About a year ago, a colleague recommended that I look into The Cycle, Michael Kaiser's management method for running high-performing arts organizations. At the time, I was just starting up my practice and needed to focus on other things, so I put a mental pin in it. This spring, after finishing up a house renovation and moving in, I was hungry to focus on some meaty professional development while *not* thinking about the miles of trim that I have yet to paint.
I was DELIGHTED to see that The Cycle isn't just a book now -- it's a free online course on Coursera. And WOW. It's excellent work well worth the time to watch the lectures, if not complete all the exercises.
Who's Michael Kaiser? He's the executive director that brought Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater back from the brink. And then he ran the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, DC, for about 13 years. He started a management institute there, honing this method of focusing tightly on making great art (the easy part!), marketing institutionally, and building relationships with what he calls the "family." Guess which part is my favorite? As Kaiser acknowledges, the lessons apply to all sorts of organizations beyond arts and culture - that just happens to be his bailiwick.
The institute how lives at the University of Maryland, and has expanded its scope. I can't say enough about the quality of this course. And hooray for free!
Talking with clients and potential clients, I'd say that these are without question some of the most common comments that come up in our conversations:
- No one on our board fund raises. We don't have anyone who wants to.
- Our board members don't seem sure what to focus on. I wish they'd do more.
- Our board meets a few times a year. That's about the extent of their involvement.
- We want everyone on our board to give, but they don't always. It doesn't seem like we should have to have the same conversation every year.
Comment below with your most common board-related frustrations, and I'll pick a couple to focus on in subsequent posts!
I saw this article in the Harvard Business Review today and had to share it. Its findings:
People tend to overestimate the power of their persuasiveness via text-based communication, and underestimate the power of their persuasiveness via face-to-face communication.
In person requests are a whopping 34 times more powerful, in fact. Mathematically, that means, "you need to ask six people in person to equal the power of a 200-recipient email blast."
An article in Albuquerque Business First today touts the use of LinkedIn as a free, easy relationship mapping tool to prospect for major gifts. While it’s not the worst fundraising advice I’ve ever heard (in a category of journalism that can often range from the tone deaf to the truly misleading), it is flawed. Here are a few reasons why you shouldn’t over-rely on LinkedIn for this task, especially for gifts that trustees will solicit:
So my advice – whether you have a consultant or are doing this solo – is that the quickest, most effective method is still a largely human-centered one:
Board work is one of the most rewarding things about nonprofit development. No matter what your structure, it’s absolutely where you learn all of the big leadership lessons for your organization, and in my opinion it’s the engine that either gives it vitality - or not.
Vitality is about balancing all the right elements and getting them to play well together. Here are the five profiles of people that I think you absolutely need on your board – plus a rare one that’s a huge find.
Emilie, Principal and Owner