There are a million posts out there on how to thank someone who is retiring by buying them a gift. But how meaningful is a plaque or clock after someone has spent decades serving their community as a nonprofit leader? How can you thank someone in a way that really connects to their work and reminds them that they are valued?
Here’s a selection of items to include in your board manual. Many of these documents you already have. If you find you need to create documents, your current board members will appreciate having them as well, so be sure to share them with everyone. Keep everything brief, but informative.
Consider whether it makes more sense to have these as printed documents, or if you would rather create a shared online area to store them. Every board and board member is different in how they prefer to receive information. Google Drive is a low cost solution that nonprofits often use for sharing documents.
After decades of being a volunteer, and supervising volunteers, I have seen a lot of fantastic volunteers, and a few that just left me baffled. The ones that show up every week consistently and help with whatever needs to be done were awesome. The board members who jumped in and helped at events in so many ways. I’m currently volunteering on a political campaign and the staff are excited to see me every time I come in, and they always check in to find out when I’m coming back. That motivates me to keep helping.
The first day for an executive director, or any nonprofit position, sets the tone for their career. It’s a critical part of the entire onboarding process.
There are plenty of ways to do the first day right and make the new hire feel welcomed and excited. Here are some of the basics:
Being an interim executive director is a challenging role, and one that not many people have the training and experience to complete successfully. I have had two interim director roles, but I knew I had much more to learn. In late January, 2019, I attended the Interim Executives Academy developed by the Third Sector Company.
The training gave me a solid foundation to use to grow my skills as an interim. It was also helpful to meet other interim directors and talk about our challenges and our successes.
There were three fundamental aspects that I learned during the training:
For large nonprofit organizations, a chief financial officer (CFO) is a critical part of the management team. A CFO provides a high level of financial knowledge, and helps the organization understand their finances on a deeper level, as well as create plan strategically for its financial future.
For smaller organizations, this level of knowledge isn’t affordable. Some organizations are able to hire a CFO on a contract basis for a limited number of hours per month, but for many, even that cost is too high. This means the executive director needs to develop their financial knowledge to help the organization thrive.
For small nonprofit organizations, paying for bookkeeping software seems like a large expense. Luckily, any organization with a 501(c)(3) designation can get QuickBooks Online for just $50 per year through TechSoup. Spending $50 per year will save your nonprofit tremendous time and energy down the road, plus it lets you create professional looking reports from QuickBooks to give to funders. If you have more than a few transactions per month, you’ll want to get started with QuickBooks.
The government shuts down, making your grant reimbursement is two months late. A critical piece of equipment breaks down and has to be replaced. An unexpected need for services comes up. These are all examples of when a reserve fund would be quite valuable.
In my time as an executive director, my biggest regret is not setting up a reserve fund at the beginning, and consistently funding it. There was always a need for programs or supplies or more staff, and when we had money, we used it.
Starting from scratch with a new nonprofit organization is your chance to do it right. Doing things correctly from the beginning will save you a ton of headaches down the road. On the other hand, if this seems overwhelming, you might want to reconsider starting an organization. A nonprofit has a lot of responsibilities beyond just helping people.
A conflict of interest policy is standard for most nonprofits, but a code of conduct and ethics lets you go beyond just financial conflicts and look at all aspects of being a board member. This could also be called a board agreement. It lays out basic guidelines for group norms, before you need them. Just like any group where you bring together a group of people who don’t know each other, they need to specify how they are going to work together.