30 June 2007

Urban Gardening

Welcome back!

This is an edible green space in the parking lot of an urban client. It is an experiment to see if we can pull neighbors and the organization together through gardening. The same guy who planted this will begin a larger garden at a nearby mental hospital where out patients will be able to work to contribute to the project and the food will serve the needs of those who garden.

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19 June 2007

Starting a charitable nonprofit

Welcome back!

This question comes from Northern Ireland, United Kingdom:

I would like information about setting up a charity, can you advise? I am based in Northern Ireland, United Kingdom. Any help or advice would be appreciated. Can you point me in the right direction?

I am afraid that the most common answer to this question would be related to the mechanics of setting up a government sanctioned nonprofit corporation. This is my answer:

Clearly there will be the technical aspect of papers to file and government agencies with regulations to follow. Those things will be specific to wherever you exist and do your work. The real questions in my mind and the place to start, is to answer these questions, and to do it with some other people who share your passion.

  1. Who is it that will benefit from the the charitable activity?
  2. What will that benefit be?
  3. Among competing values, what will be the most important thing to accomplish considering the costs?

In other words, when all the effort, money, passion, tears, work, have been accomplished--what will be the exchange in the world? Will it be worth the effort? Answering my three questions above will be the start of getting to the that bigger answer.
Even answering these questions may not be of much value unless the answers are somehow put into force to guide the organization to accomplish what it should, for whom and at what relative value.

Our consultancy services add value by setting up a systemic approach to implement this accountability structure: Hold the organization accountable for what it should accomplish, avoid unacceptable situations and circumstance.

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14 June 2007

When to make a good decision: quit or stick?

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From Guy Kawasaki's blog: 10 Questions with Seth Goodin

What’s the worst time to quit? When the pain is the greatest. Decisions made during great pain are rarely good decisions.
--Seth Godin

Seth has a new book out called The Dip: A Little Book That Teaches You When to Quit (and When to Stick) about how to work through the hard times and know when to quit on things that area dead-ends. I have quit a couple of dead-ends recently. Some, there was no pain at all.

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13 June 2007

Organizational Life-Long-Learning

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We are seeking organizational leaders in Pomona and Los Angeles, California who are committed to life-long-learning who would like to participate in a 3-year capacity development project. The organizations must have working experience in a minimum of one of these social service areas: gang activity, youth violence, or child abuse and neglect.

We will form a collaborative effort with formal roles to meet your capacity building objectives. Collaborating organizations focus on learning in these areas:
  • Leadership Development
  • Organizational Development
  • Program Development
  • Revenue Development Strategies
  • Community Engagement
Would you like to be considered for participation? Contact us by leaving a comment or click here to go the the contact form.

Your ideas matter here! Please leave a comment.

Writing for Publication

Welcome back! It's time to get something published. It has been 10-years since my last article as published.

So, what kind of article would you like to read?

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11 June 2007

Board Member Terms and Term Limits

Welcome back!

An excellent question about terms and term limits for board members.

A quick survey of some of my client’s bylaws show that most boards have a term of 3 years; most limit the number of terms allowable to two or three. One group recently eliminated the term limit after investing heavily in board development and training. The justification was that if a board member is well equipped, serving well, and willing to continue, they wanted to continue taking advantage of their important volunteer resource.

There is a clear advantage for an organization to have trained, experienced and well disciplined board members. A second and third term for members may allow the organization to enjoy just such board members.

A healthy, growing organization will likely have a strategic initiative to constantly renew and find new linkages within the community. One tactic to accomplish this important goal may be to find new board members who rotate onto the board to provide those new connections and new perspectives.

Boards should carefully consider the advantages and disadvantages caused by its limits to member terms and term limits.

Related to this is board evaluation and discipline of itself.

Board terms and term limits are sometimes suggested as a way to remove ineffective or antagonistic board members. While this may in fact happen. It is not a good strategy to enforce board discipline. The board chairperson and the board as a whole are responsible to evaluate the job outputs of the board and the effectiveness of individual board members. Those board members who are not willing to perform with the discipline and rigor required by the boards own explicit board process policy should be invited to resign.

Further, this task has sometimes gone to the executive director (CEO) when the board has failed to live up to this important responsibility. A well-designed board level policy will assign the task of evaluating the board and holding it accountable to the board.

Feel free to comment with your perspective or questions.

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07 June 2007

Board Member Selection

Welcome back!

I am often asked about how to populate a board of directors with the right people and there are often some assumed answers to the question by the questioner. Most recently this question was asked on the LinkedIn network:

What's the best way to find Board Members for a US based non-profit? We are looking for several individuals who have a passion for classical music and the resources and connections to support, sustain and expand our mission. Most meetings take place via teleconference.

I answered it this way:

“It is not entirely clear whether you are asking for people on LinkedIn to present themselves as prospective board members or if you are looking to identify a clear process for finding the right people to populate the board. When Capacity Partnership Group is helping an organization clarify the process, we suggest the following are the two most important indicators that a good board member is presenting him or herself: (1) the candidate has demonstrated commitment to the organization and its mission, and (2) the candidate has the discipline and the capacity to think abstractly to do the work of governance process. To find someone who will do the work of governance, that must be clearly defined and the practice of the current board of directors. Boards have specific job outputs that ensure that it is doing governance work. Among those job outputs are writing explicit board-level policy, linkage to the moral ownership, and organizational accountability to accomplish what it should while avoiding unacceptable situations and circumstances. It is our consulting practice to train boards and provide necessary technical assistance to put together and utilize a complete system to board governance. This is the essential prerequisite to finding the board members who can help with the outcomes you have described.”

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