Tag Archives: CEO evaluation

Goldilocks and the Three Boards

As fairy tales go, “Goldilocks and the Three Bears” is fairly benign. She’s not eaten by a wolf. She isn’t fed poisoned apples. The worst thing that happens to Goldilocks is that she wanders into a house where she doesn’t belong. She escapes without injury. And she apparently avoids charges of criminal trespass, despite the unauthorized taking of porridge.

Let’s imagine that instead of sneaking into the home of the Bear Family, Goldilocks had barged into an office complex housing multiple nonprofits. A bright if somewhat mischievous girl, Goldi would have discovered that not all nonprofit governing boards are the same. Indeed, some boards are too hard; some boards are too soft; and some boards are just right. Continue reading

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The Departed

So what should a nonprofit board do when high-ranking staff members leave the organization?

This may sound radical, but shouldn’t the board try to figure out why these staff members left?

A few years ago a friend of mine found himself in an awful work situation. He was the development director of a nonprofit with an iconic and charismatic founding CEO. The organization had the reputation of being a highly effective operation. But my friend described an utterly chaotic and dispiriting workplace. The CEO insisted on signing off on each and every decision and piece of correspondence. Then, contradictorily enough, he would disappear for days at a time, even a week or two, without warning.
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Income Inequality: The Nonprofit Edition

Who here is old enough to remember the William Aramony scandal?

In 1991, Aramony, the head of what was then called United Way of America, was found to be having a series of affairs, culminating with a long-term liaison with a girl who was 17 years old (Aramony was 59) when they met. Moreover, Aramony traveled with her in style (four-star hotels, the Concorde to Europe, nights in a specially-purchased luxury condo in New York City), all on United Way’s dime. And this was on top of what was discovered to be a lavish $390,000 annual salary.

Aramony became the poster child for abusing the trust people place in charity. The scandal damaged the independent local United Ways, which were tarred by association, even though they had only a tangential connection to Aramony and his shenanigans. In fact, the scandal impugned the reputation of the entire nonprofit sector. And the United Way of America’s board of governors was roundly seen as equal parts negligent and clueless, and so extremely wealthy that they didn’t realize that paying the CEO of any charity that kind of money was utterly inappropriate. While Aramony’s travel style and sexual peccadillos clearly attracted attention, people were stunned enough by his salary alone that they raised their eyebrows and voices.

Flash forward a couple of decades. Continue reading

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