Archive for August, 2010

Trajectory Leadership Group (TLG)

August 18, 2010 2 comments

Trajectory Leadership Group (TLG)


A few good leaders who have the aspiration and vision to advance themselves

and their organizations to a new level of impact.

Trajectory Leadership Group (TLG) is a group of dedicated leaders from

nonprofit organizations who work together to find and execute creative solutions

to management, operations and sustainability challenges and achieve their goals.

Membership Profile:

Executive Directors and key decision makers of diverse and sustainable Nonprofit

Organizations. The applicant should have adequate staffing and be ready (and

available) to make the investment of time, money and energy.

Membership in the TLG includes:


Members attend a monthly 4 to 8 hour meeting.  Meetings function as a confidential advisory board, helping leaders think creatively and collaboratively to find solutions, and resolve problems. It does not have to be lonely at the top!


Members will be paired with executives from the for-profit sector. These mentors will be volunteers.


Several meetings per year will host a speaker.  The speakers will focus on best practices aimed  at the specific needs of the TLG: emerging leadership, succession planning, governance, etc.

Speaker meetings will be longer sessions.


>>> Individual Coaching – a monthly 90 minute session to work in depth to develop goals and action plans, maintain accountability and queue up issue(s) for group work.

>>> Tiger Groups – Three-to-One groups that assemble as needed when a member has a critical issue and requires immediate support. Outside experts may be used.


Once a year a retreat will be planned for the TLG cohort.

Starting date:
Applicants will be interviewed in July and August 2010 and the group will start meeting in October 2010.

For more information, contact
Jayne Gumpel, Project Director, l 212-286-1850
John Brothers, l 917-522-8305
Harriet Joynes, l 917-522-8310

Trajectory Leadership Group (PDF)


Free Agent Board Members

By Don Crocker, CEO/Executive Director, Support Center

How to keep your best board members motivated and engaged

Board members are really free agents, aren’t they?

After all, they can sign with another team instead of yours.

They can perform badly and just move on to another board opportunity.
They will probably be sought after by others if they perform well for your team.

So how do you keep the best engaged with you?

Don Crocker

Don Crocker

I’ve taken the liberty of adapting an article written by Marshall Goldsmith, Iain Somerville, and Cathy Greenberg-Walt called “Coaching Free Agents,” (Anderson Consulting and Marshall Goldsmith, 1999) to help you think about ways you can best keep your best board members motivated and engaged.

What follows are our Five Keys to Leading and Coaching Your Free Agent Nonprofit Board Members.

  1. Work to develop close partnerships with each board member.
  2. Board members who feel that they are valued for working with you as a partner in the organization’s efforts will be the board members that are most likely to be effective and the most likely to have high performance.  In partnerships, each person’s time and their efforts need to be respected and recognized.

  3. Recognize and deal directly with each board member’s self-interests.
  4. What, “self-interest”????  To work effectively, each side of any partnership needs to know the self-interest of the other partner.  Be candid about the reasons you recruit a board member and your expectations of her/him.

    Let each board member be candid about what they want to get out board participation and why they would want to be a board member of your organization.  We often think that “self-interest” should not be a part of the game, but we all want to get something out of our efforts.  As long as these self-interests are not “conflicts of interest” we are on the right track.

  5. Work to create collaboration and teamwork.
  6. While an organization should identify self-interests, it is a mistake to assume that your free agent board member cannot work collaboratively.  The best board members desire the chance to work with others.

    Plan strategies to build board member/board member and board member/staff member relationships based upon a shared vision and mutually agreed upon goals.  Retreats focused on refining the organization’s case statement or value proposition can help an organization in numerous ways and bring board members together around a common theme.

  7. Build your own flexibility.
  8. Treating everyone the same way does not work in our free agent universe.  Spend time identifying how board members want to work for and support your organization and what is meaningful to them in terms of responsibility and recognition. Be flexible in your thinking about how to accommodate these individual preferences.

  9. Create honest and open communication.
  10. While the boardroom may still carry a “heaviness” of pomp and politics, there is a real need to let in some light by creating more openness and honesty in relationships with and between board members.

    Build opportunities to allow board members to share their goals and expectations and find ways to share your goals and expectations with them.  Seek to maintain “win-win relationships with all board members.

    Our changing environment demands a new level of board engagement, focus, and energy.

    We need to go beyond the basic understanding of board roles and responsibilities to create new ways of working together to support the development of healthy, vibrant individuals, families, and neighborhoods.

    Tell us what you think and how you are working with your “free agent” board members to create a winning team to benefit the communities you care about.

Who’s Watching Who-The Conundrum of Nonprofit Analysis

August 9, 2010 2 comments

By Kevin Beerstecher

Does hedge fund experience really qualify analysts to judge domestic violence prevention organizations?

During a lecture delivered by Princeton’s Peter Singer at New York University this spring on the importance of increased giving, something interesting happened.  One of panelists put forth the idea that many nonprofits are poorly run and have no demonstrable results, and thus do not merit donations.

But how did the panelist reach that conclusion?  What statistics were analyzed? Unfortunately, much of the available analysis currently focuses on the finances of the nonprofits only, not on the quality, specifics, or difficulty of the work.

The nonprofit community deserves the effective evaluation that is crucial to helping donors make their decisions.  But this information should be gathered by individuals or organizations with awareness of the communities being served and the services being provided.

Increasing childhood literacy may have a different cost structure than bottling Pepsi, and the analysts doing this work should be experienced in the fields they are evaluating.  A mistrust of the nonprofit community, the process of giving, and faith that this work is effective is spreading as a counter current.

Imagine the impact of scandal involving an analytic firm with a checkered background.  Without checks and balances into the backgrounds of the nonprofit analyst, this distrust can only grow.  And without evaluation standards focusing on specific communities and their needs, analysis will only be flawed and misleading.


Meaningful Outcome Measurement (Dec. 1)

Surveys for Nonprofits: From Questionnaire Design to Data Analysis (Dec. 17)

Categories: Uncategorized

The Nonprofits’ Dilemma: The ‘Private-Public’ Squeeze

By Calvin Thomas
The Times of Trenton Op-Ed

Although the financial earthquake occurred in the fall of 2008, the aftershocks are still being felt by the nonprofit sector.

The Support Center for Nonprofit Management recently conducted a Meet the New Jersey Grantmakers forum July 14 at the PSEG Headquarters in Newark.  The forum was attended by more than 100 nonprofit leaders from all parts of the state who represented a diverse range of services and sizes.

Calvin Thomas

Calvin Thomas Jr.

If I had to pick one clear and bold message from the comments made by the nonprofit leaders who attended, it would be this:

The financial “squeeze” is beginning to really take its toll on our ability to adequately provide services much needed in New Jersey.

The squeeze that is becoming more apparent to the sector is what was referred to as the “private-public” squeeze.

On one side, the private foundations and corporations in New Jersey have significantly reduced their grant dollars to the nonprofit sector due to the negative effect of the financial meltdown on their financial portfolios and income statements.

And on the other side, the state legislators have just passed a FY2011 budget that significantly reduces spending for social services that they relied on from the nonprofit sector through state grants and contracted services.

The question echoed by the nonprofit leaders was:

“Where do we go for financial support to service a rapidly growing population of citizens in dire need of help?   Funds are being significantly reduced or completely cut from both sides.   We are stuck in the middle.”

What makes this “private-public” squeeze a tumultuous time for the nonprofit sector is that the state of New Jersey — that is, the public sector — is depending on the foundations and corporations — that is, the private sector — to assume more of the financial responsibility to support the nonprofits.

However, in this very weak economy, the private sector has yet to recover from the recent economic meltdown.

Foundations are trying to rebuild their portfolios while corporations are trying to protect their bottom lines.

The latest prediction from the federal government is that the recession could last another five or six years before any indication of normal growth to the economy is seen.

I believe that having these Meet the New Jersey Grantmakers forums throughout the state is critical for creating a roadmap to navigate through the present financially challenging times.  It allows for creative and meaningful dialogue between the leaders of both the nonprofit organizations and private grantmakers.

Grace Egan, Executive Director of New Jersey Foundation for Aging (NJFA) and a panelist at the forum, stated that NJFA granting policy prohibits it from granting private funds to nonprofit applicants that are looking to replace public funds that were cut or reduced.

After hearing the concerns of the audience and the impact that this “private-public” squeeze is having on their ability to operate, Egan plans to raise this issue with her foundation’s board to consider changing its policy.

I am certain that there are a number of New Jersey private foundations that operate with that policy.  In these challenging times, I implore any private foundation in New Jersey with such a policy to reconsider its position. It is one step in the right direction that will make a big difference.

The nonprofit sector may not have been responsible for the 2008 financial earthquake.

However, leaders of the sector are responsible for their survival and long-term sustainability.  The leaders must take the opportunity during these trying times to re-examine their organizations’ mission, infrastructure and capacity.

Now is the time for organizations to engage in an independent and thorough:

  • Organizational
  • Financial assessment
  • Board development
  • Staff development and
  • The development of a strategic and fund-raising plan to take them into the future.

The next financial aftershock or earthquake may be just around the corner.

Nonprofit leaders must build their organizations to adapt and endure.

With the current state spending reductions, they may be the only service providers in their communities.  They owe it to their customers.

Calvin B. Thomas Jr. senior associate consultant for the Support Center for Nonprofit Management.

Customized Training: Stronger Foundation for Supervising Staff

The Support Center recently provided a series of seven Management and Supervision workshops for Regional Economic Community Action Program (RECAP) employees.

Janet Waterston facilitated the sessions which covered:

  • Building Supervisory Relationships
  • Personality, Styles and Differences in the Workplace
  • Conflict Management
  • Dealing with the Difficult Employee
  • Delegation
  • Did You Hear What I Meant to Say?
  • Performance Reviews

Sample of participant feedback:

Janet Waterston

“Excellent presenter, wonderful topics, great learning tools”

“Many of the topics discussed throughout the series will continue to be used throughout my career”

“This information can be utilized to enhance the skills of all employees to better serve our community”

“Providing leadership training offers a stronger foundation for supervising staff”

For information on bringing a customized workshop to your organization, contact Steve Damiano, 917-522-8302

>>> Customized Training