Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Sex in the Board Room

I feel certain that you have all been on pins and needles wondering when this post would be written since I closed my Secret #4 post with this line:

Next time, let's talk about sex.

Well, it's next time and let's talk about sex -- the sex of our non-profit board members!

NOTE:  Of course, I really mean their gender.  I have no idea about the sex lives of our board members at CPD.  At least I have no ideas that I'm willing to tell you about.  Ha!

As an agency that helps abused and neglected children, Community Partners of Dallas has always appealed to women more than to men.  Now, this may be because all of our staff are women and we know lots of women, but no matter the reason, this is the truth.

Not that I mean to imply that men do not care about abused and neglected kids -- they do -- we have great volunteers and donors and board members who are men.  But most of our supporters are women.  Our current board is 66% female.  And I like it that way because women participate.

Here is a recent example (that may get me in trouble):

As you know (if you are reading this series), I send out the email board packet about a week in advance of each board meeting (Of course all board members were given the dates of all meetings at the beginning of the year and I continue to remind them when meetings are coming just in case they need reminders...) and in that email I ask them to hit reply to let me know whether or not they are attending the meeting (so we can order the right amount of food).  The words "Don't forget to rsvp for the meeting" are in the subject line of the email.  An ask for their rsvp is in the body of the email (with a reminder why we need this).  The P.S. (in red) again reminds them to rsvp.

So, how many individual emails did I have to send out after the rsvp deadline to those who had not responded?  8.  How many of these were to men? 7.

Now, is this a reason to be removed from the BOD?  Not at all!

Am I being hard on the men?  Maybe.

Non-Profit Management Secret #5...

Women rule.

P.S.  Yes, I know that I get paid to contact board members about attending meetings and this is me just complaining.  But women still rule.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

4 Favorite Things I Love Right Now! Part 9

I'm taking a quick detour in my Secrets in Non-Profit Management Series, since SO many of you have been asking for a Four Favs post!  Visit the most recent one here:

NOTE:  "SO many" means Corinne, but hey -- I aim to please my best readers, people...
  1. Mary Kay SatinHands Lotion -- This stuff is the bomb.  It is unscented and really works.  Mary Kay has a whole SatinHands system with scrub and other stuff, but I just love the lotion.  Always keep some on my desk and by the kitchen sink at home.
  2. The Junior League of Dallas -- There is not a better organization in Dallas for women.  The JLD provides great support annually to non-profit agencies (Including Community Partners of Dallas -- Yippee!), but I will never cease to be amazed by all of the leaders trained by the league who are changing lives every day in our community.  I am honored to be a member.
  3. Keurig K-Cup Brewer -- I know that I'm late to the party on this one and I love it so much that I am pissed at all of you who didn't tell me about how great it is.  Thank goodness that Lauren talked me into buying one for our office.  Truly, I can't wait to get to work each morning for my first cup of coffee.  LOVE it!
  4. Moscow Mule -- For some reason, the whole office has been talking about Moscow Mules lately. Now, it may just be because the Back-to-School Drive is inching ever closer at CPD and we're just prepping for the onslaught, but still the subject has come up. And my recipe (adapted from Oprah) is the best:
Paige's Moscow Mule (makes 1)
  • 1 ounce vodka (or more -- I use Absolute)
  • 1 t simple syrup (I make this by putting 1 C sugar and 1 C water in a sauce pan. Heat and stir until mixture is clear, then cool. Keeps in fridge forever.)
  • Juice of 1/2 lime (must use fresh)
  • 1/2 C ginger beer
  • 1 sprig fresh mint
Directions: I make the drink in a measuring cup, stir, then pour over ice. Garnish with mint sprig.  I serve it in a Tervis Tumbler mug since I don't own copper ones.
What are your 4 favs?

Thursday, May 16, 2013

What Size is Your Plate?

And now, the continuation of my Secrets of Non-Profit Management Series...

NOTE:  I wrote this because they always use those words at the beginning of each episode of Hell's Kitchen.  You can take me away from the TV, but the TV references just keep coming!

Are you a volunteer on a non-profit board?  If so, thank you!  There are lots of people who aren't. 

One of my friends (who was in the midst of being the PTA President at a local school) explained it to me this way when I asked her how it was going with volunteer recruitment...

A lot of people have told me that they just have too much on their plate to help.  The real truth is that they have a different sized plate -- some people must think their plate is a saucer, others think their plate is a dinner plate, and others obviously have a platter!

Secret #4 is

Know Your Plate Size Before You Join That Board

Ask the Board Chair or the CEO what will be required of you as a serving board member -- then decide if you have the time and energy to devote to the cause.

At Community Partners of Dallas, we run our board structure kind of like the Junior League of Dallas (Hey -- they trained me and thousands of other women who are changing Dallas -- if you are eligible, join the JLD today!), so while all board members are asked to attend our 4 board meetings and their task force meetings, only 6 of these 26 board members serve on the executive committee as officers, thus attend more meetings.  Know what you can manage and still be successful.

And ponder this:  Are you serving or sitting on that board?  Often the terms are used interchangeably, but they mean totally different things!

Know that before you say yes too!

Next time, let's talk about sex.

Monday, May 13, 2013

Tips for Sending a Great Board Packet to Your Trustees

My Secrets to Non-Profit Management Series is off and running, so for Secret #3, I thought I'd talk a little about every ED/CEO's periodic hell -- the Board of Director's Meeting Packet.

Do your board members feel like this guy in the photo?

Why is sending out a board packet so hellish?

Yes, it's a pain to gather all the info together, but the real hellish part is that I never know if the board members actually read it.  Of course, the reason I know this is because I serve on boards and I know that sometimes even the best board members don't crack open that document...

NOTE:  I admit nothing regarding any current or previous board upon which I may or may not have served regarding reading or not reading the blasted thing.

So, all kidding aside, how do we make the packet compelling?

Secret #3:

Shorten That Packet -- Your Board Meeting Packet Needs Just Enough (But Not Too Much) Info

In the old days (this means last century), the trend was to over-burden your board members with information -- truly, I used to mail out packets (thank GOD for email -- oh, the trees that met their maker in the name of non-profits) that were 3 or 4 inches thick -- including detailed reports from every staff person, multiple letters from donors, data sheets filled with jargon that they couldn't possibly understand, and more.

Don't do this, people!  Over time (and with help from past board members who actually read the things), I have gotten it down to this list:

  • Meeting Agenda
  • CEO report (Staff turns in their reports to me and I add and subtract and make it all into a few pages of fun and interesting -- yes, I'm the sole judge of that -- information.  I can discuss this further in another post, if anyone is interested -- just let me know.)
  • Minutes from the last board meeting and executive committee meeting
  • Current agency financials

Of course, sometimes additional things are included such as the annual report, the proposed agency annual budget, etc., but basically, this is all you need to send.

Email it to them about a week in advance.

Hope this helps you whittle away -- you'll be glad you did! 

More Secrets to come...

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Tell me NO, please!

I'm doing a series about my Secrets to Success in non-profit management.

Of course, this means that I am putting myself out there as someone who has had success.  And if you're like me, some days you feel successful, but other days, not so much

One thing to remember in fundraising is

Secret #2:

Sometimes A NO Is Just As Good As A YES

Sounds weird doesn't it?

But seriously, if you have been courting a donor for months and sometimes years (my friend Linda Schoelkopf calls this "Chasing Maybe" and has a consulting business using the same name) and they just keep telling you they just aren't ready to make a decision, letting you take them to lunch but keep putting you off, etc. -- wouldn't you just rather have them tell you NO so you can move on?

With a NO you can move on to another prospect -- and maybe get a YES.  I'd much rather have a gracious no -- and who knows, if you made a good impression upon that donor, they may come back to you -- or even introduce you to someone who will be interested in your cause.

This also applies to grant writing.  People, do not apply to foundations that will not fund your agency.  It wastes your time and it wastes theirs. 

More Secrets to come!

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Non-Profit Management Secrets Revealed!

I recently asked our board members to be honest with me, then I asked them this question (stolen from Seth Godin):

When people talk about Community Partners of Dallas, what do they say?

Scary, huh?

Thankfully, I didn't hear anything bad (of course, maybe the board members were just sparing my feelings -- but they know that I'm tough enough to take it) -- lots of people mentioned our mission and helping abused and neglected children, our events (Chick Lit Luncheon and Change is Good), our auxiliaries (The Partnership, yCPD and THANKs), and our volunteer activities, but the thing that was mentioned over and over was that Community Partners of Dallas was thought to be well-run.

You might imagine that I liked that response since I know that this is a big part of my job as CEO.

So, for the next few weeks, I am going to let you in on all of my non-profit management secrets.  I'm even going to post more than once a week, so get ready.

Secret 1 is...

Do All You Can To Help Other Non-Profits Succeed

With me there really are no secrets and I think most members of the non-profit community feel this way.  I really will help other non-profits with advice to succeed, even though you may think that isn't too smart.

If I help someone to learn how to raise more money, doesn't that mean there's less for CPD?

I don't believe that.  If your cause is compelling and you can tell your story, there are enough generous people in Dallas for both of us.

And I promise that what you put out there will come back to you.  More tomorrow...

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Do you choose your realtor from a photo?

While perusing The Dallas Morning News this morning, I came across the huge full page ad for Ebby Halliday Realtors where they show the photos of their top sellers of the quarter. 

NOTE:  This ad was in Sunday's paper, by the way -- I get behind sometimes -- I blame this on work and my DVR and not necessarily in that order...

You know the ones -- many of the residential companies do this -- they have the top, top sellers at the top (duh) of the page with bigger photos and then the not-so-top-but-still-good sellers in the middle and then at the bottom the also rans (Who I'm sure make TONS more money than I do, so this is no judgment on page placement by me!). 

These type of celebratory ads have been going on for years, haven't they?  And I KNOW that they cost lots of money -- the last time I checked (which was about 15 years ago, so take this for what it's worth) a full page ad in the DMN was $10,000.

Do we really choose a realtor this way?  Does a picture of a woman (or man, but they are about 95% women on the one I'm looking at) make you want to call them and hire them to sell your house?

Not for me.

So why do Realtors keep doing these ads?

Of course, the ads probably do bring in some business, but I would say the vast majority of business comes from referrals.

Referrals work for non-profits too -- if you like and believe in Community Partners of Dallas and the work we do enough to write us a check or bring us a backpack, I certainly hope you will tell your friends.  And if you need me to come and tell them in person or if you want to bring them to our office so we can show them, call me at 214-624-7557.

We can't afford the ad.