Why Develop a Contract for your ED?

As an executive director, I had a board that I enjoyed working with, but there were friction points. I now realize that the answer to these was simple, I needed a contract.

The truth is that boards aren’t great employers. The board-ED relationship is always a somewhat awkward one. An ED has 9 or 12 or 15 bosses, who are technically supposed to act together, but in reality they don’t always manage to do that. Plus the board composition changes regularly, so the ED’s relationship with them changes as well.

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Boards on Fire

Feeling challenged by your board? Wish they contributed more? Wish they would tell you what they want? Do you see so many fundraising opportunities but the board says it isn’t their job? Whatever your difficulty is, I highly recommend getting the book Boards on Fire by Susan Howlett. In fact, I would recommend getting copies for every board member, reading it together, and then making real changes in your organization based on the insights that Howlett shares.

Boards on Fire is a quick read, but it contains a wealth of wisdom on how to really engage board members in making the organization successful with a focus on fundraising.

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Term Limits for Boards of Directors

Term limits for nonprofit boards can be a touchy subject, most especially if your board was created without them. Although board members are technically elected, either by the membership or by their fellow board members, if there aren’t term limits for a board member, one person can stay on for years longer than they should. It takes a strong board to be willing to address the issue, and vote them off if necessary.

In general, experts recommend that a board member can serve two terms, each three years long. Six years is plenty of time to learn the ropes and make a significant contribution to the organization, without getting worn out.

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Preparing for an Executive Director Interview [Video]

Here’s some tips on how you can be the best candidate for an executive director position, based on my experience interviewing hundreds of people over the years. These tips will be valuable to anyone applying for a job at a nonprofit organization, not just the executive director position.

Executive Directors, You Are Not Alone

As an ED, you face situations every day that require you to be at your best. Hopefully, none of these situations sound familiar:

  • The board chair doesn’t want to meet regularly and doesn’t run meetings well, but no one else will take on the position.
  • Your board is made up of the executive directors of your partner agencies, but you also manage funds for those same agencies, causing inevitable conflicts
  • After you are hired as an ED, you find out that your predecessor had neglected to pay the IRS payroll taxes for quite a while.

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Your First Month as an Executive Director [Video]

On your first day as an Executive Director, everyone will have their own ideas of what you should do first. It will be hard to prioritize amongst all the demands on your time. Watch the video below to learn what you should focus on. It all comes down to listening.


Avoiding Bias in Hiring

Even in nonprofits, it is hard to avoid bias in hiring. We want to be better than for profit companies and give everyone an equal chance, but the truth is that we are all human and have opinions about other people. If you grew up in an all-white environment, you have to put in more effort to relate to someone of another race. If you have never known someone who is deaf, you won’t know how to communicate with a potential deaf employee.

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