The Inclusive Nonprofit Boardroom: Leveraging the Transformative Potential of Diversity
Bloggers: Patricia Bradshaw, PhD, and Christopher Fredette, PhD
Description: Diversity abounds in our communities and organizations, and our understanding of what constitutes diversity continues to grow as patterns of difference shift, yet in many cases we, and our organizations, struggle to keep pace with societal trends. While diversity has many aspects, including individual differences along dimensions such as education or training, personality or style, this article focuses primarily on diversity based on dimensions such as culture, ethnicity, race, age, sexual orientation, and gender. We are looking at a particular context in which such diversity is a concern for many nonprofits, and that context is the boardroom. READ MORE

Economic Study Shows Value of Baldrige-Based Performance Excellence
Blogger: Michael E. Newman, National Institute of Standards and Technology
Description: The news in 2001 was impressive, but it’s even more emphatically evident a decade later: the Baldrige Performance Excellence Program (BPEP) significantly benefits the U.S. economy. That’s the finding from a new economic study* to determine the practical value to organizations using the Baldrige Criteria for Performance Excellence—the benefits of the program outweigh the overall cost by 820 to 1. READ MORE

The Rise Of The Charitable For-Profit Entity
Blogger: Evangeline Gomez, Forbes contributor
Description: Various states, whose laws regulate corporate governance, have begun to catch up with the reality that not every investor or shareholder subscribes to the view that “greed is good.” Far from being a nation of Gordon Gekkos, many Americans, and millions of business owners, want to do more than simply turn a profit — although they certainly have nothing against making money. Their goals also include improving the environment and developing communities. In the classic model, these social purposes had to be pursued in a non-profit corporation. But some regulations on tax-exempt non-profits such as limitations on political and lobbying activities, attracting and raising investment capital in addition to taxes on unrelated business income have made it a less desirable business entity for some. READ MORE


“Voyage” by Sangjun Roh. © the artist

An Executive Director’s Guide to Financial Leadership
Kate Barr, Nonprofits Assistance Fund and Jeanne Bell, CompassPoint Nonprofit Services
Description: There is an important distinction between financial management and financial leadership. Financial management is the collecting of financial data, production of financial reports, and solution of near-term financial issues. Financial leadership, on the other hand, is guiding a nonprofit organization to sustainability. This is the job of an executive director. He or she is responsible for developing and maintaining a business model that produces exceptional mission impact and sustained financial health. To do that successfully, the executive director has to be ever mindful of essential nonprofit business concepts and realities. The following is a guide to this way of thinking for an executive—a summary of what we see as the eight key business principles that should guide financial leadership practice. READ MORE

Collective Impact

Disruptive Forces for Collective Impact
Blogger: Kate Barr, Executive Director, Nonprofits Assistance Fund
Brief Description: In this post, Kate Barr explains the six disruptive forces that nonprofit organizations need to address and tackle in order to move forward in collective impact planning. READ MORE


Part I: Making the Case for Collective Impact
Blogger: Dana Mortensen, Co-Founder/Executive Director, World Savvy: Think Beyond Your Borders
Brief Description: At United Way’s annual conference, United Front 2011, I had the opportunity to immerse myself in contemplating the conference theme, Collective Impact. As an individual nonprofit leader focused intently on scaling the impact of my organization’s work, I welcome chances like these to get a fresh perspective on the bigger picture, the larger ecosystem that my work is a part of. READ MORE

Part II: Does Collective Impact have a Seat at the Innovation Table
Blogger: Dana Mortensen, Co-Founder/Executive Director, World Savvy: Think Beyond Your Borders
Brief Description: Nonprofit leaders constantly consider how to differentiate ourselves from our peers. How is our solution more effective? Why are we different and worthy of support? READ MORE

Get some backbone: Collaboration requires support
Blogger: Steve Boland, Loan Officer and Trainer, Nonprofits Assistance Fund
Brief Description: Collaboration requires additional coordination, resources and people. In order to best leverage collective impact, Steve Boland bears the truth – effective collaboration needs strong backbone support. READ MORE

The Collective Impact Blog
Blogger: Mark Kramer, managing director, FSG Social Impact Consultants
Brief Description: The power of Collective Impact as an approach to solving social problems is striking a resounding chord with individuals and organizations from all sectors. Could we be on the verge of more broadly adopting a new paradigm for social change? READ MORE

A Theory of Change Can Mean Business
Blogger: Steve Boland, loan officer & trainer, Nonprofits Assistance Fund
Brief Description: Steve Boland breaks down the complexity of business models to help nonprofit leaders measure sustainability and create community impact. READ MORE


Capacity Building

Eight Dangers of Collaboration
Nilofer Merchant, corporate director and a speaker on igniting cultures of innovation
Brief Description: Most of what is written about collaboration is positive. Even hip. Collaboration is championed enthusiastically by the Enterprise 2.0 experts, as well as leading thinkers like Don Tapscott, as the crucial approach for the 21st century. Collaboration creates once-elusive “buy-in or “empowerment,” improves problem solving, increases creativity, is key to innovation at companies like Lego, Pixar, and Intuit. It slashes costs and improves productivity. READ MORE

The ‘Third Rail’ of Nonprofits: Overhead
Blogger: Veronica Dagher, Dow Jones Newswires
Brief Description: This Wall Street Journal Interview with Tim Tierney of the Bridgespan Group highlights ideas discussed in the group’s recent article entitled “The Donor-Grantee Trap – How ineffective collaboration undermines philanthropic results for society, and what can be done about it.” READ MORE

Saving the Ship by Rocking the Boat
Mario Marino, Chairman of Venture Philanthropy Partners
Brief Description: The six questions I believe every nonprofit board and executive team must ask to prepare for rough financial straits ahead. Fair warning: The questions below are not a tame, staid checklist. Wrestling with these questions will require you to challenge long-held assumptions, stir conflict, and venture far from your comfort zone. READ MORE

Learning about Leadership: 21st Century, Decade Two
Blogger: Christine Hammes, director of strategic development services at MAP
Brief Description: The systems, institutions, and processes inherited from the 20th century—government and foundations as reliable resource streams for nonprofits, for instance—are not working today. We know this. We just don’t yet know precisely what will replace them. READ MORE

Nonprofit Leaders Suggest Ways to Increase Charitable Giving
Blogger: Holly Hall, The Chronicle of Philanthropy
Brief Description: The Giving Pledge, the effort by Bill and Melinda Gates and Warren Buffett to increase giving by the nation’s wealthiest people, missed a key opportunity, fund raisers say. Instead of simply reaching out to billionaires, they should have promised to match donations of people with a lot less money. READ MORE

Pinch Me I Must Be Dreaming: Is This the Future of Philanthropy?
Blogger: Kathi Jaworski, The Nonprofit Quarterly
Brief Description: In a guest post on the National Center for Responsive Philanthropy’s blog, Bill Somerville of the Philanthropic Ventures Foundation predicts six trends for philanthropy that will be noticeable by 2014. READ MORE

Nonprofit Employers Don’t Meet Workers’ Needs for Job Satisfaction, Surveys Find
Blogger: Peter Bolton, The Chronicle of Philanthropy
Brief Description: Two reports released Monday show a disconnect between what nonprofits provide to their workers and what employees say is essential to their job satisfaction. Seventy percent of workers in two surveys said their jobs were either disappointing or only somewhat fulfilling. READ MORE

Four Destructive Myths Most Companies Still Live By
Blogger: Tony Schwartz, President and CEO, The Energy Project
Brief Description: Myth #1: Multitasking is critical in a world of infinite demand. This myth is based on the assumption that human beings are capable of doing two cognitive tasks at the same time. READ MORE

Conversations to Navigate the Rough Road Ahead
Blogger: Judy Alnes, Executive Director, MAP for Nonprofits
Brief Description: A colleague of mine on the West Coast recently quipped that nonprofit boards of directors operate at “glacial” speed.” I knew what she was talking about. Many boards of directors (and their staff leaders) are stymied by how to make sense of the rapid changes in funding streams, client needs, and external factors that are threatening the very existence of many organizations. Many nonprofit board responses can be best described as “stalled out” or “deer in the headlights.” READ MORE

The Importance of Leadership and Engaged Employees in Driving Excellence
Blogger: Brian Lassiter, president, Minnesota Council for Quality
Brief Description: The single biggest predictor of organizational excellence is…Leadership.  And it’s pretty conclusive: there is considerable research out there that draws correlations between effective leadership and superior organizational results/outcomes.

Five Ways Foundations can Strengthen Nonprofit Boards
Blogger: Rick Moyers, vice president of programs & communications, Eugene and Agnes E. Meyer Foundation in Washington
Brief Description: Assuming that many foundations want to do more to strengthen boards, how can we make sure their efforts don’t do more harm than good? Here are five suggestions, grounded in your comments and my own experience as a grant seeker, grant maker, and nonprofit-board nerd. READ MORE

Finding Your Funding Model
Bloggers: Peter Kim, Gail Perreault, & William Foster
Brief Description: Many nonprofit leaders seek reliable funding but are not sure how best to pursue it. Four guidelines provide a road map for leaders to identify and develop the right funding model for their organization. READ MORE

Budgets are lousy financial plans
Kate Barr, executive director, Nonprofits Assistance Fund
Brief Description:
Kate Barr stresses the need for strategic financial plans to balance money and mission. READ MORE


Shared Leadership Might Trump Succession Plans
Blogger: Kate Barr, executive director, Nonprofits Assistance Fund
Brief Description: Shared leadership is one approach to strengthening organizations by distributing authority and responsibility broadly. Kate Barr focuses on shared leadership as a method to strengthen organizations, especially in the event of losing key staff. READ MORE

Don’t Let Conventional Measurement Wisdom Fragment Your Impact
Blogger: Matthew Forti, manager, Bridgespan Group
Brief Description: Social impact bonds. Pay for success. Evidence-based funding. Investing in what works. To what do we owe this explosion of “pay-or-performance” funding models? Most of the rhetoric is some variant of: “There are too many ineffective and inefficient nonprofits getting funding and not really having any impact.” While this may be too strong a statement, research clearly shows that many nonprofits lack the resources, expertise, and conviction to continuously measure and improve their programs. READ MORE

The Contagion of Leadership
Blogger: Justin Menkes, consultant at Spencer Stuart, and the author of Better Under Pressure (Harvard Business Review Press)
Brief Description: One of the most critical tasks leaders have in today’s stressful business environment is to channel their emotions and reactions in a way that does not hinder their people’s progress. Every great leader has “selves” that are not his or her best, selves that in particular contexts can emerge and dominate. To combat this, you need to place the needs of the organization and its people above your own impulses. READ MORE

Case Study: Using Strategic Thinking in Cross Cultural Situations
Blogger: Dr. Mai Moua, president, Leadership Paradigms
Brief Description: One of the basic tenets of culture is that it consists of levels and sublevels. It is useful to think about culture in terms of five basic levels: national, regional, organizational, team, and individual. Within each of these levels are tangible and intangible sublevels of culture. Cultural Intelligence helps you to understand at the different levels of culture at play. Additionally, CI can be useful in helping you to break down habitual patterns of thoughts. READ MORE



Use Technology for Innovation in Human Service Delivery
Bloggers: Amy Wagner of MAP and Laura Quinn of Idealware
Brief Description: MAP is working on an exciting research project to pave the way for nonprofits to use technology for service innovation in a manner that advances their missions. Our partner in this work is Idealware, a nonprofit that helps other nonprofits make smart software decisions. We’re embarking on some detailed research, including a survey, interviews and in-depth case studies to understand how human service organizations are using technology to innovate and improve their service delivery — and the factors that help them succeed in this area. READ MORE

The San Diego Social Innovation Trust
Blogger: Meredith McNair, The Abundant Community
Brief Description: One of the greatest hindrances to solving a community’s social issues is a disconnect between its public, private and philanthropic sectors. Last April, San Diego consulting firm Harder+Company Community Research and a small group of community leaders initiated a project to spur collaboration between these sectors. The group’s founders hope to establish a “culture of collaboration and creativity” in which businesses, foundations and non-profit organizations work together to become more efficient, effective and innovative. READ MORE

Financing Not Fundraising: 5 Lies to Stop Telling Donors
Blogger: Nell Edgington, president, Social Velocity
Brief Description: In part 11 of our ongoing blog series, Financing Not Fundraising, we are talking about being brutally honest with your donors. If nonprofits are going to truly break free from the vicious fundraising cycle, they must find the courage to tell funders how it really is. And since board members are a nonprofit’s closest supporters and (I hope) donors, you need to stop telling them these lies as well. READ MORE

What’s Really Needed for Innovation?
Blogger: Martin Wera, program director, Charities Review Council
Brief Description: I don’t have an answer for how to spark innovation in the nonprofit sector, much less anywhere else. But I do think there is an interesting conversation to be had around how to remove barriers to innovation – especially for the nonprofit sector – and allow creativity to flourish that I’d like to get started here. READ MORE

Nonprofit, For-profit, or Something in Between?
Blogger: Jim Fruchterman, founder & CEO, Benetech
Brief Description: The second most frequent question I get from startup social entrepreneurs is: “Should I start a nonprofit or a for-profit?” The first question is, of course, “Where can I find the money to pursue my dream of innovative social change?”