William D. Pawlucy and Robert C. Harris
Bob Harris, CAE, provides free governance tools and templates at The NonProfit Center. He is on the faculty for the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and has worked in Amman, Jordan, Tokyo, Japan; Kiev, Ukraine; Phenom Penh, Cambodia; Cairo, Egypt; and Minsk, Belarus, to help organizations. Bob received “Association Partner of the Year” award from Association Trends Magazine in 2012, and he has authored books on association management. To improve management, he created the Association Self-Auditing Process, used by more than 20,000 organizations. He believes that nonprofit organizations should be as efficient as any commercial business.
Articles by William D. Pawlucy and Robert C. Harris
Wednesday, April 08, 2020
After a devastating weather event neighbors emerge in shock, asking "are you OK?" Recovery starts fast. You hear the chainsaws clearing driveways and streets. Piles of rubble begin to line sidewalks. A weather event comes on fast and ends abruptly. The coronavirus pandemic and severe economic disruptions present significant challenges for associations. The timeline is unknown, as well as the damages to economy, business and associations. Colleagues are asking, "what do we do?"
Monday, March 30, 2020
These are the words of association executives panicked by the pandemic's financial havoc. "Our conference is canceled, accounting for a 50% loss of revenue; what do we do now?" "We may lose 25% of our members and that will put our finances in the red for 2020 and beyond!" "We won’t make it through this." Hopefully your association's 2020 budget will hold tight and your value proposition is strong enough to survive. If not, convene your finance committee to assess the damage.
Monday, March 23, 2020
Now is the time to demonstrate strength, leadership and strategy. Members expect to hear confidence and solutions from their association. Associations have always been resilient during wars, recessions and crisis. Boards and staff should portray a positive, "can-do" attitude. Position the chief elected officer and executive director as primary, trusted communicators for the sector. Convey an authentic, reassuring message for members about steadfastness.
Friday, January 03, 2020
We’ve all used the term "pipeline." Most often, we use it when the association board asks, "Do we have enough future leaders in the pipeline to sustain our volunteer structure of board and committees?" The leadership pipeline for volunteers include the processes of identification, assessment, training, election or appointment, role fulfillment and succession. The processes must be taken in order to maximize volunteer impact. The pipeline is somewhat rigid. Often it ends with volunteer burnout or a sense of, "I’m out, I’ve done my civic duty."
Tuesday, April 23, 2019
What follows is a real-life implementation process carried out by an association in the Midwest. Kudos to the board and professional staff for taking the new plan seriously. This thoughtful approach will keep future board meetings and committees on track while communicating value to members and prospects. Let’s consider that this planning session was conducted in January. A process for successful implementation began immediately upon adjournment. Here’s what occurred with an astute executive director within 90 days of the planning retreat.
Wednesday, January 23, 2019
CPR or cardiopulmonary resuscitation is a procedure to support and maintain breathing and circulation on an individual when breathing or the heart has stopped. Performed promptly it can support life until medical professionals arrive. In an association, CPR may restore life to an underperforming organization. In this case, CPR represents a renewal of Commitment, Performance and Results.
Thursday, November 01, 2018
"Welcome to the board, we’ll see you at the meeting next week!" These are scary words for a new director. Questions (or fears) quickly arise. "What is expected of me? Will I be prepared? Are there meeting protocols? Am I ready to vote on important issues?" It causes some directors to freeze. A common response of new directors is, "I won’t say anything during my first six months of meetings; I’ll just be an observer."
Tuesday, July 31, 2018
Imagine starting a new job with a gamut of responsibilities, and there is no orientation or manual. Volunteers accept a role but may not understand their duties as trustees and as fiduciaries on behalf of the membership. The best relationship with new directors starts with the statement: "Welcome to the board, here is the leadership manual, which includes everything you’ll need to govern." Yet, some organizations don’t have a manual for the leadership, and many don’t provide board orientation.
Wednesday, April 25, 2018
Listening to and reading reports is not governance. A board's purpose is to advance a mission, serve members and oversee assets. The passion and expertise of directors should be leveraged. A traditional agenda format may be wasting board time.
Wednesday, August 23, 2017
Have you heard the one where a guy gave away his entire board packet? When the executive director asked why, he replied, "Because in a nonprofit our files are available upon anyone's request."
Wednesday, August 09, 2017
Mission statements — we've seen them used in nearly every format. They appear on pop-up banners next to a registration desk, painted on office walls or recited at the start of a board meeting.
Wednesday, July 05, 2017
How many times have you heard someone say, "We had the best planning retreat but have accomplished very little since then"? There is a constant struggle to maintain the momentum, excitement and energy in that room at that moment.
Wednesday, May 17, 2017
Imagine how uncomfortable the board was. The founder of the organization had just asserted that, although the bylaws prescribed term limits, he was not ready to step aside. "I founded the organization, and I'm not sure my passion and principles will be sustained," he explained. It was a delicate situation.
Wednesday, January 25, 2017
Confucius once said, "Real knowledge is to know the extent of one's ignorance." That means we need to know what we don't know. As a board member, it is OK to not know everything, but success lies in always asking questions in order to exercise the fiduciary duty that is bestowed upon you.