Tag Archives: Organization

10 Ways To Make Your Executive Search Successful

Executive Search Candidate10. Set a salary scale that is appropriate both to the job and to the market in which the executive search is being conducted. No one wants to overpay a candidate. But your pool of qualified applicants will diminish with each step down the ladder from the appropriate salary range. In many cases, you are going to be attempting to convince a candidate to leave a position in which he/she may be quite comfortable. An under-market salary will preclude viable candidates from even considering your organization.

9. Remember that you are selling your organization as much as the candidate is selling him/herself. Why should this candidate choose you if there are three possibilities on the horizon? If you have a culture of flexible hours, great benefits or a variety of growth opportunities, the interview is the time to highlight these aspects of your organization. Gone are the days when candidates wait for the offer to see the full benefits your human resources department will offer.

8. Set an hour aside for each candidate. Reserve an hour of your time for each interview. The candidate is taking time out of his or her busy schedule. The worst that can happen is that you may waste an hour of your time. However, if you engage a search firm in the first place, then, you will not have to see as many potentials before finding the new-hire of your dreams.

7. Interviewers review the candidate’s resume before and after the interview. This may seem obvious, but it is remarkable how many times an interviewer is first reading a resume at the interview. You are busy, but so is the job seeker. Show respect, and that your organization cares, by knowing the candidate’s background prior to the interview. Immediately after, write notes, when your impressions of the candidate will still be “top of mind.”

Choose a search firm for its knowledge of your field and its ability to find qualified candidates. Mersky, Jaffe & Associates does not throw resumes at a client to give the illusion that there is a huge pool of candidates from which to choose. We only send highly qualified candidates. If we do our job, you see fewer candidates not more.

5. Remain open-minded to candidates. There must be a level of trust in order to make the search firm-client relationship work. If the firm presents candidates, do not listen to hearsay about the candidate, do not do a partial online search and expect that you know everything there is to know about the candidate, and do not assume the person is not qualified. You should give each candidate a fair chance.

4. Be prepared for candidates who do their own due diligence. A strong candidate will research and probe into the pros and cons of the position as much as the organization is probing his/her background – if not more. Have your house in order. Do a web search of your organization. What face are you presenting to the outside world? On a side note, prospective donors will often do the same thing before contributing money.

3. Return feedback in a timely manner to the executive search firm. You may want to run your thoughts by a few co-workers or board members before making a decision, but a good candidate doesn’t last long on the market. He/she may be interviewing at multiple organizations and no matter how strong the opportunity may be; an offer in hand is definitely worth more than 2 in possibilities. By working with your executive search counsel, you will be able to continue the communications with those candidates who still interest you and allow those who do not to pursue other opportunities.

2. Interviewers listen to the candidates. There is no doubt that you should sell your organization to the candidate. But, as the interviewer, you should not do the majority of talking. You are there to ask questions and offer the candidate a place to learn about you and your agency. If you are talking too much, it is easy to lose sight of the reason you are there; to find out about the candidate. And, astute candidates will feel that if they were to come to work with you, they may never be able to get a word in edgewise.

1. Understand the limitations of your organization and the position. Knowing your agency, its place in the market and the place in the organization where the position fits, will allow you to set realistic expectations of the candidates that you see. Believing you are the New England Patriots and can get a coach like Bill Belichick, when you are a rural high school will only set you up for disappointment.

Want to read another of MJA’s 10 Essential Articles?  Click here.

Note: this post was originally published in 2006






10 Pieces of Paper That Will Strengthen Your Nonprofit

  1. Documents to Strengthen Your NonprofitVolunteer packet – Volunteers can be incredibly useful when it comes to ways to strengthen your nonprofit and incredibly time consuming.  Automate some of the systems by creating a packet for volunteers.  You can learn about their interests, explain your priorities and areas of need, and establish a standardized set parameters for all involved. Specifics can be worked out once you understand where their enthusiasm lies but this will help you avoid the initial in-take from becoming a time-suck.
  2. Your calendar – plan out your day – Yes, this may be on your computer or phone, but consider – what are you going to accomplish today?  If you fall from one reactive exercise to another, you will never move forward enough to strenthen your nonprofit.  Schedule a time to answer emails, attend meetings and return calls.  But also schedule your focused work time.  And be somewhat firm about it.  You don’t want to anger your co-workers, but ultimately, you are responsible to do your work and you have to find the time to do it.
  3. Personalized office stationery – The costs are relatively low but the benefits can be extremely high. You can use it to write a personal note to one donor a day for the next month. Thank someone for the great conversation last week.  Add a personal note into an invite for an upcoming event.  You may not have the time to make 28 additional coffee meetings this month, but how can you resist a way to touch 28 people when it only takes 5 minutes per person?
  4. Board manual – If you don’t have one, you should.  This is the place were expectations from time commitments to fiduciary responsibilities are clearly stated.  A clear picture of the organization is offered.  And the formality reminds both parties of the nature of the relationship – a business partnership.
  5. Strategic plan – If you don’t know where you want to be in the next 2-5 years, how can you explain it to anyone?  A set document, even if it always remains a work-in-progress, will ensure everyone is focusing on the same goals and help strengthen your nonprofit.
  6. Board-approved job descriptions – Often, when a board complains that they love the ED but there are major items not getting done, it is simply a matter of conflicting priorities.  In many organizations, leadership is overworked so, for your sake and theirs, get on the same page. Whether you think major donor stewardship should be 20% or 70% of the time commitment – make sure you all agree.  Or be ready to be continually disappointed.
  7. Fundraising collateral materials – Too obvious?  Maybe, but having the right materials at hand can be helpful when introducing anyone – donors, new staff, volunteers, etc. – to the organization.
  8. Donor strategies – I was hesitant to put this on the list because it is usually a print out and not a set paper documents but it would seem to be missing the mark if it was not included.  Individualized donor strategies, including upcoming steps, should be reviewed and acted upon on a continual basis.  If this is not yet a part of your day/week/month, pull out your calendars mark it in red.  This is essential.
  9. Case statement – If you have a case for giving – use it.  Make the calls, get the appointments, and don’t miss a great tool to speak with your potential and current donors.  Get them on board with the organization’s focus, and money will always follow.
  10. Your to do list – Motivate yourself to do something new today.  Get one project started that has been on your list for more than a week (month or even year).  You will feel good when you cross it off, or when you determine the reason it was such a low priority is that it wasn’t worth much and should come off of your list anyway.

Want to see other lists that can help your nonprofit?

Attention Board Members: 2 of 3 W’s Is Not Enough

Knowing How to Listen Can Improve Fundraising

How do you improve your solicitation, acknowledgement, and stewardship systems?

Note: this post was originally published in 2010












Nonprofit Lessons from Beyoncé

Beyonce's nonprofit lessonsThis past weekend Super Bowl Sunday came and went with the usual conversation about the MVPs, the ads and my daughters’ favorite part – the halftime show. We, like many millions of viewers, watched the musical interlude, singing along with a couple of Coldplay songs, a Bruno Mars favorite with a brief mix of a Beyoncé reference and a song that we had never heard of and couldn’t quite hear. I did notice the difference between the sunny, flowery Coldplay and the urban feel of the other two singers but whether it was my TV’s sound or the sound mix on the stage, the imagery was what we noticed, not the lyrics.

Apparently, we missed Beyoncé’s moment of change. While she has been highlighting women’s rights recently, her new song is about the Black South. And it is causing controversy. Some, including former New York City mayor and Republican Presidential candidate, Rudy Giuliani, say it is anti-police (with references to Black Lives Matter, the Black Panthers and Malcolm X). Her haters have called it ironic since she was escorted and protected by the police at every step of her Super Bowl appearance (click here to view the story in the Washington Post). Others think she is using her platform to bring light to her agenda (you can watch her video as well as read some additional thoughts from NPR by clicking here).

Whether you agree or disagree with her politics, making major changes evokes reactions. This is true for Beyoncé, Rudy Giuliani, and even your nonprofit.

There are times when change is deemed necessary by some and, not surprisingly, your donors, board members, volunteers, constituents, and/or other supporters will not all agree. But, that doesn’t mean you should back down if you believe a shift is necessary. And that is how this superstar is helping offer nonprofit lessons.

Whether you are considering altering the mission of a long-standing organization, “going against” the older generation of supporters to initiate a new capital campaign, or simply revamping the branding and marketing, you will most likely cause some supporters to bristle. And while there is no simple way to alleviate their concerns, there are a few ways to keep the peace.

  1. If you know there will be opposition, include some of the opposition from the onset of the process. The naysayers may never agree, but they are more likely to understand how the decision became reality if they are able to voice their opinions from the start and learn why the process is moving forward in the new direction.
  2. Listen to the real argument, not just the heat they generate when they speak. Don’t keep trying to convince someone that your way is the right way. Consider whether their opposition to the new branding is caused by a fear of change, a fear of the different direction it seems in which the organization is heading or because their best friend worked on the original logo and design work. All three may be valid points, but if you are too busy talking to listen, you will never alter perceptions.
  3. Understand that you may lose some supporters. You never want to consider the loss of a donor or volunteer, but sometimes, progress can only get made when someone bows out and admits defeat. Ideally, this will be handled in a way that does not generate anger, but sometimes, even that is unavoidable.

Catalysts of change, by their nature cause reactions. Your goal, as a representative of a nonprofit, and in life, should be to control the response in such a way that the outcome is positive and the loss of support is minimized. And, to hope that the new direction (building, branding, or mission) brings in additional support. Hopefully, you will feel as Beyoncé does, that the ends justify the means, even if she loses some fans in the process.

Working in a Committee | Nonprofit Board Volunteering

,Agreement in nonprofit committee imageIf you are involved in a nonprofit, as staff, board member or volunteer, you are probably working in a committee, or three.  And whether you spend your time on an executive committee, building committee, development committee or nominating/governance committee you are sitting with other people thinking the same thing you are: 1 – how can we achieve our goals and 2 – what is the least amount of time I can spend on this committee.

This is not to say that everyone is trying to rush through each meeting.  People are happier sitting on a committee when they feel efficient and effective.

What can you do to assure efficiency and efficacy on your board committees?

  1. Have an agenda for each and every meeting.  Even the smallest meeting can get off track unless you remind everyone why they are there.
  2. Prepare and send materials ahead of time. We’ve said it beforem, and we say it again (and again). Sending documents ahead of time – at least a few days and up to a week – allows participants the opportunity to read and consider the information prior to the meeting. In other words, you can move forward instead of wasting half of each meeting having everyone read the materials and get up to speed.
  3. Unless you are a tight timekeeper and consistent taskmaster, allow some give in your schedule. Whether you do this by providing for a “new business” section at the end of a meeting or giving afew agenda items an extra five minutes is up to you. But, if you want to end on time, pad the agenda a bit.
  4. Start and end on time. If people are consistently walking into a meeting that has started, they will start coming earlier. Avoid the extra conversations that happen with each new arrival. If the meetings consistently run over the stated end time without valid reasons, people will take it to mean that the committee chair does not value their time and leave with a less than positive experience.
  5. Evaluate each meeting:
    • Did we start and end on time?
    • Were we accomplish what we planned to achieve?
    • Did everyone participate and have an opportunity to be heard?
  6. Ask for input.  Once a year, ask the board/committee to submit–in writing–what they think the goals should be for the upcoming year.  This will create interesting dialogue and ensure everyone has mutual goals. Why should it be in writing?  Not everyone feels comfortable making a verbal stand. And, asking for their thoughts in writing encourages each person to think about their response instead of giving off-the-cuff remarks.
  7. Remember to look for new members on a regular basis. As the years go by, it is easy to say, “These five people on this committee work.” But, new energy will ensure new thinking and help get committees out of a rut – even if they didn’t know they were in one.

Once you establish some of these “best practices” into your routine, they will become second nature to your organization. And it will make committee members feel like they are helping the success of the organization. And that is always a good feeling.

10 Tips For Getting Organized In Your Office This Fall

Getting organized - Your ducks in a rowAs I was looking at a recent school supply list, I saw the word organizer. It occurred to me that this fall, my 3rd grade twins are not the only ones who should be considering some additional organization.

I have been in my new home for two years and I now have a better idea of how I work in my home office but in those two years I have only modified my space to work decently, but never fully re-vamped it to help myself become more productive.

Here are my top 10 tips for getting organized this fall:

  1. Remember that you are not trying to boil the ocean. I recently heard that phrase for the first time and was struck by the thought of how many times a person looks at a project and makes it seem so large that he or she doesn’t know where to start.  Take an hour this week and see what you can do to make yourself feel more organized. Did that make a dent or do you need to make it two hours next week to feel that you have made a difference. What ever you choose – mark it in your calendar as an important meeting that must be rescheduled immediately.
  2. Continue spending the time on organizing after you achieve your goal. After you congratulate yourself on cleaning up your office, consider the fact that maintenance of a system is the only way to keep papers out of piles in the long term. But, just like in other aspects of your life, a little slip up doesn’t mean you need to give up.  Sometimes you need to do it again and again to get yourself into the habit.
  3. Establish a “To Do” System for getting organized. I divide paperwork into priorities
    1. “To Do” (the pieces I want to go through everyday,
    2. “Soon” (which I try to look at every other week or whenever things slow a bit),
    3. “For ___(fill in the blank of the person who you often have documents for but get lost in the piles)___,”
    4. “To File (everything that doesn’t fall into one of the original categories usually can be filed away for future reference or placed in the recycling bin).

Different people use different systems but there is no one who is truly ready to be focused on getting organized who doesn’t use a system that is personalized to their needs.

  1. Recycle or shred documents on a regular basis. Hard copies of documents are becoming obsolete. Computers help you store and access documents as easily as any file room so consider what does and does not have to be kept on a regular basis. Sometimes, it can be as simple as considering whether or not you are the only person in charge of this information. For instance, if you are a committee member, do you need to keep copies of the agendas from each meeting?  Probably not. If someone needs a copy of something they will go to the committee chair not an individual member for the official record. If you are keeping it for your own reference, consider what is useful and what is extraneous and how the useful pieces should be stored.
  2. Don’t go out to buy new storage items until you know exactly how you will use them. It is easy to get seduced by the clean pictures in a catalog or online site but that doesn’t mean you will use any of it in your office. Use old folders to start your systems and then count how many fun colored packs you need. Sit at your desk each day and determine whether you would prefer to lay your folders down on the desk, see them vertical in an open holder or hidden away in a file drawer. Each person’s way of getting organized looks different.
  3. Consider your time in the same way you consider your paperwork. If you know you often get an hour of “unexpected” phone calls each day – plan for that as much as you can. Perhaps it is as simple as allowing for four 15-minute breaks throughout the day that can be used for what ever comes up.
  4. Create a calendar system that works for you. Does your smart phone work as a reminder for you or do you need to look at a spiral bound calendar? Do you respond to your own notes on dry-erase wall calendar or do you constantly look at the exotic bird calendar from the bookstore? You may have to try out a few different systems to see what works, but if two weeks go by and you have missed a meeting – try a different method of reminding yourself.
  5. This is one you might not like, but avoid taking personal calls on business hours. Yes, we all need to blow off a bit of steam, but an hour call to a sister or friend can easily suck up an hour of time that will leave you behind schedule and feeling frantic and disorganized.
  6. Take Control. No matter which system you use, remember that you are in charge, not the paperwork, phone calls, or general clutter.  You have to choose to make yourself more organized. If hiring a professional organizer will help you through the process, go ahead but he/she is not going to be able to go through the paper on your desk. You are still going to have to look at it and decide what to do with it. So set the time and just do it.
  7. Remember the pay off. Feeling organized will save you time and make you happier. And is there really a better pay off than that?

Contingency Plans

Nonprofit contingency pie imageRecently, I was with an organization that was concerned about a budgetary deficit for 2009. They were confronting questions like, “What if we have fewer members this year?” And, “How will we handle our finances if we have to offer services to 10% more people with no additional funds in sight?” Essentially, the question they were asking was – how can you know if you are heading towards trouble when so many aspects of fundraising and financial security are dependent on others? The answer is a contingency plan.

A contingency plan should be part of your strategic plan. And that plan should include the expectation that the finance committee or the Executive Director should monitor performance, particularly in volatile times. A healthy organization understands the need to have snapshots at set intervals to help predict major changes before it is too late to do anything about them.

How Does It Work?
In its essence, you determine if by Month X, we are down Y%, we need to do Z. Z is not necessarily something you ever want to do, but may be essential to keep the organization afloat. This means, if you normally raise 30% of your annual funds through a direct mail campaign in April to pay for operating costs, you might say, “If by May 31st we have less than 24% or our necessary annual funds, we will need to reduce 20 administrative staff hours per month.

There is no doubt that reducing the hours would affect the efficiency of the organization and add to the workload of other people who already feel taxed. But, this may be determined as the best way to reduce costs while keeping everyone employed and maintaining programs and services. Tough measures for tough times.

These “if, thens” are not random thoughts on what you might do if you think you need help. These are concrete measures to avoid a large shortfall at the end of the year. In addition, these plans can avoid forcing you to make more drastic decisions at a later time when you have eliminated many of the possible options available to you if you had seen the specific concern sooner.

A deficit in April will not be aided by hoping your November campaign raises an extra 6%. Those additional results could come, but only with a major shift in the way you run your campaign and you had better determine a precise method to increase those numbers. And if you know of a precise way to increase your numbers by 6% – it’s probably worth doing before you need a contingency plan put into action.

What You Should Know
Time. Creating a contingency plan is time-consuming. There are no ifs, ands or buts about it. You can hire a consultant to aide you in this (like Mersky, Jaffe & Associates), have board members take it on, or have your CFO or bookkeeper help but it will take time.

Who Should Create The Plan?
A person (or people) leading the endeavor should understand the organization and the budget, know the meaning of objectivity and possess a bit of creativity. It is one thing to say we need to cut $40,000 from operating costs and another to say we can cut $30,000 by eliminating two paid internships in exchange for ones that offer college credit, and one program that serves less than one percent of your population. Everyone’s goals should be to retain as much of the organization as possible without sending you down the path of desperation.

You Can’t Do It In A Bubble
All decisions will require the buy-in of everyone involved. This includes the board, senior staff, the development team, even some major donors. If a donor were to hear about budget cuts through the grapevine, instead of a meeting explaining what has happened and why, they may decide you are desperate and worry that their investment in your organization may be wasted. That, of course, would only compound the problem.
Uncertainty Breeds Fear. The reality of the situation should not be forgotten. You are doing this because in an uncertain economic climate you want to ensure the longevity of the organization. You may need to be a bit more bare bones for a few years, but it will ensure that you will still be around serving the public for years to come.

You’ve Got email by Jordana of Live Organized

Jordana of Live OrganizedSo your desk is clear, your files are color-coded, and your emails are….? Just because your desktop is spotless and your files are neatly sorted, doesn’t necessarily mean that your e-mail inbox follows suit. Take a minute and open your email inbox. What do you see? Are there hundreds of subject lines staring you in the face? Or is your inbox completely empty, with neatly labeled folders waiting to store the inevitable influx of messages? Many people don’t spend so much time organizing their emails – in part because they just don’t know how! Pendaflex file folders can’t solve the problem this time, so what will?

This month, attack the inbox.

1. Set a Date. Designate a specific time (or times) everyday to check your mail, so you’re not constantly distracted throughout your day every time a new message pops up.

2. Skim Now, Act Later. So you’re sitting in front of your computer screen and you’re immediately overwhelmed by the countless number of emails that appear before you. Take a few deep breaths. You do not need to decide what to do with all of them now. For thirty minutes, skim through the emails and transfer the ones that require you to take immediate action or make important decisions to an action folder. Once that’s done, step away for a little while and come back to the action folder only once you’re feeling a bit more relaxed.

3. To Save or Not to Save. Evaluate why you’re saving the emails you choose to save. Sentimental reasons? Pending appointments? Business information? Ask yourself if you’re really going to access the information in the next week? Month? Year? If the answer is no for all of the above, chuck it. This is what I like to call cyber clutter. Online or offline, clutter still exists. It can come in all forms – paper just being one of them. The ultimate goal is to have an empty (or near-empty) inbox.

4. Say Goodbye to Spam. Want to get rid of junk emails? Here’s what to do. Open one of the emails, scroll to the bottom and click on unsubscribe. Somehow or another, your email got on a list, and you – and your inbox – want you off of it ASAP. Also make sure to run virus scans regularly.

5. Commit to Two Addresses,business and personal. If you find that you’re checking three different personal email accounts, do yourself – and your friends – a favor, and cut it down to one. This way, everyone will know what email you’re really checking, and you’ll only have one to check.

For more information on Jordana, Live Organized or how to receive free organizing tips, visit www.liveorganized.com.

Q. What is the best way to involve board and staff in a collaborative strategic planning process?

Board Staff Collaboration imageA. It is essential to the success of any strategic planning process—in fact, any aspect of the organization’s endeavor—to have an effective partnership of lay leadership and staff. As strategic planning process is the opportunity to determine the direction of the agency for the next few years. And this is the time for the lay leadership to participate to the fullest or live with the choices of others.

An organized process will open up many opportunities for involvement. An initial meeting should start with the end in mind. The objective is to determine what the organization might aspire to become as well as the methodology by which the agency will achieve that vision.

At some point in the process, you might divide into small groups to develop goals, strategies and tactics. But at other times, you will want the energy of the entire planning team to articulate the shared vision and assess the situation of the agency and the environment in which you function.

There needs to be someone in charge of the entire process, someone to facilitate the brainstorming sessions as well as coordinate the work plan for each of the small groups. You also have to identify someone who will gather and interpret the collective information as well as write the report. Moreover, the process requires someone to schedule and recruit people to come to meetings. Here is your reminder to play to people’s strengths and interests in addition to helping retain their interest and involvement in the process.

Of course, if you need professional guidance for your strategic planning process, Mersky, Jaffe & Associates is available to help. Just give us a call to schedule a consultation.

Planning The Plan

Planning the plan imageRedundancy jokes aside, do you have a plan for your plan? Whether you are about to embark on a strategic plan, a marketing plan or an operational plan, you will need to develop a clear path—towards a successful strategy that can be implemented.

The basics of an overall design are the same, no matter what you want to achieve. Any plan should include:

* The Goal
* Necessary Resources
* Paths of Communication
* Accountability vs. Blame

The Goal
Write it out and have all parties sign off on it. This is the time to disagree about the precise purpose and, ultimately, find a common ground that everyone is willing to work towards.

In case you missed it in the paragraph above – have everyone sign off on it. Yes, require that every one who has a say in the project will physically sign all relevant documents.

There may be an issue as to whether emails are legal documents, questions as to whether verbal conversations occurred in the way that we remember them or, even, if an office conversation occurred. But we all know to read carefully and agree with every word on a page before we add our signature.

Necessary Resources
What do you need to achieve your goals? For instance, how many people will be needed at each point in the plan? Do you know who they will be? If not, where will you find them? Who will be in charge of recruiting?

In addition to human resources, now is the time to determine and allocate time and financial resources.

How much time do you need to spend on each part of the project? Time limits for each stage may result in a brochure that is not exactly perfect, but it is often worth trading perfection for progress. Just make sure that there are no typos or names misspelled.

Time limits compel everyone to focus on the task within the time allowed. If a team-member is unable to work on an aspect of the project within the agreed upon time frame, then, they cannot have a say, after the fact. You must be absolutely clear that they cannot go back to change previous decisions because they do not like what the group has done. Remember that in the end, it is a group decision.

The financial goals may morph as the details of the plan emerge, but know ahead of time what it will take to hire a consultant, architect, etc… and where and how you feel your funds would be best spent.

Again, let’s stress the point – all members of the leadership team – whether they are staff or volunteer must agree on these essential elements before you begin to get worker bees to help achieve your goals. Mixed messages will only create chaos.

Paths of Communication
When you need to make decisions, how will they be made and by whom? As consultants, we have been privy to see the 14 emails it takes to determine which logo should be used on a case statement. Do you want each decision to be determined by everyone on the committee? Who has the final say? Can there be a point person to whom each opinion can be sent. If a decision becomes controversial, how will you handle it (e.g. take a vote or table the decision until you meet in person)? Who is in charge of ensuring you stay on track? Answer these types of questions before they come up in the heat of battle.

Accountability vs. Blame
The difference between accountability and blame could be the difference between the success or failure of your project. Something will not go as planned –it is one of the immutable laws of nature. The question is, do you look for a scapegoat or a new solution.

A person who is accountable and responsible will come to a meeting with alternatives to the original plan. If he/she knows there is going to be blame, he/she may not even show up. In addition, when you are talking about volunteers, accountability introduces a sense of ownership among all participants and helps keep a project on track. Committee co-chairs can divide responsibilities only between themselves or share them all with every member of the team. Just know who is in charge of every aspect—decide in advance where the buck stops.

Good luck on your next plan.

Q. How do you keep the Board from micro-managing the Committees’ work?

Micro managing board imageA. A micro-managing board, whether focused on committee or staff work, is an all-too-frequent occurrence in the nonprofit sector, albeit, not in many well-functioning organizations. For committee members (or staff) to feel empowered, and to want to do a good job, they need the authority and responsibility to succeed or fail on their own. Theoretically, committee members were carefully chosen because of their particular talents – it is important to allow them to use their skills.

But, perhaps this is not an answer as much as a sign of empathy. The answer is for the committee chair to request some time at the next board meeting and ask the board for goals, timelines and any recommendations for implementation. Explain that as the committee chair, it is important to empower the committee and allow them to demonstrate their strengths. These committee members are potential future board members and this is one of the ways to determine in which areas the individuals could be assets for the organization as well as test their level of commitment and ability to follow through.

If the board insists acting as a committee of the whole and “re-litigating” each committee decision, then, include a board member on the committee, allow them to be part of the process and thus allow the board to be represented. In all probability, there are only a few board members that feel the need to be a part of every decision in a particular committee. By including one board member on the committee, you are giving the Board comfort that the committee will not run amok. The challenge will be to enable the committee and its members to “show its stuff.”