Category Archives: -By Author

Are You Prepared? The Breach of Data Security

Adrianne Geiger Dumond

 

 

I recently wrote about the benefits of data as a public relations tool – especially when the IRS Form 990 is available to the public. I would be remiss if I didn’t address the possibility of such data being hacked. “The philanthropy community is still catching up to the digital security needs faced by civil society” says two security experts, whose article is noted below.[1]

The article recommends four steps to take to be AWARE of the risk. They are:

  1. Commit to digital security as essential to all work. Although digital security work takes resources and energy, it is critical to keep a focus on its importance. Like fiscal responsibility and good governance, digital security needs to be part of strategic planning.
  1. Take big responsibility for big data. Organizations must take responsibility for stewarding their data seriously, or many people they serve, engaged supporters and institutions may be at risk.
  1. Prioritize “capacity building”. This means addressing the structural vulnerabilities that make it easy for an online adversary to attack the organization. This includes auditing the specific systems the organization uses to store, share, and process user data. The authors point out that individual training programs are not sufficient, since the ground is always changing. It takes focused, structural change. 
  1. See the shared threat as a call for interdependence. Digital security is a shared responsibility among funders, donors, partners, and our own customers and clients. Organizations need to be realistic about the interdependencies and work together to avoid the risks. But lastly, data security relies on a structural, system-wide focus in the organization to avoid the risk.

[1]Tackling Digital Security Across Civil Society”, Josh Levy & Katie Gillum, Stanford Social Innovation Review, April 20, 2018

Author:  Adrianne Geiger DuMond, Executive Coaches of Orange County, ECofOC.org

5 Traits of Effective Bylaws

Michael Kogutek, nonprofit management coach

Michael Kogutek

 

Bylaws can be intimidating and complicated. Benjamin Miller from the Community Legal Education Group,Ontario, Canada writes a very concise and pragmatic article on the topic.He has given me permission to reproduce this article.  No matter how good your bylaws are in theory, if they don’t get used, they aren’t effective. Here is a list of 5 key traits of bylaws that actually get used.

1) They reflect the realities of your organization. The rules and processes set out in your bylaws should reflect what you actually do as an organization. You may have read about some great practices other organizations have put in place. Even if you think that your organization should be working to put those practices in place, remember that your bylaws have to grow with you. Recommendation: You can’t draft effective bylaws simply by looking at the best practices of other organizations. You must start by learning what your organization currently does and values. If someone is writing your bylaws for you, even an expert, make sure they spend enough time familiarizing themselves with your organization.

2) They reflect the delicate balance of interests in your organization. Every organization has to balance the interests of many groups, including directors, donors, funders, members, users, and others. If your bylaws exaggerate the power of any of these groups, you are on the road to either conflict or having those rules ignored. Recommendation: Just because only a few people are actually interested in the bylaws doesn’t mean their say should count for more. You should reach out as much as you can and make consultations as fun and social as possible.

3) They are easy to navigate and read. People don’t have the time to read bylaws back to front to collect all the relevant rules for a particular decision. On the spot in a meeting, you must be able to know exactly where to look for all the relevant rules and be able to scan them quickly for the right information. Recommendation: Organize the sections of your bylaws according to how they’ll be used, e.g. AGM, Directors Meetings, etc. Use generous margins and lots of space between sections that express different ideas and topics. Have a table of contents.

4) They are written clearly and efficiently. If you can’t understand your bylaws then you can’t use them. It’s that simple. Recommendation: Make a special effort to write your bylaws in plain language.

5) They are designed for the beginner. Your bylaws need to be used by your most junior board members, who may have no previous experience with this kind of document and may represent a vulnerable community. In fact, ideally your members should be able to understand your bylaws to hold you to account. Recommendation: When writing the bylaws, ask yourself “could an average member easily use these bylaws to hold our board to account?”

Finally, remember that your bylaws also need to be legally compliant. Consult with an appropriate legal advisor to make sure your bylaws are not only useful but legal too.

*This list is based on The Drafting of Corporate Charters and Bylaws (2nd ed.) by Kurt Friedrich Pantzer. (1968).

Author:  Michael Kogutek, Executive Coaches of Orange County, www.ECofOC.org

A Guide to Succession Planning

Adrianne Geiger Dumond

 

 

Succession planning is one of the hardest activities that non-profits take the time to consider. I was recently given a document that I feel every non-profit leader should read. This is because it provides every single consideration, every step, and many resources for completing the task. It is called, ‘Building the Organizations:Succession Planning for NonProfits’, funded by the Annie E. Casey Foundation. The author is Tim Wolfred of CompassPoint Nonprofit Services (compasspoint.org).

The document is 20 pages, and I would like to just tell you some of the subjects included, in the interest of space.

  • Three ways of thinking about succession planning:
    • Strategic leader development – assuring the right skills are present for the leadership in the strategic planning process.
    • Emergency succession planning – the document does an excellent job of laying out first steps, of demystifying the hesitancy that ‘being prepared’ might engender, and providing care for the departing leader.
    • Creating the probability for successors to the Executive Director and other important leaders to emerge from your talent pool.
  • A Succession Readiness list
  • The importance of sharing knowledge – to increase bench strength
  • The nuts and bolts of Departure-Defined Succession Planning – when a leader announces a departure date ahead of time.
  • Getting the Board on board
  • The Tough Issues
  • Finding an Interim Executive Director
  • Tools You Can Use – and where to get them
    • Staff surveys
    • Stakeholder Surveys
    • A sample of an Emergency Succession Plan – with steps to how to accomplish the plan (compasspoint.org/et).

I hope this information will encourage you to consider succession planning as vital to the success and sustainability of your organization.

Author:  Adrianne Geiger DuMond, Executive Coaches of Orange County, www.ECofOC.org

“One Minute Mentoring” Book Review

Michael Kogutek, nonprofit management coach

Michael Kogutek

 

“One Minute Mentoring” Ken Blanchard & Claire Diaz-Ortiz, Harper Collins (2017)

This small and simple book packs a punch. Ken Blanchard, author of the best-selling “One Minute Manager”, and Claire Diaz-Oritz bring much wisdom to the table for managers and prospective mentors to take in. This book is for both mentors and mentees. Mentoring has been around for a long time but only recently surfaced as a leadership development tool in the business world. This book informs prospective mentors how to, including a systematic format. Blanchard talks about ways to keep the mentoring on track and focused. He explains what an initial meeting looks like for a mentor and mentee, “A successful first meeting with a potential mentor or mentee puts the personal before the tactical. The essence supersedes the form. Do your values match?? Do your personalities click?? Does the conversation flow??” The authors conclude with a discussion of comparing and contrasting the differences between coaching and mentoring. I recommend this book as a primer on mentoring and how it can be a game changer for all of us.

Author:  Michael Kogutek, Executive Coaches of Orange County, www.ECofOC.org

Managing Conflict Between Direct Reports

Adrianne Geiger Dumond

 

One of the most worrisome tasks of a manager is managing conflict between direct reports – especially when it spills over into the staff. Rather than ignoring the situation, here are some steps to take to lessen the toll on everyone, and it is a manager’s responsibility to be held accountable.

Step 1: Setting the tone for a meeting: Preparing for a meeting requires a boss to think objectively, be open-minded about rumors and accusations, look only for the facts. For example: “I have called us together today to discuss the differences you two have, to try to understand what is going on, and to see what we can agree upon going forward. I am concerned for you and how it is affecting our team. I know how committed each of you is to the mission, so I hope we can find some agreement. Are you willing to try?”

 Step 2: Fact Finding: “ I think it might be helpful if you explained what the differences or disagreements are about. I ask each of you to tell us as objectively, clearly and specifically as you can, your perspective on the conflict. Afterward, each of you may ask the other any questions you have. Who would like to go first?” (If this goes well, thank them for their openness and candor. The manager’s job at this point is to push for clarity, remain open-minded and be supportive of the effort.)

Step 3: Describing today’s agenda: “ Now let’s see if we can find some solutions. I would like each of you to think a minute, and then tell us (a) what you admire about the other person, then (b) what you would like to see them do differently, or stop doing, and (c) WHY. After each has finished this part, the other person may ask questions for clarity – no reasons yet, just questions. Are you comfortable doing this? If not, please tell us why.” (Sometimes, just reassurance from the boss – especially for confidentiality – helps the process move on.)

Step 4: Seeking Agreement: This section seeks a list of actions and behaviors that each party might subscribe to that would lessen the tension between the two.  Identify potential points of agreement and areas of disagreement. Push for possible solutions that might satisfactorily resolve the conflict in a constructive way.

Step 5: Verify Solutions: Together, select solutions that meet all parties’ needs. Remember this might require some compromises, but all are aware of the positions taken. Changes can occur as goals are set and reviewed at a later date.

Step 6: Establish an Action Plan:  Each person develops an action plan with specific actions and behaviors that both are willing to take to implement the solutions. Agree to meet again in the not too distant future to review the plan and make any adjustments. Again, thank them for helping solve the conflict and reassure them you are always available to meet further.

Author:  Adrianne Geiger DuMond, Executive Coaches of Orange County, www.ECofOC.org

Nonprofit Budgets and Forecasts

Dave Blankenhorn

 

Is the way your organization budgets and makes projections getting the job done?

If not take a look at zero based budgeting and rolling forecasts to improve the accuracy of your results.

Zero-based budgeting (ZBB) is the idea of looking at your expenses from the ground up rather than using your existing figures and adding some percentage. ZBB can reduce general and administrative costs by 10% to 25% if done right.

Another approach to think about is the use of a rolling forecast which allows continuous planning through a number of periods. For instance, if your period is a fiscal year you will always be forecasting 12 months ahead. As one month ends you will add another. You can always add more months.

Rolling forecasts are living documents allowing you to make decisions during the year based on changing information and data. Because you always have 12 months (or what whatever period you choose) you have long term data when you need it or can change your plans for the short term when circumstances demand it.

Rolling forecasts can also give you more accuracy than the traditional budget. By the time you complete a standard budget it is probably already out of date. The rolling budget is more flexible so you respond rapidly to changing conditions. As factors fluctuate you may respond accordingly. The results of adding new expenditures or adding to old ones can immediately be forecast as well as increases or decreases in income.

So if your present system is not what you want it to be give this new approach a try.

Author:  Dave Blankenhorn, Executive Coaches of Orange County, www.ECofOC.org 

Can Your Data Tell a Story?

Adrianne Geiger Dumond

 

 

 

How many of us input data, and never see it again, lacking an effective way to use it? What if the data could tell a compelling story that might inspire others to support the mission? An article on the Stanford Social Innovation Review website provides some recommendations for helping your data tell a story/[1]

 

1. Data storytellers answer a question – “so what”. I recently had a client whose services had added 20 customers for the quarter. That number had no significance until he asked some questions:

  • What percentage is 20 of our customer base?
  • How does this effect our operation?
  • Who needs to know these numbers?

Analysis of the data leads to clarity and to more questions.

2.  The data should inspire us to ask more questions.

Back to the example:

  • What factors contribute to this increase?
  • How does it effect staffing?
  • What external factors are contributing to the increase?
  • How can we portray this information graphically for social media purposes?

3.  The use of rigorous analysis is better than numbers on a page. A concise Executive Summary of the findings from the analysis is a first step.The author, Jake Porway, favors visualization of the data over raw numbers – a graph or pie chart to crystallize understanding for an audience. Porway has several websites in his article for learning more about data visualization. This may be difficult for some IT personnel. But the goal may be worth the investment in order to impress upon donors and volunteers, viewing the media source, that their service and contributions are needed and welcomed.

[1] Three Things Great Data Storytellers Do Differently,  Jake Porway, author, Stanford Social Innovation Review, June 8, 2016

Author:  Adrianne DuMond, Executive Coaches of Orange County, www.ECofOC.org

An Executive Director Describes Her Coaching Experience as Transformational

Michael Kogutek, nonprofit management coach

Michael Kogutek

 

At a recent ECofOC meeting, BB Maboby shared information about her organization and coaching experience with John Benner, an ECofOC Coach. She is the ED of the non-profit called  SmileOnU (https://www.smileonu.org).The mission is: “Beyond the basic act of eating, dental health is vital to a person’s overall health and appearance. Knowing that there are people who cannot afford to see a dentist, even when suffering from toothaches, loose teeth, or toothlessness, weighs heavily on us here at SmileOnU. Our mission is to rebuild the smiles of those in need, so that the rebuilding of their lives is that much easier.”

John has coached BB for the last three years. BB describes her coaching  experience with John:

“I remember when I first met John, I asked him why do people have coaches? He said, “because starting a non-profit on your own can be a lonely place”…

I can’t tell you how true this is. A lonely place that which words cannot describe.   It’s been almost 5 years now that I’ve started SmileOnU, a non-profit that provides dental-care to those in need. The first couple of years was all fun, I got to do whatever I wanted it was new and exciting, but then the hard reality of running a non-profit kicks in … The real stuff that keeps an organization running; growth and sustainability– and if I wanted to keep doing what I love; SmileOnU- I will have to sustained this somehow.

Now that I’ve been working with Coach John for a few years; without John’s knowing, just his presence alone that holds me accountable has been one of the most powerful forces in keeping me going at times. John’s reassurance and guidance through the tough times has helped me go through unexpected territories and hurdles of running a start-up non-profit.

John also provides perspective in areas that are uncomfortable for me, that often times holds me back from maximizing SmileOnU’s ability to grow and to serve.

One of my dreams was to be able provide dental-care around world. I’m not sure if I was able to take SmileOnU from providing dental-care domestically to internationally without John’s ability to hold space for me to think creatively and to think BIG about where I see SmileOnU’s place in the community without judgement. I’m happy to say we are now on the verge of sustaining SmileOnU.

Thank you John, for helping me with me create my dream, Sm:)eOnU “ Coaching impacts change. If you are interested in getting a coach, please visit the ECOC website for more information and to apply. The moment and power of change is now!

Author:  Michael Kogutek, Executive Coaches of Orange County, www.ECofOC.org

 

The Glossary for Nonprofit Governance

Adrianne Geiger Dumond

 

 

Many of us in the nonprofit world use terms and acronyms that may be confusing to newcomers – especially young employees trying to learn about the nonprofit as a business. I recently ran across a very useful tool for educating everyone in this business. The glossary should probably be in every manager’s office.

The Glossary is published by BoardSource and can be found under Nonprofit Board Fundamentals on their website. The glossary is alphabetized and runs five pages and has every term that is ever used in this business.

For example: have you ever wondered what the difference was between a 501(c)(3) and a 501(c)(6)? There are also simpler definitions: For example:

  •  Board Development
  •  Disclosure requirements
  •  Emeritus status
  •  Fiduciary duty
  •   Immediate sanctions
  •   Operational reserves

Possibly the most Important definitions provided for novices are the terms for IRS requirements, which can be confusing. For example:

  • Form 990
  • Form 990 – PF
  •  Form 990 – T
  •  Form 1023
  •  Form 1024
  • Or maybe a ‘Federated Organization’ ?

I recommend every nonprofit have a copy of this glossary – maybe even board members might appreciate the information.

Author:  Adrianne Geiger DuMond, Executive Coaches of Orange County, www.ECofOC.org

Writing Effective E-mails

Michael Kogutek, nonprofit management coach

Michael Kogutek

 

In this age of increasing technology, e-mail communication has become front and center. I found a terrific mini course on this subject at nonprofitready.org. It is 8 minutes long. The takeaways are: (a) avoid vague subject lines (b) Be personal  (c) Be visual (d) Be structured

(e) No big blocks of text (f) Is there a better way to communicate like phone call or in person meeting. The course advocates the use of the acronym SMART: Specific,Meaningful,Appropriate,Relevant and Thoughtful. I highly recommend the course.

I also want to endorse the website nonprofitready.org. It contains over 300 free courses to take in the NP sector. Many of the courses are from Australia, New Zealand, South Africa and Europe. One gets a global flavor of the NP world.

We at ECofOC are strong advocates of the website. The micro-learning center offers courses less than 10 minutes in duration. It is a strong resource for our coaching clients and ED Forum Members.

Author:  Michael Kogutek, Executive Coaches of Orange County, ECofOC.org