News to Use

This list of readings on nonprofit management offers a range of articles, posts, stories, reports, data and more that we hope will be of interest to and useful for nonprofit organizations. New articles are posted in our “News to Use” monthly newsletter. Please subscribe here.

Board and Executive Leadership Collaboration in a Time of Crisis

Crisis situations, such as the current Covid-19 pandemic, demand that a nonprofit board and the executive leadership work together far more closely than would normally occur. This is because the circumstances can impact: Mission and vision (what you do), Funding and budgets (the resources available), Governance processes (decision-making authority and documentation), Stakeholders (impact on staff, clients, supporters and others), Management priorities (how the ED will be evaluated), and ultimately The core values of the organization (how your actions will be perceived). While the chief executive oversees day-to-day implementation of these issues, responsibility for approving and monitoring execution is actually the […]

Interim Executives: Providing Stability in Times of Uncertainty

By Brian Krehbiel Times of disruption and uncertainty are times in which organizations tend to seek help from interim executives. I’ve noticed this phenomenon over more than two decades of providing interim executives to hospitals and health systems. When the future is cloudy, organizations are often reluctant to fill open positions with permanent hires, and instead look to executives who can serve them capably for a finite period of time. Interim leadership buys the organization valuable time and generates a feeling of organizational stability. What many organizations may not realize is just how much benefit and return on investment they […]

Nonprofit Survival in the Era of Covid 19

Dateline 3-19-20: The next few weeks are going to test us all and will require very challenging decisions we would never dream of having to make under normal circumstances. For many nonprofits the initial instinct for survival may mean minimizing unnecessary costs, no matter how unpleasant such decisions may be. On the other hand, this may be a time to critically review programs, assess resilience and sustainability, and envision new ways to achieve your mission. As many people have time on their hands and are captive audiences as they wait out Covid 19, it may even be the time to test […]

Resiliency: A Diagnostic for Success by Steve Stanton (Part 2)

Part one of this blog attempted to make the case for nonprofit resiliency. Here Steve Stanton shares a diagnostic model for organizational resilience based on seven core elements. A Clear Organizational Identity: Are we aligned as to who we are? Do we have continuous and aligned focus and flexibility on core issues? Relevant Mission: Is it clear why we are here and what our core purpose is? Vision: Can we articulate what our eventual success will look like? Strategic Plan: Do we know what the organization’s critical goals, actions, and measures are? Is the plan continuously renewed? Do we know […]

A New Model for Nonprofit Resiliency by Steve Stanton (Part 1)

Some nonprofits need to improve their marketing, and others have to focus on building up their boards, but ALL nonprofits need to improve their resiliency. Resiliency means the capacity to recover quickly from difficulties. This ability extends beyond flexibility and encompasses far more than “capacity building”. A resilient organization is able to find ways to succeed in all types of conditions and to bounce back whenever problems arise. To quote a cliché, resilience is the ability to “keep calm and carry on” in all types of situations, to extend success in good times and to recover quickly in troubled times. […]

Interim Leadership In Action

As 2019 year comes to a close, we thought we would highlight some recent leadership transitions that Interim Executive Solutions team members have helped organizations navigate. The Board of the Landing School, a 2-year boat-building college in Maine, was concerned about excessive deficits, low enrollment and low morale. IES conducted an organizational assessment after which the President decided not to renew his contract. An IES team member then stepped in as acting President and replaced the Director of Admissions, mapped out a new admissions process, upgraded the educational leadership team and the teaching staff paving the way for reaccreditation, and […]

The big misses that non-profits do not do well or could be more effective at

Every nonprofit we encounter has different strengths and weaknesses but there are a few common challenges and blind spots that many of them share. Here are just a few: The first rule of a nonprofit is that you actually have to make a profit or a surplus (what you call it doesn’t matter but you cannot run a nonprofit sustainably at a deficit). Mission achievement is often used to justify deficits and while they may be okay in the short term they cannot be allowed to last. Profit is not a dirty word. Objective program assessment: each program an organization […]

Southeastern Connecticut Council of Governments – Gap Analysis

Prepared for the Southeastern Connecticut Council of Governments by Interim Executive Solutions, LLC. Executive Summary This gap analysis brings together two “big data” sources— Connecticut Economic Resource Center (CERC) town profiles and United Way’s 211CT data—alongside interviews with municipal officials and nonprofits to identify gaps in service delivery in southeastern Connecticut. We use demographic and financial data by municipality and region to offer a socio-economic backdrop to the regional human services ecosystem. We then explore unmet human services needs by municipality and the region overall. Finally, we offer perspectives on patterns of unmet need, assessments of the information available, and […]

Are Donors Solving Problems—or Creating New Ones

from  “Gospels of Giving for the New Gilded Age”,  by Elizabeth Kolbert ,  New Yorker, 8-27-18 Skeptics fear philanthropies have gained undue influence on public policy. In the spring of 1889, Andrew Carnegie published an essay on money. If possession confers knowledge, then there wa s no greater expert on the subject: Carnegie was possibly the richest American who ever lived. The essay, which was printed first in the North American Review, then in Britain’s Pall Mall Gazette, and later reissued in a pamphlet, became known as “The Gospel of Wealth.” The “Gospel” opened with a discussion of inequity. This was the Gilded Age, and, […]

Interim Executive Management: Seven Benefits to Consider

from an article in The Bridgespan Group newsletter Summary A nonprofit that loses a top leader faces an anxiety-producing situation even under the best circumstances. But losing an executive without a succession plan in place can be particularly agonizing. Nonprofits are increasingly engaging professional transition consultants as interim executives, which can help them fill the short-term gap to give them time to consider the organization’s longer-term future. A nonprofit organization that loses a top leader (e.g., chief staff officer, CEO, executive director, executive vice president) faces an anxiety-producing situation even under the best circumstances. But losing an executive without a […]

YEAR UP Nonprofit Demonstrates National Success in Job Training

Economically disadvantaged young adults trained in a Year Up program, earn 53 percent more than economically disadvantaged young adults who did not participate in the program. The findings said Year Up increased total hours worked by three to four per week and graduates earned nearly $4 more per hour than members of a control group that were part of the study. In 1982 the Job Training Partnership Act budgeted about $3 billion in annual funding for the program.  Since then with repeals and replacements of the law (1982 federal Job Training Partnership Act to 1998 Workforce Investment Act of 1998 […]

Capacity Building Tips for a Stronger Nonprofit

A Crowded Field The National Center for Charitable Statistics’ website reports that Massachusetts has 19,037 nonprofits who reported financial information to the IRS in 2008, 34.4 nonprofit organizations for every 10,000 residents. Rhode Island, surprisingly, had almost a quarter as many – 4349 or 47.4 per 10,000 population. Neither of these rates compares favorably with large conservative states like Texas (20.3) or even other, larger liberal states like New York (28.4) or California (22.6). New England seems to grow nonprofits almost twice as fast as everybody else.If there are too many organizations chasing too few donor dollars, then the nonprofit […]

Lessons from the Merger Culture War

by N. Paul TonThat, Associate, Interim Executive Solutions A Vision/Mission statement for an organization undergoing transition and/or merger is that most exquisite and powerful of commodities. If it is focused, precise and singularly inspiring, it will almost define entirely alone the new or changing organization’s program and governance. On the other hand the mission statement is bound to fail if the focus is overly broad, the standard of services is undefined, and the definition of success is left unspecified. An Uncomfortable Truth Organizational merger is first a contest of power, will and influence before it is an exercise about increasing […]

Leadership Transition in Nonprofits Presents Challenges

By Stan Burrows In March 2017 Third Sector New England published an important paper for the Boston Foundation entitled Opportunity in Change: Preparing Boston for Leader Transitions and New Models of Nonprofit Leadership. The paper was released at a conference that was videotaped that you can review. This effort was a part of the Boston Foundation’s ongoing program on Understanding Boston developed through partnerships with government and local institutions. The focus of this effort, the fifth in the series, is on preparing nonprofits for the long awaited and much discussed retirement of the baby boom generation and the passing of […]

How to Prepare a Budget for Your Nonprofit Organization

Developing a sound budget that provides the Board and Executive team the key information for Planned (based on the budget prepared at the beginning of the year) vs. Actual (what is actually spent per category on a weekly or monthly basis) is critical to the success of a nonprofit.  Grantspace, a service of Foundation Center, provides an excellent collection of information and tools for nonprofit budgeting. Project Budget All budgets have two common elements: your estimate of the true costs of the project and your anticipated income to meet those costs. Your expenses will be direct costs—any personnel and non-personnel […]

Exploring Success Strategies for Nonprofit Mergers

The number of US nonprofits actually grew 7 percent between 2007 and 2011 to 1.58 million, an average of nearly 40 nonprofits per US zip code.   But the rate of mergers in the nonprofit sector has remained flat.  This is unfortunate.  Mergers can make good sense for many nonprofit organizations.  But there are challenges on the way to achieving success.  Below is a checklist from some of the best of the “nonprofit merger” literature to help Boards and Executives get started thinking about this opportunity. Nonprofit Mergers Most Likely to Succeed Done for strategic reasons Combining separate competencies Joining contiguous or related […]

IES Helps MetroWest & CAN-DO Nonprofits to Merge

Nonprofits Announce Merge to Better Meet Affordable Housing Needs Long-time Newton-based nonprofit Citizens for Affordable Housing in Newton Development Organization (CAN-DO) announces its affiliation, as of January 1, with Metro West Collaborative Development, Inc., also of Newton. Both organizations say that their affiliation move will help grow and support affordable housing in the area.  On February 1 Metro West will take over management of the CAN-DO properties through its offices on Chapel Street in Newton. “CAN-DO was attracted to becoming an organization with a more diverse collection of income sources and the opportunity of working in numerous towns said Susan Davidoff, […]

Dashboard Data Moves Organization Forward

By Chris Moore A nonprofit without a recently updated business plan & supporting intelligence dashboard is like a boat without its engine and navigation tools.  Does your nonprofit have a business plan?  Does it have a Business Intelligence Dashboard in place so that you and your management team are watching both leading and lagging indicators of success, and in real time?  If you answered no to either question, then your business operations may not be running at peak efficiency and effectiveness.  Our services help nonprofits improve operational outcomes so that they in turn can focus on their mission without distraction […]

A Nonprofit Turnaround Story

Christian W. Dame by Christian Dame The New England Shelter for Homeless Veterans  (NESHV) faced a crisis. Financial problems had caused the Commonwealth of Massachusetts to suspend state funding and the Board of Directors asked the CEO to resign. The Board then asked NPT’s principal Chris Dame to step in and take charge. Chris assumed day-to-day operational control of a $6.1 million budget and 125 person staff serving 350 homeless clients daily, plus operating 45 apartments and a job training program for 600 other veterans in a 14 story building in downtown Boston, Massachusetts. Meeting the next payroll was problematic. […]

Cultivating Successful Executive Directors

by Alison Buckser, MP; Public Health Solutions “Dream jobs” can be a lot of trouble. Imagine that, after years of doing excellent program work for a nonprofit you deeply respect, the board gives you the executive director (ED) position. You are finally able to lead your organization in truly fulfilling its mission. But now it’s two years later, and you are miserable and exhausted.  The board is angry, the staff is demoralized, and the finances are a mess. You are ready to quit and vow to never serve as an ED for anyone ever again.”  This case study illustrates some […]

Capacity Building Tips for a Stronger Nonprofit

Christian W. Dame by Christian Dame A Crowded Field The National Center for Charitable Statistics’ website reports that Massachusetts has 19,037 nonprofits who reported financial information to the IRS in 2008, 34.4 nonprofit organizations for every 10,000 residents. Rhode Island, surprisingly, had almost a quarter as many – 4349 or 47.4 per 10,000 population. Neither of these rates compares favorably with large conservative states like Texas (20.3) or even other, larger liberal states like New York (28.4) or California (22.6). New England seems to grow nonprofits almost twice as fast as everybody else.If there are too many organizations chasing too […]

Unhappy Endings

According to Daring to Lead 2006: A National Study of Nonprofit Executive Leadership, a recent report from CompassPoint Nonprofit Services and the Meyer Foundation, an executive is forced out or fired in an estimated 34 percent of nonprofit transitions. Dismissing an executive, for whatever reason, can be particularly challenging for boards and for the transition process more broadly. An outright confrontation with a CEO who is underperforming is not appealing. Many board members avoid the situation or quietly resign. In addition to creating the threat of a wrongful termination lawsuit, firing an executive can lead to a sense of crisis, […]