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Strategic Planning

Creating Philanthropic Impact through Strong Nonprofits

By | All Posts, Boards + Leadership, Legislative + Advocacy, Strategic Planning | No Comments

Jeffrey Byrne + Associates, Inc. was delighted to host Kim Meredith (left), Executive Director of the Stanford Center on Philanthropy and Civil Society, as our first speaker in the 2017 501(c) Success National Speaker Series. Kim joined us on Thursday, February 23, to share her insights on social innovation and the power of philanthropy to ignite ideas and solutions for the world’s most complex problems.

In her keynote address, Kim touched on current trends in philanthropy, the benefits of bridging nonprofits and corporations and the keys to good nonprofit governance. The overarching message in Kim’s keynote address is the importance of strategic planning, thinking and innovation in effective nonprofit governance. Nonprofits have enormous potential to be catalysts for social change, but impact depends on a willingness from leadership and Boards to focus on outcome-oriented philanthropy.

Kim touched on a number of trends that are shaping the way philanthropy implements social change. Some of these trends include:

  • Place-based philanthropy – an emerging focus on community and community foundations, investing funds within a strategic area and tracking growth.
  • Ethical/responsible data use – all nonprofits should be collecting and storing data on donors and funders, but many are asking what the parameters are for the ethical and safe use of this sensitive information. There are no regulations for accountability, transparency, privacy and security surrounding data collection and it’s something more nonprofits should be considering.
  • Generational Behavior – seasoned nonprofit professionals could learn something from the next generation. A common attribute among young people is their willingness to fail and learn from their mistakes. The end result is almost always growth, development and eventually, success. Is this something that we support in the nonprofit sector? Perhaps we should.
  • Collective Impact Initiatives – an intentional way of working together and sharing information for the purpose of solving a complex problem. Participants from nonprofits, grantmaking organizations, the business community and government share a vision of change and a commitment to solve a problem by coordinating their work and agreeing on shared goals.
  • Randomized Control Trials –  bring in a scientific lens on philanthropy and show that there is evidence and research behind these big ideas fueling social change.

Nonprofit Governance Falls Short

Kim also investigated the importance of strategic planning in good nonprofit governance. Prefacing her remarks with a side-by-side comparison on nonprofit and corporate differences, Kim drove home the value of running a nonprofit in the same way a CEO would a business – with a focus on growth and development. Growth will look different for every nonprofit, but the underlying theme is the same. If you want to make an impact, set goals and make a plan to achieve those goals.

Times are Changing for Nonprofit Leaders

Following Kim’s keynote presentation, she addressed a select group of nonprofit and community leaders on how to plan for the future of their organizations. We can assume that changes in government safety net appropriations are on the horizon and nonprofits should be prepared for those cutbacks when and if they come to pass. Now is the time to prepare a contingency plan that can anticipate and address these challenges. Kim urged senior leaders to consider the following when planning for the future:

  • Composition of your Board – consider diversifying your board with multiple women, people of color and millennials. This will help your Board think differently and usher the organization into the future.
  • Mergers and partnerships – are worth considering when the right organization presents itself at the right time.
  • Engaging Board members in strategic planning – take advantage of your Board’s expertise. You should have a handful of business leaders serving on your Board. Use their knowledge to your advantage. That’s what they are there for!
  • Diversified Funding – do not rely too heavily on one source of funding. Diversified sources of funding can help you weather the storm should another economic disaster or other external factor take a toll on your funding.
  • Next Generation – In 2012-2014, 70% of millennials donated to a nonprofit and 60% volunteered their time. Millennials want to share their skills with nonprofits, but organizations need to make it easy for them to get involved. Make a plan to attract millennials to your cause.

Kim’s insight showed the immense potential of nonprofits to implement change. All it takes is commitment from us, the nonprofit professionals, to change our perspective on what good governance means and how it is implemented.

What’s Next for the 501(c) Success Series?  

Our next 501(c) Success National Speaker Series program will feature  Dr. Patrick Rooney, Associate Dean for Academic Affairs and Research. Dr. Rooney will present the always-anticipated Giving USA: The Annual Report on Philanthropy on Friday, June 16. Watch for more details from JB+A and Nonprofit Connect in the coming months.

“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 www.recalibratestrategies.com.

Sources:

  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

The Need for Estate Planning

By | All Posts, Donor Cultivation, Fundraising, Insights, News You Can Use, Planned Giving, Stewardship, Strategic Planning | No Comments

John+Marshal+for+webJohn F. Marshall, Senior Vice President

Really successful Planned Giving officers are those who understand how important it is to impress upon their organization’s donors the need to engage in good, thoughtful estate planning. And, estate planning is far more than just creating a will, although that is normally a cornerstone to creating one’s estate plan. They also understand that when addressing estate planning with donors, the “cookie cutter” approach does not apply. “One size does not fit all.”

As you consider addressing estate planning with your organization’s donors, keep in mind that estate planning is also not a do-it-yourself undertaking. Critical decisions will need to be addressed by the donor which will often require input from a professional estate planner. Helping your donors begin to understand estate planning can start with a simple definition:

“Estate planning is the process of thoughtfully providing for the efficient transfer of one’s assets to their heirs and charitable interests in full accordance with their wishes.”

Once crafted, the well thought out and constructed estate plan, in addition to how one’s estate will be distributed, affirms what kind of legacy an individual will leave behind and the impact it will have on future generations.

Estate planning is not just for the rich or older people. Everyone should be engaged in this important undertaking. It can certainly begin by writing a will, but estate planning can also involve:

  • trusts
  • changing beneficiaries of life insurance policies and retirement accounts
  • selecting guardians for minor children
  • providing lifetime giving for oneself or others
  • minimizing taxes and other estate settlement costs
  • much more

As stated earlier, “One size does not fit all,” and this truly needs to be addressed with your donors. There are likely going to be many complex issues to be identified and discussed. You can be most helpful by suggesting they give special attention to:

  • taking a complete inventory of their personal property and assigning realistic values to the assets
  • making a list of their intended beneficiaries and noting any characteristics that may determine the method and circumstances according to which certain assets are assigned
  • making certain the spouse is “in the loop” with regard to plans; such coordination can lead to additional savings for the estate, and it can make great sense for one’s plans to be shared with as many family members as possible
  • and importantly — providing complete information to their estate planner to ensure that one’s final wishes are accurately and ultimately fulfilled

Lastly, it is important to keep in mind that stewardship and estate planning go hand in hand. Good stewardship is a lifestyle and a process, not just isolated actions or individual events. The successful Planned Giving officer understands this and will strive to assist donors towards making thoughtful decisions about their estate, decisions that can create a lasting legacy of caring and compassion.

Are you interested in learning more about Estate Planning? JB+A can help you and your organization promote Planned Giving to your constituents. Contact John F. Marshall at jmarshall@fundraisingjba.com or call 816-237-1999.