An Executive Director's point of view


February 24, 2017: Diversify

"Don't put all your eggs in one basket," is a worn but wise adage.

Here's one foundation that ignored that wisdom.

February 22, 2017: Open workspace

Posted by: David M Patt

February 20, 2017: The elusive meeting time

Category: Business practices
Posted by: David M Patt
When planning Board and committee meetings, it's best to establish a firm schedule at the beginning of the year.

Stress the need for everybody to attend and stagger meeting times, if necessary, to try to accommodate everybody's schedule.

Some people may want to meet during work hours, others outside of work hours. Some may not be available on particular days. Others may not be able to interrupt work activities to join the meeting.

So, set a schedule at the start of the year or term to provide participants with ample time to make arrangements to be present.

Note: For national associations meeting by phone, Skype, or other venues, take time zones into account and don't schedule meetings too early or too late for people on the coasts.

Unfortunately, international association meetings will have to break into people's personal time or even sleep time. Still, establish a schedule at the outset, so the same people won't always be excluded.

February 15, 2017: How to connect

Posted by: David M Patt
When trying to connect with people of a specific age, race, gender, geography, or any other demographic, offer what they want, not what you think they should want.

That's especially true when it comes to age.

Every single older person was once a younger person and usually wanted different things than they want now.

Looking back, many of those people now realize they should have wanted something different. But that's not how they felt then.

So, give people what they want now.

They can think about later, well, later.

February 13, 2017: Family leave policy

Here's the case for paid family leave.

February 08, 2017: No guessing

Category: Technology
Posted by: David M Patt
I clicked the link I was sent to access a webinar, but instead of being taken to the presentation page, it brought me to the registration page. I was already registered.

I clicked every link in every message I had received and finally found the connection at, "click here for webinar materials."

A drop down menu then led me to the webinar.

When issuing instructions to members, customers, users, or anybody else, don't make them guess how to find something.

Tell them what to click and label it accurately.

February 06, 2017: Board recruitment fail

Category: Governance
Posted by: David M Patt
I received a form letter from somebody I don't know inviting me to serve on the Board of a newly formed organization.

I declined.

If this had been a bona fide organization assembling its Board of Directors, I would have been contacted in a more personal manner and the reasons for my selection would have been specific to my background.

The organization that contacted me appeared to be trying to establish legitimacy. To me, it flunked the smell test.

When soliciting somebody for a leadership position in your organization, it's OK to send an initial email. But it should not contain the "sell."

The email message should be swiftly followed by a telephone call and nominees told who suggested them and why it was felt they were suited for leadership of the group.

They need to be told how they can make a meaningful contribution to the work of the organization.

Don't expect people to succumb to the flattery of having been asked to sit on a Board. Those who do will probably be lousy Board members.

And they'll simply be helping your group look more legit (which is maybe all you want, anyway).

February 03, 2017: Rescuing professionals

Category: Stuff, other
Posted by: David M Patt
Here's how some scientists are helping their colleagues who have been barred from entering the U.S. by the anti-Muslim ban.

February 02, 2017: Pay your bills

Category: Stuff, other
Posted by: David M Patt
Not-for-profits should stop acting like they are entitled to free services because they pursue worthy missions.

Their work shouldn't matter. They should still pay their bills.

It doesn't matter if they serve war refugees, terminally ill patients, hungry children, the disabled, or anybody else in need.

While it's great if they can secure donations or discounts, they should not expect those nor think they are entitled to them.

Not-for-profits (already exempt from income tax and, sometimes, sales tax, too) should pay their rent, utilities, credit card fees, shipping costs, printing bills, internet service charges, and everything else required to conduct organizational business.

The Syrian American Medical Association is currently asking Facebook for a waiver of its fund-raising fees, which cover legitimate, online expenses. I hope Facebook stands firm and refuses the request.

This isn't the first time, and it won't be the last time, that a not-for-profit tries to avoid paying for costs it has incurred.

This self-righteous practice should end now.

January 30, 2017: Getting people to listen

Category: Communications
Posted by: David M Patt
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