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Gail Bower: Corporate Sponsorship Coup
Gail Bower, president of Bower & Co. Consulting, shares savvy strategies for bagging high performing sponsorships.
Should “shut up” be part of your board meetings? Gene Takagi, our legal contributor and principal of the Nonprofit & Exempt Organizations law group (NEO), returns to weigh the pros and cons of dissent on your board and speaking with a singe voice.
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Hello and welcome to tony martignetti non-profit radio big non-profit ideas for the other ninety five percent i’m your aptly named host i love this time of year, the holiday time between thanksgiving and christmas. For me just a lovely time to be in new york city it’s vibrant people are apologetic and forgiving and friendly that’s ah, great time this this whole month of december love it and i’m glad you’re with me. I’d be forced to bear the pain of e s n a filic, asafa jj itis if i had to swallow the knowledge that you missed today’s show corporate sponsorship coup gail bauer, president of bauer and company consulting, shares savvy strategies for bagging high performing sponsorships and bored unity or descent should shut up be part of your board meetings. Jean takagi are legal contributor and principal of the non-profit and exempt organizations law group neo returns to weigh the pros and cons of descent on your board and speaking with a single voice between the guests on tony’s take two fund-raising day and jack nicholson. We’re sponsored by generosity, siri’s hosting multi charity five k runs and walks i’m very glad that gail bauer is in the studio from philadelphia she’s, the author of how to jump start your sponsorship strategy in tough times. She’s, a consultant, coach, writer and speaker with more than twenty five years experience in marketing and leading some of the country’s most important events, festivals and sponsorships, you’ll find her at gail bauer dot com her sponsorship blawg is sponsorship strategist dot com. And on twitter she’s at gail bauer b o w e r welcome gail bauer. Thank you. Thanks, tony according to be here. Thank you for inviting me. It’s a pleasure to have you you would like us to be tossing out the the gold silver bronze a platinum, i presume. Also platinum. All these levels of sponsorship, these air not meaningful, not meaningful. Yes, they cause the nonprofit organization to give away value and leave a lot of money on the table and a whole lot of other problems. No good. Ok, we’re going. We’re going to dive into that right. So that’s, the that’s, the old model correct and the newer model were calling high performing sponsorships. Sure at high performing organizations, right? So organise a sponsorship as a marketing driven activity for corporations. Has been around for ever non-profit organizations have been a little slow to move in that direction, and there have been a lot of changes and a lot of aa lot of reasons why that’s a good strategy on dh? Slowly there non-profit sectors moving in that direction. Okay, should we start with what value we’re bringing to a relationship? Identifying that, or should we start with who we want to partner with and see what their needs are? Where should we start this? I think the best place for anyone to start thinking about sponsorship is really understanding what the value is that they have to offer. Okay, so that’s that’s, the first place we start looking there and inside. So we’re looking inside now is the board involved in this process way offer. Sometimes the board members are but usually it’s more the staff. The board usually has more tangential roles in sponsorship development. Okay, opening doors, making introductions. Ok, so the networking part of it correctly the friendraising and bringing people to the organization. How do we start to identify what the value is that weaken? Bring to this sponsorship relationship that we’re gonna be going after? Well, an organization needs to do a little bit of soul searching, they need to understand more about their brand, they need to understand, especially about their audiences and who they who they reach, who they interact with, and how and factor in how important their mission ist so those three things the they’re strategy, their brand, their brand strategy there, their mission? Because i don’t want them to do something that’s outside of their mission, and especially their audiences and how they can allow a corporation to connect with those audiences. So those three things to find the value we identify these were putting these in a written package that’s going to be a part of our sponsorship pitch that that’s a good play, it doesn’t have to be that formal, but certainly being able to articulate that value, being able to articulate why a sponsor would want to be connected to that audience needs to be something verbally said it, it’s woven into any written materials as well. All right, so this is the special stuff that we bring to a relationship because we don’t want to just be going hat in hand and asking for whatever twenty five thousand dollars or million dollars, whatever it is, without recognizing, without having the company recognized that we bring enormous value to correct the organization should feel very strong and bold about what they what it is that they have to offer two responses to a sponsor they don’t want yet definitely do not want to feel like a dickens character, you know? Yeah, you’re right. You bring something very special and let’s talk a little more about the people that you reach in your organization that a cz one part of what you identified, the people you reach in and how you reach them, going to say, well, more about the sure most organizations have a lot of different audiences that they work with, serve, interact with, and it can range from the constituents that they actually serve. Two, you know, very high end, very high end but high, highly affluent donors. Eso understanding more about the demographics and the psych. A graphics of all these audiences will then help us point a direction to the kinds of corporations that want toe engage with and interact with these with these audiences. Okay, break that down for me. How does it how does knowing that help you identify where you’re where your efforts should be? Should be leading? Okay, so corporations sell their products and services to particular audiences. They know a lot about their customers or their clients. If it’s a beat, obese or service company, so they’re trying to reach a particular audience segments and many non-profit organizations serve these same segments. So for example, a major donor group, a segment of bay jer donors who are affluent, highly educated, perhaps, you know, skewing a little older. Forty five plus might be a very attractive demographic for, say, a financial services company to reach. Okay. That’s, the alignment, the correct your retirement. Okay, yeah. So we then have to do a lot of research to try to find companies that are consistent and with an aligned with what it is we’re bringing in our package. Correct. How do we do that? So that’s like a pretty big task. It’s a pretty big test. But once you know what you’re looking for it it can go pretty quickly. So you you have to understand a lot about how different industries work. How does the banking field work? How does ah, consumer product company work. What? What is it that they’re looking for? But if you always stay focused on what a for-profit company ultimately ultimately wants is they’re trying to sell something. So the way that they do that the pathway to doing that might take him in a different direction. But they always want to sell. So knowing that can help move your can help you focus your research. All right, if you got i’m interested in like, a good client story, you can share an interesting sort of alignment. Even if it’s not a charity where you help somebody, aline recognize what? What kind of company they should be aligned with and help bring something to fruition. Sure. So i earlier this year in early twenty fourteen i love stories. That’s. Why? Yeah, no that’s. Great. So earlier this year i worked with a home builder association. Actually. And they have ah, a significant anniversary. They have many different events. They produce a home show. They produced various activities and events for the consumer population for where they’re homebuilder. Members could be part of on dh. So one of the things that they did was to partner with a bank because obviously banks sell mortgages, and they’re also trying to reach people that are buying homes. So they collaborated with with a bank, and this was actually a bank that had turned them down for a sponsorship. And we went through this process, help them to find a strategy and build their skills, and especially build their confidence because they had a lot more to offer than they were really recognizing. And they landed a very healthy five figure sponsorship to your deal. Very, very healthy. Five figure of sponsorship for this event. For the next two years. They were so excited. I love that they were turned down and then they went back there, go back the next year, way we went back to two months later, two months because i went, i took them through this training program and coach them through it. And they were a little nauseous. But they they went in and said what i told them to say and they did it. It was go out of the company. How did they persuade the company to give them a meeting? Months after the company had decided it’s not a fit. The board chair actually knew the bank president very well. So that was the end. But what i coach them on is going back and talking to them about their business objectives and really focusing on how they could help them fulfill those business objectives. Whereas before they were doing the gold silver bronze approach, so did they get feedback like it’s. Hard to believe this is the same organization that came to us two months ago that we turned down because they get anything that i don’t think they got that say, although maybe the bank people were thinking that but they were really excited about the possibilities and about the partnership moving forward. Outstanding that’s. A very, very good it’s that’s a great cake store because they got turned down and then they worked with you. And then they got approved. Yes, it was a great i had tears in my eyes when she reported back when it was really awful. And you were in the background. You were coaching? Yes, coaching in the background. Okay. Excellent. All right. We’ll go out a little early for a break. We come back. We got a lot more to talk about. Regarding corporate sponsorship. Coup with gail bauer from philadelphia and we’ve got lots of live listener, love, love it, stay with us, you’re tuned to non-profit radio. Tony martignetti also hosts a podcast for the chronicle of philanthropy. Fund-raising fundamentals is a quick ten minute burst of fund-raising insights, published once a month. Tony’s guests are expert in crowdfunding, mobile giving event fund-raising direct mail and donor cultivation. Really, all the fund-raising issues that make you wonder, am i doing this right? Is there a better way there is? Find the fund-raising fundamentals archive it. Tony martignetti dot com that’s marketmesuite n e t t i remember there’s, a g before the end, thousands of listeners have subscribed on itunes. You can also learn maura, the chronicle website, philanthropy dot com fund-raising fundamentals the better way. Welcome back to big non-profit ideas for the other ninety five percent. Got lots of live listener love philadelphia p a we got a couple of people from philadelphia and no one is probably gil’s partner shot out. Teo to barry barry brentwood. We hope that barry be better. Be one of those two were presuming you are. Brentwood, california. Blandon, pennsylvania, near philadelphia, georgetown, texas. Honolulu, hawaii, bayonne, new jersey live listener love to all of you my my grandmother used to live in bayonne, right on the newark bay. Like thirty west thirty first street, i think, right last street, right on the newark bay, new bern, north carolina chevy chase, maryland, oakland, california live listener love it will go abroad very shortly. Skill bauer, part of what you’re offering to accompany could very well be opportunities for their employees. Right, like, maybe volunteering. I’m thinking. Volunteering? Yes. Okay. Yeah. There are all kinds of opportunities for volunteers. Of course. The nonprofit organization has tohave a strong volunteer program put together, which can be, you know, challenging, sometimes for smaller organization. But the corporate side can they love having opportunities for volunteerism? And it could be a great way to expand, expand what an organization is doing. Yeah, and that goes to the point that you don’t want to create something that you don’t have or isn’t consistent with your mission. Correct? Just to achieve a sponsorship. Correct? Because that that sometimes takes you away. You know what way off track? Yes, but it’s tempting it is tempting because you’re being offered money. Well, creating a volunteer program. Well, we don’t really work with, you know, most of our work is all done with professionals. You know, maybe they’re counselors, you know, credentials or something. You know, we don’t have a volunteer opportunities, but maybe we could create it for this lucrative five figure sponsorship. Right? That’s. Bad that’s. Bad thinking. Well, it’s it’s, when you’re working on sponsorship, you always have to be thinking into the future. And sometimes a sponsorship opportunity can come along. That actually can propel something that you do want to move forward too. So if having a robust volunteer program is something that you wanna have happen and you can expedite it more quickly through a sponsorship poke, then yes, that’s. Great. And sometimes it can be a surprise. I worked on the new orleans jazz and heritage festival for many years and the year after katrina sin oko sorry, excuse me, shell oil came in as a sponsor on day one of the things that they did was to provide a very large pool of volunteers, which was really invaluable because if you remember, after katrina, half the population of new orleans left, we could not have produced the festival without without that volunteer staff, and it was terrific, so volunteerism can be really important for an organization what’s we’ve identified what it is we’re bringing, and we’ve identified companies that are properly aligned similarly aligned, who should we approach let’s, say let’s say so let’s start with a large company, but you know your ah midsize, maybe organization, and they’ve got an office in or, you know, some kind of retail outlet or something in your community. You start at the local level, or do you go to the national office? You, if you’re an organization that is regionally or locally based, then you wantto work with the regional or local decision makers. So if they have a retail branch, for example, of a bank branch or it’s a retail. Organization. A retail company, you can get to know the branch manager or the you know, the general manager of the store. But the decision’s probably not going to be made there, though, that that person, depending on the company, could be an influencer of the person who’s making the decision, the decision’s going to be really made out of the marketing or communications or public relations office generally, depending depending on what the opportunity is. For example, if a new organization had an opportunity that was more environmental, they were an environmental organization. It could be made out of the csr office, the corporate social responsibility office. Or if the organization has some kind of a diversity initiative, then it could come out of the chief diversity office. Okay, adversity. Office of interesting. I was only thinking of marketing. I was thinking marketing budgets that’s where this would all be, but not necessarily right. Yeah, it’s usually marketing. But one of the things on a more sophisticated way of working a high performing way of working in corporate sponsorship is to really help an organization leverage sponsorship opportunity across multiple departments within the company. So if we have any corporate listeners listening, tuning in that’s that would be a tip that i would have for them to have to involve as many departments into your sponsorship opportunity is possible because that way you’re getting more value out of that investment and driving mohr business outcomes, not just marketing. This is on the non-profit side, you want to be looking, then at possibilities for maybe diversity volunteer opportunities, which should be hr hr. What else? Corporate public relations if there’s an environmental theme, corporate social responsibility, there could be sales initiatives there. If you had a media partner, they’re trying to drive sales and they’re trying to drive circulation and they’re looking at there could be a content opportunity. There could be an opportunities to bring there the writers or the radio personalities tto life s so there are all different kinds of, you know, all different kinds of channels, so that the idea is for the nonprofit organization to think really broadly and very creatively about all these ways to tie in. Excellent. I love it. Well, now we’ve identified who were going to and and where we should be starting who should? Who should make the initial inquiry? I guess if there’s a relationship like a boardmember, then they should make the first inquiry that yeah, that if you have a really somebody got relations, yes, that would be a good one, but to make the macon introduction or go, you know, go to lunch together, but see it’s, usually the development director, chief development officer, or sometimes there’s a corporate person on the staff of the nonprofit organization so that’s usually the person, if it’s a very small organization than sometimes it’s the executive director. But you want to make sure that the person i had this is another point of having high performing organizations selling sponsorship is you want to make sure that the person has both sales skills and marketing skills. Set your you’re actually in business development when you’re on the corporate sponsorship frontier. All right, why don’t you distinguish the two between sales and marketing? Yes, well, marketing is attracting people to you, and sales is actually selling going in closer yes, selling enclosing something. Yeah, and with corporate sponsorship, the type of selling that you’re doing is more of a consul. Tate of process. You’re building a relationship. You are, you know. Challenging the organization or the company and really helping to drive their business goals. So there’s a lot of relationship building and trust building that has to happen. This does not have to be around events, right? Event sponsorship. No, i mean, it works very well for sponsorship marketing. The hallmark of corporate sponsorship is that it’s experiential. So so that there’s a face to face interaction, that’s involved with it. But there are many ways that programs could be tied into it or other marketing initiatives or other kinds of opportunities within an organization and could very well then be longer term. Correct. I think you had said in the example you were talking about the building association, um, wasn’t that the homebuilders association one that a couple of year because there are a couple of sponsors that was a two year sponsorship for their home show, right? But it could there could be annual sponsorships that happened for organizations as well. Oh, so the event was a part of that? Correct. So it could be an event and just not stop with the event, but it continue, like could be leading up to and could be after, right? The that particular case, they sponsored boat two years of home show that that’s what that’s what? I just think that a lot of times the constraint is on ly around events were hosting an event, we need sponsors, right? And you want people to think broader than that? Correct ideo because you’re otherwise you’re missing opportunities you when you’re starting sponsorship, it takes a lot of propulsion to get your sponsorship program moving, so you want to focus on your best opportunity? You don’t want to waste time on a smaller opportunity, so you want to put more eggs in the baskets that are going to drive the best results and then and then keep building up these other opportunities. So if you only have one significant event and it seems to have a lot of potential, i would focusedbuyer rather than dispersing my energies across other opportunities. So for example, i’m working with an environmental organization in philadelphia right now, they’ve got one new event to other events that they’ve been building and building, and there are undoubtedly others opportunities for sponsors within their organizations, but we have been just been focusing on those that that new event in the other two events that they’re trying to really build. All right, you’re back in the meeting now, first meeting introductory meeting a lot of listening, i presume a lot of listening eighty to eighty percent of your time should be about listening twenty percent of your time should be talking. All right, what what kinds of questions are we asking so that we get answers and have things to listen to? Yeah, so that there are three things that you want to be doing when you go into a sponsorship opportunity like this and into this kind of discussion number one you want to build trust, and we build trust by having that other person and that company’s best interests at heart, especially that person, because that person is going to be making the decision. And so you want to be building a relationship and one part of this twenty percent of your time, you’re doing three things. You’re enthusiastically conveying information about your organization and about this opportunity, and you’re asking really good questions which i will get into in a second. You’re asking really good questions that are going to help you uncover the business objectives. Of the sponsor and at the same time build that trust and build the relationship. So you want to ask more questions about what their business objectives are? What are they trying to accomplish in there? Marketing plans for twenty, fifteen and beyond? You know, if you’ve done your research, you may have found just the perfect hot button that is something that they could focus on. So for example, maybe there’s a new product launch or there’s a merger that’s about to happen when either of those two kinds of situations and many others happened there tend to be more marketing dollars available, so you want to find the one, you know, the key priorities that the business has coming up, all right? And in the other twenty percent while you’re talking, you’re making an initial pitch, but, you know, trying to close this is just an introductory meeting, but but you’re trying to explain the alignment between your organization and there’s, correct? Yes, and you’re you’re enthusiastic leak, you know, conveying information about what that sponsorship opportunity is and to, you know, to sort of have corroborated what you’re thinking is the right approach for them. Yeah, so and then you’re asking questions, and as they’re talking, you’re listening and listening internally to think, yeah, i’m right on this, this this this event is, you know, this priority that they’re having is exactly what i should be focused on. All right, now you go back, you had your first meeting and let’s say, you know, there’s, some interest, okay? Basically, the the tenor of it is let’s keep talking, you go back, and now you’re obviously putting together everything that you heard and weaving that into what you’re trying to get out of this correct. And so if you’ve left that first meeting and there’s equal enthusiasm and they, you know, you feel like you’ve gotten all the information that you need, then you would go back and you would develop a proposal for them, and you would give them lots of different suggestions, you know, several different options and let them choose how they might be involved with your organisation. And so in the proposal, then you had outlined the different ways that they could be involved different opportunities that you’ve defined in the process of developing your sponsorship strategy for your organization. Now, if we’re not allowed to call these gold silver bronze? How are we explaining what’s available and what it would cost? Ah, well, in the proposal, you’re outlining what? You know what the value is, what the benefits are for each of the different options, and no, you don’t want to call it gold, silver, bronze, but you want to make sure that each of these different opportunities number one drives some business goal of the other theirs, and that integrates the company into something of the organizations, whether it’s a program or event let’s just taken event for now. S o, if you wantto weave it into the event in a meaningful way so that the the sponsor is really contributing something valuable to the event. So, for example, a long time ago, i worked with gibson guitar as a sponsor of one of the events that i was involved with fender, i prefer fundez yeah, fender was involved offenders involved too, but they weren’t you know, not not this year. Yes, gibson was involved, and so an idea that we had we didn’t have time to execute it, but one of the ideas that we brought to them was, wouldn’t it? Be great. Gibson has a lot of endorses and so we thought would be really great if we had an area where there endorses who are also playing on the festival’s could sign autographs. So you want to bring something that’s really meaningful to the event? Not just, you know, slap logo’s on things. Was that for the new orleans jazz and heritage festival? Yes, it was. With all right. Now we have presented the proposal, and it has happened with the client that you worked with in the home building association. Now we get a no way. We thought, you know, there might be something there, but we don’t see it any longer. Well, that can happen. So you have to go through a lot of you know, you have to go through a lot of prospects at the door. Might still be open door. Might still be alright. Let’s, continue with this prospect. Yeah, definitely need a pipeline. Right? You need to close a hundred percent, but let’s, continue with this one. Um we’d like to know what? What is it that didn’t doesn’t appeal, right. Exactly. So when you get that far along it’s, you know when you’re to the point where you’re writing a proposal. There’s probably pretty good interest, but if there’s not interest, suddenly yes, that that’s a great approach. You want to find out more about what what went wrong or why they’re not interested, or perhaps there’s a question? Or maybe they don’t understand something, but usually the response people get is that they wantto learn more about the they want to explore the costs more. They will come back and say, well, we don’t have this, we don’t have fifty thousand dollars in our budget. We’d rather do forty thousand dollars where we only have twenty thousand dollars or something, but still encouraging exactly. We can offer you less exactly for lower dollar direct, right? So that that’s what you do is just negotiate. How do we come up with these numbers that were going toe put two different alternatives that we’re offering is it’s strictly based on what our needs are if you just did. But based on what your needs are, then you really wouldn’t run a prophet in in having corporate sponsorship. S o there’s pricing sponsorship is one of the trickiest things to discuss because it’s one part art. One. Part science there, about two minutes left. Yeah, so it’s, based on it’s, based on the value that the sponsorship is delivering to the to the organisms that tough to pin down. Yeah, so there is some quantitative value. And then there are some qualitative intangibles that are factored in and that’s. Part of the strategy that you would develop is toe also developed the pricing strategy as well. Maybe other organizations could be helpful to you who have who’ve, or is there not really going to be willing to share so much about their details of their sponsorship? Sometimes other organizations air charging so little that that’s, not helpful. So don’t follow other people off the cliffs, correct? Let me finish with what it is that you love about the work that you’re doing twenty five, thirty years in in sponsorship work. Yeah, i’ve done every side of sponsorship development work, i’ve helped sponsors secure deals, i’ve sold sponsorship, and now it just brings me really great joy to see organisations you know suddenly have a paradigm shift and then be able to go out there and boldly, boldly go where they’ve not gone before and generate more revenue and really propel their organizations forward. And it just i really just gets so touched and so excited when somebody gets what i’m saying and they’re able tto to move their organization forward in that way. It’s it’s really thrilling your passion is clear. Gil bauer, you’ll find her at gail bauer dot com her sponsorship blawg is sponsorship strategist dot com and you can follow her on twitter at gail bauer. Thanks so much for being guests. Thank you. My pleasure. Thanks. Next up is jean takagi on board unity or descent? First generosity siri’s they host five k runs and walks small and midsize non-profits can’t get enough runners. Tau host their own event. You’re going to have twenty five people thirty you can’t host an event like that generosity. Siri’s brings the small and midsize charity community together so there can be a fun and valuable fund-raising run walk in new york city where i am seed their event. Just last month, there were twelve charities raised over a hundred fifty thousand dollars. They hosted one in philadelphia, nine charities raised over seventy five thousand dollars. They offer, you know, fund-raising portals and dashboards and social media tools and, ah, charity support team that you actually talk to. But all of that is to just bring small and midsize shops together tau host valuable fund-raising run, walk the events coming up in new jersey and also miami, florida. Dave lynn is the ceo. Please tell him that you’re from non-profit radio, you know, i like to talk to pick up the phone and talk to people seven one eight, five o six, nine triple seven if you prefer generosity siri’s dot com my video this week highlights to fund-raising day videos and also a jack nicholson movie on how aloma shared ideas about upgrading donors and marcy brenholz and i talked about thanking donors so that they’ll stay with you you after year and keep on giving. I played both of those on the show not too long ago, but i also want to share the fact that there is video of those two interviews from fund-raising day and the jack nicholson movie that i recommend is from nineteen seventy four it’s an excellent murder mystery, and this probably gives it away. It co stars faye dunaway and if you want to know what that movie is that i’m recommending, you have to watch the video. The video is that tony martignetti dot com that is tony’s take two for friday, fifth of december forty seventh show of this year. December already jean takagi, you’re out there, right? I am. Honey, i know you are. You’re the managing attorney of neo, the non-profit and exempt organizations law group in san francisco. That’s still true, right? Absolutely. And fire yourself. All right. And you also still edit the popular non-profit low block dot com and on twitter, you’re at g tak gt a k right. All correct. Okay. Just like the check. Double check the biographical information every every once in a while. And plus, being an attorney, i don’t like to ask questions that i don’t know the answer to, so i knew that was all correct. All right, gene, we’re talking about unity and dissent on your board this arose from, although we’re not going to nit pick the details of this, but this arose from a university of virginia proposal that that board members silence their descent and there was a little bit shocking for some people to read in the paper when they read about ebba talking about so sad, discouraging or actually prohibiting dissenting board members from publicly expressing their view. And that was just a proposed policy that somehow got released to the public, and some people were very, very upset about it thinking of it, a censorship on dh that caused them once, you know, the public was made aware of it. There was all sorts of articles in the washington post and other newspapers about it, and they rescinded that part of the proposal, but they kind of added a more common governance thought after about well, you can talk about your descent publicly, we won’t. We won’t chill that from happening, but once a decision is reached by the board. The board members each have a responsibility to ensure that the board’s actions and decisions are successfully implemented. So they really downgraded their initial thought. But it was a a source of a lot of controversy at the time. And i think it’s a really interesting subject. Yeah, i love that. Some dissenter released to the public, the non dissenting policy and that there that’s interesting at virginia. I just this is just a small detail, but they call their board the board of visitors. I thought that was interesting. Hey, i i i do it. Well, i don’t know what the historical artifact of that is, but it is their governing body. Yes. This’ll all go back to the days of this is from thomas jefferson, i think is the founder of via university that’s what a little bit ironic and some people’s mind about, right? You know, quenching public dissent? Yeah, this statesmen who spoke out of, um and they’re doing just the opposite. But askew said it turns out they’re not doing it, that that part of the proposal was was killed. There is, in fact, value in diversity and dissent. On aboard, right? Yeah, absolutely way need tohave open discussion then, in a lot of governance, experts will say having a culture that encourages open dissent is actually one of the most important indicators of bored effectiveness, the opposite being, you know, usually a culture of group think and rubber stamping one person’s decision and all just sort of reinforcing, you know, the first point of view that comes up rather than actively debating and thinking about, you know, critically thinking about what would be the best decision of the board amongst all of the possibilities. So so every board vote should not be one hundred percent in unanimous. In fact, it’s you’re saying it’s a good sign if there’s there is disagreement. Yeah, but, you know, from from time to time and that’s, you know, a pet peeve of mine and many other lawyers that work with non-profit boards to see by-laws that say board actions will only be taking taken if there is a unanimous vote in favor of aboard actions. That’s part of it really just chills, you know, the board from discussing, you know, individual boardmember from discussing their dissenting opinions. That’s part of some by-laws of some organizations, that has to be a one hundred percent vote. Yeah, i, um i got is an uncommon to find consensus. A required vote. Teo get bored. Action. Well, but consensus could be an easy majority or two thirds or something, but but you see it often that it’s one hundred percent unanimous requirement. Yeah. It’s not uncommon. I wouldn’t. I would i would say, you know, it’s, not the majority of by-laws permit that, but certainly i’ve seen several, uh, that that require one hundred percent consensus vote in order to take aboard action. And that is to promote their culture. What they feel like is a culture of unity. Mmm. All right, there are ways of dealing with the descent in a in a board discussion on dh valuing the honesty and the openness and the diversity if you just if you just manage and facilitate the conversation yeah, you know, you’re absolutely right. And i think it takes a really skilled chair of the board or whoever is the presiding officer at the board meetings to really encourage that. That dissent without letting it, you know, devolved into infighting and ah, and, uh, a culture where nobody wants to be there. And everybody is apprehensive about showing up at the next board meeting because there is that culture of stress and tension and disagreement. So it is a bit of a balancing act, and i think it actually like many, many things take some exercise in some effort. Teo, create that culture of open dissent where, you know, people can descent. This takes place in families too, doesn’t it, tony, especially in italian cultures, open dissent and at the dinner table, but always mine afterwards. Yeah, i went after the thanksgiving dinner at my cousin’s house. When, when i was walking down the sidewalk in getting into the car to drive home, i realized how quiet it was. I felt like i had been in a springsteen concert for, like, four hours. And then i was back at home and my ears were almost ringing. Yes. So there’s a healthy descent at least among my cacophonous family. Yeah, for sure. And my part of the family. And i have ah, through marriage, some italian family as well. Yes, it is this healthy dissenting atmosphere, but it’s very vibrant it’s encouraging of discussion. Um, and at the end of the day, they can move forward. So, you know, creating that culture is not necessarily the easiest thing, especially for non-profit board, who may not meet so often like the way family gets to meet andi, everything gets remedy, you know, the next time they have dinner. But when you meet, like once every other month or once every quarter ah, and that’s, the only time you see these people, you may be a little hesitant about, you know, starting a fight by by presenting a dissenting views. So i think it takes practice. And, you know, one way you might practise is and there’s some dangerous to this as well. But in short, formal, just say creating a doubles advocate for a particular issues, you know, and particular issue, maybe where the board all seas, the thing you know, in the same light and would all vote unanimously in favor of it. Maybe at that time assigning one person to just raise issues and take the other part and encouraging discussion to see what happens. And you may end up with still the same opinion, but aboard that’s learned to discuss things a little bit more. Vigorously and critically look att issues and way ah ah, conflicting viewpoints, there’s a policy governance model from interestingly, from a married couple, the carvers that has some very good ideas for howto manage this whole process and maintain good governance. Yeah, and they’re they’re aspects of the carver policy governance model that i really like, and it is a model that encourages discussion, even passionate disagreement, i think they say to rip represent the diversity on the board, hopefully the diversity in all kinds of ways, on the board, with different perspectives in different ways of looking at things. But i think part of the model says is once you’ve made a vote, you know whether it’s a unanimous vote or if it’s a five for a slim majority vote and that’s enough to take board action, the ceo and the staff have got to treat it the same way. It’s a board decision in favor of going a certain direction and that’s what needs to be implemented. And so the carver model goes on to say, you know, if a boardmember descent, you know, with that, well, you should absolutely record that descent. So in a five, four vote, you’ll record those who have presented their dissenting opinions, not necessarily by name. However, if they don’t want their name to be to be entered into there, if they’re minutes or public, they may feel that that might, um, chill feature board discussion if they’re not in the majority. So, you know, it could just indicate that there was a five four vote and anybody who wants to be on record as dissenting should have their name recorded otherwise, maybe not, but if if if you do disagree with it and you want to go out and publicly say it, we don’t chill that process, you let them say that, but they’ve got to balance that with a duty of confidentiality, so they have to make sure that they’re not releasing confidential information out there. They have to be careful of not chilling board participation in future discussions. So if they go, you know, john smith disagreed with me, and he came up with all sorts of terrible arguments in favor of that. Well, that’s not going to be a healthy way to descend, you know, naming out individual board members who disagreed with you and, you know, taking down their argument without the chance for them to present the other side. And then i think what’s important about the carver model. The balance is that if a boardmember disagrees, they should go on to say, on the record, whoever they’re speaking out to in the public, that the process used by the board with proper so they disagreed, but they were in the minority. But the process used was proper to get all those things out there and that hopefully we’ll create a good culture of open dissent and ability to express dissenting views in public without harming the organization. All right, there was a lot in there that this is getting into the details. Very interesting of good governance, right? I mean, a lot of times we talk about good governance and it stops with well, you should have a conflict of interest policy. You have a whistle blower policy document retention. But this is getting into the process of board meetings that created good governance and proper oversight. Yeah, and you know, onboarding typically take actions and board meeting. So how boardmember ings air run? How their chairs, what type of discussions you choose toe have. Board meetings when in the meeting do you take your, you know, place your most important discussions? Maybe it shouldn’t be approving the board minutes right at the front where everybody, you know has the energy to vigorously discuss important issues. Maybe that gets put in the back. So prioritizing what you’re goingto, you know, discussed at the board meetings and creating that culture of open descent and possibly allowing everybody toe argue different points beforehand, circulating that in the board agenda and sort of meeting prep materials would be a very good and healthy way to get bored to be able to discuss the most important things to the organization because boards are ultimately in charge of the organization. You mentioned the agenda, and this ah, this carver policy governance model, which, by the way, you’ll find it. Carver governance dot com has something to say about the agenda who should be creating the board agenda because that could that could be a source of of dissension also is what belongs on our agenda for the month or whatever. For the for the meeting. Yeah, that’s, that’s absolutely true. I don’t actually, i’m not familiar with how, how carver’s model treats who will create the what’s? What typically done is is bored chairs. After conferring with the executive, the executive director’s, ceo of the organization developed the agenda. But i think knowing what i do about policy governance, it is openly encourage other board members to chime in as the chair developed the agenda to figure out what topics are most important to the organization and figuring out at that point how to proceed with finalizing the agenda and the meeting materials beforehand on dh that’s, very consistent with what carver recommends in there in there model, which is that the board developed its agenda. Not that the ceo create the agenda for the board. Yeah, you know, that’s, uh, i don’t wantto go too far off, but that’s sort of the problem with when the board acts by written consent because whoever drafts that that consent and circulates it is possibly planted just one point of view and argued only one side of it. And that can be very persuasive. And nobody has had a chance to look at the other side. So developing an agenda with only one point of view can make things look very, very one sided in developing organisation that just rubber stamp the chair’s decisions. Okay, we’re going to go out for a break for a few minutes. You mentioned a consent agenda for the break you’re in, george, in jail for that, and we come back. I’ll offer you a quick, a quick parole stay with us. Like what you’re hearing a non-profit radio tony’s got more on youtube, you’ll find clips from stand up comedy tv spots and exclusive interviews catch guests like seth gordon, craig newmark, the founder of craigslist marquis of eco enterprises, charles best from donors choose dot org’s aria finger do something that worked and they are levine from new york universities heimans center on philanthropy tony tweets to he finds the best content from the most knowledgeable, interesting people in and around non-profits to share on his stream. If you have valuable info, he wants to re tweet you during the show. You can join the conversation on twitter using hashtag non-profit radio twitter is an easy way to reach tony he’s at tony martignetti narasimhan t i g e n e t t i remember there’s a g before the end he hosts a podcast for the chronicle of philanthropy fund-raising fundamentals is a short monthly show devoted to getting over your fund-raising hartals just like non-profit radio, toni talks to leading thinkers, experts and cool people with great ideas. As one fan said, tony picks their brains and i don’t have to leave my office fund-raising fundamentals was recently dubbed the most helpful non-profit podcast you have ever heard, you can also join the conversation on facebook, where you can ask questions before or after the show. The guests are there, too. Get insider show alerts by email, tony tells you who’s on each week and always includes link so that you can contact guess directly. To sign up, visit the facebook page for tony martignetti dot com. Duitz i’ve got more live listener to love to send out ottawa on ontario, canada, ottawa, the capital city of canada welcome live listener love to ottawa in china we’ve got coming! Ni hao my first guest, gail bauer, did some work in china for the great wall foundation. I believe it is. I know she did work with a couple of clients in china. We’ve got hanoi, vietnam, we’ve got turkey, germany and seoul, south korea on yo haserot turkey and germany. I’m sorry, we can’t see your cities your mask, but we know that your country is represented live listener love to you and naturally podcast pleasantries, everybody listening in the time shift wherever the heck you maybe arjun takagi the you didn’t actually say the phrase consent agenda. I put that together for you and locked you up in george in jail, but you said consent and you were referring to agenda, so i’ll give you half a break. So could we explain what consent agenda is sure, andi, you know, i didn’t realize that i did not say that i thought i was accused and i was guilty, okay? But i don’t think we’re a consent agenda. Is basically a group of routine, typically procedural, self explanatory, noncontroversial decisions that the board has to make, like approving the minutes of the last meeting, approving committee actions that were very non controversial and it’s done all in one action. So rather than going through them one by one and having a lot of discussion about each one if they don’t deserve that discussion, it’s just something that should have been read before the meeting. It’s all presented on the consent agenda, one person moved to adopt it, it gets seconded, approved and then it’s done and you don’t have to spend, you know, half to your board meeting talking about thes routine on controversial board actions that everybody should have read before hand and instead of, you know, having them read it at at the meeting and wasting everybody’s time. Thank you very much. Probation granted a parole parole granted program when how do we know when a boardmember has gone too far? You suggested that its fine for board members to speaking descent as long as they’re they’re not speaking on behalf of the board and they and they say that, but when does a boardmember go? Too far. Yeah. I wish i had one easy answer to that. And i think i mentioned before, you know, balancing against being a balancing that openness against the duty of confidentiality. So not giving away any confidential information and also not harming any individual on the board or sabotaging, if you will, the board action that ultimately was taken by majority vote, even though you were dissenting on it. So if you try to unwind and unwrap it, that that’s probably not acting in the best interest of the organization could harm the organization and their four year breaching your fiduciary duties. But exactly when when you cross the line is not always clear. For example. And if you thought the board had approved an unlawful action both well, that’s going to be you do need to speak out. And at worst case, you need to bring it to the attention of ah, the authorities in much more common cases. Maybe it’s something if you if you feel very strongly about that, you send a private letter out each boardmember and ceo. And if somebody asks you about it, you just say you disagreed with it vigorously. But the process used again was proper, and a majority voted the other way. And if you really can’t live with that decision, think about resigning from the board, okay, the private letter to the individual boardmember is that’s an interesting approach, but that’s discreet but still could be very firm, right? And i think it allows you to state your argument in a way that you can get all your points across the way you might not be able to do at a board meeting when you know everybody’s interrupting each other and there’s this vigorous discussion amongst, you know, five, ten, fifteen, twenty people all trying to chime in in a short amount of time. Would you be asking if you felt that strongly about something for the board to reconsider its decision and have the discussion again at another board meeting? If it’s the type of decision that can be reconsidered, maybe it’s something that’s going to be ah, strategic ah plan for the future and not a contract that has already been signed on dh where you can’t back out of it. If it’s something that far off enough that the board decision can be reversed in the organization can change course without any harm, and then yes, i think the board can reconsider it if if they didn’t get a chance to hear your arguments, perhaps because the board meeting pets short didn’t give a chance give you the opportunity to put out all your points that you thought were very important, sending it in a board letter, at least to the chair of the board. But but possibly toe all board members and and the executive might might be the right thing to do. Do you see money? Occasions? And we just have about a minute and a half left where an outside facilitator could be valuable for for these these kinds of difficult discussions in board meetings. Yeah, you know, i think when when the board starts to disagree each other and creates this culture, not only have open dissent but of open, uh, hostility, yeah, so just where they can’t stand each other anymore, i think you really need to get a facilitator to help figure out the process and howto get boardmember to understand their different viewpoints. You also have tio select board members very carefully not only fruit for their diversity and skills and backgrounds, but also for their ability. Tio operate in a culture that that encourages dissent on where they they’re not afraid to speak out, even if they may not be in the majority view point. That’s, that’s really important in our democracy and certainly in aboard as well my voice just went up like a high school girl like you often voice cracked like a fourteen year old, and i do that all the time. No, but it is very important. That’s a very, very interesting point two to bring in the recruitment process the not only the skill that you might be seeking real estate attorney, whatever, but fitting into the culture of the organization and the culture of the board. I i think that could even be a valid statement for the organisation when it when it, you know, thinks about all of the valleys that it wants to to promote is encouraging dissenting views as a core governance or organizational values sametz okay, jean, we’re gonna leave it there. I want to thank you very much. You will find jeans, blawg at non-profit law blogged dot com and on twitter, you’ll find him at g. Tack again, jean, thanks so much. Thank you tell you, have a happy holiday, thank you very much, you two we’ll talk next month thanks next week, amy sample ward returns you know her she’s, our monthly social media contributor and the ceo of and ten non-profit technology network. She’s. Always excellent. If you missed any part of today’s show, find it on tony martignetti dot com generosity siri’s remember them good things happen when small charities come together and work together. General city siri’s dot com. Our creative producer is claire meyerhoff. Sam liebowitz is on the board is a line producer. Shows social media is by julia campbell of jake campbell. Social marketing on the remote producer of tony martignetti non-profit radio is john federico of the new rules are music is by scott stein it’s cheap red wine be with me next week for non-profit radio big non-profit ideas for the other ninety five percent. Go out and be great. What’s not to love about non-profit radio tony gets the best guests check this out from seth godin this’s the first revolution since tv nineteen fifty and henry ford nineteen twenty it’s the revolution of our lifetime here’s a smart, simple idea from craigslist founder craig newmark yeah insights, orn presentation or anything people don’t really need the fancy stuff they need something which is simple and fast. When’s the best time to post on facebook facebook’s andrew noise nose at traffic is at an all time hyre on nine a m or eight pm so that’s when you should be posting your most meaningful post here’s aria finger ceo of do something dot or ge young people are not going to be involved in social change if it’s boring and they don’t see the impact of what they’re doing so you got to make it fun and applicable to these young people look so otherwise a fifteen and sixteen year old they have better things to dio they have xbox, they have tv, they have their cell phones. Me dar is the founder of idealist. I took two or three years for foundation staff to sort of dane toe. Add an email address card. It was like it was phone. This email thing is right and that’s why should i give it away? Charles best founded donors choose dot or ge somehow they’ve gotten in touch kind of off line as it were on dh and no two exchanges of brownies and visits and physical gift. Mark echo is the founder and ceo of eco enterprises. You may be wearing his hoodies and shirts. Tony talked to him. Yeah, you know, i just i’m a big believer that’s not what you make in life. It sze you know, tell you make people feel this is public radio host majora carter. Innovation is in the power of understanding that you don’t just do it. You put money on a situation expected to hell. You put money in a situation and invested and expected to grow and savvy advice for success from eric sacristan. What separates those who achieve from those who do not is in direct proportion to one’s ability to ask others for help. The smartest experts and leading thinkers air on tony martignetti non-profit radio big non-profit ideas for the other ninety five.
I was a guest at a meeting of Executive Women in Nonprofits, part of the New York Society of Association Executives. I interviewed Maria Cuomo Cole, chair of HELP USA, talking about relationships that have helped her professionally.
Then we broadened to a group discussion.
Brave executive women opened themselves to the 30 in attendance revealing how all kinds of relationships helped them get where they are. The stories moved me to tears.
At that moment, I felt I was invisibly witnessing women talking when there isn’t a man in the room. In fact, there were two of us. The other was silent and, as facilitator, I was not.
Of course, I can never be a live witness to women talking when there isn’t a man in the room. But that was how I felt.
Thankfully, it was captured in HD video which you can play below.
Members of Executive Women in Nonprofits, I thank you for inviting me. My special thanks to leader Holly Koenig.
It was a unique, exhilarating morning.
Big Nonprofit Ideas for the Other 95%
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Tony’s Guests:Maria Cuomo Cole: Relationships
Maria Cuomo Cole, philanthropist and board chair of HELP USA, shares the professional value of all her relationships (including her mom!) and how they’ve helped her and HELP USA succeed. We talked at the June meeting of Executive Women in Nonprofits, part of the NY Society of Association Executives (NYSAE).
Amy Sample Ward: Tumblr Tactics
Amy Sample Ward, our social media contributor, co-author of “Social Change Anytime Everywhere” and CEO of NTEN explains the value of micro-blog site Tumblr, how to decide whether you should be in, and how to get started.
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Here is a link to the audio: 151: Maria Cuomo Cole: Relationships & Tumblr Tactics. You can also subscribe on iTunes to get the podcast automatically.