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Mike Burns
Asking the right planning questions to support nonprofit success.
Interests: Assessments: internal challenges; board/staff relationships; ventures; merger prospects. If you would like to know more about me and my firm, please visit my web site:
Recent Activity
This may just be a pet peeve without any substance more than what's in a name, but an article announcing two prominent individuals and their appointment to the "Advisory Board" has me concerned. First, the quote from Big Island Now:... Continue reading
Posted 8 hours ago at Nonprofit Board Crisis
Last week I commented on the increasingly alarming crisis centered around conflicts of interest over at the University of Maryland Medical System board. The fiduciary duty of loyalty specifically requires that a nonprofit board member's interests must always lie first... Continue reading
Posted 10 hours ago at Nonprofit Board Crisis
I have regularly argued that nonprofits are a step above for-profits in terms of ownership/accountability and outcomes and who profits. For nonprofits, the community, through a surrogate board, "owns" and benefits from a nonprofit. As such, no one individual financially... Continue reading
Posted 4 days ago at Nonprofit Board Crisis
Ok, so folks with more money than most, but not the uber rich, wanted to give their kids a "leg" up and used their resources to get their kids "in" to the colleges of their choice. Capitalism at its best?... Continue reading
Posted 6 days ago at Nonprofit Board Crisis
Washington Post: ...the organization (the Board of Directors) must act when staff conduct doesn’t meet its standards. The SPLC is deeply committed to having a workplace that reflects the values it espouses - truth, justice, equity and inclusion, and we... Continue reading
Posted Mar 17, 2019 at Nonprofit Board Crisis
Conflicts of interest are against the law - they violate fiduciary duty. But, the State of Maryland has determined that fiduciary duty is not enough and wants to make a regulation/law that while ostensibly specifically addresses what is at minimum... Continue reading
Posted Mar 14, 2019 at Nonprofit Board Crisis
The recently announced bribery scandals revolving around people with money giving their kids (who already have a head start) an edge or even guarantee to get into the college of their choice is having overflow effects beyond this already known... Continue reading
Posted Mar 14, 2019 at Nonprofit Board Crisis
If you sit on a nonprofit board you are likely aware that recruitment of new members is a big deal. Are there effective and efficient approaches. Consultants like me think the answer is "of course" and generally they parallel what... Continue reading
Posted Mar 12, 2019 at Nonprofit Board Crisis
Here's a brief overview of a story that describes two organizations with similar missions solving market demand and institutional growth challenges while remaining independent - mostly. This could be a solution from some nonprofit boards seeking to retain core values... Continue reading
Posted Mar 11, 2019 at Nonprofit Board Crisis
I have been a nonprofit organizational development consultant since 1979. I have been a part of THE place where what is now referred to as nonprofit capacity builders have hung their hat since it began - the Alliance for Nonprofit... Continue reading
Posted Mar 10, 2019 at Nonprofit Board Crisis
In a Yale Press article about a nonprofit focused on expanding the understanding and study of ALS, I noted the following: The leadership of the nonprofit currently comprises three boards. The board of directors is made up of two patients,... Continue reading
Posted Mar 9, 2019 at Nonprofit Board Crisis
What is "fiduciary"? Nonprofit boards are frequently reminded by consultants, regulators and attorneys that the board has three fiduciary duties: care, loyalty and obedience. The literature is clear about these duties but is the meaning of fiduciary clear? Ann NPR... Continue reading
Posted Mar 8, 2019 at Nonprofit Board Crisis
"Q: What steps have you taken to prepare for this job? What strengths do you bring to office, and what in your life demonstrates those strengths?" This is the question the Anchorage Daily News asked asked candidates for the April... Continue reading
Posted Mar 7, 2019 at Nonprofit Board Crisis
Ok, so I am continuing to scratch my head over how the following was able to happen. Basically, the exec of a well recognized nonprofit, the Big Apple Music Awards Foundation, brought a bunch of folks into the country under... Continue reading
Posted Mar 6, 2019 at Nonprofit Board Crisis
In a Twin Cities Business Opinion piece on the subject of nonprofit board effectiveness, one recommendation in particular caught my eye. Labeled "create opportunities for feedback to the director and chair after every meeting", it said: With free polling tools... Continue reading
Posted Mar 5, 2019 at Nonprofit Board Crisis
Is there really a correlation between how great is a Charter School and how great is the Board of Directors? The following Forbes article says that indeed there is: that a weak board means a weak school and visa versa.... Continue reading
Posted Mar 1, 2019 at Nonprofit Board Crisis
In an article about the decline in revenues being experienced by a North Dakota United Way, the Nonprofit Quarterly identified an "aha" that many nonprofit board members may want to consider. Here's the copy. According to the Grand Forks Herald,... Continue reading
Posted Mar 1, 2019 at Nonprofit Board Crisis
There is wisdom to be learned from those with lived board experience. Such was the basis for bringing together reps from a number of nonprofits for a panel to discuss their experiences and offer their insights. I'm posting the article... Continue reading
Posted Feb 28, 2019 at Nonprofit Board Crisis
When talk about recruiting folks to nonprofit boards arises there is often the "whew, that's a tough topic" expression. And for many boards this is indeed a challenge but maybe one of the reasons for the challenge is the failure... Continue reading
Posted Feb 27, 2019 at Nonprofit Board Crisis
About nonprofit boards Utah legislators have two beliefs: boards aren't doing their job (at governing) and board members need to be forced to be trained. I suppose a third belief is that if trained, boards will do their jobs. This... Continue reading
Posted Feb 25, 2019 at Nonprofit Board Crisis
From the Urbana Citizen I found an article by the Ohio Attorney General that describes the fiduciary duties of nonprofit boards and their members and added the following advice to those who would be nonprofit board members: Before agreeing to... Continue reading
Posted Feb 23, 2019 at Nonprofit Board Crisis
Just how culpable can a board be for everything that goes wrong in a nonprofit? And, just how much can a board's duty of loyalty (making decisions in the best interest of the nonprofit over the interests of members) contribute... Continue reading
Posted Feb 20, 2019 at Nonprofit Board Crisis
The adage, "what goes around comes around" is best demonstrated with a recent announcement by the Knight Foundation, wait for it, that it will be doubling the giving it makes to local journalism. History lovers should realize that the source... Continue reading
Posted Feb 19, 2019 at Nonprofit Board Crisis
There is some perception in the for-profit world that should all else fail, becoming a nonprofit can offer salvation. This fallacy is proven as such whereby Dream Center purchased a number of for-profit educational institutions that had been economically failing.... Continue reading
Posted Feb 18, 2019 at Nonprofit Board Crisis
There were four people in the Body family. Their names were Everybody, Somebody, Anybody, and Nobody. There was an important job to be done and Everybody was sure that Somebody would do it. Anybody could have done it, but Nobody... Continue reading
Posted Feb 16, 2019 at Nonprofit Board Crisis