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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: www.bwbsolutions.com
Recent Activity
Mr. Whitaker, the newly appointed acting attorney general may be a really smart guy but it appears, not when it comes to governing a nonprofit. As the following Washington Times article identifies, Mr. Whitaker, as head of a nonprofit "transparency"... Continue reading
Posted 3 days ago at Nonprofit Board Crisis
While many citizens serve on nonprofit boards, there is a reality that mostly joining is about being asked, principally by someone you know (this is not necessarily the correct approach). Usually, in my experience, the person being asked asks a... Continue reading
Posted 5 days ago at Nonprofit Board Crisis
The following Chronicle of Philanthropy article about Alley Cat Allies pretty much describes what can happen when a board just doesn't get it correct in fulfilling its fiduciary duties. The article emphasizes the legal function of a nonprofit board: oversight.... Continue reading
Posted 6 days ago at Nonprofit Board Crisis
An extensive and detailed article in today's Washington Post describes how the financially resourced (aka "rich") have been financing candidates who will be strong proponents of Charter Schools. The article alludes to the idea that maybe this is not "right".... Continue reading
Posted 6 days ago at Nonprofit Board Crisis
I am occasionally asked both whether the nonprofit's CEO should have a voting board seat and whether they can be the CEO. I think both answers are found in the New York Post article about CitiGroup's recent decision to appoint... Continue reading
Posted 7 days ago at Nonprofit Board Crisis
Perhaps a testimony to why sometimes a Founder's best intentions can go awry is seen in the current legal case going on with Caprilands Herb Farm. Established by the "renowned herbalist Adelma Grenier Simmons, Caprilands Herb Farm was the model... Continue reading
Posted 7 days ago at Nonprofit Board Crisis
I am occasionally asked both whether the nonprofit's CEO should have a voting board seat and whether they can be the CEO. I think both answers are found in the New York Post article about CitiGroup's recent decision to appoint... Continue reading
Posted 7 days ago at Nonprofit Board Crisis
You are a nonprofit executive and you answer the phone one day. The individual on the other end of the line tells you your nonprofit is going to receive a one million dollar gift your nonprofit didn't ask to receive.... Continue reading
Posted Nov 5, 2018 at Nonprofit Board Crisis
Bill Gates, Co-Chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation announced today that they are suspending their future work with a nonprofit chaired by the Saudi Arabia crown prince. Effectively, the Foundation board is placing values center in their pursuit... Continue reading
Posted Nov 2, 2018 at Nonprofit Board Crisis
Nonprofits have surrogate owners, folks (aka, boards) that act in the best interest of the community, to serve to plan, evaluate, make policy and ensure that goals are achieved (and yes, depending on who's asking, raise money). Community engagement theory... Continue reading
Posted Nov 1, 2018 at Nonprofit Board Crisis
There's a fight brewing over whether housing for Clergy should be tax-free. I must admit that where once I might have strongly advocated for this exemption, despite the lack of consistency over the separation of church and state, I look... Continue reading
Posted Oct 30, 2018 at Nonprofit Board Crisis
In a follow-up story about what was an intended signature event gone economically wrong, The Gazzette (Iowa) reported on the many vendors, including the police, who have had their checks bounced or just haven't been paid from an event conducted... Continue reading
Posted Oct 22, 2018 at Nonprofit Board Crisis
I, too often to remember the precise frequency, hear boards talk about the necessity of having a lawyer fill at least one seat. The expectation is of course that free and wise legal counsel will forever be available. No I... Continue reading
Posted Oct 19, 2018 at Nonprofit Board Crisis
Ok you might ask: heretical? Yup, my choice of words is very intentional. And yes, 13 years as a Catholic seminarian provides me with my understanding of the use of the word. But how am I applying this word: Jimmy... Continue reading
Posted Oct 18, 2018 at Nonprofit Board Crisis
An international nonprofit with an important story to tell and a Theory of Change that appears to have promising results has failed. That is, it's leadership has failed according to Time and ProPublica and subsequently reported by NPR. As told,... Continue reading
Posted Oct 17, 2018 at Nonprofit Board Crisis
Talk about behind the curtain. The following opinion piece made it to the area paper, the Napa Valley Register. I appreciate that members take their board so seriously and are willing to put themselves out publicly to ensure that those... Continue reading
Posted Oct 12, 2018 at Nonprofit Board Crisis
I just took a look at the 2018 nonprofit power 50: The most powerful people in the (New York) nonprofit sector published by CityandStateNY. Without question, all of these individuals are very formidable and impressive people. BUT, not one of... Continue reading
Posted Oct 10, 2018 at Nonprofit Board Crisis
There are times, intentional or otherwise, when a board cannot just "stand by their man". The Cheyenne Animal Shelter is a case example. In an effort to demonstrate animal control techniques, presumably in the best interest of the staff, the... Continue reading
Posted Oct 9, 2018 at Nonprofit Board Crisis
While current and previous research by the Alliance for Nonprofit Management Governance Affinity Group indicates there to not be a lot of planning for who will serve as Board Chair, this question and the criteria for what qualities does indeed... Continue reading
Posted Oct 8, 2018 at Nonprofit Board Crisis
Boards of one ethnicity or race or gender are not as effective (decisionmakers) as those that are diverse. There is much evidence that speaks to this fact and you can easily find this beginning with what has been reported by... Continue reading
Posted Sep 28, 2018 at Nonprofit Board Crisis
Museums tell stories that help visitors understand the past, present and maybe the future. Museums often collect and display artifacts from the past and present to help better tell the story. In Illinois, the Lincoln Museum has put on display,... Continue reading
Posted Sep 26, 2018 at Nonprofit Board Crisis
The end of a fairly long Aspen Daily News article focused on the struggles faced by the board of the Red Brick Center for the Arts highlights some of what can go wrong when a well-meaning board just doesn't know... Continue reading
Posted Sep 25, 2018 at Nonprofit Board Crisis
One starting point for folks in thinking about board diversity is to remember that the process for building a board parallels the process for building a team. Why? Because an effective nonprofit board is one that is a team. This... Continue reading
Posted Sep 24, 2018 at Nonprofit Board Crisis
According to NewsOK, "Intentional Influence is an initiative that pairs emerging Christian leaders who have a desire to serve on local nonprofit boards with faith-driven local nonprofits." While I recognize the moniker Intentional Influence has a singular focus for these... Continue reading
Posted Sep 23, 2018 at Nonprofit Board Crisis
Did the Lighthouse Guild lose sight of its mission by diversifying its services to folks with disabilities beyond blindness? The Guild created schools for persons with disabilities that may include blindness but not singularly. The Guild also started a long-term... Continue reading
Posted Sep 21, 2018 at Nonprofit Board Crisis