GuideStar Blog

Succession Planning: Leading by Sharing Power

In 1986, I killed my first nonprofit organization.

That wasn’t my plan. In fact, there wasn’t any plan.


How to Spot Cultural Fit in Nonprofit Leadership Candidates

Company culture is defined by strongly held and widely shared beliefs that organizations support through their strategy and structure. As any executive search consultant will tell you, cultural fit is a critical factor in hiring.

While this is true for every organization, despite its tax code, it is incredibly important for not-for-profit organizations. This is because the executive must be able to passionately speak about the mission internally, to keep everyone working toward the common goal, but also to represent the organization externally, creating strong, committed relationships within the community.


Keeping It Ethical, Principle 14: The Power of Separation

Have you heard of English Catholic historian, politician, and writer John Dalberg-Acton? Probably not. But I bet you’ve heard his famous quote: “Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.”

Too much power is rarely a good thing. When it comes to nonprofit governance, best practice always calls for governance and management decisions to be made in the best interest of the organization, free from conflicts of interest or other personal concerns. And the best way to do that? Spread the decision-making power, rather than concentrate it in one person or among a few.


Your Group Isn’t Unique—and That’s a Good Thing

From time to time, my phone rings. A nonprofit staff or board member begins to talk.

“We’re in a unique situation,” this person says.

Silently, I roll my eyes.

Or maybe, “We have a unique problem.”

Actually, you don’t.


Underappreciated Elements of Nonprofit Disaster Preparedness Planning

Like ugly holiday sweaters, disasters come in a variety of forms and sizes. As we follow the news of big events like earthquakes, wildfires, and hurricanes affecting millions of people, we can’t forget that a simple burst pipe can seem just as disastrous for a single nonprofit. Yet, because we are all so busy with our nonprofit’s mission, taking the time to create a plan, document it, and practice it may fall by the wayside. Indeed, a new report from the Nonprofit Association of Oregon and Portland State University confirms that, despite a high level of awareness of—and concern about—the potential for certain disasters, many nonprofits still do not have a high degree of preparedness for those events.


Our Default Organizational Decision-Making Model Is Flawed. Here’s an Awesome Alternative!

Hi everyone, before we launch into today’s post, my friend Oz recorded my Guided Meditation for Nonprofit Professionals. Check out Oz’s soothing voice as he guides you to the Land of Sustainability in this free 12-minute relaxation exercise. “Breathe in and out […] Your desk is completely clutter-free and not a coffee-stained dumpster fire of chaos and broken promises.” (Original written meditation here)

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One of the things EDs and CEOs have noticed is that we get “decision fatigue,” and one way it manifests is in our frustration at having to make even small decisions when we’re at home.


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. 


7 Signs Your Nonprofit Organization Needs an ERP System

Nonprofits, just like for-profit organizations, face a variety of challenges. There are issues related to legal compliance and workforce performance. They need to keep track of employee performance, delivery of orders, different processes, and the integrity of their databases. All these issues, if not managed well, might interfere with the fulfillment of their missions.

Many nonprofits make do with spreadsheet software and email to run different operations. But, as an organization grows in size or the complexity of its programs increases, the logistics of maintaining this information manually take their toll. Multi-faceted ERP (enterprise resource planning) software that utilizes a unified database can increase your overall organizational operational efficiency.

What are some of the major signs that your nonprofit organization needs an ERP system?


Best Practices in Creating Nonprofit Position Descriptions

Attracting the right volunteers or full-time employees to a nonprofit can be tricky. Today’s market is overflowing with nonprofit organizations. Careful and precise position description writing can help resolve this problem.


How to Fire People for Your Nonprofit’s Sake

Mitt Romney got pretty beat up in the media in 2012 when he said, “I like being able to fire people.” It made him sound like a cold, power-hungry corporate executive. It was also tone deaf because Americans wanted a president to create jobs and not terminate them with glee.