Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Reflections on Leadership Transition in an Economic Downturn

In mid-June, I co-facilitated a conference call for about 20 consultants who provide support to nonprofit organizations going through some type of executive transition – could be retirement, firing, or routine turnover for a better position. These consultants were from across the country and many have been doing this work for years. There were several comments that caught my interest that I thought other nonprofit leaders in Central IN and SW Ohio might be interested in:

· Retiring Executive Directors are commonly looking to continue their work in the sector through serving as Interim EDs, Board consulting, or as part-time program advisors to nonprofits or foundations.

· A coach can be a great idea to assist an Executive Director who is beginning to think about retirement.

· The value of using an Interim executive director in a transition from a long-time leader or when an organization is struggling is finally beginning to gain acceptance. Funders generally “get it” but many nonprofit boards perceive it as a sign of weakness to not immediately hire a permanent replacement.

· The departure of a long-term executive is one of the few “windows of opportunity” where boards are more likely to consider merging with a similar or complementary organization.

· Some Executive Directors have delayed retirement, sometimes to the detriment of their organizations. This can put boards in a tough situation and force them to make some hard decisions about what is best for the organization. Some organizations are making special arrangements to supplement income or insurance as they ease out a leader.

· Executive Directors who retired 2-3 years ago are coming back into the workplace and looking for new work opportunities.

· Some consultants are seeing more demand for organization closedown services and are even being trained in grieving and loss to better support staff and supporters.

· Consultants are offering a wide range of support services to nonprofits who are preparing for or going through leadership transition. Ranging from full service preparation, assessment, search, and on-boarding to ala carte or training the organization to do each segment of the process themselves.

If your organization is anticipating the transition of a long-term executive, seeking an interim until you hire a new executive, or looking for a coach, please contact Ruthie Purcell-Jones at Leadership Ventures at 317-636-5323 or Bryan Orander at 317-752-7153. Watch for more reflections on Executive Transition in the months ahead.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Executive Transition Management

On June 1-3, 2009 twenty consultants from as far away as Hawaii, gathered at Leadership Ventures in Indianapolis to learn and share about the process of nonprofit executive departures and new executive arrivals. I was honored to serve as the local trainer joining Tim Wolfred and Byron Johnson from CompassPoint in San Francisco. Through discussion and role play, we covered the well-researched “Prepare, Pivot, Thrive Model” that Tim has played a major role in establishing as the standard across the country. I was especially excited that a dozen of the participating consultants were from central Indiana and one was from Columbus. Ohio.

I think we are now well equipped to handle both the routine volume of transitions and the anticipated rush of Boomers as the economy improves. If your organization is anticipating the transition of a long-term executive or seeking an interim until you hire a new executive, please contact Ruthie Purcell-Jones at Leadership Ventures at 317-636-5323 or me at 317-752-7153. Tim Wolfred’s new book has just been released “Managing Executive Transitions” and will be a great resource – be sure to catch my endorsement on the back cover (does that count as being published) . Watch for more reflections on Executive Transition in the months ahead.

Tim’s book is available here.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Nifty Tool for Deciding if Programs Fit

There are no easy answers, but I was recently reminded by a colleague in Fort Wayne of a really interesting tool developed by Ian MacMillan of the Wharton School of Business. It asks you to identify four primary factors about each of your programs and then provides a framework to “plug them in”. Based on where each program falls, it offers guidance for how you might proceed. Take a look, try it with a program. What if funders took off a cycle from requesting logic models and ask you to submit a McMillan Matrix for all of your programs – what would you and your board learn?

The Four Factors Are:

High or Low Mission and Expertise Fit - Is it a great fit or poor fit with your mission and abilities?

Attractiveness to Supporters - Is it easy or difficult to get funded, attract volunteers, build buzz on an
on-going basis?

Competitive Position Within your Service Area - Are clients and supporters loyal, are you getting great outcomes, do people associate you with this work?

Alternative Providers in your Service Area - Are you the only provider of this type of program or do people have many alternatives?

Here is a link to a nice two-page summary of the tool.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

A New Day Dawning for 403(b) Plans

Written by: Brian S. Harvey, CPA, Barnes Dennig (Cincinnati)

Major changes are underway to bring filing and audit requirements for 403(b) tax-sheltered annuity plans in line with those of 401(k) plans. If your organization offers such a plan, you'll need to get busy, as changes are effective for taxable years beginning after December 31, 2008.

First, Some Background

Until recently, 403(b) plans were exempt from Form 5500 reporting and audit requirements. But recent amendments to Department of Labor regulations mean that ERISA-covered 403(b) plans are now subject to virtually the same reporting and audit requirements as 401(k)s, including a requirement that plan sponsors maintain written plan documents. (In the closing days of 2008, the IRS extended the deadline for written plan documents from January 1, 2009 to December 31, 2009.)

Why, you may ask? The DOL found violations in 78% of 403(b) plans that they reviewed. They want employers/plan sponsors to take more responsibility and be more accountable for the program they establish.

It is important to note that, while your organization may face significant challenges in meeting these new plan requirements, the process is intended to help ensure the financial integrity of your 403(b) plan and ultimately help secure the retirement income of the employees.

Will You Be Impacted? >>Read the full article.