Dear Nonprofit CEO,
After working with hundreds of nonprofit CEOs over 20 years as a consultant and 20 years as a frontline advancement executive, I think I can speak with credibility about the strategies and behaviors of a strong nonprofit leader.
At the risk of boiling my reflections down to binary comparisons, I will do so nonetheless in the interest of your time… because you are really busy.
Do’s … Board
- State a vision for your organization, work on it with your board members, and institutionalize it with them.
- Drive your board and board agenda, in partnership with your chairperson.
- At each board meeting bring an embodiment of your mission: a decision to be made, an innovation for your organization, a program update that furthers and supports your mission and vision.
- Push your board to reflect the diversity of those you serve, and aspire to serve.
Do’s … Staff
- Put your organization’s mission and vision at the core of your planning, decision-making, program execution, and staff communications.
- Let your staff know, through all of your actions, that their success is your success.
- Set clear performance and behavioral expectations with your staff.
- Hire well and let your staff do their jobs without your interference.
- Offer your staff selfless assistance, guidance, and resources when you think it can enhance their success.
- Do regular walk-a-bouts and talk with staff.
- Make professional development opportunities part of your benefits package and insist that your staff use them.
- Conduct semi-annual performance check-ins with your reports and make sure they do the same with theirs.
- Hold all-staff meetings at least once a quarter to reinforce your organization’s vision, share your insights, discuss key performance indicators, celebrate successes, and address challenges. This will build team spirit and morale.
Do’s … Donors, Stakeholders and Constituents
- Communicate regularly through multiple channels to reinforce your organization’s mission and vision and how the community benefits from its work.
- Conduct listening rounds to get feedback and ideas from a diverse range of donors and stakeholders.
- Engage with a portfolio of top-tier donors and donor-candidates, in coordination with and with guidance from your advancement leader, to build authentic relationships on behalf of your organization.
- Participate visibly with community and business organizations.
Fail to do most of the above.
Larry G. Raff
President, Copley Raff Inc.
Copley Raff’s mission: Every interaction is to help nonprofit organizations fulfill their missions by meeting ambitious goals, aligning their leadership, elevating fundraising, and activating the brilliance of their teams. It is a bold promise but one that we know will serve you and your organization’s mission in a way that will deliver tangible and meaningful results – the kind of results that make a real difference!