Sunday, October 28, 2007

The Boardsource Nonprofit Governance 2007 Index - Part 2: Highlights of Results on Accountability Issues

First of all let me say that a more complete article on the BoardSource 2007 Nonprofit Governance Index can be found in my newest eNewsletter. If you would like a copy sign up now - right here on my blog. Also, an adapted article will be published soon in Charity Channel's Nonprofit Boards and Governance Review. The complete article, from either source, can stimulate conversation with your Board about actions you might want to take on your own journey to being a better Board. Consider using the material as a handout for your discussion on Board roles and accountability issues....just a thought.

My last post featured a summary of the overall and fundraising results of 2007 Nonprofit Governance Index. This post features the results of the accountability issues.

Accountability Policies - Survey Results
93% Have Directors’ and Officers’ Liability Insurance
88% Have a Conflict of Interest policy
69% Have a written Statement of Ethics
60% Have a Whistleblower’s Policy

There has been a dramatic increase in attention to accountability issues. The percentage of organizations having a conflict of interest policy has increased from 61% in 1994 to 88% today. The range of organizations with a conflict of interest policy is high among every size of organization - ranging from 75% for small (under $500K budgets) to 99% for large organizations (over $10 Million budgets).

Although small nonprofits lag in having accountability policies, they are making progress in all measures. The most catch up is required in having whistleblower(33%) and document retention (41%) policies. I believe that Boards with lawyers and accountants will begin to initiate these policies for their Boards. The changes in the proposed 990s which asks questions about these policies will also have a major impact on their implementation.

Now is a good time for small nonprofits to step back and look at these trends and take proactive steps to implement new accountability policies. It is always better to have good governance policies in place in advance rather than as a result of a problem or crises.

It is only the end of October but here is my suggested New Year's resolution. Charge your governance committee now to develop an updated set of accountability policies to be adopted at your first meeting in 2008. Don't have a governance committee? Start there - appoint one now. Sounds like a plan to me!

Marion Conway Consulting

Thursday, October 18, 2007

The Boardsource Nonprofit Governance 2007 Index - Highlights of Results on Major Board Issues and Fundraising

Boardsource has recently completed its Nonprofit Governance 2007 Index with survey results from over 1000 board members and 1100 chief executives who completed separate questionnaires. I plan to have 2 - 3 posts on the report and here is the first one:

Overall, both CEOs and Board Members give themselves good marks on understanding the mission and providing legal and financial oversight. They get lower grades on such crucial aspects of board service as fundraising, strategic planning and community relations.

The most pressing issues facing nonprofits were by far financial sustainability, fundraising and strategy.
Some of the most basic fundraising statistics for board members were shocking to me - I thought they would be much higher - especially among a Boardsource population. Here they are:
46% Charities have a 100% participation in personal giving
74% Average giving among Board Members
68% Charities that require Board Members to give
#1 Fundraising is the number one thing needing improvement by the Board

In my board development workshops I always stress that all board members should make a personal financial commitment and how important this is on grant applications and as an example for all other giving. How can you be passionate about an organization's mission (the number one requirement for board service) and not make a personal financial commitment to it? Now I understand why some people look at me like I must be kidding or a modern day Pollyanna. Folks, if you are interested in fundraising get your own house in order first!

It was interesting to note that most boards have people with the traditionally desired skills of business management, finance, legal and experience in field related to the organization's mission. Only 30% have board members who have technology experience. This is a big OUCH! for me as I have seen first hand how much people with these skills bring to an organization - by helping to assess the needs and benefits, helping to design a request for proposal and evaluate bids, donor database and website evaluation and more, more, more. I urge you to consider seeking people with technology backgrounds for your boards as this really is a valued board skill today.

Check back soon for more on the Boardsource Nonprofit Governance 2007 Index and, of course, my commentary about the results.
Link to full report at BoardSource

Marion Conway Consulting

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Some Great Technology for Nonprofits Online Seminars Coming Up

Many nonprofits would like to take better advantage of technology available today but they are short on technology savvy staff (if they have any at all), and afraid of what it will cost. Idealware offers online seminars on technology for nonprofits for only $40. These seminars can be a great help to get you started in such areas as accepting donations online and sending eNewsletters. They discuss specific low cost options and compare their features and price points.

I strongly recommend Idealware's online seminars for nonprofits interested in these topics but who don't have a lot of expertise onboard.

Here's the upcoming schedule.

Understanding Data Integration
Thursday, October 11th, 1:00 - 2:30 EST
Discussion on the options for integrating data from multiple systems, including manual integration via spreadsheets, purchasing systems, building programmatic feeds, and more. Discussion will include what's required to integrate the software you already have, and what features you should look when choosing new software to prevent integration woes.

Choosing a Blogging Tool
Thursday, October 25th, 1:00 - 2:30 EST
What should you look for in a tool? Which is the right one for you? Discussion on the features, prices, pros and cons of the seven most commonly used blog tools including Blogger, TypePad, MovableType, WordPress, and more.

Getting Started with Online Donations
Wednesday, October 31st, 1:00 - 2:30 EST
Do you want to help your organization take donations online, but aren't sure how? This session will tell you what you need to know in order to choose a tool and get started. Will touch on the strategic aspects of online donations and focus will be on the tactical: What online donation tools are available? How do they work? How do you know which one is right for your organization? Will look at tools that are available, such as Network for Good, PayPal, Click & Pledge, Groundspring DonateNow, eTapestry, MemberClicks, AuctionPay, and more.

Choosing eNewsletter Software
Thursday, November 8th, 1:00 - 2:30 EST
Email newsletters are a great way to stay in touch with and grow your audience, but it can be complex to send and track thousands of emails. Discussion includes what you need to know in order to setup, send, and track eNewsletters effectively, and talk about some of the reliable and affordable tools most commonly used for mass emailing, such as EmailNow, Vertical Response, ConstantContact, NPOGroups,
CampaignMonitor, Emma, Topica, and more.

Register and find our more here:

Marion Conway Consulting

Monday, October 08, 2007

Check Out the OMB Watch Blog

This is the second of two posts on other blogs of interest to nonprofits. I am making these posts as part of my involvement in the Nonprofit Blog Exchange Virtual Event.

OMB Watch is a nonprofit government watchdog organization located in Washington, DC.
Their mission is to promote open government, accountability and citizen participation. They actually sponsor several blogs but the one I am writing about is specifically geared at nonprofit advocacy and accountability issues.

If federal laws, policies and appointments are of importance to you you will definitely want to add this blog to your "blog watch list." There is a wide range of issues including controversial appointments, faith based initiatives, civil rights issues and more.

Visit this blog and the Nonprofit Blog Exchange Blog where you can find a long list of nonprofit blogs to visit.

OMB Watch Nonprofit Issues Advocacy Blog

The Nonprofit Blog Exchange
Marion Conway Consulting

Sunday, October 07, 2007

Check out the Nonprofit Accounting Boot Camp blog

Once again I am participating in the Nonprofit Blog Exchange Virtual Event where those of us blogging about nonprofit issues make a post about another nonprofit blog. I have been assigned to write about the "Nonprofit Accounting Boot Camp" blog for this round of the event. So here goes.

I don't post about technical financial/accounting issues but I do post about accountability. Sound financial managament and reporting responsibily is definitely an accountability issue that all nonprofits need to pay attention to. I was very impressed with the information available on the blog. It is sponosred by the California Association of Nonprofit Accounting and covers topics of interest for nonprofit finance professionals. You don't have to be from California to find this blog to be a good resource to keep current on these issues. Current topics included the recent Guidestar Compensation Report, 990 changes and handling car donations. In addition to blog posts it has an excellent financial resource list.

Visit the Nonprofit Accounting Boot Camp and check it out.
Nonprofit Accounting Boot Camp
If you would like to see a great list of other blogs about the nonprofit sector visit:
Nonprofit Blog Exchange

Marion Conway Consulting

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Strategic Planning - A Simple Process for Small Organizations

Frequently when small nonprofits contact me about doing strategic planning they either think it is something the board can do in a Saturday morning retreat (It isn't possible) or do not have any idea of what may be involved and are afraid that it may be way too big an undertaking for them. It actually really can be something reasonable and meaningful in between these two ends of the spectrum.

Whether you are large or small it is important to know where you want to go and how you are going to go about getting there. Here is a simple outline that I use to work with small nonprofits and help them set up a process.

Planning to Plan: Determine issues to be addressed, timeline, commitment needed by committee members, design process for developing the plan

Gather and Analyze the Data: What questions will you ask? Who will you ask - customers, board members, staff, funders, partners, volunteers, donors? Will you use detailed interviews, focus groups, surveys?
How will committee members be involved in collecting, summarizing and analyzing data?

Develop Findings Report and Recommendations: Put together a summary of your findings and what your recommendations are as a result of them.

Develop the Plan(Planning Retreat): Now you are ready to involve the whole Board at a strategic planning Board Retreat where you can develop/update your mission, vision, values, goals and objectives.

Implement Plan: Make sure you have a process to integrate the plan into ongoing operations with objectives and a results monitoring process.

I strongly recommend that you do your homework and use a process designed specifically for nonprofits. There are some excellent books on this subject. I recommend checking out the Leader to leader Institute for more information.

Leader to Leader Institute
Marion Conway Consulting