June 20, 2012
Governance as Leadership by Gerald Meck
During my 40 years of nonprofit executive leadership, and more recently as a consultant, I’ve been reminded of the critical role of the board of directors in the operation of an organization. Recently I was reading a book entitled Governance as Leadership by Richard Chait which prompted me to think further on board governance.
Have you looked up “board governance” on Google lately? The last time I checked, the results stood at 21,800,000. These include best practices, free resources on the web, books, articles, consultants, workshops, case studies, etc. This number of entries alone suggests that governance is an important role of the nonprofit board.
Governance is the act of governing. From its Greek origin, Kubemao, means “to steer”. Nonprofit governance focuses primarily on the board’s fiduciary responsibilities with respect to the exercise of authority over the explicit public trust that is understood to exist between the mission of an organization and those whom the organization serves.
Leadership as defined by John C. Maxwell is “the ability to obtain followers.” Leaders obtain followers by influence. The governance role of a board is to influence the organization in three ways as suggested by Chait.
Generative -- developing the big picture
- Relying on a sense of the past to generate new insights
- Looking beyond the details of the issue for answers to problems
- Recognizing there is no one answer to a problem
- Involving “outsiders” to gain insights for decision making
- Suspending “Roberts Rules” in order to encourage creative dialogue
Planning -- setting goals and evaluating
- What business are we in
- What do our customers want
- Where do we have a competitive advantage
- What are our competencies
Fiduciary -- minding the rules of organizational life
- Can we afford it
- Did we get a clean audit
- Is the budget balanced
- Should we increase departmental budgets
- Does a merger make financial sense
- It is legal
Today governance has become a front-page story propelled by a steady flow of articles on acquiescent and negligent corporate boards and unbridled (and often unethical) leadership. There are examples of these stories in Lancaster and surrounding communities. The Goverance as Leaders role was not followed.
Nonprofit organizations are experiencing many challenges including a lack of public trust, shrinking resources, increased regulations and an increased demand for services. For a nonprofit organization to be successful, it requires boards of directors who think and govern like leaders. Consider what you can do to enable success in the nonprofit organizations that you support by developing, providing and /or encouraging strong leadership in its board of directors.
April 20, 2012
Power Packs Project - the New Summer Program by Sheryl Eberly
In celebration of North Group’s 15th Anniversary we’re supporting Power Packs Project. This community organization provides food-insecure families with weekend food and education on how to cook low-cost healthy meals. Each Thursday, Lancaster County kids take home from school a simple recipe and the ingredients to make it. Power Packs’ goal is to assure that they return to school on Mondays, well-fed and ready to learn. Read more about Power Packs here.
Here’s what we’re doing:
Helping Power Packs fund a Summer Program. Approximately 100 families will be served by this as Power Packs partners with local community groups that connect with kids in the summer.
- The Summer Program has a budget of $6000 and Rotary of Lancaster kicked off the program with a gift of $2000. North Group is contributing $1500 toward reaching the goal. That leaves $2500 that is still needed.
- We're raising awareness of Power Packs and encouraging others to contribute to the $2500 still needed to close the gap for the Summer Program.
To give a financial gift, go here and download a form to include with your contribution. Please put your name on it and send it directly to Power Packs Project. (Because Power Packs provides food, we aren’t seeking food donations.)
Last week our firm took a tour of the food warehouse and then went to a school to see food being distributed. Join us here for a video tour. We’re more convinced than ever about the value of Power Packs’ mission.
Think there’s no hunger in our community? In 2004, Power Packs Project’s founder learned that 97% of children at Carter and MacRae Elementary School were eligible for the Free and Reduced Lunch Program and that many students regularly line up outside, regardless of weather, for breakfast before school. For some, this was their first meal since lunch the day before.
What do these kids do on weekends? Some go hungry and parents of others face the difficult decision to feed their children or pay rent. School nurses have reported that Mondays are the busiest in their offices, with children presenting secondary signs of hunger.
There is a real need here, and Power Packs Project provides a way to meet it. We welcome you to join us in providing kids help.
April 5, 2012
Celebrating 15 Years – Partnering with a Powerful Project by Roger North with guest blogger Mara Creswell McGrann
April 1st marked North Group’s 15th Anniversary. I don’t know where the years have gone, but I do know I’m deeply grateful for the opportunity our firm has had to serve our clients through the years.
I remember our first two years in business. Beyond simple financial survival, our first milestone was to have enough cash flow to hire an assistant. We were fortunate. We reached that point in 18 months. We were also fortunate that a friend referred us to a lovely and very capable young woman, Mara Creswell McGrann. Mara served us extraordinarily well until leaving after several years for a very good reason, the birth of her first child.
Mara and John now have a lovely family of five. With all three children in school, Mara has taken on a new challenge – Executive Director of the Power Packs Project.
In recognition of our 15th anniversary, North Group is partnering with Power Packs Project. This high impact organization is working to eliminate weekend hunger for school children in our community. As our way of giving back, North Group is providing financial and volunteer support. We are excited about this new partnership and have asked Mara to contribute a guest blog today to share with you, the compelling mission of Power Packs Project and importance of supporting this worthy cause.
Guest Blogger Mara Creswell McGrann:
Thanks for this opportunity, Roger!
I’m thrilled to introduce Power Packs Project, a nutrition and education program that began seven years ago to address the weekend nutrition needs of children who rely primarily on the breakfast and lunch program at school. Many families struggle with impossible choices – to pay for electricity or buy food. This food insecurity becomes apparent on Monday mornings when children appear in school nurses' offices exhibiting secondary signs of hunger. You can imagine how hunger impacts a child’s ability to learn.
At Power Packs Project we live our mission every day: To partner with eligible families to provide food and nutritional education so that families are empowered and children thrive.
We serve over 650 families a week in five local school districts. We have a part-time staff of three and over 200 volunteers. The program has grown to serve 25% more families in the past year, and we are expanding through our Affiliate Program into communities around Lancaster County. This year we will offer our first summer program.
Please go here to get the “full story” about how we supply weekend food and combine it with a unique educational approach that has a long term benefit.
I’m so grateful to each of you who will join us in providing food for children…..and to North Group for giving me a great leadership start as their first employee!
Fifteen years ago I was casting about for a new career. A former customer gave me a tip: There's an opening with this new consulting firm. I knew nothing about Leadership Consulting, but thought Roger North and his business partner were extremely interesting and nice – and they had a fantastic vision.
As it turned out, this new organization (now North Group) was like none I’d ever been part of before. Part of me couldn't believe that a workplace like this really existed. I noticed that treating others as they wish to be treated, giving extraordinary service, asking good questions (and listening to the answers!) weren’t only principles to be shared with clients; they were practiced every day in our business. What I learned made a huge impact on me personally and professionally.
North Group's support of Power Packs Project (and of me as a leader) is very humbling. Now as I serve as Executive Director, I use my leadership lessons learned years ago from North Group. Whether I’m working with schools, church groups, families or businesses, I’m reminded that people and organizations are much more the same than they are different. And as Power Packs Project grows, I come back again and again to another leadership lesson – the core importance of our Mission, Vision and Values.
Thank you to everyone at North Group Consultants – I can’t wait to see what the next 15 years hold for us all!
A note to our readers: More detailed information will follow about what North Group is doing (and how you can join us) to partner with Mara and Power Packs to eliminate weekend hunger for school children in our community.