A nonprofit debated keeping their Form 990 tax return private and sharing it only with the Executive Director and Executive Committee. The well-intended conversation was based around the financial disclosures that might cause concern to individuals who reviewed the form without appropriate context. Eventually, the board reached the realization that Form 990 was a public document, viewable on a number of public websites. Secondly, a board member made a compelling argument that the organization should use the Annual Report as a way to put the programs and numbers in context. Lastly, the Treasurer and Finance Chair walked the board through the return, stumbling upon Part VI, Section B, Question 11a, “Has the organization provided a complete copy of their Form 990 to all members of its governing body before filing the form?” The board discussion turned into an act of governance.
The question of which documents must be made public and which may remain confidential causes confusion. Many social sector enterprises invest significant time and energy into debating this topic. BoarSource provides a one-page overview that may be especially helpful as a starting point. I encourage sharing this resource so more time can be spent on the work that matters.
Remarkable content and insights at the BoardSource Leadership Forum. Here are ideas that I am excited to explore further.
- Leaders are spending their time in the following ares: 30% interruptions, 25% content creation, 20% meetings, 15% absorbing content, and 5% thinking.
- What books are you re-reading to confirm or challenge your original assumptions?
- Big Ideas–>Culture–>Dialogue are three areas where we can be obsessive
Cathy Trower: Stage V Thinking
- The five stages of thinking
- Stage 1: collective, analyzing, interpreting
- Stage 2: Strategic decision-making
- Stage 3: Strategic planning
- Stage 4: Execution. Reviewing progress against the plan
- Stage 5: Sensemaking
- Engage board members as thought partners, not technicians
- Distinguish between discussion (action focused) vs dialogue (exploration and new ideas)
Thomas McLaughlin: Nonprofit Collaboration
- Alliance is required for economic, resource, and operational sharing. Mergers required in a corporate to corporate union.
- Corporate structures are allergic to mergers so they need time and both parties have to win.
- Honoring the brand is important.
- Culture is exponentially more important that strategy.
- Ask, what does success look like? Who else has done this before? What did the merger look like?
Richard Mittenthal: Governance 3.0
- Consider strategic initiatives that embrace the entire ecosystem your organization occupies, not just your enterprise in isolation.
- Build board capacity by providing board with the vocabulary and technical understanding necessary to discuss programs.
- Distinguish between collaboration and collective impact. Collaboration does not give-up much whereas collective impact sacrifices for the whole.
- Is your organization breaking down the board walls by inviting external guests and taking field trips?
Gigi Woodruff: Advancing Governance
- Search YMCA’s Board Leadership Competency Model for great resources
- Six Competencies
- Emotional Maturity
- Functional Expertise
- Ask the board: How will we show-up? How are we related to the bigger opportunity? Which competencies are you going to commitment to during the next year?
- Who on the board asks, what just happened?
- Recruit new board members by allowing them to tell their stories and sell themselves to you
Holly Duckwork: Ctrl+Alt+Believe
- Reboot your organization by transcending history and hierarchy
- Dying organizations have three common themes: fear, doubt, lack. Growing organizations: faith, courage, abundance
- Ask, what are we optimistic about?
- Combine two best practices to create a new practice
- Zappos top five core values are remarkable
- Wow through service, embrace and drive change, create fun and weirdness, be adventurous and creative, and pursue growth