CompassPoints of View

Reflecting on Charleston

Like you, we've been watching with anger, fear, frustration, and deep sadness at the events that unfolded in Charleston this past week. In a year where the trauma of violence against black lives and bodies has been acutely present in our communities, this act of racist terrorism cuts deeply into fresh wounds. Where do we go from here and how do we come together to take on the systems of racism and oppression that lay the groundwork for this kind of violence? As we grapple with the work ahead of us and create spaces for healing in light of despair, we wanted to take a moment to share some of our own thoughts and feelings, elevate some of the voices and calls-to-action that are resonating with us at CompassPoint, and honor the lives and memories of the nine victims: 

Three Essential Shifts for the Nonprofit Sector

Third Sector New England's newly released report Leadership New England: Essential Shifts for a Thriving Nonprofit Sector, based on responses from more than 1,200 executive directors and board members from the six New England states, issues a wakeup call for the sector—and for funders. Based on the methodology developed by CompassPoint in the Daring to Lead surveys over the past decade, the study assesses the unique challenges nonprofits in the region are facing.

The Discipline of Self-Care

In this excerpt from her new book Pro-Voice: How to Keep Listening When the World Wants a Fight, Aspen Baker, executive director of Exhale, talks about the need for social justice leaders to be disciplined about self-care — in service of both yourself and your organization.

Help – I’m Trapped in a Nonprofit Metaphor!

And now for something completely different. Like any good nonprofit employee and consultant, CompassPoint Project Director Lupe Poblano has mastered the use of metaphors to illuminate concepts associated with nonprofit structure, leadership, and strategy. In fact, in this post, we’re pretty sure he breaks the record for the most metaphors about nonprofits in one article (and that's not hyperbole, or a metaphor for that matter). Enjoy.

Step Outside Your Bubble: The Power in Viewing Organizational Change from Another’s Perspective

At CompassPoint, we work with individual leaders and organizations to make the most of change. While change can bring about uncertainty and tension, it's also an opportunity to build resiliency and strength across systems. In this blog post, Lupe Poblano surfaces what's at the crux of many difficult transitions: making room for multiple perspectives and individual interests while keeping the needs of the entire organization front and center.

"Although there is no progress without change, not all change is progress."– John Wooden


Executive Director as Creative Magician?

As the leader of a creative organization, many expect Grant Faulkner, executive director of National Novel Writing Month and our guest blogger this week, to be a natural when it comes to conjuring a magical workplace. How is he doing? Read on to learn some ideas from Grant and the NaNoWriMo team that you can use to lighten up your workplace—and suggest some ideas of your own. Making the world a better place is hard work—shouldn’t we make the trip as fun as possible?

I was recently on a panel of executive directors, and I was asked, "How do you bring magic into the workplace?"

I might have blushed with embarrassment. My first thought, was, "Um, I'm not sure if I do bring magic into the workplace." I'm not necessarily a geyser of inspiration, at least not on an ordinary workday. I don't preach, swagger, or sing. I occasionally read a motivational quote or two, but only occasionally.

My next thought was that I don't think my staff—or my colleagues and friends, as I'd prefer to think of them—necessarily look to me to bring any magic into the workplace. Who appointed me the bestower of motivational spells, after all?  

8 Ways to Better Board Meetings

The job of board members is very complex, and by nature, intensely collaborative. Making the most of board meetings isn’t just a good habit to aspire to, it’s essential to good governance, strong leadership, and healthy organizations. In this blog, CompassPoint Senior Project Director Marla Cornelius shares eight actionable tips to unlock the potential of board members so they can make the most of their time together.

They are such a waste of time! People are never prepared! We don’t focus on the right things! These are common complaints we hear about meetings—and board meetings are no exception. Perhaps there are some meetings that can be eliminated, but because governance is a collective process, meetings are a necessity of board work. But really, the problem isn’t meetings. The problem is bad meetings. And bad meetings are not just a frustration, they’re a barrier to important work. Good meetings increase member engagement, maximize collective wisdom, and ensure the right focus at the right time. Here are some ideas to set you on a path to better board meetings.

Domestic Violence and the Shackles of the Single Story

In our blog this week, Jennifer Chen Speckman, Director of Westside Domestic Violence Network (WDVN)  and current participant of the Strong Field Project Leadership Development Program, urges readers to break the binds of the "single stories" that can often dominate, define, and stifle movements. Only when full stories are told can true understanding, engagement, and solutions emerge. Do you agree?

Does Your Board Foster Inclusivity?

BoardSource recently released Leading with Intenttheir 2014 index of nonprofit board practices (download for free from their website). In this post, CompassPoint governance consultant and trainer Marla Cornelius looks at the report’s findings in the area of inclusion, a critical component of board culture, and what might be behind a concerning disconnect revealed in the data. She encourages executives and board leaders to read the full report and bring the information that they find most useful to an upcoming board meeting.

The Rare Gift of Time Helps the Whole Organization

Emily Cohen Raskin is the executive director of O2 Initiatives, where she directs the O2 Sabbatical Award program. In addition to her role with O2 Initiatives, she also serves as Senior Associate at Hirsch & Associates, an advisory firm that works with families, foundations, and corporations to maximize the impact of their philanthropy. 

In this guest blog, Emily talks about the value of sabbaticals for both recipients and their organizations. O2 just launched the inaugural year of its Sabbatical Award. CompassPoint is pleased to be providing coaching to recipients and their organizations to help them make the most of this opportunity to reflect, stretch, and grow.

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