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THE FINAL ROUNDUP

Posted by Tim Bryce on August 31, 2015

BRYCE ON NON-PROFITS

– What I learned during the years I spent on the Board of Directors for nonprofit organizations.

(Click for AUDIO VERSION)
To use this segment in a Radio broadcast or Podcast, send TIM a request.

I made an important decision the other day, namely 2016 will be my last year serving on a board of directors for a nonprofit organization. It’s time for someone else to step up to the plate. For forty years I volunteered my time for dozens of organizations. So much so, I stopped counting when I reached fifty Boards. I’ve served on everything from professional societies for management, computers and systems, to homeowner groups, sports clubs, fraternal organizations, and more.

I coached and umpired baseball for ten years, also serving on the board for the local Little League. One day, we held a practice for my boys team and I was shagging balls in the outfield. It was a beautiful day and it had been a good practice. However, as I picked up the last few baseballs, I looked up and realized I was no longer enjoying myself and it had become more laborious than fun. It was at that moment when I realized my days with Little League baseball were over and I retired from it shortly thereafter. That is how I feel today where I am involved with two nonprofits. Following a board meeting, I suddenly realized it was time to go and I made a promise to myself not to extend any more commitments past 2016 when my tours of duty end.

I didn’t serve on these boards for any accolades or titles, just to help make the organizations better. As someone who has seen quite a bit of the world, I didn’t need such pomp and circumstance. As a management consultant I was fortunate to possess the skills needed to assist such groups, for example: I developed and balanced budgets, cleaned up finances, created data bases to manage memberships, developed web pages and promoted them accordingly, created and updated bylaws, took minutes, developed speaker programs, conducted special projects, developed and distributed newsletters and communications to memberships and met some interesting people along the way. Yes, it took some time to perform, but I had a lot of fun in the process. I like to believe I left each place better than I found it, which should be the objective of anyone serving on a board.

The question is, “Was it worth it?” For the professional societies, I met several people, earned their respect, and learned a lot in the process. For homeowner associations, I believe I played an important role in maintaining the value of homes in the community, if not increasing them. For sports clubs, it was a joy watching my kids, both boys and girls, grow and mature into adulthood. I was also appointed or elected as Chairman or Director at District, County, and State levels for a variety of tasks. All of which were rewarding experiences.

I have learned a lot about nonprofits over the years. However, there are primarily three lessons I wish to convey to my readers:

1. Most nonprofit organizations are run by nice people who haven’t got a clue as to what they are doing. They may have the best intentions, but do not understand a nonprofit is a legal entity in the eyes of the state and, as such, needs to be run like a business. No, it doesn’t take “A Village.” It takes business skills. You realize this when the group can no longer pay its bills or are sued. However, if you are lucky to get the right group together as a board, you’ll enjoy effective leadership, smooth administration, stable finances, good communications, and prosperity.

2. The work of a nonprofit is really not that difficult. It may require some time and effort but I have yet to see a truly difficult task in a nonprofit, and you have to remember I have served in just about every capacity. Something that helps immeasurably in this regard, is the development of “standard practices,” for such things as managing finances, membership, and communications to service constituents.

3. Anyone looking for accolades is joining for the wrong reason. They will likely perform little and assume credit for anything done. Such people are worthless for accomplishing anything of substance, and can hurt the spirit of the organization. Some people are afraid to reprimand such parasites fearing it will create a morale problem. The reality is the morale problem was created the moment the person assumed their position. “But they are volunteers, Tim; you cannot fire volunteers.” Yes you can, and Yes you should as their detrimental outlook will spread and cause problems in your group. Besides, if they are not truly doing anything, you have nothing to lose by replacing them. There is no room for politics in a nonprofit, but unfortunately it somehow creeps into most organizations.

However, when you have a board willing to roll up its sleeves and solve problems or tackle new projects with a spirit of teamwork, it can be a very rewarding experience, not only for how it was performed but also for knowing it will serve the institution for many years to come. In other words, you are adding value to the institution, and this is why I joined such groups, to make them better and perpetuate the group.

Now it is time for others to take my place. My generation of Baby Boomers were taught to provide assistance anywhere we could. I have friends who, like me, have served their Churches for years, civic clubs, local schools, hospitals, country clubs, and more, not just now and then, but for many years. However, it is time for someone else to shag the baseballs, to roll up their sleeves, and perpetuate all of these institutions we have come to love and depend on.

I will likely continue my participation in nonprofits but 2016 will be my final roundup for nonprofit board of directors. It has been a heck of a ride.

RELATED ARTICLES:

Managing a Nonprofit Organization
The Need for Checks and Balances in Nonprofits

Keep the Faith!

Note: All trademarks both marked and unmarked belong to their respective companies.

Tim Bryce is a writer and the Managing Director of M&JB Investment Company (M&JB) of Palm Harbor, Florida and has over 30 years of experience in the management consulting field. He can be reached at timb001@phmainstreet.com

For Tim’s columns, see:   timbryce.com

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Copyright © 2015 by Tim Bryce. All rights reserved.

NEXT UP:  IS AMERICA TOO BIG TO SUCCEED? – Is this as good as it gets?

LAST TIME:  WHY WE NEED A MIDDLE CLASS  – An argument for capitalism.

Listen to Tim on WJTN-AM (News Talk 1240) “The Town Square” with host John Siggins (Mon, Wed, Fri, 12:30-3:00pm Eastern); WZIG-FM (104.1) in Palm Harbor,FL; and KIT-AM 1280 in Yakima, Washington “The Morning News” with hosts Dave Ettl & Lance Tormey (weekdays. 6:00-9:00am Pacific). Or tune-in to Tim’s channel on YouTube.

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6 Responses to “THE FINAL ROUNDUP”

  1. Some very keen insights Tim. Non-for-profit is sort of a misnomer. As someone who briefly audited these institutions for the City of New York, a non-for-profit only means that the surplus is not to be paid out in dividends or taken as profit for the owner. The entity still needs to take in more than is spends. While maybe most of the people involved mean well, I’ve seen a few instances when that was not the case. Some of these institutions I observed were stealing with both hands.

    But you’re right Tim you’ve more than done your Civic Duty and I believe people should. I did my 25 years serving the people of the City of New York and I’m done too.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Tim Bryce said

      Don – You are right, corruption can creep into non-profits. I even saw this in a Little League group I was involved in (and I was charged with cleaning up the mess).

      Like

  2. Tim Bryce said

    An M.C. of Lansing, Michigan wrote…

    “Thanks for your volunteering Tim. Interesting article too, especially when you suggest that non-profit organizations or church organizations should fire those “bad apple volunteers” if the situation demands. I agree with you Tim. Some bad volunteers out there hide behind the church walls wearing false masks, simply for selfish motives yet behind closed doors, they are heinous wolves.”

    Like

  3. Tim Bryce said

    A P.E. of Michigan wrote…

    “My hats off to you” Tim. You lasted decades longer as a volunteer than I did. And let’s not forget your family who contributed as well by generously giving you the “go ahead” to take the time to do so. “Kudos” to them as well! Great article and your points are “right on”.

    Like

  4. Tim Bryce said

    An R.W. of California wrote…

    “Been there, done that for 48 years… 2/19/2014 while in the Hospital I died… While heading towards a White Light & surrounded with a feeling of LOVE I had never felt before… I said “Dear God if you do not need me right now I really want to see my wife, our children & 6 Grand kids again… And if you allow me to do this I will give you 30 more years of Service”….Next thing I knew there I was in an Ambulance heading off to Rehab… Now 18 moths later I am back at it full steam… President of one NFT & VP of a second…I just hope my Lodge Brothers & Companions can stand me for another 29 years… It seems ,sometimes, the more we do, we reach a point where it’s time to toss in the Towel then the GA steps in and makes a few adjustments for us to continue doing what we love to do…”

    Like

  5. […] THE FINAL ROUNDUP […]

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