Tuesday, December 29, 2020

Equip Your Board Members: Indexes to Inspiration

Imagine receiving these texts from grateful board members:
   • “Thanks, Jennifer, for chairing another stimulating board meeting. The ‘Ten Minutes for Governance’ segment was perfect for new board members. Well done!” ๐Ÿ˜€
   • “Pedro—thank you, thank you…for asking Skip to present the Ten Minutes segment on the board member’s role in fundraising. I’ve been on the board for five years. Best. Meeting. Ever!” ๐Ÿ‘

Many boards are following the practice of investing “10 Minutes for Governance” in every board meeting. (Click here to read this chapter online.) 

According to Lesson 39 in Lessons From the Nonprofit Boardroom, “The typical boardroom includes a mix of new and long-term board members who bring their previous board experiences (or lack of experiences) into your boardroom. Every board member carries unhealthy baggage into your meeting that passed as normalcy in a previous boardroom.

What will 2021 look like in your boardroom or on Zoom meetings? To avoid “bringing our delightful dysfunctions into every new board experience,” here are helpful “Indexes to Inspiration”—links to more than 200 blogs, lessons, and book chapters. Appoint a “Leaders Are Readers Champion” and plan now for a “10 Minutes for Governance” in every 2021 board meeting.


40 GUEST BLOGS: Lessons From the Nonprofit Boardroom: 40 Insights for Better Board Meetings 

40 GUEST BLOGS: More Lessons From the Nonprofit Boardroom: Effectiveness, Excellence, Elephants! 

40 GUEST BLOGS: Lessons From the Church Boardroom: 40 Insights for Exceptional Governance 

22 BLOGS: ECFA Tools and Templates for Effective Board Governance: Time-Saving Solutions for Your Board — Note: See Tool #19: “Ten Minutes for Governance (Lifelong Governance Learning—in 10-Minute Chunks!)”

18 BLOGS: Best Board Books (brief summaries of 18 board governance books)

30 BLOGS: Called to Serve: Creating and Nurturing the Effective Volunteer Board (the 91-page book by Max De Pree)

14 BLOGS: Owning Up: The 14 Questions Every Board Member Needs to Ask (summary of the 14 chapters/questions by Ram Charan)

Great Boards Delegate Their Reading! That’s a chapter title in Lessons From the Nonprofit Boardroom (click here to read online). Guest blogger Kent Stroman notes this from the U.S. Navy Seals: “Under pressure you don't rise to the occasion, you sink to the level of your training. That's why we train so hard.” Stroman adds, “By being intentional about ongoing board member education, organizations are investing in their own preparation to ‘rise to the occasion’ that will inevitably emerge—at the least expected moment.”

View-and-Engage! In addition to the blog options above, check out the four short videos in the ECFA Governance Toolbox Series. Topics include: board member recruitment, board roles (the three hats), conflicts of interest, and succession planning. Each toolbox includes a short video, a read-and-engage viewing guide, a facilitator guide, and bonus resources. Click here.

Blessings in the New Year! And speaking of encouraging texts, I’m so appreciative of Scott Rodin’s daily text ministry from The Steward’s Journey. As I finished this blog, this coronavirus-relevant insight arrived in his morning text:

“Being in Christ, it is safe to forget the past;
it is possible to be sure of the future;
it is possible to be diligent in the present.” ๐Ÿ˜‡

Alexander MacLaren

Tuesday, December 1, 2020

LOL! The ONE Thing You Must Do in 2021!

Get ready for the rush of rhetoric!
Way too many board members and bloggers will weigh in this month on the ONE thing your ministry must do to survive and thrive in 2021.

But before you jump on the bandwagon—take a breath, get on your knees, pray, and discern.
Maybe there’s more than one thing the Lord wants you to do.

You already know that the leadership and governance gurus have published a wealth of wisdom on what you should do during “normal times” and during a crisis (think COVID-19). What’s right for your ministry?

Laugh-Out-Loud! You have numerous options—and if you’re not confused yet, there’s still time!

1 THING. You should certainly read The ONE Thing: The Surprisingly Simple Truth Behind Extraordinary Results, by Gary Keller with Jay Papasan. They write, “To do two things at once is to do neither.”

3 HATS. But…wait. Is your board clear about the three board hats? Three roles: Governance, Volunteer, and Participant. Click here to view the short video and board member guide from the ECFA Governance Toolbox Series No. 2: Balancing Board Roles.

Or…maybe you should trust the father of modern management, Peter Drucker, who said there’s not one, two, or three important issues—but five key questions your board must address. Click here to read my review of Peter Drucker’s Five Most Important Questions: Enduring Wisdom for Today’s Leaders, by Peter F. Drucker, Frances Hesselbein, and Joan Snyder Kuhl

The biblical number! Give your board a pop quiz—and ask them to write down ECFA's Seven Standards of Responsible Stewardship™. The standards, drawn from Scripture, are fundamental to operating with integrity. Visit ECFA here and connect the dots between integrity and 1 Samuel 16:7 and 2 Corinthians 8:21.

Yikes! BoardSource says there are (count ‘em) 10 critical tasks for the nonprofit board. Click here to read my review of Ten Basic Responsibilities of Nonprofit Boards, by Richard T. Ingram. (Three other “must-read” books are also mentioned.)

Keep counting! While Ram Charan appreciates Drucker’s five questions—he expands the list to 14 board-specific questions. Click here for the index to 14 short blogs on Owning Up: The 14 Questions Every Board Member Needs to Ask, by Ram Charan.

The Board Bucket is important—yes—but your leadership team must also master 19 other buckets (core competencies). At least that’s the premise of my book, Mastering the Management Buckets: 20 Critical Competencies for Leading Your Business or Nonprofit. Click here for all 20 buckets. 

Yes, there’s more! “The Principles for Good Governance and Ethical Practice” outlines 33 principles of sound practice for charitable organizations and foundations related to legal compliance and public disclosure, effective governance, financial oversight, and responsible fundraising. They were developed by the Panel on the Nonprofit Sector in 2007 and updated in 2015. Click here

Not a typo—85 is the number! Click here for the 85 board questions and answers from The Nonprofit Board Answer Book: A Practical Guide for Board Members and Chief Executives (3rd Edition), published by BoardSource. Note: The first edition, written by Robert Andringa and Ted Engstrom (1916-2006), built the reliable rails for the second and third editions.

The good news: there’s a plethora of resources to help you discern what to do—and what not to do. The bad news: most board members also have day jobs—and one person can’t be an expert on everything. But…everything is important according to Michael Canic, author of Ruthless Consistency“What matters more than anything you do is everything you do.”

Apparently—it’s not ONE thing, it’s everything. Did I mention prayer and discernment? My suggestion: for now, meditate and rest on 1 Thessalonians 5:24: “The one who calls you is faithful, and he will do it.”

The ONE Thing book asks, “What's the ONE Thing you can do this week such that by doing it everything else would be easier or unnecessary?” What’s our ONE thing this week?

In the introduction to R. Scott Rodin’s gem, Steward Leader Meditations: 50 Devotions for the Leadership Journey, author Richard Kriegbaum reminds us of “…the challenging reality that leadership is a complex field and no one resource can meet all the needs of every leader in every situation.”