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nonprofit succession planning

Overcoming Nonprofit Founder’s Syndrome

October is breast cancer awareness month, but this year the former breast cancer darling, Komen Foundation, is trying to regain public support amid several missteps caused by founder’s syndrome. Nancy Brinker founded the Komen Foundation in 1982 and led it to become the largest, most beloved breast cancer nonprofit, until she overstayed her welcome. Now Komen is trying to shake up leadership amid a public backlash against the organization because of a series of poor strategic decisions. But it may be too little too late.

Founder’s syndrome is a real problem in the nonprofit sector. It happens when the organization’s founder, or a leader who has been there for a long time, becomes the sole decision-maker. And even if a nonprofit isn’t suffering from founder’s syndrome, they likely don’t have a succession plan in place for what happens if or when their leader leaves. But the Social Velocity recorded webinar, Moving Beyond a Nonprofit’s Founder can help.

The lack of a succession plan or an over-reliance on a founder puts a nonprofit’s future at great risk. Nonprofits must learn how to vest leadership not in one person, but in the broader organization.

Founder’s syndrome is when the original founder of a nonprofit (or a leader who has been there for a very long time) creates a culture where:

  • Power and influence all reside within the single founder
  • The brand of the organization is inextricably linked to the personality of the founder
  • Staff are powerless to speak up and be heard when they disagree with certain decisions
  • The board of directors merely rubber stamps founder decisions and have no real authority over and provide no strategic direction to the organization
  • Decisions are rarely tested or debated

In a healthy nonprofit environment, staff are allowed (even encouraged) to push back, ask hard questions, have their dissenting opinions heard.  And the board of directors has the ultimate strategic and fiscal authority for the organization. As a group, they debate and grapple with big strategic decisions. And, as a group, board and staff together are charged with achieving the mission.

When founder’s syndrome is present it can spell crippling trouble for a nonprofit. As we have witnessed the past year with Komen, founder’s syndrome can fundamentally weaken an organization. It can make the organization’s funding and brand name overly reliant on one person. It can cause a lack of critical and innovative thinking. Ultimately, it can mean that the organization becomes less about social impact and more about the personality of the founder.

The Moving Beyond a Nonprofit’s Founder on demand webinar will help nonprofits to:

  • Recognize the signs of founder’s syndrome
  • Move organization leadership from one person to a more sustainable, diversified leadership model
  • Create an effective succession plan
  • Communicate the plan to funders and other external stakeholders
  • Secure consistent, long-term leadership for the organization
  • Integrate your succession plan into your strategic plan

Moving Beyond a Nonprofit’s Founder On Demand Webinar
The registration fee will get you:

  • A link to a recording of the webinar, which you can watch as many times as you like
  • The PowerPoint slides from the webinar
  • The ability to ask additional follow-up questions after the webinar

See a list of all of our live and on demand webinars here.

Photo Credit: Nancy Brinker on Capitol Hill via The Washington Post

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Fall Webinar Lineup for Nonprofit Leaders

I’m delighted to unveil the Social Velocity Fall Webinar Lineup. I received an amazing response to my call for webinar ideas last month with lots of really great ideas. Thanks so much to everyone who submitted an idea. Four lucky winners had their ideas chosen and will be receiving a free registration to the webinar they suggested.

Below is the lineup for this Fall. In addition to continuing to add to the Financing Not Fundraising webinar series, we are also adding other nonprofit management webinar topics. These include “Moving Beyond Your Nonprofit’s Founder” about overcoming founder’s syndrome and creating a succession plan for your organization, and “Leading Difficult Conversations with Funders, Board Members and Employees” that will help you be more assertive in telling people what they need to hear.

And remember if you can’t make the date or time of a live webinar, all of our webinars are recorded and available 24-7 as on demand webinars. So you can still sign up and get everything you would get if you could be there live. Similarly, don’t forget to check out our library of past webinars. You can see the entire list of upcoming and past webinars here.

When you register for a live or on demand webinar, you will receive:

  • Access to the live, interactive webinar (live webinars)
  • A link to a recording of the webinar, which you can watch as many times as you like
  • The PowerPoint slides from the webinar
  • The ability to ask additional follow-up questions after the webinar (on demand webinars)

And we are constantly adding new webinars to the list. If you have a new webinar idea email us at info@socialvelocity.net.

Financing Not Fundraising: Calculating the Cost of Fundraising
On Demand

Key to any smart nonprofit financing strategy is an analytical approach to focusing on your most profitable activities. To do this, you must know how to calculate the cost of fundraising for every revenue-generating activity your organization engages in. This webinar will help you:

  • Calculate the return on investment of all your revenue-generating activities
  • Give you the net revenue raised and cost to raise a dollar formulas you need
  • Analyze which are effective fundraising activities and which are not
  • Articulate to board and staff why this analysis is important
  • Provide case studies of other nonprofit ROI calculations
  • Give you a process for analyzing and categorizing all of your fundraising activities

Moving Beyond A Nonprofit’s Founder

Founder’s syndrome is a real problem in the nonprofit sector. It happens when the organization’s founder, or a leader who has been there for a long time, becomes the sole decision-maker. And even if a nonprofit isn’t suffering from founder’s syndrome, they likely don’t have a succession plan in place for what happens if or when their leader leaves. The lack of a succession plan or an over-reliance on a founder puts an nonprofit’s future at great risk. Nonprofits must learn how to vest leadership not in one person but in the broader organization. This webinar will help nonprofits to:

  • Determine if they are suffering from founder’s syndrome
  • Move organization leadership from one person to a more sustainable, diversified leadership model
  • Create an effective succession plan
  • Communicate the plan to funders and other external stakeholders
  • Integrate your succession plan into your strategic plan

Financing Not Fundraising: Creating a Financing Plan
On Demand

If you want to move your nonprofit from the exhausting hamster wheel of fundraising to a sustainable financing model, you need a financing plan to get there. This webinar will help you create an overall financing plan to bring enough money in the door to achieve your mission, including:

  • All revenue streams flowing to the organization
  • A strategy for funding programs and operations
  • Opportunities to raise money for infrastructure
  • Tactical steps with activities, deliverables, people responsible
  • How to divide tasks by staff and board members
  • Ways to monitor the plan going forward

Leading Difficult Conversations with Funders, Board Members and Employees

Let’s face it, leading a nonprofit organization can be a very lonely, thankless job. And it often involves really hard conversations like telling a funder you can’t launch that new program, asking a board member to resign, correcting or firing an employee. But in an increasingly resource-strapped environment, your job demands more of these hard conversations. This very interactive webinar will give you tools to respond in these tricky situations. Participants can submit scenarios ahead of time, as well as during the webinar itself. Learn how to approach sticky situations in an assertive, graceful way, while positioning your organization to thrive. This webinar will give you:

  • Concrete language to use with funders, board members, staff and others
  • Case studies and examples of difficult situations
  • A process for thinking through future scenarios and focusing on what’s best for your nonprofit
  • A forum for putting your toughest situations to the test
  • The opportunity to hear what challenges other nonprofit leaders face

Financing Not Fundraising: Creating an Earned Income Stream

This webinar builds on the earlier Financing Not Fundraising: Evaluating Earned Income webinar. It is intended for those nonprofits that have a business idea and are ready to pursue an earned income stream. This webinar, complete with case studies of other nonprofits that have launched earned income businesses, will show participants how to:

  • Pilot a new business idea
  • Find customers
  • Price products/services
  • Project future business income and expenses
  • Create goals for the business and monitor progress on them
  • Report progress on the business to the board

 

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