Friday, March 25, 2016

Governance toolbox: The tools-y-ness of it all

"Tools" may be the best way to describe the unofficial theme of this week's toolbox selection. Each has a very strong series of very practical steps or ideas to inform board work and thinking.

Issues for attorneys serving on nonprofit boards -- Admit it. While we value all mission-relevant expertise shared willingly by our board members, having board-level access to some professional knowledge bases can prompt at least an internal "yippee." Recruiting an attorney to our board frequently falls into that category. The attorney members themselves undoubtedly already are aware of the inherent professional challenges that come with board service. But Gene Takagi's post offers a chance to educate the rest of us - board and staff alike - about potential ethical and liability issues that accompany their service. He also provides "Tips for Attorneys/Directors" that likely will be common knowledge to those members but guidance for the rest of us about what is realistic and appropriate to expect of our lawyer peers. He also provides links to additional resources on the topic that you may find valuable.

21 ideas to refresh your donor stewardship --  I came across this post while preparing for a facilitation assignment for a board wanting to explore this core fundraising and outreach function. None of the 21 "ideas" are particularly earth shaking, but that's the point and the ultimate value of the list. Do as the board I'm working with will do: have a conversation about what's working and not working within your stewardship program. As you consider the next steps toward enhancing those efforts, explore this list. Not all have direct roles for the board to play, but members may have insights from their outreach work to inform what and how to implement.

Correcting poor performance -- This probably deserves its own post, but I'll include it here with the caveat that I may still do that. One of the major outcomes - and biggest personal surprises - of last year's focus on nonprofit board learning environments was recognizing more clearly the importance of focus on performance and performance support in board development. It's easy to blame boards for performance failures that either are partly or mostly outside of their control or are primarily invisible to them (making them tough to impossible to address). This list offers guidance for identifying performance issues in three areas (objectives, person and environment). It also reminds us that several of those issues are not clear instances of individual disinterest, moral failures, laziness, or whatever else we tell ourselves as we complain about boards that fall short of our expectations. Pose these questions. Listen for the answers. Respond accordingly.

8 ways to improve a question -- You know I love a good question. Any opportunity to make a good question a great question is worth considering and sharing. Warren Berger's post reminds us that we can the latter always is within reach.

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