When Mission and Personal Philosophy Diverge

An intriguing story bubbled up in the third week of January 2018 to grab some space in the New York Times and other important news outlets. “Trouble [had] been brewing for over a year at New York’s venerable American Museum of Natural History (AMNH) and [finally erupted] in a bizarre dilemma that perhaps could only arise in today’s contentious political atmosphere.” AMNH “is one of the world’s preeminent scientific Read More

San Francisco Charity Under Fire

She was everywhere on San Francisco’s social scene: the 78-year-old fashion diva with her enormous “statement” eyeglasses. Joy Venturini Bianchi was the face of nonprofit Helpers Community, Inc. Over 60 years ago, the respected organization was founded to assist people with developmental disabilities. For many years, it operated residential facilities for them in the city’s Richmond District. More recently, though, Read More

Charity Boards and Accounting Literacy

Any expert in the philanthropy sector will tell you that it’s crucial for any and every charity board member to be actively involved in the affairs and activities of the organization.  Regular attendance at board meetings is key, of course, as well as participation in decisions on mission and program activities, but it’s important, too, for every director to be aware of, and understand, the charity’s finances. Under Read More

Bobblehead Boards and Charismatic CEOs

At a meeting last October of the National Association of State Charity Officials, these regulators reported to attendees about “what conduct can spook” them “into conducting investigations of charitable nonprofits.”  These troublesome examples include: “phantom boards” (they exist only on paper) and “bobblehead board members” (“board members who nod ‘yes’ to everything and avoid both conflicts and asking Read More

The Deep End of the Charity Board Conference Table

Congratulations! You've just been asked to serve on the board of directors of a local charity. But they've thrown you in at the deep end. You're at your first meeting - and they must have thought you'd done this before, because they didn't provide any training or orientation. You know a bit about the organization, but mainly what you've read in newspaper puff pieces. It's a great cause, though, so you're pleased and Read More