Welcome to the Wishnick & Associates blog! Please come back monthly as I share thoughts and experiences from my 13 years of work with nonprofit, mission-driven organizations. I’ll be writing about strategic planning, capacity building, executive transition, and boards of directors – lessons learned, effective practices, tips, and advice. My intended readers are nonprofit executives, board members, nonprofit staff (especially those aspiring to leadership roles), and anyone with an interest in myriad organizational issues. Along the way, I hope to pass on a bit of the inspiration I get from my clients. Please let me hear what you think, or if you have particular ideas for a future post … and do share these posts with others who may be interested. Thank you!

 

Why Aren’t You Talking to Each Other?

Nonprofit chief executives and their board members do not simply wake up one morning with the following revelations:

  • The demographics of the area they serve have changed;
  • Funding for a signature program is at risk; or
  • High staff turnover is a dangerous threat to service delivery.

Yet, nonprofit leaders confront these realities often. When I read a story or hear about a nonprofit in extremis, I wonder if the leadership has been asleep at the wheel. Did no one see the signs? Why did they not point these things out to each other? What were they (or were they not) talking about at board meetings?

Executive Transition: How to Determine Who Your Next Leader Should Be

As the adage goes, the only constant in life is change. When a transition occurs at the top of any organization, it needs to be managed with good judgment and planning for the future success of the organization and all its stakeholders. In a nonprofit, it is the board’s role to handle this process.

Why Conduct a Needs Assessment?

Indeed, the stakes are high for a nonprofit board of directors charged with the responsibility of managing an executive leadership transition. Among the many questions that loom are:

  • What is the scope of the chief executive’s job?
  • What are the necessary skills the next chief executive must possess in order to lead the organization to its next level?
  • What are the personal qualities the next executive must possess in order to be a culture and values fit with the organization and a leader for the staff?
  • How do we prepare for a smooth transition for the new executive?
  • How do we lay the groundwork for staff support for the new chief executive?

Why Job Descriptions Are the Keystone of Your Volunteer Program

Volunteers are strategic assets for nonprofits. Some of my clients rely greatly on volunteers to fulfill their missions. In addition to board members and committee members, there are event organizers, fundraisers, service providers, tutors and mentors, crisis/helpline responders, people who shelve books or who staff the waiting rooms of a hospital to let you know your loved one is out of surgery. The list goes on.

To treat your volunteers with the respect they deserve, first think strategically about the different roles they play within your organization. Next, create proper job descriptions.

February 20th, 2017|Nonprofit Leadership|

New Year Surprises: Are You Ready to Manage Staff Transitions?

A new year often inspires life changes, big or small. Among these are the decision to pursue a new job or career. Because employees at all levels contribute to the fulfillment of your mission, nonprofit leaders need to be tuned into staffing transitions throughout the organization. How a nonprofit executive copes with staff transitions both draws from and contributes to the organizational culture. If handled well, a staff transition can boost an organization’s well-being and capacity, but if handled poorly, morale and service continuity can suffer.

January 24th, 2017|Nonprofit Leadership|

Resolve: The Will to Lead

It was not necessarily my intention to mine any further the situation put forth in my August 2016 blog post, Executive Transition: Cautionary Tale #1 – Settling for Less. I had a completely different topic in mind for the December blog post. However, it turns out that the last lines of the August post are haunting me now.

December 7th, 2016|Nonprofit Leadership|

Thanksgiving Edition: Sharing the Bounty

At this time of year, I’m especially grateful to my clients, colleagues, and friends for the privilege of working and growing together. I’d like to share a few things that I’ve learned along the way – from you!

One of the great things about working with nonprofit leaders is the opportunity to learn new practices that are working for their organizations. These learnings are worth sharing with others across the nonprofit sector. Yet when nonprofit leaders gather with colleagues, it is usually with others in their field. It is not necessarily routine, for example, for a leader of a social service agency to meet with one from an arts organization. In my work with nonprofits of all kinds – arts, education, human services, community development, housing, and foundations – I often find myself as a conduit for this cross-pollination.

November 10th, 2016|Nonprofits|