To remain relevant during this unprecedented time, today’s blog, my four previous blogs, and my video and E-book, “Benchmark Disney: How Theme Park Strategies Can Help You Rebuild Client Confidence and Regain Business,” focus on real-life issues and provide insights intended to be immediately useful.
BOARD LEADERSHIP DURING COVID-19
Do’s & Don’ts
In good times, the unique roles of board and staff create
occasional healthy tension, but during times like these – when the very future of
the nonprofit where you volunteer or lead is fragile – strain intensifies! Today’s
blog highlights when board members should step in…and when they shouldn’t.
Board Members Should Get Involved When…
- Major donor funding is needed now
In the early 2000’s, my non-profit employer expanded to a new facility, and we soon faced a financial crisis, due in part to 9-11 and in part to a software change.
The board chairman stepped in…and up. He gave his largest gift to date. He called on friends with hearts and resources to help. On the best morning during those difficult times, he walked into my office with a $10,000 check. “I raised this before breakfast,” he said in his matter-of-fact manner.
- Financial reports remain unclear
Have you said or been told, “This business is too complicated to understand?” or “Inaccuracies are caused by incompatible software programs?”
Though true, these statements are not acceptable. Ask question to deepen your understanding of the business model. Help hire a software consultant. Empower the finance committee to approve reports before they go to the full board.
Muddy financials, excused during good times, erode confidence during times of heightened anxiety. Change soon follows. I’ve seen it happen.
- A Merger is on the horizon
Remain alert regarding the health of nonprofits where you volunteer and lead. Here’s why:
Over the next 12 weeks, if allocated CARES funding and stimulus checks are spent, if re-opening America remains controversial, if fears of a fall virus outbreak further slow recovery, and if tax revenues required to fund growing unemployment and government social programs eats into tax breaks and philanthropy budgets…Mergers will result.
Such conversations, instead of being painful, can provide relief and hope. They must occur at the board level, preferably with a special committee.
From leading the shut down of Memorial Health Foundation, I know that board members’ peace of mind, community reputation, and future engagement depend on the merger being done right. Miracle Strategies can provide experienced, professional guidance while maintaining a local perspective.
Board Members Should Not Get Involved When…
- A time-sensitive appeal is created
Trust your nonprofit team to write copy and speak publicly about the organization’s needed. Emergency fundraising is on everyone’s radar: if you’re not making the ask, someone else is. Instead of approving copy, offer to match every dollar!
- A complex application is due soon
Foundation grants, federal loan programs, and emergency funding require in-depth operational knowledge. Seasoned executives know their numbers and their risks. Requiring board feedback, especially from large, community boards, frustrates the entire process. Trust, built over years of respected leadership, sustains during such times.
- A reduction-in-force, furlough, or lay-off is necessary to cut costs quickly
At most, empower a small task force of board members with relevant experience to have full board approval. (Consider the executive or finance committee to execute quickly.)
Whether you’re a board member, nonprofit executive, volunteer or business partner, your leadership has never been more important! Thank you for staying the course!
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