Archive for April, 2011

Support Center Assists Newark Emergency Services for Families with Action Plan

By Gilles Mesrobian, Senior Associate, Support Center

In March 2010, the Support Center began working with Newark Emergency Services for Families (NESF), an agency which provides quality services to individuals and families who need assistance with emergency food, clothing, shelter, utilities, rent, and other basic necessities during times of crisis. Newark Emergency Services for Families

At that time the Board was in the final selection process in its search for a new Executive Director. They were committed to ensuring that a landscape of success was in place for the new ED as well as ongoing support for the staff.

Marge Wood, Board Chair of NESF and CEO of Independence: A Family of Services, stated, “I was very pleased with how quickly the Support Center consultant was able to grasp the agency culture and nuances of the challenges we faced and come up with practical recommendations for solutions.”

After providing an initial organizational assessment, the Support Center worked with the Board, Executive Director and senior staff to develop a customized plan of action to address a range of challenges facing the organization, including a development plan, a board development plan and management tools that ensure the continued progress and success of the agency in its critical work.

According to Damyn Kelly, J.D. NESF’s new Executive Director, “The Support Center’s reports allowed me to immediately address the challenges that the organization faced as opposed to conducting my own assessment… The work of the Support Center has been immensely helpful to me in getting the organization back on track and allowing us to meet the needs of our constituents.”

>>> Executive Search & Transition Management


A Short Menu for Leadership Sanity

April 12, 2011 3 comments

One of our most recognizable nonprofit leaders recently told me that he was “fed up’ and that the changing nonprofit landscape was leading him to “insanity”.   Later that day I began to ponder his dilemma and I decided to ask a group of other successful nonprofit CEOs how they keep themselves sane.  The result –this short “five item menu” for leadership sanity:

1)  Share the work of setting direction –The CEOs said that they discovered that it was the burden of carrying “direction setting” on their own shoulders that weighed them down.  Regular staff and board “strategic discussion” helps relieve the pressure.

2)  Identify and feed the renegades – Nonprofit leaders find they need to support those employees who have a keen sense of the evolving community needs – those with their ears to the ground.  They are supporting those whose emotional energy is invested in the future and who are willing to gently let go of the past.

3)  Release the notion of “heroic” leadership – No longer riding in on the white horse to save the day, successful nonprofit leaders are focusing on creating collaborative systems and making space for innovation.

4)  Nurture employee autonomy – New ideas and new approaches need to be “seeded” at all levels.  Successful leaders are creating mechanisms to encourage grassroots experimentation and reward thoughtful ideas and new approaches to service.

5) Foster increased commitment to organization values – Our new world requires us to wrestle with the “discipline versus freedom” model of supervision.  Successful leaders spend more time securing commitment to core organizational values that are at the heart of the work we do in our communities and with our clients.

What are you doing to keep yourself sane?  Leave a comment and let me know!

Considering Collaborations?

April 12, 2011 1 comment

The new economic challenges we are all facing have given rise to a dramatic up-tick in conversations around building collaborations and exploring mergers. Not surprisingly, when I talk to nonprofit CEOs and board members about their success in such endeavors, the reports are mixed.

Regardless of the results, our sector will need to learn more about what makes collaborations and mergers work. We will need to stay nimble, flexible and innovative if we are going to be able to meet the needs of the communities we serve. The Forbes Funds of Pittsburgh recently commissioned research on mergers and collaborations and highlighted the following issues:

  • The primary driver for merger exploration is expansion of capacity to deliver on the mission, closely followed by increased competition and the viability of one of the two organizations
  • Leadership questions are key in mergers
  • The chances for success are heightened when strong ties already exist with a potential partner
  • Although the timeline to complete the merger typically met leaders’ expectations, full integration takes much longer to address due to challenges and obstacles resulting from cultural differences

Are you considering a new partnership, alliance or merger for your organization? Take a look at some of the things that are being learned about mergers (“What Makes Mergers and Collaborations Work?” from The Forbes Funds).

Let me know what you are learning and please leave a comment.

-Don Crocker

CEO/Executive Director