My Book is Finally Done! Now What?

I can’t believe it! It’s finished! I just sent the final edits off to my publisher and it’s finally done!!!

I’m popping the champagne – and I want to share with you some lessons I learned that are useful for any nonprofit leader with too much to do.

(And I also want to ask your advice about putting together a special launch team to work with me on getting the word out – watch the video to learn more!)

So what do you think… do you want to be on my book launch team? If you have thoughts about it, or want to apply, please go to this page and let me know!

And also, you can download a free chapter of the book right now and also sign up for free bonuses if you pre-order. All the information is available at www.NonprofitsAreMessy.com.

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Dear Joan: Can I Ask For Donations at a Ticketed Event?

Once or twice a quarter, Joan responds to readers who send emails asking for nonprofit advice, practical solutions, or just general therapy (Joan tries not to make direct comments on a reader’s psychological state — that’s called practicing without a license.) You can send your questions to Joan by clicking here.

dear joan fire donor need a raise

For Jeopardy fans, consider these question in the Potpourri category. One of them touches a nerve for me (how to hold a consultant accountable) and another seems mundane, but trust me it isn’t (board meeting minutes). Lastly, from the hundreds of emails I am now getting, I picked one I hear a lot – can I ask for money at a ticketed event?

Never hesitate to shoot me an email with questions you have or blog post ideas. I hear often from readers that my posts really connect with them — there’s a simple reason why — ideas from my readers drive most of my content.

Hope you find this helpful and as always, thanks for what you do

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WE HIRED A CONSULTANT AND I’M NOT IMPRESSED

Dear Joan: We recently fired our development director and because we have been taking the necessary time to find the right candidate, we hired a fundraising consultant. I’m not impressed and think we may be wasting our money. She hasn’t brought in any new money and it’s been 4 months. A board member says give it time.

– Impatient to Raise Money

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Dear Joan: My Workload Just Doubled and I Need a Raise

Once or twice a quarter, Joan responds to readers who send emails asking for nonprofit advice, practical solutions, or just general therapy (Joan tries not to make direct comments on a reader’s psychological state — that’s called practicing without a license.) You can send your questions to Joan by clicking here.

dear joan fire donor need a raise

In my experience, managing staff is especially tricky in the nonprofit space.

Why? I have a few theories.

First, bosses can be timid about offering direct feedback. That can really cause problems. Some supervisors I know feel guilty about how hard the staff works. Others are just conflict averse.

Second, many supervisors at nonprofits have never been supervisors before. They don’t have the professional development of the tools necessary to manage with confidence.

In this month’s “Dear Joan,” I answer some questions from supervisors that are in the second camp.

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I NEED A RAISE

Dear Joan: A colleague of mine is about to leave and I have been asked to take on additional responsibilities. I think it’s going to be a while before they find the right person and I think they may move even more slowly because they are sure I will be able to do an excellent job. But the E.D. seems to be forgetting that I already have an overwhelming job.

I can’t say no – the work must get done – but can I ask for more money?

– The Job I Have Is More Than Plenty

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Dear Joan: Do We Need a Deputy Director?

Each month, Joan responds to readers who send emails asking for nonprofit advice, practical solutions, or just general therapy (Joan tries not to make direct comments on a reader’s psychological state — that’s called practicing without a license.) You can send your questions to Joan by clicking here.

dear joan fire donor

Is there a common thread amongst these three dilemnas? I see one. It’s about getting out in front – about being proactive rather than reactive. And yes that takes time to plan, to be thoughtful, to partner with your board to really think through the tough stuff.

Maybe you think you don’t have time to design a fabulous board meeting, build a crisis management plan, or build the ideal job description for a Deputy Director.

But trust me. Getting out in front saves time. Always.

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SHOULD WE HIRE A DEPUTY DIRECTOR?

Dear Joan: Our Executive Director is a gifted visionary and great with people but… her financial acumen is poor, she feels like she needs to do everything herself, and she is not focusing on the internal work of the organization. Is it time for a Deputy Director? Wouldn’t that solve the problem and compensate for her liabilities?

– She is Great But…Continue Reading

Dear Joan: Is There a Smart Way to Fire Someone?

Each month, Joan responds to readers who send emails asking for nonprofit advice, practical solutions, or just general therapy (Joan tries not to make direct comments on a reader’s psychological state — that’s called practicing without a license.) You can send your questions to Joan by clicking here.

fire staff

This month, Joan tackles questions from three different Executive Directors. One wants to know how to deal with insubordination. Another is looking for the smartest way to fire staff. The third is dealing with constant staff lateness.

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Before we get to this week’s questions, let me ask you one.

Are you a leader? Or a manager?

They’re not the same at all. Very different skills and attributes.

And yet, Executive Directors have to be both leader and manager. This can lead to conflict.

Many EDs like to try to create a sense of “family” in their organizations. Dangerous. And even family members need to be held accountable…

So if you have an organization like that, what do you do when a staff member (or 5) isn’t doing his job?

Here are my responses to three different Executive Directors who have asked me this very question…

HANDLING AN INSUBORDINATE STAFF

Dear Joan:

So I am a brand new ED at a small nonprofit. 5 full time staff. I’m grateful that it is big enough to have at least five! It’s my first ED job and I can’t believe they hired me! It’s a dream job for me.

So I call my first staff meeting and I’m super excited to bring the team together and only 2 people show up. The others don’t even tell me they are not coming.

I’m furious and cannot believe how insubordinate they are. I’m having a hard time hiding my frustration. When I asked them why they didn’t show up (and I’m sure I wasn’t nice about it), they said they had important deadlines to meet.

– Can You Put a Staff Member in “Time Out?”Continue Reading

Dear Joan: How Do I Handle a Racist Board Member?

Each month, Joan responds to readers who send emails asking for nonprofit advice, practical solutions, or just general therapy (Joan tries not to make direct comments on a reader’s psychological state — that’s called practicing without a license.) You can send your questions to Joan by clicking here.

racist board member

This month, Joan tackles questions from a board member with a racist vice chair, an ED who wants to know how to diversify revenue streams, and another board member who wonders if it’s time to hire a full-time Executive Director.

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MY RACIST BOARD VICE CHAIR

Dear Joan: 

My board secretary is very strong. She volunteers more than most, is a strong advocate for our mission, and is seen as a leader in her community.

Unfortunately, I’ve recently discovered that she also is very vocal about her dislike for African Americans. I was horrified to come across several posts on her Facebook and Twitter accounts that were very ugly and defamatory.

To compound the problem, the community we live in (and work in) has a sizable African American community.

No one has complained to me but I just can’t let it go. I know I can’t simply ask a board member to step down because we have different views (even though her views upset me a great deal). That said, I fear a larger impact on the reputation of my organization.

Then there is one other thing. She is one of my highest performing board members. I know it’s selfish but I really need her.

And no we do not have a social media policy. Is this a board chair issue? Will a social media policy do the trick? Do we have to ask her to step down?

Board Member and Her Not So Private OpinionsContinue Reading

Dear Joan: How Do I Fire a Donor?

Each month, Joan responds to readers who send emails asking for nonprofit advice, practical solutions, or just general therapy (Joan tries not to make direct comments on a reader’s psychological state — that’s called practicing without a license.) You can send your questions to Joan by clicking here.

dear joan fire donor

This month, Joan tackles questions from new ED’s whose predecessors stick around, mission alignment, and the donor who may be more trouble than s/he is worth.

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CAN I FIRE A DONOR?

Dear Joan: Here’s a question for you. Can we break up with a donor? Sometimes donors are high maintenance and cause more trouble than their money or engagement is worth.

– I’ve Had It.Continue Reading

Dear Joan: There’s Too Much On My Plate

Advice For New Executive DirectorsEach month, Joan responds to readers who send emails asking for nonprofit advice, practical solutions, or just general therapy (Joan tries not to make direct comments on a reader’s psychological state — that’s called practicing without a license.) You can send your questions to Joan by clicking here.

This week, Joan gives advice for new Executive Directors (and those who want to become Executive Directors.)

Dear Joan: I am a new Executive Director of an organization less than a year old. My struggle now: finding time to oversee operations and successfully fundraise. I don’t have a lot of fundraising experience; I am willing but nervous. Oh, and I have no idea how to find the time. And of course we really need the money.

– Juggling Poorly

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Dear Joan: Our Founder Just Can’t Let Go

over-involved founder

“You actually made a piñata of your board chair as a team building exercise at your retreat? 1) That is hilarious. 2) You’re going to need extra sessions.”

Each month, Joan responds to readers who send emails asking for nonprofit advice, practical solutions, or just general therapy (Joan tries not to make direct comments on a reader’s psychological state — that’s called practicing without a license.) You can send your questions to Joan by clicking here

Dear Joan: What do you do with an overly involved founder and an under-involved board?

– Development Director who knocks and no one answers

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Dear Joan…

better fundraising

I’m way less bossy than Lucy
(maybe my kids would not think so)

I recently asked the members of my mailing list to send me their struggles and told them I’d answer some in my next post.

( Note: You are on my mailing list, yes? You’re not? Then go sign up here and come back when you’re done. You won’t regret it.)

Thanks to the MANY folks who wrote to me. What I heard in every one was a passion to get it right.

As a quick aside, two days of Passover reminded me how important your work is — each of you devoted to righting wrongs, increasing tolerance, serving the needy, working with the marginalized communities around the world. I thought a lot about all of you throughout each of my evenings.

And so, in that context, it continues to be a privilege to help you with your struggles. And so here goes. A sample of questions I received representing what I felt were issues with universal application.Continue Reading