Category Archives: -By Author

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

Form 990 Can Be a Public Relations Tool

Adrianne Geiger Dumond

 

Many nonprofits consider the IRS Form 990 to be a dreary necessity at tax time. In the 2008 tax year, major revisions were made to the Form. Nonprofits have been slow to realize the impact the revisions may have for donors and the public.  The diverse information provided in the new Form is now available to the public and can be found online free at at such sites as Guidestar.org, and nccs.urban.org.

In a recent article by Michael Wyland, an author and member of the editorial advisory board for the Nonprofit Quarterly, Wyland points out the advantages to providing accurate and complimentary information on the Form.[1] The Form displays not only financial information (assets and liabilities), but also facts that address governance, programs, and fundraising. His article shows a breakdown of the Form with its schedules and functional area relevance, because not every nonprofit completes the same schedules. However, he points out that most of the 990 parts and schedules still address the multiple categories of governance, programs, and fundraising.

As Wyland notes,”not all organizations complete all parts of the Form, and not all file each and every schedule. For example, while most 501(c)(3) public charities must file Schedule B (Schedule of Contributions), it is considered confidential and not disclosed to the public. Private foundations, on the other hand, must disclose and make it publicly available.”

Never the less, ALL Form 990’s do reveal to the public governance (governing bodies and management, policies, and disclosures), programs, and fundraising. A potential donor may look for efficiencies and financial data, but still seek the charity that meets his/her passion for a particular service or need. A potential volunteer may consider who manages the organization and where they can fit in. It is important for all nonprofit staffs and boards to be aware of the public exposure, but also the opportunity to be more advantageously promoted to the public.

[1] Your 990: What Nonfinancial Matters Does It Reveal to the Media and the Public, Michael Wyland, Nonprofit Quarterly, November 17, 2017

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

Leading From Behind

Karen Haren

 

 

One of the biggest challenges nonprofit Executive Directors report is having effective boards. Effective boards don’t just happen, they are developed and supported by effective Executive Directors. The Executive Director leads the board from behind ensuring the board is prepared to fulfill the it’s role in governing the organization.  Here are 5 key responsibilities of ED.

  1. Build a strong partnership with the board chair. Keep the chair informed of any issues.  There should be no surprises between these two partners.
  2. See that officers and board members are oriented and trained. Spell out expectations, provide background on roles, structure of the organization, mission, programs, fund raising, finances, strategic plan, successes and challenges etc.
  3. Prepare for board meetings. Develop an annual strategic agenda calendar for board meetings. Draft the board agenda and discuss with board chair, prepare background materials for actions that the board is being requested to take, distribute packet to board members one week before the meeting. Consider having a web page for board members with bylaws, board minutes, board calendar, meeting materials etc.
  4. Ensure the organization has a strategic plan. Annual plans, budgets, and staff performance plans all flow from the strategic plan. Present a dashboard at each board meeting that shows the board where you are in achieving the targets in the strategic plan.
  5. Ensure there is a performance management process for the ED. The criteria for the review as well as the process and time line should be spelled out at the beginning of the fiscal year.  Compensation and an annual raise should be tied to the performance review process.

While the ED may not be the individual who completes all of these tasks, it is important that the ED ensures that these tasks are accomplished.  Leading from behind ensures an effective governing board.

Author:  Karen Haren, Executive Coaches of Orange County, www.ECofOC.org

New Year Invites Reflection and Evaluation

Michael Kogutek, nonprofit management coach

Michael Kogutek

 

On behalf of all the coaches at Executive Coaches of Orange County, we want to wish you and your family a Happy New Year. May it be blessed with good health, peace and happiness. We at ECofOC are grateful that our 115+ clients have chosen to turn to us for individual coaching or for our Executive Director Forum (32 members), or for both.

For the past 15 years, we have been living our mission of helping nonprofit leaders  and managers become more effective, efficient and successful so their organizations can do more of their good work in our community.

The new year offers a time for us to pause and take an inventory of where we have been and set new goals for the future. The services of ECofOC may provide you an opportunity to move forward and up your game. Change  needs to be met with accountability.

Coaching  provides a  one-on-one relationship to nonprofit leaders. Our coaches help managers set specific goals and solve difficult issues from a nonjudgmental perspective in a confidential setting. Coaching can address virtually any nonprofit management issue, including board development, fundraising, outreach, leadership, management, finance, IT and HR issues, personal development and career planning.

Our Executive Director Forum is comprised of 10 to 12 executive directors facilitated by two experienced ECofOC coaches in monthly meetings using a proven process to guide the group to practical solutions for issues brought to the table by each participant. These sessions allow executive directors to test ideas and work though issues with a group of their peers.

We  hope you will consider getting a coach. If you are a manager with a non-profit organization in Orange County, you can apply here at www.ecofoc.org. The price is right; it is FREE! Our team of coaches are prepared to take you where you want and dream to go. The moment and power of change is now!!

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

 

Changing Leadership Skills for the Promotion

Adrianne Geiger Dumond

 

Even good leaders often face uncertainty when they consider what skills need changing in the new job. In a recent newsletter published by the Center for Creative Leadership, they present four (4) important attributes to consider: Self- Awareness, Communications, Influence, and Learning Agility. The premise is that these skills vary depending on the job level in the organization.[1]

Self Awareness: This knowledge may be the most important for the accomplishment of all the skills. For example, do you lead intuitively, deliberately, or strategically and to what degree? If you move from an operational level to a management level, will you need to think strategically and how do you get there? Self-assessment instruments and feedback surveys provide this kind of knowledge so a person can use his/her strengths effectively and make adjustments to the weaknesses. ECOC has coaches skilled in this process and are able to assist in the planning and execution of this process.

Communications: Communications becomes more complex as one moves up the ladder. It is basic to success at many job levels, but requires a different perspective in a larger role. This is especially true if a new boss has been a peer before. Different skills may be building trust, encouraging discussion, listening well, and conveying the vision, mission, and strategic intent.

Influence: Now you need to bring people along and influence their thinking, align the actions of others, and build commitment to achieve measureable outcomes. Again, it is wise to know one’s style of doing this so that adjustments can be made, if necessary. New skills required may be: presenting logical and compelling arguments, more focus on steering long-range objectives, giving insight, inspiration and motivation.

Learning Agility: Being constantly open to learning provides the confidence it takes to learn new skills. “ Learning agility involves asking good questions, respect for give-and-take, listening well, and being open to feedback. For senior leaders, learning agility also includes inspiring learning in others and creating a culture of learning throughout the organization.”[2]

[1] “Leading Effectively”, The Center for Creative Leadership, September 29, 2017.

[2]  Ibid.

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

Giving Employees Feedback

Dave Blankenhorn

 

Do you believe you know how to give employees proper feedback? Do they learn and develop from your assessment?

If you believe you could do better think about some new ways to become more effective. No one really likes to hear criticism but there are ways to make it more palatable and productive for the organization and the employee.

When giving negative feedback decide whether it is better to do so immediately when you see the problem or at the time of more comprehensive review. No matter the approach when you give negative feedback be specific. While there is no need to bring up every single time the employee has erred it should be detailed enough that the employee clearly understands your concerns and sets the stage for a solution.

As part of this tie the comments into the employee’s values and goals. For example, If the behavior causes others to do more work the employee who values what others think about them will be more receptive to changing their behavior.

When giving feedback maintain a neutral voice and watch your body language. Yelling is counterproductive. Being calm sends the message that you are there for constructive purposes, that it is part of the normal business world.

Be specific about the solution. Be sure you have a remedy in mind before talking with the employee but before you do so ask the employee if they might have a solution to the problem. If it matches yours so much the better.

Lastly infuse any criticism with words of encouragement and praise for what they are doing well. This is a coaching opportunity to build confidence, communicate respect, and hopefully build a better relationship with the employee.

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

Improving Board Governance: Part 3

Adrianne Geiger Dumond

 

The role of the CEO/Executive Director: Barriers and Risks

I have spoken in past blogs of the importance of a ‘generative mindset’ for enhancing the importance of Board governance. Generative mindset encompasses a macro level of thinking for Board meetings. There is a risk when Board members are confortable with a less strenuous mode of thinking. They may be uncomfortable with the new mode. It may take some time for Board members to accept and participate easily.

Perhaps the most important role for success is by the CEO/Executive Director (ED).  The ED is the primary conduit between staff and Board (as should be defined in the by-laws). The ED is responsible for educating the Board – to improve governance – and is accountable for the knowledge and information the Board receives. The ED also controls the pace of meetings so they are useful as well as informative – and this is an important necessity. Meetings can drag on, lots of talk, little new understanding or resolution on next steps.

Meeting guidelines for the CEO/ED:

  • In a separate meeting, beforehand, brief the Board chair, explain your goals so that he/she can support your quest.
  • Explain how governance is a partnership – between ED, staff, and Board.
  • Prepare and select carefully the project/subject for which the Board can provide guidance.
  • Encourage Board members to ask more questions than statements – challenging suppositions.
  • Ensure that nothing is “undiscussable” in the board room, and assure confidentiality.
  • Encourage different opinions.
  • Share information and leadership opportunities – asking questions can prove this to members.
  • Control discussion where a member dominates – one way to do this is to say,  “Sam, in the interest of time, let’s meet after the meeting to hear your viewpoint so that others can express their opinions here more openly”.
  • Don’t be too wedded to the past, but also not too far ahead of the Board.

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