Nonprofit News from Nathan
November 3, 2003
It’s been a couple of months since my last newsletter and there is a lot of
news. Here are the topics in this newsletter.
Preparing For Strategic Planning
(Workshop) Nov. 19
Board Member Liability and
Online Board Manual from
Handling Confidential Board Matters
Executive Directors’ Breakfast
Interesting New Websites
About Nathan Garber & Associates
To Cancel this Newsletter
Preparing for Strategic Planning
(A United Way Leadership Development Program, open to all nonprofit
Wednesday, November 19, 2003. 9am – noon.
Location: Upstairs Community Room, Loblaws Wonderland Market,
3040 Wonderland Road South at Southdale.(wheelchair accessible)
Aimed at board members and senior managers of nonprofit organizations, who want
to get started on a strategic plan.
Registration fee: $20 (pay at the door)
Register online at
Note: This is one of the most popular and best-evaluated workshops in the United
Way’s Leadership Development Program. It will only be offered once this year, so
register early. Space is limited. Here’s a description.
All organizations, big and small, need a clear sense of purpose and agreement on
the strategies that will enable them to fulfill their mission. These are the
main elements of a strategic plan.
If your organization is thinking about planning but not sure how to begin, this
workshop is just what you need. Facilitator-Trainer Bob Parker believes that
strategic planning does not require a huge investment of time and money. He will
sketch out a realistic and straightforward procedure and provide some helpful
tools to assist your organization to get started.
Volunteer Canada has been doing a lot of work to try to help volunteer board
members understand the risks they accept when they join a board, and the ways
they can reduce the risk and protect themselves from liability. They recently
published a very concise booklet called Legal Liability and Risk Management:
Understanding Directors Liability. Unfortunately, it doesn’t appear to be
available online (at least I couldn’t find it on their website). Call
800-670-0401 or 613-231-4371 for more information.
The booklet is based on a discussion paper that covers the issues in more depth
- Directors’ Liability: A Discussion Paper on Legal Liability, Risk Management
and the Role Of Directors in Non-Profit Organizations Download from
Volunteer Canada has partnered with a national insurance company to offer
Directors and Officers Liability insurance targeted to smaller nonprofits. Full
information and rates are posted at
CCRA has decided to stop mailing its charities newsletter after the current
issue. To receive it by e-mail, visit the subscription website.
The current issue, (Number 16), is posted at
It contains important information about future plans for the Charities Branch,
information about filing the T3010A form, CCRA’s position on donations of items
of a speculative value, and other items of interest to charities.
In addition, CCRA has posted several new Policy Statements.
- Registering Charities that Promote Racial Equality
- Political Activities
- Standard Object Clauses - Pre-approved Charitable Object Clauses
Find the links at the CCRA policies page
The most controversial policy deals with the important issue of advocacy and
social action by charitable organizations. Many charities have challenged this
policy on the grounds that it restricts them from activities that might help to
change the conditions that result in the need for certain charities.
Find the policy at
For the response of charities, visit the website of IMPACS, the Institute for
Media, Policy and Civil Society, at
I have started contacting people who have indicated an interest in the
Presidents’ Club – A series of workshops and discussions exclusively for the
volunteer presidents, vice-presidents, committee chairpersons and prospective
presidents of nonprofit organizations. The club will address some of the
difficult issues faced by volunteer officers, including chairing meetings,
ensuring full participation of board members, dealing with difficult directors,
liability of officers, recruiting and training your successor, and other topics.
To help the volunteer leaders of nonprofit organizations to understand and
perform their roles as officers of a nonprofit corporation. The types of issues
that the group might address may include:
* 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
* 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?
The club is intended for volunteer presidents, vice-presidents, committee
chairpersons and prospective presidents
For people within traveling distance, the meetings will be face-to-face. If
we are more geographically diverse, we’ll meet by telephone conference call
supported by e-mail.
The format will be informal, with topics to be decided by the group. We will 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 will be kept to a maximum of 10 to
enable you to address the issues most important to you.
When and Where
Based upon feedback to date, and to allow time for discussion and
problem-solving, the face-to-face sessions will be approx. 2 hours in the
evening, held in London, Ontario. Exact time, dates and location to be
determined. If members wish, we can begin the meeting with dinner (see questions
If we hold telephone conference calls, they will likely be 90 minutes – but
we’ll have to see.
The registration fee will be $150 (plus GST) for five sessions.
If you have already contacted me, you’ll be hearing from me soon. For more
information, send me an e-mail
Industry Canada has published a new guide for directors of nonprofit
organizations. The work is the result of a collaboration among the Canadian
Centre for Philanthropy, the Canadian Association of Society Executives, and the
Canadian Bar Association’s Charity and Not-for-Profit Law Section.
Primer for Directors of Not-for-Profit Corporations. Download from
Note: I’ve been having some intermittent problems connecting to their website.
You might have to keep trying.
I am often asked what should go into the board minutes about “in camera”
meetings, and what record should be kept of the confidential portion of a
meeting. Here is a suggested procedure that is consistent with Roberts Rules of
Order Newly Revised 10th Edition). I’ve added this to the Frequently Asked
Questions page on my website.
When a board of directors must discuss matters of a confidential nature, such as
personnel or property issues, it may do so in a private session called an
executive session or “in camera” (from the Latin legal term meaning “in
chambers”). A typical procedure for convening an executive session is as
A board member moves that the board go into executive session. If the motion is
adopted by a majority of members, all present who are not members, or essential
to the matter to be considered, may be excluded from the meeting.
The secretary records in the minutes that the motion was carried. Some minutes
include the time and the names of the members present.
The board conducts its confidential business. Anyone not a board member must be
invited by the board to attend. In a board that is highly polarized, the
question of who gets to attend the executive session may be a contentious issue.
Therefore, it is a good idea to be prepared with a bylaw or policy specifying
the procedure for inviting a non-member into an executive session. The policy
may give the Chairperson the power to invite non-members or it might require a
separate vote on who will be invited.
Minutes of the executive session are taken and kept separate from the public
minutes. In some organizations, these minutes are taken and kept by the
organization’s lawyer and protected by lawyer-client privilege.
Executive session minutes should be reviewed approved at the next executive
session. If only one copy is kept, the secretary should read the minutes aloud.
If multiple copies are distributed, they should be collected before the end of
the executive session.
When the executive session is adjourned, the “public” minutes should record that
the executive session has concluded. Some organizations record the motion that
ends the executive session.
If, while in executive session, you have decided that secrecy should be lifted
from a decision, the secretary records the decision in the “public” minutes.
Otherwise, all directors are bound to respect the confidentiality of the
At our September breakfast, 40 executive directors and CEO’s from nonprofit
organizations in London, and as far away as Sarnia, heard Sandra Safran’s
presentation on dealing with a poorly-performing employee. She discussed the
principles to follow, and gave suggestions for how to conduct an interview and
follow up with employees.
The date of our next breakfast has not been set, but will likely be in February.
I am trying to get together a panel who can talk about their experience with
implementing “outcome evaluation”. If you have something to say about this
topic, let me know ASAP.
Interesting New Websites
It’s impossible to keep pace with the resources that might help nonprofit
sector managers and volunteers. Here are three that I have come across recently.
is a suite of tools for conducting an organizational self-assessment. developed
by Beryl Levinger of Education Development Center and Evan Bloom of Pact, Inc.
The tools are based around a set of discussion questions and survey forms for
board and staff members to assess the capability of the organization in six
• external relations
• financial resource management
• human resource management
• organizational learning
• service delivery
• strategic management
Virtual U http://www.virtual-u.org/
is a downloadable simulation game (Windows only) in which the player assumes the
role of a university president. Players are responsible for establishing and
monitoring all the major components of an institution, including everything from
faculty salaries to campus parking under the watchful oversight of the Virtual U
Board of Trustees.
This site, provides a access to a wide range of gender statistics and research
reports compiled to assist the World Bank’s efforts to reduce gender disparities
and enhance women's participation in economic development.
Nathan Garber & Associates provides consulting and training services
exclusively for the nonprofit sector. We bring more than 30 years of experience
in helping nonprofit organizations to plan, implement, and evaluate innovative
programs and services. If you need help with strategic planning, building a
stronger board, or recruiting an executive director, please contact Nathan
Garber for a free, no-obligation consultation.
A full description is on our website