The GuideStar Blog retired September 9, 2019. We invite you to visit its replacement, the Candid Blog. You’re also welcome to browse or search the GuideStar Blog archives. Onward!

GuideStar Blog

How Social Intrapreneurs Influence Organizations

Don’t underestimate the intraprenuers. When most people think of social innovation, they think of social entrepreneurs. They think of the social entrepreneurs finding innovative new solutions and building companies to make profit while making impact on pressing social challenges. Less celebrated are social intrepreneurs that are diligently working in more established organizations to initiate change. 


Hospice Care for Nonprofits, Part 2: The Board’s Role

Because not every group is designed to last forever, I recently shared a post about end-of-life care for nonprofit organizations.


10 Reasons Being an Executive Director Is Still Awesome

Hi everyone, this blog may have more typos than normal because it is (was) Father’s Day, and instead of spending it writing and “editing,” I hung out with my kids. They are in bed now, so I can finish this post. ...


Hospice Care for Nonprofits: Diagnosis and Treatment

How healthy is your organization?

What’s your trajectory? Are you growing, shrinking, or treading water? What’s the energy level among staff and board? Is your mission still relevant and inspiring?

More than a decade ago, I participated in volunteer training at our local hospice agency. As the Great Recession rolled through the economy, I found myself applying the lessons of hospice to my work with nonprofits.

Not every organization is meant to live forever—and that’s OK. In this post, we’ll discuss how to determine if your organization is dying and what to do about it. A future post will cover the board’s role in end-of-life decisions.


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.