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Rebekah Burch Basinger's Articles

When board members go AWOL between meetings, try this


The complaint we hear more than any other from nonprofit execs and/or board chairs is this:

Board members disappear between meetings. Poof! They’re gone. Most can’t even be bothered to respond to my message with a one-word reply: “received.”

Sound familiar?

Tips for ensuring the show goes on, despite a smaller cast of characters




The North American nonprofit sector is no stranger to getting by on less. But these days less is edging toward subsistence, with budgets and personnel close to the breaking point. What’s a leadership team to do when the show must go on but with a smaller cast of characters to cover all the roles? Create a plan.

6 things you need to know about fundraising



Cross-posted from Rebekah Burch Basinger's excellent blog, Generous Matters, where you can read her original post. 

“How can we get more people to support our organization? We’re working hard but not seeing the results we need.”

The caller’s frustration was palpable — and familiar. Over the years, I’ve been asked variations of his question by countless CEOs and board members. Short on cash and time, ministry leaders are on the hunt for the answer to their organization’s fundraising woes.

Tips, strategies, and things to avoid as you plan your next board meeting




Cross-posted from Rebekah Burch Basinger's blog, Generous Matters. 

“If it weren’t for the meetings, serving on this board would be a joy. I’m all in on the mission, but one more rambling, mind-numbing agenda and I’m out of here!”

I hear variations on this lament too often from board members bored out of their minds by meetings to nowhere. Perhaps you’ve said as much yourself, which is unfortunate considering that a board is only a board when the members gather in official session.

Will someone state that as a motion?



Cross-posted from Rebekah Burch Basinger's excellent blog, Generous Matters. Read her original post here

Motions are the primary means by which a governing board provides directions to the CEO and other staff, so you’d think considerable care would go into shaping them. But think again. Many board motions are created on the fly, and that can lead to problems for the CEO who later tries to implement the board's actions.

You, too, can learn to love fundraising

The theme of the Harvard Business Review article is networking. However, the quoted comments from reluctant business schmoozers ring familiar to the way fundraising-adverse nonprofit folk talk about asking for money.

Uncomfortable, phony, distasteful, a necessary evil, feels slimy.

I’ve heard them all, including from ministry leaders who claim to have accepted the good news of fundraising as ministry.


Good board hunting




Cross-posted from Rebekah Burch Basinger's blog, Generous Matters. Read her original post here

Topping the list of frequently asked board-related questions that come my way is how to fill empty board seats with quality recruits. With nonprofits proliferating at breakneck speed, competition for board members is keen. Throw in expectations like competent, committed, and/or generous and you might as well be chasing Bigfoot. There ain’t no such creature out there — or so seems.

Fortunately, there is.

 

Special event fundraising, ugh! But if you must . . .


Cross-posted from Rebekah Burch Basinger's excellent blog, Generous Matters. Read her original post here

A flood of emails urged members of a ministry’s Outreach Committee to round-up prizes for the spring bike/walk fundraiser. We’re talking a veritable fundraiser’s dream team — networked, talented, and unafraid to ask big — being “challenged” to chase after everything from free movie passes and ice cream coupons to a $5-$10 gift certificate.  “Or whatever the owner is willing to give.”

It’s a toss-up whether I cry or scream about the colossal waste of volunteer time and connections.

A deeper look at a new survey of nonprofit boards



The online nonprofit press is abuzz over the 2015 Survey on Board of Directors of Nonprofit Organizations, with headlines suggesting nothing but bad news. However, after digging into the report for myself, I’m here to dispute the board bashers. The survey results (at least as I read them) simply don’t support the sorry soundbite summaries.

There really isn’t anything new under the sun or in fundraising


Despite the mountains of fundraising advice that’s churned out daily via blogs and other online venues, remarkably little of what’s being written is new. Whether in 140 characters or in a full-length article, what passes as counsel these days is more derivative than innovative.

That’s the reminder recently tweeted by Steve MacLaughlin, director of Blackbaud’s Idea Lab:

“In 1932, Lyman Pierce spelled out the keys to a successful fundraising campaign. Still true today.”

I agree.

 

A gentle evaluation turns away anger



In the coming months I will assist with two evaluation processes – one of a seminary president’s performance, the other, a board self-assessment. When approaching such assignments, my modus operandi is to accentuate the positive before broaching the negative. To paraphrase the author of Proverbs, I've found that a gentle evaluation turns away anger, while a harsh review encourages the one(s) under scrutiny to dig in his/her/their heels.

Get your board off the bus and into the boat



Although Jim Collins’ caution about getting the right people on the bus is often cited in conversations about board member recruitment, it’s actually a curious metaphor for how to build a strong board. Consider this.

People on a bus don’t set direction. They don’t watch the road. They don’t worry about maintenance of the bus or the cost of filling it with fuel. They’re not involved in recruiting other riders. And it would be unusual for passengers to advocate for better highways or speak out in support of public transportation.

Shared governance for tough times

Eureka!These are tough days for leaders in higher education and especially so for those at the helm of a theological school. Everywhere I go, boards and presidents are on the hunt for the big idea — the game changer — the Eureka moment that will save the day. I find little patience for or interest in collaboration, conversation, or shared governance.