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Bill Hoffman

Recent Posts by Bill Hoffman:

Top 6 Ways a Board Can Help Its CEO


Board members have a lot of responsibility to the organization they represent, to the community for which they are stewards of the nonprofit’s resources, and also to the organization’s CEO. The CEO’s success is tied closely to the support he or she receives from the board. How can individual board members support their CEO’s success? Below are the six ways I’ve found that have the greatest impact. 


Sustainability through Innovation: Taking a Fresh Look at Old Problems

Sustainability through Innovation: Taking a Fresh Look at Old ProblemsDon’t you hate it when you have donors (or potential donors) who are not supporting your efforts to the extent you believe their passion would indicate?  They’ve expressed support, maybe even enthusiasm, for your mission, and yet their financial gifts don’t reflect the same level of engagement.


Why Your Organization Needs to Share Metrics as Well as Anecdotes

While teaching a university course on nonprofit leadership, we were addressing the importance of return on investment (ROI) for nonprofits. That is, how funders who make large investments in a nonprofit expect measurements that indicate their assistance is having an impact. One student, who was a nonprofit executive director, pushed back, saying that even her major donors were “just fine with stories, pictures, and anecdotal evidence” of their program’s effectiveness. Therefore, there was no need for metrics or ROI. When I asked how large a “major gift” was, she answered, “$1,000.”


Funder Partnership—or Wannabe?

Funders are used to hearing different versions of the meaning of “partnership” from nonprofits wanting to work with them (aka receive funding). All too often the proposed “partnership” involves the funder supporting the initiatives or priorities the applicant brings forward with minimal input from the funder. On the other hand, the applicant sees that the funder 1) has “a lot of money” and 2) supports [insert general category the nonprofit works in]. Therefore the funder is fair game to “partner.”

I’ve been on the receiving end of these requests. When, however, I asked, “So you’re applying to receive x dollars ... where is the partnership portion for the foundation?” I frequently didn’t get an answer.


Five Questions Every New Nonprofit Board Member Should Ask

Congratulations, you’ve just been appointed to one of the more prestigious nonprofit boards in your community! You’re really excited, because you have a passion for the organization’s mission and have heard nothing but great things about it. But after the warm glow cools down a little, you realize the pressure is on—how are you going to make your mark and really contribute to the organization? Start with asking the executive director or board chair these five questions and let their answers guide you to success.


What an Interim CEO Should Expect from the Board

In a previous post I discussed a board’s expectations for an interim CEO. But the interim should also have expectations and set them with the board before engaging in an assignment. Not all successful CEOs (or presidents or executive directors, whichever term an organization uses) will be effective in an interim role. Taking over during a leadership transition is a much more fluid and, at times, more demanding situation than heading an organization as its permanent CEO. With the proper level of cooperation between the interim, staff, and board, however, an interim leader’s tenure can be a positive experience that moves an organization forward while a search is underway for the next CEO.


What a Board Should Expect from an Interim CEO

Interim CEOs (or presidents or executive directors according to an organization’s naming convention), by their definition, serve during a period of transition for an organization. If the outgoing leadership change is unplanned, it may also be a time of upheaval Volunteer board members are suddenly thrust into more details around the organization’s financial and programmatic management, community and donor relations, and staff retention


Opening a Window on Your Nonprofit’s Performance

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As a conscientious leader of your organization (board member or senior staff), you put a lot of thought and effort into developing your strategic plan. Ideally, the planning process resulted in quantifiable goals that will be tracked over the course of the year to measure progress on the plan. Peter Drucker’s quote, “What gets measured gets improved,” is as valid today as when he first said it. But the challenge is how best to track and report on progress, because you’re engaging busy volunteers who are probably only working on portions of the plan, and then only sporadically. Because many people are visually oriented, charts and graphs are natural ways to report measurement. That’s why many organizations regularly produce dashboards as their windows on performance.


Influencing Public as Well as Philanthropic Efforts

As members of the independent sector, we continuously strive to increase our impact in the focus areas of our missions.  We think creatively, plan scrupulously, collaborate where possible, and work hard at maximizing resources we can bring to move the needle.  Many thousands of volunteer and paid staff hours are spent in these efforts.  And, make no mistake, we definitely do move the needle and often have demonstrable impact.  But could we have more impact with similar levels of effort if we focused them differently?


Top Ways to Engage Non-Development Board Members in Development

 

A key responsibility of nonprofit board members is to assure that the organization has sufficient resources to fulfill its mission. There are many indirect aspects of this—helping with outreach in the community, serving on a finance committee to provide fiduciary oversight, etc. But the most direct and perhaps most impactful is fundraising. While many board members embrace the prospect of helping with fundraising, others run in the opposite direction.

Most folks who aren't regularly engaged in fundraising equate the entire process with "The Ask." There are, however, plenty of steps leading up to and following the actual ask that a board member who is uncomfortable with asking for donations can help with. Here are the top ways in which volunteers can help with resource development and without realizing they're actually fundraising.


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