Organizational + Personal Development

Do Your Homework, Sit Still and LISTEN

By | All Posts, Donor Cultivation, Fundraising, Major Gift Solicitation, News You Can Use, Organizational + Personal Development, Prospect Research, Volunteers | No Comments

Jeffrey D. Byrne, President + CEO

We know to do our homework on prospective donors. You’ve heard me say time and again “Don’t commit fundraising malpractice!” (See my blog piece on the benefits of prospect research here.)That means do your research – because it reveals information about the wealth and capacity of prospects as well as information about philanthropic giving history, community involvement, natural partners and connections. And your donor database should contain important notes about your prospects and interactions with them. Prepare for your visit.

Sitting still tells your audience you really care about what they should say. Don’t shuffle your papers. Don’t check your phone. Don’t fidget. Sitting still lets you hear what your prospective donor should tell you about their life story and experiences – maybe even how a single instance changed their life. You can learn why they are passionate about your organization and its mission.

I believe in order to be a great fundraiser, you have to be a good – if not great – listener. Human nature might urge you to fill quiet moments with a remark or an anecdote. Of course you are nervous, and anxious to impress. You certainly want to make a connection you can build upon later. But it is in those quiet moments that you, as a volunteer or professional, can learn the most.  Waiting for the prospective donor to share might result in hearing firsthand how your healthcare institution saved their life. You might learn a relative was a long-time volunteer. You might learn how an agency similar to yours provided their mother with safety and refuge from domestic violence.  Resist the urge to talk about yourself.  Ask prospective donors about themselves…and then listen to what they say. Some good lead-ins might include:

  • “Tell me more about that …”
  • “What did she/he say about that…?”
  • “What happened next …?”
  • “What made you decide to …?”

You get the idea. You can think up your own list of “conversation engagers” that will help you get to know your prospective donor and involve them in the meeting. The bottom line is this: regardless of with whom you are meeting, when you get your prospective donors talking about themselves – when you ask about them – your prospective donor will come away from the visit feeling much more satisfied and positive about you and your organization than if you had used the time trying to tell them the 50 wonderful things you are doing to make a difference.

However, all of this doesn’t mean you should not educate your listeners about your organization and your mission. I’d suggest you use the 80/20 rule. Inform 20 percent of the time and LISTEN the other 80 percent.

In training staff and volunteers to make major gift solicitations, we place considerable emphasis on setting the appointment, sharing the vision and asking for the gift. Think about all the times we practice the script for the call or role-play the visit.  But how often do we practice listening? If you have volunteers who are reluctant to go on solicitation calls, think about how can coaching them on listening style can help them overcome their jitters about making the “ask.”

And finally, care about what’s being said and commit it to memory. Make notes when you leave if you need to capture details. This kind of active listening and remembering stems from truly caring about the donor. Don’t let the lure of a gift keep you from truly caring and listening to the prospective donor’s words. If you are listening and caring (and, of course, remembering to ask for the gift,) the gift will come.

Women in Philanthropy: Where Are We Headed?

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By Katie Lord, Vice President

What are some of the complexities, challenges and contradictions you see in women’s philanthropy today? What do you want this narrative in the 21st century to include?

On March 14th and 15th more than 300 women congregated in Chicago to address these very issues, and I was one of them.  My participation in the 2017 “Dream. Dare. Do. Women, Philanthropy and Civil Society” Symposium made me very aware of the diverse array of women participating in philanthropy, and even more committed to strengthening our role in the sector.  This event is hosted by the Women’s Philanthropy Institute of Indiana University’s Lilly Family School of Philanthropy, and sponsored by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.  Dr. Deborah Mesch was the chair of this year’s event. Dr. Mesch presented “Women in Philanthropy” last year at the JB+A-sponsored Nonprofit Connect 501 (c) Success National Speaker Series.

Held every three years, this two-day symposium brings women philanthropists, fundraisers, funders and organizations together to discuss advancing women-related fundraising causes, women working in the field of philanthropy and raising the profile of women donors and philanthropists.  As part of this year’s focus, attendees were exposed to ways women can dream, dare and do more to advance women at all levels of the field through specific channels of change.

As part of the “dream” section, discussions centered around organizational flexibility to change, including addressing gender and generational differences head on with our donors and constituents, embracing risk-taking in our organizations through venture philanthropy, innovative programming and collaborations with other nonprofits as well as public organizations.

Next, participants were asked to “dare” to think outside the box of traditional philanthropy through emerging nontraditional verticals, including pursuing social entrepreneurship partnerships in business and startup communities, social impact investing partnerships within the financial sector, and the rise of giving circles and collaborations through community foundations and special interest/affinity groups.

Finally, we were challenged to go back home and “do more.” This includes bringing women philanthropists and organizations to larger audiences and making sure we are having a seat at the table at all levels of organizational involvement.  Women still are underrepresented on nonprofit boards, in executive positions within foundations and nonprofit organizations and are often left out of the donor cultivation process, even though most are the key decision makers for financial and philanthropic decisions within their households.

This conversation is timely. With access to more wealth than ever before—some say as much as $13.2 trillion in North America alone—women’s voices, leadership and resources are needed more than ever to address the pressing challenges in our country and around the world.  I know the conversation will continue with this Symposium attendee.  I am grateful for the support of the Women in Philanthropy Institute and the research it provides to help cultivate women donors and to help move the needle.  If you would like additional information on the topics discussed at the Symposium, or are interested in moving the needle, please contact me at or at 816-237-1999.

“Interim CEO”: Frequently an Integral Element to a Successful Transition

By | All Posts, Boards + Leadership, Capacity Building, Commentary, News You Can Use, Organizational + Personal Development, Strategic Planning | No Comments

susan_cropped-267x300Susan Spaulding, Founder & Lead Consultant, Recalibrate Strategies

Editor’s Note:  We are pleased to introduce Susan Spaulding as a guest contributor. Susan is the Founder and Lead Consultant of Recalibrate Strategies, helping companies grow their business.  Susan applies proven marketing systems to recalibrate businesses and their brands by collaboratively creating a success blueprint and facilitating a process that harnesses insights, generates new ideas and provides a strategic roadmap.  Susan has more than 30 years of experience as a CEO, entrepreneur and marketing expert with exceptional leadership and facilitation skills.

Optimally, a CEO departure announcement includes naming the new CEO. This is often the case when the current CEO gives the board ample notice of retirement plans, or if the current CEO is being promoted or re-assigned within the parent company. And, if the CEO departure is the result of an ongoing performance issue, the board should be prepared to announce the new CEO immediately.

However, in practice naming an interim CEO is frequent. Reasons are varied (1), and include:

  1. A succession plan is lacking or not up-to-date. The board isn’t prepared to name a successor CEO.
  2. The CEO needs to step away from his/her role for a period of time – often for a personal or family health issue – but expects to resume the CEO position.
  3. The board believes it’s in the best interest of the company to appoint an interim CEO. Perhaps the desired CEO is not available immediately, or the board decides to deviate from the succession plan for whatever reason.

Roles of Interim CEOs
While interim CEO roles can be as varied as reasons for needing interim CEOs, below are primary roles interim CEOs fill.

  1. Keep the company on course and on strategy until a permanent CEO is selected.
  2. Execute a company turn around – usually following CEO and/or company performance issues. The interim CEO is more likely to be selected from outside the company, and have turnaround experience.
  3. “Trying out” a potential permanent replacement can indicate the board is leaning toward selecting this individual as CEO, but need to see how the individual handles the position temporarily.

What’s critical for any interim CEO appointment is clarity between the individual and the board on responsibilities and primary objectives. It’s critical for the interim CEO to have ready access to board members. Consistent support from the board is critical for the interim CEO, for company employees and for external shareholders/stakeholders watching closely to assess company leadership and overall stability.

Importance of Acting Swiftly
In general, an interim CEO is needed due to a former CEO’s sudden departure. However, in some cases the need for a new CEO – interim or otherwise – was clear much earlier than the decision was made.

Sometimes when a CEO becomes ill, they and the board choose to believe – sometimes with diagnoses and inability to carry out responsibilities indicating otherwise – the CEO’s illness will not prevent him/her from maintaining a reasonable productivity level. The fear of negative impact, internally and externally, from announcing this “weakness” sometimes prevents timely disclosure of reality.

Example (2, 4): Apple’s Steve Jobs both refused to accept appropriate cancer treatment and board recommendations to disclose his illness. Rather, he elected (allowed by the board) to keep his illness secret. He later took a leave of absence. Tim Cook took on the role of interim CEO three times (2004, 2009 and 2011) before actually being named CEO.

Similarly, given performance issues, the board should be particularly well prepared to name a new CEO.

Often the reluctance to disclose the situation, and move forward with a new CEO is based more on emotional responses than on objective assessment of what is best for the company.

Looking Forward
Several sudden CEO departures have been in the news within the past year. Each situation varies. However, what appears consistent is a board ill-prepared for the CEO’s sudden departure. Given the acknowledged importance of succession planning, it’s concerning to witness multiple situations where succession plans are not simply implemented.

Per The Conference Board (3), boards spend an average of two hours annually discussing succession planning. Clearly the topic deserves more attention.

Recalibrating Actions:

  1. What is the status of your company’s succession plan? Is it up-to-date? Does it include contingency plans? Does it encompass roles below that of the CEO? Does it include replacement plans for those who step up to fill an open role?
  2. Ensure there is a written agreement in place between the board and the CEO that addresses unexpected situations like a personal or family illness. Then, if such a situation arises, it is the board’s responsibility to follow through on the agreement.
  3. Succession planning – certainly inclusive of, but not limited to the CEO – is a primary responsibility of the board, and should be treated as such. This will require considerable time on the board’s part to understand the status, skill sets, experience, gaps, and aspirations of leaders lower than the CEO – in some cases multiple levels below.
  4. Ensure you are having discussions with your board frequently to provide status updates on various leaders, new hires, etc. As well, discuss openly how and when announcements of changes will be handled by the board to maintain the greatest company stability and lessen negative external impact.

You can reach Susan Spaulding and Recalibrate Strategies at


  1. Saporito, Dr. Thomas J., Succeeding as an Interim CEO: How boards and temporary chiefs can work together., Chief Executive, March 11, 2016
  2. Stevens, Laurie, M.D., Rolfe, Steven, S., M.D., A Healthy Approach to CEO Illness: How should companies cope with a leader’s health crisis?, Chief Executive, March 4, 2016
  3. Semadeni, Matthew, Mooney, Christine H., and Kesner, Idalene F., Interim CEO: Reasonable Choice or Failed Selection?, The Conference Board, June 2014
  4. Friedman, Lex, Apple Turns to Tim Cook to Replace Steve Jobs, Macworld, August 24, 2011

Upon Further Review: More on Managing Boards of Directors

By | All Posts, Boards + Leadership, News You Can Use, Organizational + Personal Development, Stewardship, Volunteers | No Comments

John+Marshal+for+webJohn Marshall
Senior Vice President

Last year, I wrote an article entitled “Nonprofits, Boards and Managing Expectations: A Two-Way Street.” My effort was intended to share with the fundraising professional a few insights on what it takes to transform a Board from “good to great” (in the words of one terrific author, Mr. Jim Collins).

I wrote about my experiences over the past 40+ years of working with a multitude of Boards—all different, all unique—and I specifically addressed the importance of creating clear expectations (of Board members and of staff) and the great importance of having a comprehensive Board Member Job Description.

In reviewing that epistle, I realized there is even more to be said focusing on a few other insights I believe might be helpful to you as you continue the process of creating the very best Board possible. My hope is that the following will assist you in this regard.

Primary Responsibilities Associated with Board Membership
Beyond what is found in the Board Member Job Description, it is important that Board members are aware of the importance of the following:

  1. Having an understanding and keen appreciation for the mission, motive, purposes and objectives of the organization
  2. Becoming familiar with the function of and services provided by the organization
  3. Providing the organization with support, encouragement, counsel and guidance
  4. Becoming familiar with the means by which the organization operates—its sources of income as well as its areas of expense
  5. Assisting the organization’s leadership in program and financial planning
  6. Helping advance the organization within the community through personal advocacy and promotion—in becoming a bona fide AMBASSADOR
  7. Supporting the organization as a charitable organization, realizing its dependency upon charitable support of its programs, services and overhead
  8. Helping plan the maintenance and expansion of the organization’s properties and facilities from which it renders its programs and services to the communities it serves
  9. Participating in the planning, preparation and operation of a capital campaign, if and when such is deemed appropriate

The Role of the Organization’s President/CEO with the Board
I believe wholeheartedly it is absolutely critical for Board members to feel that the organization’s top leader is interested in the efforts of the Board and has a very real appreciation for their many efforts. And then shows it.  Too many times, this is either neglected, relegated to a lesser staffer or given “lip service” by the organization’s chief executive. I know that this can result in a Board having less than the optimal level of enthusiasm for the organization we all want to see.

With that in mind, here is my list of “Top Ten Responsibilities” of the CEO when interacting with the organization’s Board members:

  1. Share information about the organization’s programs and services with Board members so they are prepared to be even more effective AMBASSADORS within the community
  2. Educate the Board about the organization’s policies
  3. Make certain that Board members are communicated within a timely manner about developments/issues which may impact the organization within the community (this includes the good, the bad or possibly the ugly); most Board members really don’t want to be surprised by hearing of issues “after the fact”
  4. Attend as many of the regularly scheduled Board meetings as possible and if not possible, assign a significant member of the leadership team
  5. Share with the Board the organization’s financial position and help identify specific needs requiring specific funding
  6. Ensure that the Board holds an annual meeting—the “care holders” meeting, and attend
  7. Be available to accompany Board members on visits with those in the community possessing great influence and affluence
  8. Make certain that the Development Department has the necessary resources to support the Board in its awareness and advocacy efforts
  9. Within an appropriate period of time, make the effort to meet each member of the Board one-on-one
  10. Be a personal donor to the organization—“practice what you preach”

Why Board Members Lose Interest
Lastly, one of the laments I have heard far too often over the years is about how difficult it is to not only recruit great Board members, but to keep them. If you fit into that category, you might want to ask yourself the following questions:

  1. Am I assigning members realistic goals?
  2. Are they receiving sufficient detail for carrying out their responsibilities?
  3. Am I allowing Board members sufficient opportunity to provide feedback? And am I listening?
  4. Am I adequately recognizing/appreciating their efforts?
  5. Am I providing ample opportunity for them to make a decision?
  6. Is the work they are tasked to accomplish truly challenging?
  7. Am I providing members with sufficient preparation and training to ensure they are successful?

No one ever said that managing volunteers was easy, especially when it comes to Board members. They can be demanding or complacent, overbearing or invisible, fully engaged or there just for lunch (if a Board member calls in advance to ask “what are we having for lunch” you most likely have a problem on your hands!).

Your task in managing these fine people is to do all you can to see their experience is a time of real enrichment, both for them and most relatedly, for your organization.

Want more tips for effectively managing Board members?  JB+A Senior Vice President John Marshall has more than 40 years of experience in the nonprofit sector. You can reach John at or at 816.914.3780.

JB+A Presenting at the Drury University Nonprofit Sustainability Conference

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Sustainability through Story-Talking2016-nonprofit-sustainabilityconference-2

On June 9, firm President + CEO Jeffrey Byrne will be making the keynote presentation, “Sustainability through Story-Talking,” for the 2016 Nonprofit Sustainability Conference at The Keeter Center at the College of the Ozarks near Branson, Missouri.

Through real-life examples, Jeffrey will explore “Relationship Fundraising” in the 21st Century: examining donor-driven philanthropy, the emergence of non-traditional giving mechanisms and the increasing importance of tailored donor engagement. Stories of successful fundraising approaches will demonstrate how organizations can build relational trust—within the organization and with funders and peers—through donor dialogue and peer collaboration to inspire generous and unrestricted donations and major gifts through compelling narrative, funder education and organizational transparency.

Part of Drury University’s Center for Nonprofit Leadership and supported by the Roy W. Slusher Foundation, the Nonprofit Sustainability Conference is a one-day event for nonprofit professionals and leaders focused on fundraising, financial stability and growth. Jeffrey will also be teaming up with Judy Keller, Executive Vice President, and Katie Lord, Senior Consultant, for a session on Planned Giving.

To learn more about the conference and Drury University’s Center for Nonprofit Leadership, click here.

The Mission Always Matters

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Dan Cosgrove headshot web

Dan Cosgrove
Director of Operations + Senior Consultant

As anyone in the nonprofit world can relate, there is a relentless pressure for funding. From sweating out the arrival of the next grant check to initiating a major capital campaign, the mission of the organization depends on delivery of funds. Oh, wait! Did I just say “The mission of the organization”?!  Yes, the mission of why the organization was created in the first place often seems dwarfed by the tsunami of activities around fundraising and other daily chores.

I, too, spend most of my waking moments in that “GO” mode to secure financial resources. However, I recently had the opportunity to step in as an Interim Executive Director of an organization that provides services to young children.

My directive in this role was clear: stabilize operations, secure the finances, evaluate staff and participate in the search for a new Executive Director.  I gladly jumped in and immersed myself in all of the operational aspects of the organization.  After just a few days on the job I noticed, seeping in through the cinder block walls of my office, the unbridled laughter and giggles of young children. I decided to escape from the office and engage with the families who were the very people we were serving.

This was just the interaction I needed to remind me of why we do what we do. The children didn’t notice the stains on the ceiling, the broken stool in the bathroom or the outdated paint colors. They were having a great time and we were still fulfilling the core mission — and actually doing it quite well.

Reframing my perspective a bit brought new energy into my effort to tame the countless details of the job.  Perhaps this reminder that “The Mission Always Matters” can benefit all of us when we reflect on who is it we actually serve and why.  Maybe it would be worth it to schedule a few minutes every day in your hectic schedule to reflect upon that.  Keep up the good fight.

Board Scorecards – What’s Your Nonprofit’s Score?

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Katie cropped to upload

Katie Lord
Senior Consultant

Nonprofit Board Members are expected to bring a diverse set of skills, experiences and connections to their organization. Their voluntary involvement is the basis for the continued success (or failure) of an organization. The specific skill set or a combination of skills a Board Member brings to an organization usually fills a knowledge gap, bringing expertise in areas of weakness or targeting areas for potential growth.

However, Nonprofit Board Members and the organization’s staff they work with often struggle with the identification and execution of clearly defined measurements of success, responsibility and accountability. In order to be effective and avoid frustration, it is important for Board Members to have clearly defined roles, responsibilities and objectives as part of their Board Member orientation.

This is where the Board scorecard becomes a vital tool for measuring results and providing accountability for each individual Board Member and the Board as a whole.  A Board scorecard is a document in which the roles of each Board Member are outlined.  It includes items such as target completion dates for annual giving expectations, Member introductions, solicitations (monetary and in-kind), hours of service, membership on a subcommittee, meeting attendance and event participation. These areas of expectations and participation are recorded on the Board Member’s scorecard.

At least three days prior to each Board meeting, Board Members should receive a copy of their updated individual scorecard to ensure time for checking accuracy and making updates.  Each Board Member should then forward his/her scorecard to the Board Chair so the information can be complied and distributed to the entire Board at their meeting.  (You can do this anonymously by assigning each Board Member a number and listing results in that way to ensure privacy, if this is part of your Board culture). Due to the nature of this tool, it is imperative that an organization’s staff maintain accurate and current records.

The Board Chair and Chief Executive of the organization should be knowledgeable of each Member’s contributions and therefore identify those who are struggling to reach their goals, allowing for one-on-one support and coaching.  Through the use of a Board scorecard, Board Members can be evaluated and share their feedback based on the criteria outlined for success. Both the organization and the Board Member are then able to decide if ongoing participation is beneficial for the advancement of the organization’s mission, success and financial growth. The importance of a strong and responsible Nonprofit Board as a whole and Board Members individually to an organization’s mission and success cannot be underestimated!

Interested in a sample Board scorecard that has worked for me over the years? Click here:  JB+A Board Scorecard Sample.

High-Quality Onboarding Essential to New Employee Success

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Sandi Grimm

Sandi Grimm
Director of Administration

Have you ever started a new job and after the first day, you feel like a visitor to a new land? That sounds pretty normal, but hopefully everyone involved is speaking the same language. Proper onboarding will not only make lives easier, it makes for greater productivity.

According to the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM), onboarding is the process by which new hires get adjusted to the social and performance aspects of their jobs quickly and smoothly, and learn the attitudes, knowledge, skills and behaviors required to perform efficiently within an organization.

A new employee’s first day is exactly when many nonprofit managers make one of their biggest hiring mistakes: the new staff member arrives to a full inbox but no plan for the new hire to get acquainted with the organization’s people and practices.

SHRM has found that, without proper onboarding practices, half of senior hires fail within 18 months, and half of all hourly workers leave within 120 days.

In addition to reducing turnover costs, effective onboarding results in higher job satisfaction, increased organizational commitment, higher performance levels and lowered stress for the new employee, their peers and supervisors.

Have you taken an honest look at the turnover rates at your organization? A revolving door could be the symptom of inadequate preparation of new employees. If that’s the case, then perhaps it’s time to take a look at human resource practices that include onboarding, professional development and training and organizational culture – especially critical for nonprofits with a small staff.

Some of the best practices are the most basic practices:

  • Inform the new employee of office hours. Sounds like a no brainer, but I’ve worked in offices where there hasn’t been a general consensus on office hours – or the expected arrival/departure times of staff.
  • Provide an office key or entry instructions.
  • Discuss procedures for scheduling time off and communicating unexpected absences.
  • Discuss phones (including answering procedure), copier/printer, where office supplies are located and procedures to obtain same.
  • Provide computer orientation at a typical workstation (computer sign-in, shared drives on network, email, specialized software, etc.).
  • Give an office tour (place to hang coat, restroom, water fountain, vending machine, staff lounge, refrigerator, emergency exit, etc.).
  • Review job responsibilities and expectations, and discuss a process to determine collaborative goals.
  • Assign a peer mentor. Peer mentors provide a “safe haven” for new employees to ask questions, gain knowledge and explore the culture.

Research and conventional wisdom both suggest that employees get about 90 days to prove themselves in a new job. The faster new hires feel welcome and prepared for their jobs, the faster they will be able to successfully contribute to the firm’s mission. Simply put, good onboarding leads to good retention rates – which ultimately leads to productivity success.

Nonprofits, Boards and Managing Expectations: A Two-Way Street

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John F. MarshallJohn+Marshal+for+web
Senior Vice President

In 2016, I will mark my 40th year as a fundraising professional. During that time I have served in higher education, healthcare, human services and the arts. Each sector was much different from the others with one exception: nonprofits within each are (for the most part) governed by Boards of Directors and rely on their voluntary expertise.

Throughout my career – whether it was with a Big Ten University, a nationally prominent provider of human services or a hospital foundation – I have had the opportunity to work with Boards of all shapes and sizes. Every Board I worked with also seemed to be unique: some with a cast of seemingly thousands of members and others with as few as six; some with more committees than Carter has pills and others with only an Executive Committee calling the shots. Some had a terrific composition (men, women, ethnic diversity, young, old) and others consisted of 100% “good ol’ boys”. I have worked with Boards where changing lives for the better was preeminent and those where “what’s for lunch” seemed to be a top priority.

It has been my experience those Boards that were most effective were those where there was absolute clarity in terms of expectations: of Board members by the organization and of the organization by Board members. Without such clarity…well, things just could (and often did) result in less than great outcomes.

Let me share with you my “Top Ten” list of organizational expectations of Board members:

  1. Take attendance at Board and committee meetings seriously. In other words, “SHOW UP!”
  2. Become fully informed about the organization and commit to its mission.
  3. Help ensure effective planning.
  4. See that the organization’s resources are managed effectively.
  5. Enhance the organization’s public image: speak well of it and speak often.
  6. Serve as an enthusiastic ambassador for the organization within the community.
  7. Utilize your personal and professional skills for the betterment of the organization.
  8. Give to the best of your ability and assist in the identification, cultivation and solicitation of prospective donors.
  9. Self-assess your personal performance as a Board member. Are you doing all you can?
  10. Assist in recruiting new members to the Board.

OK, now let me also share with you my “Top Ten” list of Board member expectations of the organization:

  1. A clear and all-encompassing job description.
  2. Frequent communication about the organization’s programs, developments and potentially negative issues.
  3. Provide meaningful opportunities to serve.
  4. Use Board members’ time appropriately, not wastefully.
  5. Provide ongoing education and training.
  6. Serve as a responsible steward of the organization’s resources.
  7. Staff leadership will be active participants with the Board in raising funds.
  8. Ensure that Board meetings are substantive and that Board members are given every opportunity for meaningful input/participation.
  9. Assign adequate staff to assist Board members in their responsibilities.
  10. Actively participate with Board members in the recruitment and orientation of new Board members.

You can see on the above list of expectations a Board member should have of the organization, I have made my #1 expectation a clear and all-encompassing job description. That is not my #1 by chance or mistake. How many times have I asked the question “Do your Board members have a job description?” and been told too often something like “Well, kinda, but it’s pretty old” or “We don’t really need one – everyone knows what they are supposed to do.”


Any prospective new Board member who is worth his/her salt is invariably going to ask the question “What am I supposed to do? Is there a job description I can review?” To respond in the manner I just quoted will most likely result in a polite “Thanks, but no thanks…” response.

If you currently don’t possess a job description or have been thinking about revising your current one, let me offer the following for your consideration:

  1. Become fully-informed about the programs and services of the organization and committed to its Mission.
  2. Be as personally generous a donor to the organization as possible and lead the organization to others who have the capacity to be financially supportive.
  3. Serve as an ambassador for the organization within the community, utilizing your connections to access community resources and volunteers and enhance the image of the organization.
  4. Identify those within the community who have influence and affluence and be a leader in recruiting them to the Board.
  5. Attend Board meetings on a consistent basis and actively participate.
  6. Serve on at least one Board committee, attend those meetings on a regular basis and actively participate.
  7. Be willing to utilize your professional expertise and the expertise of those you are associated with for the betterment of the organization.
  8. Be willing to perform a self-assessment of your performance as a Board member and make improvements.

JB+A has been engaged with a great many organizations in strengthening the effectiveness of Boards of Directors. To discuss how we can be of further assistance to you in this regard, call 816.237.1999 or email me at

JB+A Presents at Assistance League National Conference

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Judy Keller, JB+A Executive Vice President, recently presented during the 2015 Assistance League National Conference in San Diego:  “Celebrate the Past – Embrace the Future – Reflect and Revitalize“.  The Assistance League National Conference provides the opportunity for chapter members from around the country to gather for networking and educational development.

Judy joined Libby Blair and Pat Reinier, two members of the local Kansas City Chapter of Assistance League, to present sessions “The Steps Toward Capital Campaigns” and “Writing a Case for Support.” Judy and JB+A partnered with Assistance League of Kansas City during its $1,000,000 capital campaign to raise funds for building renovations, programs and technological enhancements.  In just a little more than a year, the organization surpassed its capital campaign goal.  To learn more about Assistance League of Kansas City, click here.

As national consultant thought leaders in philanthropy, JB+A team members share our fundraising leadership, industry best practices and the latest sector research and trends.  If your organization is looking for a speaker or workshop presentation, reach out to JB+A here.