Friday, January 29, 2016

Governance toolbox: First potpourri of 2016

It's the first "final" Friday of the month of the year, which means it's time for the first "potpourri" toolbox of 2016. I'm opening it with a good one for discussion!

From risk aversion to risk wisdom -- My friend, Jane Garthson, challenges us to turn our thinking about risk on its metaphorical  head. The "tool" of this one is a framework for facilitating the kind of discussion that makes that shift possible. This is a conversation that all of our boards need to have, and to use as a foundation for taking a more productive approach to risk.

Different asking styles -- The most recent "Movie Monday" offers a nice extension of the conversation Emily Davis and I had earlier this week. Brian Saber of Asking Matters both discusses the general notion that there is no one, universal way to approach the ask in fundraising and shares insights about a process he helped develop to assess one's individual best-fit style for that work. In addition to the video, this post offers a link to the assessment tool on the organization's website. Consider having your board members take the assessment and compare notes. Who's a rainmaker? A go-getter? A mission controller? A kindred spirit? How can you use that information as a launchpad for helping each member find an authentic role in your fundraising process? (A note to readers finding this post in the distant future: Movie Monday resources tend to move or disappear over time. If the link no longer works, please leave a comment at the end of the post so that I can attempt to locate it in its new location or delete if it no longer exists online.)

Nonprofit bylaws: What to include and what to leave out --  This 2010 post by Ellis Carter isn't new, but it's a new addition to my bookmarks and an evergreen topic that should be of interest to any board. With the inevitable caveat that things change, I share Ellis's advice that boards may find useful.

Principles for good governance and ethical practice -- There are so few attempts to offer sector-level guidance on what it means to govern that this update of a Independent Sector document feels noteworthy. The 33 principles cover the fiduciary side of governance in vivid detail. My caveat: as comprehensive as the list is, it's still only one part of the job. We also need to tend to the strategic and generative modes of nonprofit governance - and not as frills that we fit around this work. That said, our fiduciary responsibilities cannot be ignored. Just know that they are not the only tasks to which you must attend.


Jane Garthson said...

Thank you for spreading the word about the importance of including generative and strategic issues in governance checklists. So many of them are entirely about oversight, with at best indirect reference to actually making a difference in their community. I often say that many organizations could tick off every item in their due diligence checklist without delivering any programs or services at all! In most such cases, of course, staff members deliver excellent programs and services in spite of their boards.

In an episode of Yes, Prime Minister, an English hospital wins awards for cleanliness and efficiency because it's never accepted a single patient who might dirty things up or stay a while.

Debra Beck, EdD said...

It's my pleasure to share such an important reminder of our responsibility to tend to impact, Jane. Thank you for writing such a thought-provoking and convicting post. It's one that I predict I'll be sharing widely in the future as well. Kudos!