Nathan Garber & Associates
Governance & Planning Support for the Not-for-Profit Sector

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About pdf files
Most of our free Helpsheets and articles by Nathan Garber are available in both printer friendly Adobe Acrobat (pdf) and web browser friendly formats (html). To view and print PDFs, you must have the free Acrobat Reader installed on your computer. To download it, click here.

 

What's New on this Website
(updated January 08, 2013 )
This site contains help-sheets, articles, and links to other resources to strengthen the nonprofit sector in general and boards of directors in particular.

We emphasize learning opportunities and resources available to organizations in South-western Ontario. To learn more about Nathan Garber & Associates and how we can help your nonprofit organization, click here

In the Trenches – You and Your Nonprofit

I am pleased to have contributed a chapter to a new book from Charity Channel.  In the Trenches – You and Your Nonprofit was written for those who want to learn more about the nonprofit sector or improve their knowledge and skills related to nonprofit leadership, management and fundraising. Peer-reviewed articles selected for inclusion in this book have been contributed by nationally known experts within the nonprofit sector. Thi title of my article is "Board Absenteeism: Four Causes and Five Things You Can Do About It".


In the Trenches - You and Your Nonprofit - book cover

You and Your Nonprofit covers a variety of subject including governance, fundraising, leadership, administration, marketing and other topics:

  • Explores planning issues that are often a challenge to nonprofit organizations.
  • Provides models for improvement of management, governance and leadership.
  • Presents proven practices related to the science and art of fundraising.
  • Addresses many of the day-to-day issues that confront nonprofit leaders and professionals.
  • Provides practical and replicable problem-solving suggestions.

How to Purchase
Order online CharityChannel Press at http://charitychannel.com/charitychannel-press/bookstore/productid/127

You may also order by phone at (949) 589-5938

 

 

 

 

Upcoming Learning Opportunities
for board members, staff, and volunteers
of nonprofit organizations in South-western Ontario

Ontario Not-for-Profit Corporations Act. webinar to help you better understand the basic features of the ONCA, so you can understand the impact it might have on your organization. This session will provide you with a sufficient overview to begin transition planning in preparation for the new legislation. This webinar will be hosted by the ONN and presented by ONN Policy Advisor, Lynn Eakin. Date is January 16, 12:00-:1:30 pm  EST. Details at http://www.theonn.ca/onnevents/

Blumbergs’ Charity Law Boot Camp in Toronto - On April 18, 2013, Mark Blumberg will be leading a one-day "boot camp" on compliance and standards issues for Canadian charities. More information at http://www.globalphilanthropy.ca/

In 2013, Pillar Nonprofit Network is offering a diverse program of learning opportunities in London. Visit their website at  http://www.pillarnonprofit.ca/

Charity Village is offering a number of online courses. Their course list is at https://charityvillage.com/cv/learn/courselist.asp

Hilborn Publishing continues to offer its "Key-to-the-Sector" workshops but has not yet released its 2013 schedule. Workshops are announced at http://www.charityinfo.ca/categories/Events

Continuing Studies at Western University offers both full-time and part-time programs in nonprofit management and arts management. Their calendar is at http://www.uwo.ca/cstudies/

London & Region Fund Raising Executives (LRFRE) is an association of professionals engaged in fund raising efforts in the charitable sector as paid staff or active volunteers. There are monthly breakfast or lunch sessions. Their bi-annual conference The Practical and Tactical will take place on May 30, 2013. For details visit http://www.lrfre.com/

 

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My Newest Article

How to Be a Great Chairperson
What you need to know to run effective, efficient, friendly board meetings.

 

Newest Help Sheets

Strategic Planning Model and Terminology
Strategic planning is notable for the lack of standardized methods and terminology in the field. It is therefore useful to establish operational definitions for terms used in the planning process and to be clear about what elements are included in the strategic plan. This help-sheet describes the strategic planning model developed by Nathan Garber & Associates to help clarify the roles of the board and the management.
Strategic_Planning_Model.pdf

Dealing With a Poorly Performing Executive Director: A Guide for the President
Dealing with the executive director’s performance problems is one of the most difficult jobs for the volunteer president of a nonprofit organization. Although the circumstances will be different for every organization, there are some general steps you can take to prepare yourself to address the problems and come up with solutions. (added April, 2005) Dealing With a Poorly Performing Executive Director

Governance Committee Terms of Reference (revised April 2005)
Many organizations are replacing their once-a-year nominating committee with a governance committee that works year-round to strengthen the board through recruitment, training, and evaluation. I've prepared a sample statement of the terms of reference for a governance committee. Feel free to copy and adapt it to your organization.  Governance Committee Terms of Reference.

Get Ready For Strategic Planning: A Help Sheet
In a rapidly changing world, it is important to have clear goals for our organizations and to regularly review our progress. The steps in strategic planning provide a framework for the board to clarify organizational goals and evaluate different strategies for achieving those goals. This Help-Sheet lists the major steps in strategic planning, focusing on the role of the Board of Directors. Get Ready For Strategic Planning


Board of Directors Application Form
To build a strong and effective board, you must recruit and select volunteer board members with the same diligence you would apply to any other important position. If you have never had an application form for directors, you can use this as a template. Identify the skills you need for your board and modify the form as needed.
Sample Board Application Form.
 

Checklist for the Chairperson:
The chair can make the difference between a successful, productive, stimulating meeting and a frustrating, disappointing, waste of time. Chairing a meeting effectively does not come naturally, but it can be learned through practice and effort. Use this checklist to help your board or committee work more efficiently and effectively.
      Checklist for Chair - html format       Checklist for Chair - pdf format

360 Degree Performance Appraisal
Questionnaire Template:
(revised 2004) A template for creating questionnaires to obtain feedback from board members, sister agencies, funders, and employees. The results can be part of the performance appraisal of the CEO. Applies some principles of John Carver's Policy Governance model.  (Adobe Acrobat format only)  360_degree_questionnaire.pdf

Your feedback on these help sheets and my website is always welcome. Please reply to feedback

 

Newest FAQ

What is a "Consent Agenda" and how will it make our meetings go faster?

What is the difference between a constitution and bylaws?

How much money should an organization have in a reserve fund?

What is the procedure for handling confidential matters?

Visit our  Frequently Asked Questions Page
for answers to your questions about nonprofit boards and governance.

 

Presidents' Club

The aim of the Club is that members will be able to effect positive change in the practices of the boards and committees that they chair. Through presentations, reviews of articles and tools, discussions, and e-mail communication with peers and experts, members will be better able to have better meetings, mentor their successors, develop stronger recruitment practices, improve accountability and planning, and create more effective boards.

Membership is open to volunteer presidents, vice-presidents, committee chairpersons and prospective presidents of nonprofit organizations.

The club addresses some of the difficult issues faced by volunteer officers, including

  • Improving meeting management
  • Strategies for recruiting new board members with the skills your board needs
  • Dealing with board or committee members who are not fulfilling their responsibilities
  • Recruiting and training your successor
  • Evaluating governance models
  • Evaluating the Executive Director
  • Protecting your organization from liability
  • Ethical and legal issues
  • Supervising staff members
  • Creating financial reports that everyone can understand
  • Planning a board retreat Who is it for?

Meeting Format

The club provides face-to-face meetings for people within traveling distance as well as  telephone conference call supported by e-mail for members from other locations.

The format is informal, with topics to be decided by the group. We use case studies, and guest speakers, and collectively consider issues brought by participants. You will receive worksheets, articles and other valuable resources to supplement the sessions.

In order to facilitate discussion, group size is kept to a maximum of 10 to enable you to address the issues most important to you.

When and Where

to allow time for discussion and problem-solving, the face-to-face sessions are approx. 2 hours in the evening, held in London, Ontario.

Exact time, dates and location are set by members. If members wish, we can begin the meeting with dinner (see questions below).

Telephone conference calls are approx. 90 minutes in length.

Cost

 $180 (plus tax) for a six-month membership. Meetings and conference calls are held every two weeks.

For more information

For more information, click here to send me an e-mail. Let me know your name and location. I'll keep you informed of progress.

 

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Online Newsletters & Blogs 

E-mail Newsletters

My favourite free newsletter on nonprofit topics is http://blueavocado.org/ - an entertaining monthly newsletter with articles about boards and governance.

I am particularly impressed by Debrah Beck's blog Laramie Board Learning Project  http://www.boardlearning.org/

For other links, go to my links page

 

 

Online Articles, FAQ's 
 & Help Sheets


Boards of Directors: Recruitment, training, and evaluation

Causes of Board Absenteeism and What You Can Do About It
While no one would find fault with a director or trustee who misses an occasional meeting due to unforeseen circumstances, the morale and the work of the board can be compromised by persistent absenteeism by one or more board members. In this article, I outline list four causes of persistent absenteeism and five recommendations for how to deal with them.

 What Nonprofit Boards Can Learn from Penelope Burk
In interviews with many donor, Penelope Burk learned that they want
three things:

  1. to be thanked promptly with some form of meaningful acknowledgement;
  2. to be reassured that their donation would be used for the purpose they intended; and
  3. to receive a report on the results of their last gift before they are asked for the next one.

Board members deserve no less. This article describes how to apply these principles to recruit and retain great board members.

 Board Application Form.
To build a strong and effective board, you must recruit and select volunteer board members with the same diligence you would apply to any other important position. Identify the skills you need for your board and modify the form as needed

Checklist for the Chairperson
Use this checklist to help your board or committee work more efficiently and effectively
 Click here for pdf format

 A Strategy for Building Governance Capacity suggests that you devote one year to improving board performance in each of three categories: assuring integrity and accountability; planning and evaluation; and acquisition and management of financial resources

What You Need to Know about our Board  (help sheet).  A template for an information sheet for initial contact with prospective board members.

Governance Checkup (help sheet). Twenty questions to help you determine what training or action your board needs to improve its governance

Seven Questions You Should Ask Before Joining A Board How to tell if you should accept an invitation to join a Board.

Making the Best Use of Self-Evaluation Questionnaires
There are many board self-assessment tools in print and online. Don't try to administer any of them before you read this.

How much money should a nonprofit organization keep in a reserve fund?

Planning & Evaluation

What is Strategic Planning (help sheet) Basic introduction to the process of strategic planning and the role of the consultant.

Get Ready For Strategic Planning
In a rapidly changing world, it is important to have clear goals for our organizations and to regularly review our progress. The steps in strategic planning provide a framework for the board to clarify organizational goals and evaluate different strategies for achieving those goals. This Help-Sheet lists the major steps in strategic planning, focusing on the role of the Board of Directors.

Linking Resources to Results (Treasury Board report). Approaches, innovations and good practices that could be applied in the federal government 

 

Governance Models

Governance Models (article). Describes five different ways that Boards see their jobs.

What EXACTLY is the Board's Job (article) My rant on the idea that there is only one true way to run a board of directors (subscription to CharityChannel is required).

Executive Committees (article) An increasing number of organizations have disbanded their Executive Committee. Governance Matters asks why.

Board Job descriptions

President or Chair (help sheet). A generic job description for the President or Chairperson of a voluntary Board of Directors.

Secretary (help sheet). A generic job description for the Secretary of a voluntary Board of Directors.

Meetings

What is the procedure for handling confidential matters?

What is a "Consent Agenda" and how will it make our meetings go faster?

How to Be a Great Chairperson: What you need to know to run effective, efficient, friendly board meetings.

Employment Issues

Evaluating the Executive Director is one of the most challenging jobs for a Board of Directors. Here are some resources that you might find useful

360_degree_questionnaire.pdf (Adobe Acrobat format only): A template for creating questionnaires to obtain feedback related to Executive Director performance from board members, sister agencies, funders, and employees. The results can be part of the performance appraisal of the CEO. Applies some principles of John Carver's Policy Governance model.

Major Oversight : Marilyn Dickey's article in the Chronicle of Philanthropy on reviewing the performance of the Executive Director. I give my views on the "360 degree" approach to evaluation. (links to Chronicle of Philanthropy website)

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Great Nonprofit Sector Websites 
Click here for links to websites containing information on a wide range of topics of interest to managers and board members of nonprofit organizations and charities. Emphasis is on Canadian content but I'll include anything I think is useful. I will be updating this list frequently, so keep checking for new content.

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This Website Chosen for the
Nonprofit Good Practice Guide

I'm pleased to report that this website has been judged by The Dorothy A. Johnson Center for Philanthropy & Nonprofit Leadership  as as one of the most helpful resources on Governance for nonprofits and has been profiled in the Nonprofit Good Practice Guide. The Guide is a project of the Philanthropic and Nonprofit Knowledge Management (PNKM) Initiative, which seeks to capture, organize, disseminate, and promote the use of good practices in the nonprofit sector.

Nathan Garber & Associates
Training and Consulting for the Nonprofit Sector
1071 Richmond Street, London, Ontario, Canada  N6A 3K1
tel: (519) 670-4256  skype: nathan.garber

Nathan@GarberConsulting.com