Walking The Life Balance Beam

Tyler Hood News, Stories

How often do we use the phrase “I don’t have the time”? Do you say it a couple times a week, maybe even every day? Our time is precious and limited and therefore should be taken advantage of. But how can we best balance our time? It is often difficult to juggle all of our responsibilities.

Simple domain goal setting can lead to greater production and happiness in a person’s life. What do I mean by domain? Typically we have several domains in our lives that if balanced correctly can positively benefit the others. Usually these include areas such as family/friends, work/school, social/community, and spirituality. Whatever yours may be, write them down and identify how they may connect. Try to limit your number of domains to no more than 5 or 6. Next, prepare short and long term goals for each domain. Setting 30 day goals and 6 month goals for each domain is a good way to start. The idea is devote time and set goals for each which will lead to greater balance in one’s life. Be sure to set high goals but not necessarily unreachable goals. You want to set a framework for success.

Once you have set goals next you need to establish a way of measuring each goal. Prepare a measurement for each goal that you set. For instance one of my goals in my family domain was to Skype with my younger brother more often. My measure for this goal was to Skype with him once a month for one hour. This way I can keep track of my progress or lack therof. Often times it is not the actual goal setting or measuring that is difficult for people to do; it is the documenting of the two. Make sure you write down your domains, goals (both short and long term) and your measurements. Keep your records together and refer to them regularly. If you are a techy person like I am, there is a great new app that helps with goal tracking. 43 Things is a free app for iPhone users to utilize in tracking personal goals. The cool thing about 43 Things is it allows its users to connect their goals with friends and contacts through social networking. This adds a separate motivation factor that allows others to comment when you reach your goals.

Ideally making progress in one domain will directly lead to progress in another. Achieving perfect balance is near impossible. The idea is not to achieve perfection but to make progress, grow, and further intertwine the important areas of one’s life. Take baby steps and be patient. Remember it takes time, and often how we reach our goals is just as important as actually reaching them

How Learning Makes Us Feel

Grace Armstrong News, Stories

How do you feel when you learn something new and interesting? How does it feel to hear a new idea about how to do something that has challenged you? How does it feel to be with a community of your peers who are learning new things with you?

I think it makes us feel excited and happy. Learning makes us smile and gives us a sense of well-being that has a chance of lasting a while. Learning makes us feel hopeful and it makes us feel competent. At its best, learning gives us a feeling of inspiration. It gives us the feeling that maybe we can accomplish just about anything.

When we use what we learn for the first time all those feelings return. We feel triumphant. Once we have mastered something we have learned, it becomes part of who we are. The thrill and excitement diminish but the feeling of competence stays with us. In order to keep experiencing those feelings of inspiration and excitement, we have to repeat our moments of learning over and over.

When we become committed to continuous learning we assure ourselves of repeatable moments of excitement, well-being, happiness, and inspiration. Why wouldn’t we want to experience this more often?

If you are involved with a not for profit organization, one of the best gifts you can give yourself and your organization is to become committed to learning all you can about best practices and innovative approaches to becoming a great organization. Learn more, become more, enjoy more.

10 Ways to Engage Your Board in Fundraising

Grace Armstrong Tips

As nonprofit leaders, we need all the help we can get raising resources for our organizations. Here are some ways to engage your board in fundraising.

10. Know what you want and need from your board members.
Before you can engage board members to help you fundraise, they need to understand what your organization needs. Your board must clearly see your vision and where they fit in advancing it.

9. Recruit with a plan and have clear expectations. 
Ongoing board member recruitment is one of your organization’s most strategic and important jobs in partnership with the existing board. Share your dreams for the organization, the projects that will get you closer to turning your vision into a reality, and what is expected of prospective board members.

8. Understand the strengths and interests of each of your board members.
It takes time, but if you get to know your board members well, you will understand what moves them and what their interests are. Spend time with your board and then match your needs to their interests. You will get much better results than throwing spaghetti on the wall and seeing what sticks.

7. Be clear about what fundraising actually means.
Fundraising is much more than asking others for money. The process of fundraising begins with establishing a personal, emotional connection with your organization’s mission. From there, the process can be as simple as telling a story about something important your organization has done. Encourage your board by explaining the many opportunities that comprise fundraising so it isn’t so scary after all.

6. Keep fundraising front and center at every board meeting.
At every board meeting, find a different way to emphasize fundraising. Highlight the successes of individual board members. Remind them about how crucial their involvement is to the ongoing success of your organization. Never let them forget their development responsibilities, and give them a sense of urgency and excitement about making things happen. 

5. Create opportunities for each board member to experience the mission personally.
Regardless of your mission, require each board member to participate in or observe your mission in action. Establishing a personal connection with the mission is the best way for each board member to speak to others about your work and make the case for support.

4. Teach your trustees how to tell your story, and make them practice regularly.
Learning to tell personal stories is the most powerful way a reluctant board member can begin to participate in fundraising for your organization. It is also a powerful way for the trustee to experience success and positive feedback.

3. Start slow and build to more challenging projects.
What are some small ways a board member can begin to engage in fund development for your organization? Initial activities include writing thank-you notes, making calls to thank donors and/or hosting an appreciation event. As they get more involved, they could provide tours of your organization, speak at local events and/or recruit other board members. Deeper engagement would be soliciting for auction items, obtaining a corporate sponsorship from their employer, holding a 50/50 raffle at work or at a party at home, asking friends and acquaintances for donations, asking for a matching gift, following up by phone on solicitation asks, and/or making an introduction for an ask. The highest level is direct solicitation for donations at higher and higher levels.

2. Don’t wait for your board to initiate action.
As the CEO, you are your board’s coach. Take the lead in encouraging, teaching and pushing with passion toward more and more trustee involvement with fundraising. Your passion for your organization must be infectious enough to break through to the most reluctant member.

1. Thank each trustee warmly, profusely and genuinely. 
Your frequent and genuine appreciation for the efforts of your trustees will result in more engagement and more willingness on the part of your board to take more risks and get out of their comfort zone more often.

Dedicate yourself to this effort and you will no doubt see increased involvement in all areas from your board of directors.

READ NEXT: Help Board Members Find Their Nonprofit Fit

Get Your Certificate in Board Governance

Ready to help your board take their leadership to the next level? Join us for an upcoming Nonprofit Board Rockstar Certificate Series. In this interactive program over two evenings, you will learn how to:

  • Identify, recruit, orient and even release board members
  • Define board roles and responsibilities
  • Motivate board members and keep them accountable
  • Avoid conflicts of interest
  • Define an effective board-staff partnership
  • Determine the board’s role in financial oversight and fundraising
  • Plan and run a successful board meeting
  • Develop your nonprofit’s financial statements
  • Budget and manage cash flow
  • Complete audits and IRS filings

In addition to the above, you’ll build an invaluable network of Tampa Bay nonprofit leaders you can consult at any time.


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Delivering Happiness

Grace Armstrong Uncategorized

I think that everyone that runs a business, including nonprofits, should read the book Delivering Happiness by Tony Hsieh (Shay), the founder and CEO of Zappo’s. Zappo’s is an online retailer which begain as the first online show store but now sells many other products. It was recently acquired by Amazon, but continues to operate independently.

The top goal on which Zappo’s was built was to wow their customers with extraordinary customer service. They did no marketing on the belief that outstanding customer service would bring new and returning customers through word of mouth. They were right.

Zappo’s built a company culture that is based on specific core values determined by Zappo’s employees. They make decisions based on core values and hire only people that will fit the Zappo’s culture. The culture they live is one that says that the company will be successful by delivering happiness for their customers, their employees, and their vendors.

Why can’t all companies be like Zappo’s? As nonprofits why don’t we make delivering happiness to our clients, our employees, and our funders a top priority? All it takes is a lot of common sense and a commitment to the process of delivering happiness. Nonprofits all want to be the premier deliverer of services in their field. This is the sure path to accomplishing that goal. What can you do today to begin to change your company culture so that client, employee, and funder happness is your primary goal and a sure path to your success?

Take the Time to Learn, to Think, and to Envision

Grace Armstrong News, Stories

Regardless of who you are, it is likely that you feel your work is all consuming and that you have more to accomplish than you have hours in the day. Maybe you feel guilty if you don’t take everything off of your to-do list at the end of the day.

As we begin 2011, my best advice to you is that you will get more done, if you stop every day to think, to envision the possibilities and to learn something new. Pick a time in the day that suits you, whether it is first thing in the morning, in the middle of the day, or before you end your work day.

Think about what is important to you. Think about what excites you in your work and what you long to accomplish. Think about how you can do more of what is important and how you can involve others to do that which really matters in your work.

Think about what could be next year. If it excites you, then think about it more often. You may have heard that the Strangest Secret (Earl Nightingale) is that you become what you think about. I believe that applies to organizations as well. What the leaders of an organization think and dream about is often what the organization becomes…good or bad.

Think about what you would like to know more about. Take the time to read something each day, even if it is for just five minutes. Education and learning are the keys to having more creative thoughts and more avenues for accomplishing success.

Many of us are not very serious about our learning. Once we finish school, we think that new learning will happen on the job or casually by osmosis. This may be true. Yet, our most successful leaders are those that know they must learn more and keep their minds fertile.

Promise yourself to learn more and think more this year. It will be good for you.

A Book Review: Tribal Leadership

Lorraine Faithful Uncategorized

A book review of Tribal Leadership – Leveraging Natural Groups to Build a Thriving Organization, by Dave Logan, John King and Halee Fischer-Wright

Are you seeking to improve your (or your employee’s) performance, serve your market better and have a blast doing it? I’m sure that most everyone would agree that these are lofty goals and perhaps seemingly difficult to achieve. But Tribal Leadership gives us down-to-earth practical explanations of how anyone or any organization can easily achieve their highest and best use.

The authors say that every organization is a tribe – a small group or set of small groups (think of your cellphone listings or address book), and that tribes are basic building blocks of any large human effort, including earning a living. Birds flock, fish school, and people “tribe.” Tribal leaders are created in the tribal groups and make the difference between the performance level of tribes. “Change the language in the tribe, change the tribe itself.” Tribal leadership is a journey to understand themselves and people around them better, and as a result, know exactly what actions will affect their workplaces.

This book’s goal is for you to learn the tools to become a tribal leader resulting in a more effective workplace, greater strategic success, less stress, more fun, build a better organization and make an impact. Tribal leaders focus on culture and words people use and the type of relationships they form as well as behavior. It does not address beliefs, attitudes or other factors not directly observed.

Learn about the insights and vocabulary of a tribal leader and about five tribal stages described in this book. Find out how leaders can upgrade or move people and an organization from the lowest stage where the personal outlook is that “life sucks”, to the highest stage where people express the “life is great” and teamwork is achieved at its highest possible level.

I highly recommend this book to anyone who wants to improve their performance, serve their market and have fun doing it. Tribal Leadership can be purchased by clicking here.

Conflict of Interest: Not Necessarily a Bad Thing

Grace Armstrong Uncategorized

When the majority of us hear the words “conflict of interest” in relation to a not for profit board of directors, we generally think there is trouble ahead. That is certainly possible, but it is not necessarily so.

Let’s start with the law. Florida Statutes 617.0832 very clearly tells us how to handle a conflict of interest on a not for profit board. Since the law tells us how to handle a conflict of interest, we should feel pretty comfortable believing that having a conflict of interest is not always taboo.

When we invite individuals to join our boards, we do so because they bring something of value to the organization. Sometimes it is their wisdom, but often it is their connections to resources, including products, services and people. Should we avoid doing business with a board member who has our best interests at heart and will give us the best price and the best service?

It depends. It has to be handled properly. Consider the public perception. Think about the potential consequences if the product or service has troubles down the road. Then, follow all best practices (as stated in the law) regarding documentation of the conflict of interest, documentation of other bids, abstention of the conflicted party from any vote, and having a majority vote of the board. Taking all of the right steps will insure that the conflict of interest is handled properly and that the best interests of the organization are well served.

You Don’t Know What You Don’t Know

Grace Armstrong News, Stories

There is no greater gift to a nonprofit organization than a board member who is motivated to be involved in his own education. When most of us join a board, we think that we bring a great deal of wisdom because of our backgrounds in business, education, or whatever our field of work is. We believe that we are sufficiently prepared because we excel in our own fields. Often we don’t realize there is so much more to board membership.

Naturally, we know that as a board member it is not only our talent, but our time and treasure that we must give to our nonprofit organization. The problem is that most of us don’t know what we don’t know. As a result, not all board members realize that there is much to learn in order to be an excellent board member. Not all board members realize there is a robust body of knowledge easily accessible through in- person classes and online.

And what is this knowledge that we don’t all know about? How many of us as board members know that we are stewards of the public trust; that, legally, we have a duty of care, loyalty, and obedience? And what does all that really mean for each of us personally? No one teaches us the deep responsibilities of board membership unless we take it upon ourselves to learn and own our own education…all for the greater good.

Speaking Your Mind

Grace Armstrong Uncategorized

The role of a board member in a nonprofit organization is to govern and guide the organization to achieve its mission effectively. Board members have the care of the organization in their hands as representatives of the public trust.

With that in mind, their wisdom and experience is necessary in order to reach the right decisions. Why is it then that board members are often reluctant to speak up during difficult decisions? It takes courage to ask difficult questions and it takes even more courage to disagree with what the majority may be saying.

Board members are human beings and as humans we fear rejection and we fear being wrong. Board members often feel that they may not know enough to express an opinion. Or, a member might think that others are right because they have served on the board for longer.

Please, board members, speak your minds fearlessly and respectfully. Every organization deserves the benefit of the wisdom around the table. It is these nuggets of fearless wisdom and questioning that will drive the right decisions. Silence has killed a lot of people in the history of the world. Don’t let silence based on fear of being wrong damage your organization. Our organizations deserve better than that.

Fair Pay for Great Work

Grace Armstrong News, Stories

I was involved in a project recently with a group of business people who were not overly familiar with the nonprofit sector. The project was to identify a nonprofit that was well run and employed what the group perceived were best practices. Nonprofits had submitted many documents to help the group make their decision.

What I found interesting in this group is what they thought was most important. The two things of most interest to the group of (for profit) business people were CEO salary and the administrative cost. In this process the administrative cost was determined purely as a percentage without consideration of each nonprofit’s particular situation.

One nonprofit was excluded solely because the CEO’s salary had just slipped into six figures. This CEO had served for 25 years in that position and had consistently grown the organization. Many other organizations were excluded solely based on a subjective observation that their overhead was “too high”. “Too high” was never quantified. I know this is appalling for those of us who understand what it takes to run and grow a nonprofit organization with excellence.

Then, recently, I was in a meeting with nonprofit CEOs. The first topic that was mentioned is how the nonprofit sector could work on changing the public perception about nonprofit CEO salaries.

It is surely not an easy task. I recommend the book Uncharitable by Dan Pallotta for a very insightful description of the puritanical beginnings of the nonprofit sector. Because of this history, the public perception is that nonprofit staff make a choice to work for less and that because it is a charitable organization, employees don’t deserve pay that is comparable to the for profit sector.

This view holds communities back. The nonprofit sector is a powerful business force in most communities. Not only as an employer but as a purchaser of products. Growing our sector supports communities economically and socially. To grow the sector and its impact, talented people are needed. Talented people will stay in their jobs when they derive satisfaction and are fairly compensated.

It is good business sense for our communities to pay our nonprofit leaders a salary that is commensurate with their performance. It is the leader of a business (for profit or not for profit) who makes things happen. It is the leader who is accountable. It is the leader who performs his or her role with excellence who should be appropriately compensated. Leaders in the nonprofit sector accept their positions because of the challenge, because they care to make a difference, and because they want to run businesses that grow and thrive.

It is a mistaken notion that nonprofit CEOs should receive limited pay. If the public believed this about for profit businesses, our economy would be in worse shape than it is now. Leaders deserve fair and appropriate compensation commensurate with their performance. Spread the word.