Jackson Doggette – NANOE Board of Directors – It’s Been My Pleasure is Attorney Doggette’s experience serving as legal counsel on National Association of Nonprofit Organizations & Executives Board of Directors.
I have served on boards for nonprofit organizations for over 40 years. The experience has basically been the same whether it is a church board, hospital board, daycare board, or chamber of commerce board. Some boards functioned efficiently. Most boards do not. But nearly all were focused on governing the organization. So, in my view, they almost never functioned effectively. And if the truth be told, the board, itself, was often dysfunctional and negatively affected the advancement of the organization’s mission. If you serve on a nonprofit board, I am sure you can relate.
My experience as a board member of the National Association for Nonprofit Organizations & Executives (“NANOE”) has been quite different. And it is so refreshing!
I joined the inaugural board for NANOE as their legal expert. Before I joined, Jimmy LaRose, CEO of NANOE, explained how this board would be different.
First, this board is not tasked with governing the organization. No nonprofit board truly governs its organization. The Chief Executive Officer with his or her cabinet are the ones who run the day-to-day operation for the organization. And when a board tries to govern an organization, it usually simply makes the work of the CEO more difficult rather than more effective. Almost every nonprofit board member knows this. But old habits die hard!
Second, this board does not require its members to be fundraisers. The NANOE board members are not required to raise money for NANOE. Rather, NANOE has a business plan to ensure its financial stability while achieving its mission. The time of the board members is invested in essential activities. There are no long, unproductive meetings.
Third, this board does not go on weekend retreats to develop a strategic plan. Too many nonprofit boards waste time and money working on a strategic plan for the organization. The time and money are wasted because the strategic plan is rarely executed effectively or becomes obsolete before it is fully executed. When this happens, more time and money are wasted developing another strategic plan that is either executed effectively or becomes obsolete before it is fully executed. And this cycle repeats and repeats if the issue of a strategic plan even comes up. Most nonprofit board members know this. But as the saying goes, insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result.
Fourth, this board does not have monthly meetings. Who said organizations need monthly or bi-monthly or quarterly meetings? Most likely, at some point someone thought it was necessary. Oh, I remember. The board members usually believe they are supposed to govern the organization. So, hours and hours of ineffective meetings seem necessary to guide the organization in the way it should go. Most of the time, boards are trying to compensate for the ineffectiveness of the CEO. But an ineffective CEO cannot be managed into effectiveness by a board no matter how often they meet or how hard they try. Did I hit a nerve?
Fifth, this board does not serve without reciprocity. This is the first nonprofit board I have served on that pays its board members to show up for the meetings. There are only two or at the most three board meetings per year. They last about one hour. And I get paid $300 to attend. When I attend the annual conference, I get paid $1,000. Throughout the year, I am available to the CEO to provide my professional expertise. At board meetings I provide my professional perspective to issues. I do not charge for my service. But I am so valued by the organization it provides a tangible thanks for my service. Reciprocity.
If the NANOE board does not govern, fund raise, develop a strategic plan, or spend endless hours in monthly meetings, what does it do? Each board member contributes their professional expertise to support the CEO. The NANOE board, itself, does five things.
The first job of the NANOE board is to hire the CEO. This responsibility may be the most important because the CEO is responsible for governing the organization and ensuring its success. The NANOE board trusts the CEO to operate the organization in an effective, businesslike manner to achieve mission. This trust is not taken for granted.
The second job of the NANOE board is to evaluate the CEO. The NANOE CEO has the authority to lead the organization without the interference of the board of directors. The board serves the CEO as a support because the board believes in the CEO’s vision and his or her competence to achieve it based upon their track record. Still, the board evaluates the CEO to ensure the mission of the organization is progressing. If the CEO cannot do the job or if the CEO has no vision, the NANOE board will fire the CEO and replace him or her with someone they believe can do the job. This is not threatening to the CEO. In fact, it is embraced by the CEO because everyone desires the success of both the CEO and the organization.
The third job of the NANOE board is to support the CEO’s vision. Not the vision of the NANOE board members. The CEO’s vision. One of the elements that contribute to the dysfunction of so many nonprofit boards is the conflict between the vision of the CEO and the vision of board members. There is no confusion between the CEO and the NANOE board. The board is supporting the CEO’s vision. Period.
The fourth job of the NANOE board is to ensure IRS compliance. The CEO initially ensures the organization is in compliance and the NANOE board is responsible to verify it.
The fifth job of the NANOE board is to retain an auditor. A third party auditor provides evidence of the honest, competent leadership of the CEO. Donors can safely give generously to NANOE with confidence because they can trust NANOE. The auditor gives proof of that trust.
Serving on the NANOE board has been one of the most satisfying and rewarding experiences I have had in over 40 years of serving on nonprofit boards. I highly recommend any nonprofit organization or leader to become a member of NANOE and learn how boards can function more effectively with less frustration. Nonprofit organizations can change the world and solve global problems if they are released from ancient methods that no longer work in the current context. I am certainly glad NANOE found me and invited me to enjoy doing my part to change the world.
Jackson Doggette – NANOE Board of Directors – It’s Been My Pleasure was fist posted at NANOE News
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Jackson Doggette is the founder of Doggette Solutions LLC and the consummate professional. He is an exceptional communicator with more than four decades of successful leadership experience. He learned his guiding life principals from his father, mother, and grandmother. His father taught him to know the difference between rules, that can change with circumstances, and principles, that never change. His mother taught him to find a need and fill it. His grandmother taught him to learn all he can because one day he might need what he learned. With these lessons, Jackson has seized life with passion.
His preparation for the work he does today includes becoming an exceptional attorney, a dedicated ordained minister with more than four decades of distinguished pastoral experience, a Certified Nonprofit Executive, a Certified Development Executive, a Certified Nonprofit Consultant, a Certified Specialist in Planned Giving, a Certified Life Coach, certified in time management, a trained financial expert, and several other concentrations that give him a well rounded understanding of people, business, the church and the nonprofit space.
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Thanks for everything you’ve done and for everything you’ve helped NANOE through and through! I hope we would still hear and learn more from you even though you’re already retired. God Bless you always and good luck with your retirement journey! Hope you have a blast.