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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
While the lesson provided by the nonprofit that lost a few hundred thousand dollars appears to be a failing of trust, I wonder that the lesson the board should be addressing is how the embezzlement that is the subject of... Continue reading
Posted 1 hour ago at Nonprofit Board Crisis
Bonnie Gwin of Heidrick & Struggles (which focuses on CEO and Board member recruitment for corporations), offers the following steps in particular when seeking to diversify your board: Look beyond the usual candidate pool. The ideal candidate does not have... Continue reading
Posted 3 days ago at Nonprofit Board Crisis
I have regularly stated that at minimum a nonprofit's mantra should be to do no harm. I recognize though that this may not be a reality for many nonprofits. The Boy Scouts for instance have pretty much been one of... Continue reading
Posted 3 days ago at Nonprofit Board Crisis
Maybe just because I haven't thought about this before but doing bad to or for other nonprofits may be criteria for other nonprofits to no longer keep you on their boards. This is what happened to Peterkin Bell who, as... Continue reading
Posted 4 days ago at Nonprofit Board Crisis
What would your board do if your CEO invited a speaker who was viewed as inconsistent with the goals and values of the nonprofit? It's not clear the board did anything but the media reaction created by the Univ. of... Continue reading
Posted 5 days ago at Nonprofit Board Crisis
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 Nov 10, 2018 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 Nov 8, 2018 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 Nov 7, 2018 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 Nov 7, 2018 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 Nov 6, 2018 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 Nov 6, 2018 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 Nov 6, 2018 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