Friday, November 27, 2009

A Cornucopia of Ideas

In honor of Thanksgiving, here is a collection of ideas, thoughts, and concepts from the 2009 BoardSource Leadership Forum….

…Foundations are looking more closely at Organization’s financials, they are looking for Organization’s that are sustainable who will be around long after the grant money is used…lagging economic indicators include giving so as the economy recovers giving may still decrease…Board members should include “ask me about (my nonprofit)” in their email signature tags to raise awareness about their nonprofit….millennials are excited about the nonprofit sector and see it as a desirable life career, not just a volunteer activity…
…the new 990 is only the beginning of IRS regulations that will affect nonprofits….pay attention to social entrepreneurs who look at social change differently…things aren’t broken, they are broken open….nonprofits need to market community value…
…a problem in the nonprofit sector is the 1.5 million small, disconnected nonprofits each going their own way, nonprofits need to merge or collaborate more…the Board and the Executive Director are responsible for determining strategy, the Executive Director is responsible for executing strategy… make sure you are measuring the right things…and one of my favorites…if you haven’t failed, you haven’t experimented enough

…the list goes on, but each of these items by themselves could be a post on its own…all good food for thought---without the calories of the Thanksgiving feast!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Energized by the BoardSource Conference

I have just returned from the annual BoardSource Leadership Forum in Orlando, FL and I am re-energized to advance the cause of good governance. It wasn’t just the 80 degrees weather, the palm trees, the lake view, and the sound of the multiple waterfalls outside. (Although I suspect an environment like this on a daily basis could only continue to create energy) It was the reinforcement of what can be accomplished in any organization when they are established on a firm foundation.

We have worked with nonprofit organizations for over 25 years. Some organizations accomplish their goals very effectively. Their programs work, they are good at attracting donors and volunteers, and even in these difficult times, they are strategizing ways to continue on. Other organizations are not so effective. The key ingredient that is missing from the less effective nonprofits? Good governance.

The popular definition site, “Wikipedia” defines governance as: “consistent management, cohesive policies, processes and decision-rights for a given area of responsibility” We see it as the cornerstone for the foundation of a well run nonprofit.

BoardSource’s own site says it best “dedicated to advancing the public good by building exceptional nonprofit boards and inspiring board service” They accomplish this by focusing on Board governance and provide numerous resources and training on Board structure, meetings, legal issues, policies, financial management, etc.

My next couple of posts will focus on some of the great governance messages from the BoardSource conference.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Small Nonprofit Need to Remember to File the E-Postcard

You are part of a very small nonprofit. Keeping the books is simple, what could go wrong? Well if you don’t pay attention to the IRS filing requirements-you could lose your nonprofit status.

Small nonprofits with gross receipts of $25,000 or less need to annually submit the Form 990-N to the IRS. The form is filed online at There is no paper filing option. While there is no monetary penalty for late filing, an organization that fails to file for three years in a row, will have its nonprofit status revoked.

The filing is simple. You just need your employer identification number, name and mailing address, tax year, website (if you have one) and the name and address of the principal officer. You will be asked to certify if your gross receipts are $25,000 or less.

Not sure if you are up to date on your filings? You can search for your organization at

While it is easy to file, it is easy to forget to file. The epostcard is due by the 15th day of the 5th month following your year end. Nonprofit status will be revoked by the 3rd consecutive missed due date. This IRS provision was first effective for years ending 12/31/06. So if you are a 12/31 year end and have never filed the epostcard and do not file by 5/15/10, your nonprofit status would be revoked. Now is the time to file.

More information is available at the IRS website,,id=169250,00.html