Friday, December 9, 2011

Overheard: Dec. 9 edition

Posts from three of my governance blogging heroes top this week's slate of favorite board links.

Overcoming a disconnect with the mission (Carlo Cuesta)

"Carlo wrote a new post! Carlo wrote a new post!" was my immediate response when this edition popped up in my Twitter feed. It also exemplifies why I'm such a fan. Mission is a common theme in his writings, and this newest post extends the conversation in powerful ways. It addresses a common issue for so many of our nonprofits: the challenge of maintaining focus on our reason for being while dog-paddling through the urgent tasks and problems slamming into into us on a daily basis, we risk floundering. When we relegate that mission to words in a statement, rather than the living purpose that drives us to the work. This passage is particularly powerful: "Above all, mission is a feeling. An organization’s leadership may capture it in a carefully worded statement, but before that happens a sense of being emerges from a milieu of diverse passions. Mission is about a group of people imagining the change they can create and exploring these possibilities together. Through their collective action, they discover something in common within one another, a shared sense of purpose." He then shares four domains of leadership to help guide our focus and work.

The nonpartisan agenda of corporate social responsibility (Alice Korngold)

In her first contribution to the Huffington Post, Alice reminds us of the larger purposes of corporate social responsibility generally and board service specifically. She draws from deep experience linking business employees and nonprofits needing their expertise to remind the reader of the mutual benefit of making those connections, whether we're talking about the types of larger corporations that Alice works with, or main street businesses found in our smaller communities. We always should be exploring and talking about the common ground and the vision of a better community when we work together to advance it.

3 keys to thriving through adversity (Kevin Monroe)

Most of our boards are quite familiar with handling adversity. We have plenty of practice walking a rocky pathway to our missions. If we're still standing, we also know something about resilience. In this post, Kevin offers three areas where that resilience is essential to sustainability. All three absolutely are the domain of governance, but I'd bet that one (funding sources) would tend to dominate their attention when times are tough. The fact that he provides the reader with examples for each area reminds me why I'm a Kevin Monroe fan.

Montana Nonprofit Association resource library

My neighbors to the north have created a wonderful online information toolbox that any nonprofit board will find useful. It covers a range of topics with governance ties, e.g., accountability and transparency, advocacy and public policy, and strategic alliances. My recommendation: bookmark it, explore it and share it with your board. It's a user-friendly resource that any nonprofit will find valuable.

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