particularly if you were the only face under 50 in the room....oh goody, I joined my parent's Rotary Club......

We DO need to age down on our boards, and we need to do it soon. Age diversity needs to have the same priority as other kinds, and it's just as difficult to achieve. But that doesn't mean we don't need to get to work and try.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Charity at the Ballpark?

I'm off to Spring Training in Florida with my son, Adam this weekend. Adam (now 24) and I had a 15 year quest to see the Atlanta Braves (his team) play in every National League Stadium by the time he graduated from college--which we successfully accomplished. Much fun, and some great father-son moments. We've never been to Spring Training, and we'll see two games in Orlando this weekend.

My point? I was talking to Adam recently about how many musicians offer space to charities at their concert venues and then urge their listeners to donate time or money to that charity during the concert. It's a great connection to the community, and a good role model.

So where are the similar charity tables at pro sports arenas? I can't think of one place Adam and I went where one or more nonprofits was providing information, or handing out schwag, or taking donations.

I know many athletes do great things in their communities with nonprofits, and that most sports teams provide some donations, but why not this free, very visible way of supporting the nonprofit community?

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Money for nothin.....

It's baaaccccckkkk, the regular hoopla over nonprofit CEO's being paid too much.

I get pretty sick of this, both when the criticism is justified and when it's not. When it is justified, I get angry at the CEO (and, of course the board of directors who are accessories before the fact) for bringing disgrace on the hundreds of thousands of hard working and very underpaid nonprofit management staff.

When the critiques are off base, I get angrier, because the media should do its work and know better.

The interesting and infuriating thing about this is how often the spotlight goes on smaller local nonprofits and so rarely on foundations and large nonprofits such as hospital groups or universities. I know the salaries are in the Chronicle of Philanthropy, but it seems the same prejudice about salaries that exists about endowments. For big nonprofits--no problem. For small ones, horrors!

But, back to the news---the CEO of Boys and Girls Clubs of America apparently scored over $1million in total compensation in 2008, over twice the average for CEO compensation at nonprofits of similar size. If true, that's worth some investigation and calling out, particularly since the Boys and Girls Clubs get 40% of their income from federal funds.

When people forget it's about the mission and not the staff, about the mission and not the board....bad things happen.

Sunday, March 07, 2010

As always, the rule of unexpected consequences....

One consequence of the recession no one foresaw--lots of unemployed or underemployed people volunteering in US nonprofits. Awesome. Troublesome (for the unprepared nonprofits), but awesome.

One unforeseen consequence of the Disney volunteering promotion (Give A Day, Get A Disney Day) is the sheer number of people who have responded. Side note: are they truly volunteers? Or compensated citizens?

Whatever the answer, this wave of volunteering encouraged by Presidents, employers and other corporate and public figures is only going to grow as the number of Americans interested in volunteering simultaneously rises. Younger Americans (those 30 and under) have been trained from early on to volunteer a LOT. Now that they are in the workforce (and more and more in management) the link between business and charities are being strengthened.

My point? For nonprofits that have weak volunteer management programs, now is the time to strengthen them. For nonprofits that have no volunteer programs, now is the time to consider them. Do you have enough funds to do all the mission needed? I didn't think so. Why not expand your mission resources to include volunteers?

Coming Out of The Recession Stronger

The March edition of the Mission-Based Management Newsletter is online....this month's topic is "Coming Out of The Recession Stronger". Check it out!

Saturday, March 06, 2010

A deal for book lovers....

I just learned that Fieldstone Alliance is having a winter book sale. 30% off all titles, and since all of those titles are focused on nonprofits, it's something you should take a look at.

Go here to learn the details.

Truth in advertising...I have two Fieldstone titles: Nonprofit Stewardship: A Better Way to Lead Your Mission-Based Organization, and Generations: The Challenge of A Lifetime for Your Nonprofit.

That said, there are dozens of great books for sale. Check it out.