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The Center for Association Resources is an association management firm focused on helping Non-Profit associations succeed in their mission.

Board training…..getting qualified people on the board

Another in a series of articles related to association management selected from our reading list by:
Robert O. Patterson, JD
CEO/ Principal
The Center for Association Resources, Inc.

Board Training — Getting qualified people on the board – The Center for Association Resources

What constitutes an effective and productive board member at a non-profit? As part of the governing body of the organization, a good board member is one who first understands fully the group’s mission and goals, as well as its legal obligations and significant responsibilities. This is true whether a non-profit is in its infancy, is in transition to becoming a more mature organization, or is already an established institution. The non-profit board’s membership should consist of people who are either experienced in non-profit board functions or who are willing to proactively learn about the roles and acquire the tools and knowledge to be competent contributors.

Most of the time, individuals serve on a non-profit board because they are passionate about the cause. However, passion alone is not enough to fulfill the many duties asked of each board member. Time commitment is a necessary requirement – for attending board meetings, preparing for the meetings, reviewing proposals, budgets and other documents, and fundraising.

Speaking of fundraising, many people who are new to non-profits don’t realize that one of the main functions of the board is to raise money. These board members need to be comfortable with a common policy among non-profits to either donate funds themselves or actively fundraise (or both). Board members may also be asked to organize and host fundraising events or to meet with foundations or government agencies that award grants to non-profits. Time commitment aside, each board member should have sufficient business and leadership skills to approve budgets, establish a process to create a strategic plan, hire and evaluate the executive director, and ensure the legal and ethical integrity of the organization. In order to perform the roles and responsibilities dutifully, the board should evaluate its effectiveness and identify areas where a new board member may bring on skills that would be complementary.

During growth periods, a board may need to grow too. Sometimes the need to find new board members arises from resignation or when board members reach their term limit. Recruiting for board members may start with referrals from the current board, volunteers from the organization, or from the staff. There are services that match prospective board candidates with non-profit organizations such as boardnetUSA and VolunteerMatch. The tasks of screening and determining a board candidate’s qualifications rest with the board. There should be a process to evaluate the candidate as well as a process to bring the new person on board.

As leaders wanting to make a difference, the board must be made up of individuals who have sound business skills, experience with board duties and functions and commitment to developing a strong board by ensuring each member is qualified to meet the needs of the non-profit organization.

Filed under: Association Resources, Center for Association Resources, Chicago, Fund Raising, Leadership, Marketing, Non-Profit, Planning, Strategic Planning, Strategy, The Center for Assocation Resources info, Training, , ,

What is the Center for Association Resources?

Another in a series of articles related to association management selected from our reading list by:
Robert O. Patterson, JD
CEO/ Principal
The Center for Association Resources, Inc.

The Center is an Association Management firm in Schaumburg, Illinois, with Robert Patterson as the Chief Executive Officer. We provide management, consulting, and advisory services to primarily non-profit organizations and associations that need the expertise and management services we provide.

Our experience spans areas ranging from volunteer recruitment to assembling a productive and engaged board of directors, to developing association policies against substance abuse, drinking, and harassment. Your non-profit organization benefits from over 50 years of combined experience. We can provide numerous positive references and testimony from associations we presently benefit.

Filed under: Association Resources, Center for Association Resources, Leadership, The Center for Assocation Resources info, , , , , , ,

Choosing a Good Board

Another in a series of articles related to association management selected from our reading list by:
Robert O. Patterson, JD
CEO/ Principal
The Center for Association Resources, Inc.

Every organization needs a good mix of board members to be most effective. The mix should comprise of people who have a solid interest in the work of the association and believe in the direction it is going.

Each board member should be able to solidly hold up an area of importance so that when different issues come up, there will be a place to turn for free and respectable advice.

Some areas that should be covered by any organization are leadership, legal, social, subject knowledge, history of the organization, financial and the public media.  Not every organization will be able to cover all their needs with their boards, and each organization will have specialized needs that will have to be identified.

For instance, if an organization is set up for race car safety, they probably don’t need a board member who is knowledgeable in the area of high tea parties. Then again, if a group needs to bring a lawsuit to bring about the enforcement of a law, it would be really nice to have a lawyer or two on the board.  Even if they don’t do the work themselves due to busy schedule or specialization, they can advise whom to see and how to set up the case for clarity and focus.

A socially savvy board member knows people who know people and they can tell more people about the group and it’s thrust.  They know best how to set up fundraisers and how to get people of distinction as honored speakers.  These board members are the heart of the group and keep the group alive.

A member of the media or a media member’s spouse or close relative can help any group immensely.  Just keeping the organization’s name in front of the media with the help of a good and honest and accurate media person is key.  Aim to get one of these people on your board until you get one.  They are that important!

One of the best resources an association can have is a person who has a knowledge of what the association has done in previous years.  This person will have an understanding of what works well, what has been done and over done and underdone. This person has an innate sense of the group and is part of the brain…an excellent resource for the group because many things are not written down, or information is lost. A good human memory bank is priceless.

The other must have association resource is one or more people who know the subject matter well. If your group’s reason to exist is to protect orphaned children, you must have someone who knows children well and orphaned children especially well.  If your group covers the protection of a particular beetle, you must have on hand a natural scientist of some kind to help the organization attain believability.

A board member with accounting background can help in many ways, including help with taxes, training employees, and banking and if you are fortunate enough you will have another to help with investing.

Last, but not least, a leader, a board member who will stay with the group, lead the others and is probably the founder of the group, so you don’t have to worry too much about choosing, but if you do, be sure and find someone who has previous experience.

A few final tips…

  • Be sure that all your board members will be able to attend most if not all meetings, and are interested enough to read the minutes of missed meetings.
  • Big name board members are nice on paper but rarely have time to help in real time.
  • And make sure potential board members get along with others.

Filed under: Association Resources, Center for Association Resources, Leadership, Non-Profit, Strategy, The Center for Assocation Resources info, , , , , , , , , ,

Board training…..getting qualified people on the board

Another in a series of articles related to association management selected from our reading list by:
Robert O. Patterson, JD
CEO/ Principal
The Center for Association Resources, Inc.

The governing body of a non-profit organization is its board of directors. Whether a non-profit is at its infancy, or is in transition to becoming a more mature organization or is already an established institution, it is vital for its board to be effective and productive. The non-profit board must understand and perform its legal obligations and significant responsibilities fully. Therefore the non-profit board’s membership should consist of qualified individuals who are either experienced in non-profit board functions or who are willing to proactively learn about the roles and acquire the tools and knowledge to be competent contributors.

Most of the time, individuals serve on a non-profit board because they are passionate about the cause. However, passion alone is not enough to fulfill the many duties asked of each board member. Time commitment is a necessary requirement for attending board meetings, preparing for the meetings such as reviewing proposals, budget or other documents and fundraising. A main function of the non-profit board is to raise money. It is a common policy among non-profits to require each board member to either give or get a certain monetary amount annually. Board members are also asked to organize and host fundraising events or to meet with foundations or government agencies that award grants to non-profits. Time commitment aside, each board member should have sufficient business and leadership skills as the board needs to approve the budget, establish a process to create a strategic plan, hire and evaluate the executive director, and ensure the legal and ethical integrity of the organization. In order to perform the roles and responsibilities dutifully, the board should evaluate its effectiveness and identify areas where a new board member may bring on skills that would be complementary.

During growth periods, a board may need to grow too. Sometimes the need to find new board members arise from resignation or when board members reach their term limit. Recruiting for board members may start with referrals from the current board or from the staff. There are services that match prospective board candidates with non-profit organizations such as boardnetUSA and VolunteerMatch. The tasks of screening and determining a board candidate’s qualifications rest with the board. There should be a process to evaluate the candidate as well as a process to on-board the new member.

As leaders wanting to make a difference, the board must be made up of individuals who have sound business skills, experience with board duties and functions and commitment to developing a strong board by ensuring each board member is qualified to meet the needs of the non-profit organization.

Filed under: Association Resources, Center for Association Resources, Leadership, Planning, Strategic Planning, The Center for Assocation Resources info, Training, , , , , ,

Ethics in non-profit associations

Another in a series of articles related to association management selected from our reading list by:
Robert O. Patterson, JD
CEO/ Principal
The Center for Association Resources, Inc.

When examining the field of nonprofit work, which focuses on providing a wholesome contribution to the community, it becomes clear that the ethics of such associations must be pure and unquestionable. This is essential for several reasons: most importantly, the integrity of a nonprofit organization must be intact for it to have any stature in society. Furthermore, the efficiency of such organizations is compromised by any foul play or mismanagement, and in organizations where every penny is supposed to be used to further a particular cause, efficiency is key.

A not for profit organization is meant to be, in most cases, an association dedicated to a certain charitable cause. The very nature of these organizations is typically thought to be pure and selfless. It is in this way that such groups appeal to the public and people’s desire to join in or donate to something that is helping others. However, if the ethics of an association are besmirched, the moral basis of the group is compromised. Since this moral basis is the foundation of the organization and the factor that makes donating to the organization attractive to the public, the entire legitimacy of the group will be destroyed. The public is not willing to donate their hard-earned money to line the pockets of a greedy middle man rather than to feed starving children. And so, when any question of a breach of ethics arises, the public will easily divert their donations to another organization that has maintained such codes of conduct. This will ultimately cause such an organization to not only lose stature and legitimacy, but also to be drained of funding, without which no organization can long survive.

Well-preserved ethics and codes of conduct amongst nonprofit organizations are essential for another reason: an organization cannot run efficiently unless all of its transactions are transparent and above board. Should a breach of ethics occur such as the siphoning of an organization’s funds into an administrator’s personal account, the money lost would be a much greater blow to a not for profit than to a multimillion dollar commercial corporation. Indeed, the majority of nonprofit organizations operate at the bottom line, as they typically rely on charitable donations, not the most opulent of sources, to garner funds. Furthermore, when helping the thousands or millions in suffering, a dollar must be stretched as far as possible, and even then it will fall short. If ethics are breach regarding the handling of an association’s funds, it will drastically decrease the necessary efficiency of the organization.

There are a multitude of reasons as to why ethics in nonprofit associations are essential. Any lack of ethics destroys an organization’s reputation and good standing, and cuts into its efficiency. For these reasons, it is clear that to run a nonprofit organization well, upholding ethics must be a key component of the organization’s mission statement.

Filed under: Association Resources, Center for Association Resources, Fund Raising, Non-Profit, Strategy, The Center for Assocation Resources info, , , , , , ,

Leadership training and development for non-profits

Another in a series of articles related to association management selected from our reading list by:
Robert O. Patterson, JD
CEO/ Principal
The Center for Association Resources, Inc.

Every successful organization or business must have competent leadership.  For the non-profit organization, its leaders are the board of directors and the executive director.  Jointly they communicate the vision, set the goals and provide the direction for the organization to achieve its mission.  As leaders, the executive director and each board member must dutifully carry out their roles and responsibilities.  A leader must also recognize when he or she needs training and development and should seek the proper help to fulfill the requirements of the job in order to advance the organization.

The most important staff role of a non-profit organization is its executive director.  While the primary job of the executive director is to manage the day-to-day functions and the staff (including developing the staff), he or she also needs to work closely with the board of directors on a variety of initiatives such as strategic planning, fundraising, and participate in board involved committees.  Whether the organization size is small, with a budget of less than one hundred thousand dollars; or large, with a budget of over five million dollars, the executive director must have excellent business and people skills and teamwork to work along with staff personnel and the board as well as interface with the organization’s constituents and supporters.  To develop the breadth and depth of skills required for this non-profit leadership role, many nonprofit services offer classes and coaching.

Also vital to the non-profit organization is its board of directors.  Most often non-profit board members serve because they are passionate about the cause.  Therefore board members’ talents and skills vary and may or may not compliment the staff or each other.  Sometimes the board members need to learn about their roles and responsibilities and how to perform them as they are a governing body sanctioned by the state.  There is a wealth of information online about board duties as well as agencies that provide consultation to build and develop non-profit boards in the areas of fundraising, strategic planning, succession planning, governance, and managing the performance of the executive director.

A key position on the board is the president.  The board president leads the rest of the board members by being clear about the board’s role, sets examples of behavior for fellow members to follow, maintains a business focus and develops the board into a cohesive and productive body.  If an area of board development is to bring on training, there are many workshops and programs that would help the board and its president to be more effective leaders.

A trained and developed board and executive director are poised to help the non-profit organization through challenges, to transition the organization to the next level, and most importantly to achieve the mission of the organization.

Filed under: Association Resources, Center for Association Resources, Fund Raising, Leadership, Marketing, Non-Profit, Strategic Planning, Strategy, The Center for Assocation Resources info, Training, , , , , ,

May 2017
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