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.

 

This site contains help-sheets, articles, and links to resources to strengthen the nonprofit sector in general and boards of directors in particular.

I'm retired and will not be updating this website but I have left the articles and helpsheets for you to copy and use.

 (final update September 04, 2016 )

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.

 


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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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