Monday, January 28, 2008

Board Re-org?

Much has been said recently about the need to re-think the Executive Director role in light of the combination of that Boomer-heavy position's transition to GenX and Gen@ combined with those generations hesitancy to even take on the position. I think that discussion is important and, while no clear models have surfaced yet, worth pursuing.

But what about boards? We all need them, we all should want them to operate as efficiently and effectively as possible. We want diversity of background, a great skillset, and commitment to our cause. So should we just do the same-old same-old, or try a new model?

While no model is for everyone, and certainly starting from scratch is unlikely for pretty much any nonprofit not in a huge crisis, tweaking your board model now and then to match both the needs of the organization and the capacity of the board members is probably a good thing. And that's the topic of my January issue of the Mission-Based Management Newsletter: Reorganizing Your Board of Directors.

Take a look. There may be a tweak there that's good for you.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Book Club Books worth a look

My book clubs are starting up again tomorrow for the January to June cycle. For the first set of calls, our books are:

Emerging Leaders: The Servant Leader, by James Autry
Advanced Leaders: The Wisdom of Crowds, by James Suroweicki

I love both of these books, and have recommended them to dozens of audiences over the past year or so. The Autry book is very, very practical. He describes his philosophy of servant leadership (you work for the people you supervise and serve them so that they can do their jobs) which I completely agree with, and then goes into very, very hands on applications of the theory. What do you do with employees who are having an office romance? What about an employee who is undergoing chemotherapy and wants to work, but whose presence is upsetting other workers? How do you lay off someone well?

Really good stuff.

Surowiecki lays out the premise that crowds (in most cases) make better decisions than a few experts. Through story after story he shows you that getting input into your decisions is worth the effort. I also agree with this, but it's important to remember not to just take a poll--as a leader you have to make the final decision---and live with it.

Excellent reading, and neither is overly long. The Servant Leader you can read easily on a snowy afternoon, or a long plane ride. Wisdom is a little denser, but just as fascinating.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Subscription is now easier, Disaster Planning

A shout out to David Simms at Bridgespan who asked me to put a subscription link on my blog---it's been on my list to do for about a year and I haven't. So, thanks to David's prompting, I's just above my picture on the right. If you like what you see here, subscribe!

If you want other subscription options, just let me know, I can add them easily.

In an unrelated issue, I was in Alaska this past week, speaking to the Foraker Group's Leadership Summit. Great group of people, lots of fun. Many thanks to everyone at Foraker for making my time so easy and fun.

One of Foraker's priorities this year is to have all Alaska nonprofits have a disaster plan. In that vien, here's the Techsoup Disaster Toolkit. I've posted on this before, but it's a great set of resources for any organization.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Who's the Best?

We all feel that our nonprofit organization(s) rock, and that their mission is important. But which is "the best"? In fact, is there a best?

A new website, Seekler, is trying to find that out through the development of community lists, where users rate their best charities, best books, best restaurants etc.

Here's the current list of "Best Charities"

Scroll through the list to see all the nonprofits, and click on the "Powered by Seekler" text at the bottom to go to the site. If you want to add your two cents, or give your nonprofit the props it deserves, log in as a user (it's free) and add your own listing of the best nonprofits. Your list will be included in the community list immediately. It's fast and easy.

You can also see lists of Best Nonprofit Books, Best Charity Mission Statements, Best Charity Job Sites, etc.

Check it out....and in full disclosure, I need to tell you that this website is developed by Pretheory, my son Ben's startup. Ben and his business partner have decided to make charities one of their focus areas, so check back and see how the listings grow.

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Technology Planning

As regular readers know, I'm huge on nonprofits using their technology to do more mission. This ranges from better websites, to using web 2.0, to better marketing materials, and on and on.

Such use demands good planning, synching the IT needs of the organization with mission, vision and strategic planning. Even though the cost of tech is down, it's not free, by any means. So, good stewardship requires good planning

TechSoup to the rescue: See their area on Tech Planning for tons of good ideas on this subject. And remember you can get your new software at TechSoup as well, for significantly discounted prices.

Sunday, January 06, 2008

At last, some educational metrics

Happy 2008 to all...and some good news from late last year, when the Nonprofit Academic Centers Council announced its new guidelines for both undergraduate and graduate study in nonprofit management. I'm really glad to see these, as I get a request a month from some program somewhere in the US that's starting up. Good work to the NACC!

Also, if you go to the NACC site, you can see a list of member centers: the colleges and universities that belong, along with contact information. If you're looking for some continuing ed, or getting an advanced degree, you might be surprised to find a program close to where you live.

Unrelated but topic for a post in the near future....who is the "Best Nonprofit"? Whose nonprofit has the "Best Mission Statement"? Which fundraising special event is best? All of these and more will be referenced in an upcoming post later this week.