Wednesday, January 20, 2010

NYCON Offers Risk Management Tip of the Month

The New York Council of Nonprofits is a satellite office for the Nonprofit Risk Management Center, and will be offering these monthly risk management tips. Interested in more information on risk management? NYCON and our insurance brokerage subsidiary, Council Services Plus, can offer your nonprofit access to resources and assistance. Contact us!

JANUARY Getting Your Board’s House in Order
Effective nonprofits boards are essential to mission fulfillment, yet many nonprofit boards continue to operate on a “wing and a prayer”—just barely able to get the job done. Nonprofit CEOs, working in partnership with their volunteer boards and committees, are in the pilot’s seat when it comes to empowering outstanding governance practices by the board. Remember that:

1. The board’s principal responsibility is to guide and monitor the values and goals of the organization. Ineffective boards simply rubber stamp the plans of a staff or volunteer leader. Effective boards revisit the values and goals of the nonprofit on a regular basis and guide the realization of the nonprofit’s mission. CEOs must encourage and support the board in this important work.

2. Every board member has legal and moral responsibility for providing thoughtful oversight. Two of the most important steps a CEO can take to empower the board is to schedule training on the review of financial statements (you can’t oversee what you don’t understand) and encourage tough questions from the board. Acting as if questions from the board are an insult will extinguish healthy boardroom discussion and increase out of the room conversations about the CEO’s performance. At some point those conversations may turn to the nonprofit’s need for new staff leadership.

Monday, January 18, 2010

17 Ways Consumers Are Changing

US News and World Report featured an article on 17 ways consumers are changing in response to the economic challenges and changes. The last couple are of the most interest, especially the focus on volunteering. This presents a significant opportunity for nonprofits and their boards of directors.

Less healthcare. There's no upside here. With unemployment skyrocketing, millions have lost health insurance coverage or cut back on care to save money. Some people go without drugs they've been prescribed or cut the dosages in half, so the pills last longer. (Not recommended!) In some areas, people are compensating for reduced coverage by taking advantage of free offerings like mammograms or flu shots.

More negotiating. It's no longer cool to pay the list price for everything, and consumers are less embarrassed asking for discounts. Retail merchants won't always haggle, but eBay sellers will, and state-your-price websites like Priceline have been booming.

More volunteering. Americans with more time on their hands find it rewarding to spend some of it helping others. "I do volunteer projects to help keep social connections up," says Kathy Bowman of Joseph, Ore. "Think volunteering at community events, serving on the boards of disability or folk dance organizations, small donations to the humane society or kids' projects."

Redefining success. We used to measure it by how much money and stuff we had. Whoops. With jobs scarce and money tight, Americans are seeking more satisfying work--and giving up material goods to get it. Cathy Goerz of San Francisco spent the past year making a low-budget film documentary--a longtime goal--after losing her job at a corporate communications firm. She lives on 75 percent less than before, but she cherishes the freedom: "My quality of life has not changed at all," she says. "I think it's improved. I'm not tied down by location, and I don't have to be under somebody's gaze eight hours a day." Now that's a recovery.

Read the full article here.