Nonprofit executives often times fall in a rut and do things like they have always done them. Board members should forbid their executive director in preparing the budget to arbitrarily increase the line item for the amount of money that is expected to be raised without having a detailed explanation on how this is going to be carried out. In other words, they have to have a plan.
We all are in some ways averse to change. It is difficult to admit to ourselves that changes are needed. I have told nonprofit boards in the past that you need to see your board like you would a living tree. It goes through seasons and it either is being nourished and growing or it is dying. Likewise, when I hear executive directors talking about their board members and remark that they are like “dead wood” I am quick to remind them that they themselves grew that dead wood. I believe that nonprofit board members grow disinterested in the cause they are serving in large part because of the lack of motivation they receive from the paid staff.
It further amazes me the number of times staff or the executive level board members expect unbelievable results but in turn want to do the exact same thing that they have been doing for years.
If you want to see different results then you have to identify what you are going to do differently in order to achieve new results. Likewise, another good question to ask yourself: Does your board reward excellence? I read one time of a person who was responsible for grant writing and raising funds for the organization. His comment was that regardless of how much he might be able to secure for the organization his pay always remained the same. Basically while he understood this is what his job would entail without having any incentives to “try harder” made it difficult for him to feel totally connected to the whole process.
Everyone wants to be paid for the work they do! However, if a base salary or hourly rate is all that you offer your staff then don’t expect them to achieve the highest standard of excellence. It will cost you more than that!
DISCLAIMER: This information is not intended to provide legal or accounting advice, or to address specific situations. Please consult with your legal or tax advisor to supplement and verify what you learn here.