Wednesday, April 29, 2009

What Would Happen if Your ED Didn't Show Up Tomorrow?

  • Succession Planning. The name certainly doesn't conjure up images of a fun project. Nonetheless, most nonprofits do not have a plan to get them through a period where they lose their primary leader, the Executive Director. Failure to plan for the absence and replacement of an Executive Director can throw an agency into turmoil that will shake the very foundation of the organization.

    Executive Directors impact a wide variety of elements in a nonprofit organization from day-to-day operations to major funding streams. In addition to the fundraising problems that may occur with the departure of an Executive Director, there may be equally large problems with the execution of contracts the Executive Director was written into. Many contracts contain an expectation that the Executive Director fulfills an operative or supervisory role and failure to do so may jeopardize the entire contract. There are some key questions a nonprofit board should consider when contemplating a succession plan:

Is the Board of Directors able to hire a new Executive Director?

Is the job of the Executive Director realistic?

Is the salary of the Executive Director sufficient to attract qualified candidates?

Can the Board cover any gaps in fundraising?

If the Executive Director were to suddenly leave, who would assume their duties?

Discussing these questions will help the Board to contemplate action prior to an Executive Director's departure. In addition to funding and operational activities, the Board should consider the media strategy it will use to explain the loss of the Director and the steps being taken to replace him or her. This will be very important in terms of maintaining confidence in the organization from both the staff and the community perspective.

While leadership change can be difficult, planning in advance for the replacement of an Executive Director can help to keep the organization running smoothly, in compliance with all contracts, attractive to funders, and able to attract qualified candidates. Truly, a little succession planning does a long way!

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Preventing the Swine Flu

There are currently 64 cases of Swine Flu in the United States. There has been 1 reported death. The rapid spread of the Swine Flu has created the concern of an international pandemic. Now is the time to make certain your nonprofit's employees and clients are aware of the Swine Flu and what steps can be taken to avoid catching and spreading the illness.

The Center for Disease Control recommends the following:

Stay Healthy.

  • Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze. Throw the tissue in the trash after you use it.
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water, especially after you cough or sneeze. Alcohol-based hands cleaners are also effective.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth. Germs spread that way.

Try to avoid close contact with sick people

Influenza is thought to spread mainly person-to-person through coughing or sneezing of infected people.If you get sick, CDC recommends that you stay home from work or school and limit contact with others to keep from infecting them.

The Swine Flu virus is very fragile and must be contained in water droplets to survive being spread from one person to another. Many countries, particularly Mexico, have instituted the wearing of surgical style masks to help prevent the spread of the Swine Flu. Such masks are effective, however the measures taken by the CDC above are equally important.

Many nonprofits have a large number of people who come for services each day. It is very important that staff mandate each client disinfect their hands with antibacterial wipes or antibacterial hand gel. Similarly, clients must be provided with tissues to cover their mouths when sneezing and coughing. Any client who is displaying flu-like symptoms must be sent home immediately. Likewise, staff who display flu-like symptoms should be sent home immediately.

While nonprofits should always take great care to protect clients and staff, an event such as the spread of the Swine Flu gives creates a situation where ordinary care is insufficient. Scrutiny must be given to normal safety precautions and additional precautions must implemented to prevent the spread of this unusual virus. Only by taking immediate steps to protect clients and staff can they be protected and the spread of the Swine Flu stopped.