Emeritus Boards For Nonprofits

Jul 15, 2021 19:15 · 4709 words · 23 minute read

it is half past the hour and i am thrilled to share with all of you today we have a master class for today’s episode so this is an opportunity where julia and i come on to as i like to say unzip our brain and kind of like you know jog all this information out and into you so today we are going to pour into you about nonprofit emeritus boards julia patrick is really going to lead today’s discussion i will add whenever i think you know i have something to add but i’m looking forward to learning i’m so grateful to each and every one of our presenting sponsors of course you see their logos right in front of you on the screen just as you do each and every episode as well as right behind julia and i on every episode we are just thrilled to have their continued partnership as we continue on into 300 like close to 350 episodes now so so grateful to have their investment not only in our episodes but truly in our community your community at large so thank you to our presenting sponsors and thank you to julia patrick ceo of the american nonprofit academy i’m jaret ransom i get to have fun each and every day except for when i’m not here to uh to play this fun co-hosting role i’m jarrett ransom the non-profit nerd ceo of the raven group so sad i missed yesterday i had some power outages in my studio which really just you know put a damper on me being on so i know yesterday went well i’m looking forward to today again today is this master class really talking about emeritus boards this is a topic that i go to you julia sensei to learn more about this topic so share with us and and again like unzip that brain and let it all come out because i am looking forward to learning as i’m sure many of you watching live as well as the recording what is the power of emeritus boards how do they work how do you get them started how do you keep them engaged um so julia thank you hey thank you you know it’s really an interesting um topic we visit this from time to time we’ve spoken about this over the past year and a half we’ve had questions about it for our friday asked and answered um we’re seeing those questions come up more frequently now that people are looking to get back into restructuring their boards or re-engaging your boards so many non-profits 1.

8 million nonprofits in this great nation of ours they put kind of like a freeze on board movement didn’t mean that their boards didn’t engage it’s that they stopped bringing in new people or letting people go off because you know it was it was such a perilous thing to figure out how are we going to navigate um a challenging time for our non-profit and bring in new people or move off old people so now i see a lot of boards that are ramping up and i’m sure you’re seeing this too just the number of inquiries that i’m getting to see what i’d like to be on somebody’s board um which comes in frequently it’s really really been amplified and so i have been seeing this to answer that question and in fact as i look at the evolution of the organization in which i am hearing most of this from come from when it comes to the topic of emeritus board it’s really looking that evolution of you know they’re about 15 20 25 years young as an organization and they are evolving those really champion ambassadors because as i’m sure you’re going to share the emeritus board is not where they all go right it is not the succession plan of every board member no it’s not it and it’s kind of an interesting thing because it really does have some gravitas um it’s not a given so let’s start with actually because you know i’m a word geek um emeritus comes from the latin word word veteran soldier sometimes you’ll see it as old soldier and so it really is a word that connotes um wisdom and age and time served and maybe a person who doesn’t have the full on capacity that they had in their youth doesn’t mean that their mind is not as capable it just might mean that they don’t have that vitality that they once had to serve full-on with a board so this is a really interesting way to frame it because a lot of times emeritus boards we think oh my gosh they’re like super old people and that can be the case but a lot of times it’s just people that have moved on to other things and so my whole deal is don’t lose that institutional knowledge don’t let it go because it is so incredibly valued value oriented for making decisions that could really change the trajectory of your of your organization so one of those things when we talk about board champions the emeritus board is an actual board and we’ll get into this a little bit more but they are another if you will subset of the main board the fiduciary board the board of directors so they have an actual management situation that allows them to still be a cohort right sometimes emeritus boards are tasked with leading certain things they might be you know mentors they might kick off a big fundraising period of time they might work on an archive project they might work on an anniversary project right so i mean it does have um a piece of it that’s pretty important i think one of the things that’s really interesting about the emeritus board jared is that they are actually voted on by the board right and by their peers absolutely and like you said it’s not a given that everybody just shuffles off to the emeritus board not a given so it needs to be something that is recognized as not only an honorific but an actual piece of business if you will right now i have i have a question so when we talk about board service in general we often talk about the expectations of those members what are the typical if that’s even the right word um expectation of an emeritus board member so what does that look like really good question that is going to differ depending upon what your organization sets up so for example i’ve worked with groups where they maintain a an amount of money that each emerges board member is going to pay a in the form of dues board dues and they call it that or an annual gift to the organization okay it can be a little it can be a lot right because you have to remember it can be very prestigious for some people to be on an emeritus board of a high-profile organization right so there’s value going both ways um often times and we’ll get into this a little bit more there are going to be certain things that are required so for example you know attending one event a year attending one meeting a year it might be to provide mentoring it might be to provide as we open up tours you know you’re going to bring so many people to our campus right and we’re going to engage in that so it really is a function of how you want to um get that that board to work for you right you need to be strategic so with that we have a live question that came in um so i’m going to curveball get get ready to bunt or knock it out of the park whatever although i know it’s basketball right now but we’re going to don’t even go there last night was bad we’re going to stick to baseball yes so um the question that came in is how would you handle a board member who rolls off the board thinking they are going to get knighted i love that word with emeritus status and do not get emeritus status so essentially how do you handle a board member that assumes that they will be you know really tapped on the shoulder voted into emeritus and they’re not that is a great question and you know um i don’t think i’ve ever been asked that question in that way and i love it i think this is and this goes back to one of my main principles that i always address when we’re talking about boards um it’s all about expectations and understanding the process and so this is one of those things that you need to be talking about as you go forward your existing board members need to know that there is this wonderful opportunity called the emeritus board and not everybody gets to go on it you know it’s privileged i’m gonna say that word it’s functional and you have to still do some things you’re not just gonna have your name you know on the website and it’s something that is studied meaning the rest of the board needs to look at that and determine if that’s going to be a good fit oftentimes this would be administrated through the nominations committee so for those of you who have that um nominations committee sometime they call they’ll call it uh board hr you know board development that kind of piece that’s that committee so you would go through an actual nomination process good question i hope that helps um because it it’s not and it’s not an easy thing i also want to talk really quickly about the piece that dovetails into what we were talking about a little a little earlier and that is what are those requirements and you brought that up there’s no fiduciary role meaning these board members are not the first line of defense on in any any legal issues contracting grants um they probably aren’t even listed on the irs 990s they could be more importantly they are going to be in a specific usage if you will they’re going to be prestigious people that you might include when you are applying for a grant to say you have these you know community elders or these community supporters you know standing at the ready oftentimes there is no term that this will be voted on forever right or the terms might be long eight years ten years something like that a lot of times we will see founders founding board members really tremendous people of import or impact become lifetime emeritus board members that means for the duration of their life they are identified and you obviously with their permission then they are with that group right so to give you an idea a lot of times we would see this with maybe governors state governors u.

s senators sometimes even really large funders maybe somebody who’s endowed something to a campus that kind of a thing what about founding board members or founding founders of the organization is this a great place to really i don’t want to use the word but i’m going to house these individuals in perpetuity i’m thinking that would be kind of an infinite emeritus opportunity to really have that institutional knowledge but also to acknowledge um and just you know recognize them as founding members yeah i mean i’m thinking of the um you know the airline stewardess that stands at the end of the cabin and says bye bye bye bye bye i mean this is one of those things we talk a lot about this founder syndrome on the nonprofit show and this is one of those places where you know we see this a lot in the nonprofit sector where an organization is is started with a parameter and then the community changes thought leadership changes maybe the problems change and yet you still have that cadre that is very passionate that’s very dedicated that was the founding piece but they’re aging right and maybe they’re not as able to give their full force of effort faith and intellect to that to the organization the emeritus board is a graceful way to move people off without losing them as champions um and that might sound a little harsh but i think you never want to have like a messy situation where you extricate yourself from those founding members in a negative way and you’ve seen that jared i have seen that now i’m questioning is there a certain sweet spot or number of emeritus board members that’s a really good question and and you know we always say 15 to 25 is where a lot of board numbers live and that’s one of the beautiful thing is things of the emeritus board is that you can keep going up now the reality unless you’re a massive massive institution with a long life you might not you know have um ever get to those numbers now i have actually seen recently and it was kind of an interesting um situation i saw and i haven’t seen this too much but i saw a and something that was called the eternal board and that was for deceased board members you know i have never seen that yeah it was a little shocking and this was not like a faith-based or you know anything like that it was just it was an organization that recognized the august you know import of of their board members and i and and those that had passed on and i suspect i do not know but i suspect it was a board that must have faced um probably a sudden loss of a number of people right i’m not saying something like calamitous but maybe just over a short period of time they lost some board members maybe young board members who knows and then they wanted to do something that honored them well realistically with the global virus that we’ve had and that pandemic this could be an opportunity that has arisen uh with so many health complications for many vulnerable populations um so it’s really not that far-fetched right yeah really that’s you know i didn’t think of it that way um i’m pretty sure they started it before the pandemic but you know what i’m sure that is an awesome thing to consider because you were right i mean the loss in our country that continues it has been significant yes and continues i was just talking with someone and for those of you that are avid viewers and watchers you know i’m sure you know this by now but i also had covet in december of last year but i was just talking to someone else who so graciously brought me chicken noodle soup when i was sick you know and he had had it as well and i was like how are you doing how are you feeling is there residuals so there’s a lot of community members a lot of you know our um citizens that really are experiencing so many continued complications i’m very grateful and blessed to really be healthy um but that was just something that came to mind you know just really really natural in today’s conversation talk to us about sorry go well i was going to move us into the slide that we see here which really is about maintaining connectivity and my big question is because of covid because of going through the pandemic and so many pivots right i know we’re all tired of hearing that word but let’s be honest it’s still in our vernacular i’m so as we move into you know this this pivot stage a lot of our uh the way we’ve done business has changed how does that really impact the maintaining connectivity with our emeritus board knowing that these might be and i’m going to say you know literally older individuals that are not as adept to the newer ways of doing business talk to me about that and what that might look like you know i love that you asked this question and that you framed it in this way because one of the things that and maybe it’s just because i just turned 60 but one of the things that this emeritus board is masterful at is the human connection yes and the connection of people to resources to thoughts to actions to deeds to history and so that doesn’t go away right it just has to be put forth maybe in a different way so you know the zoom concept still works do they might they need a little you know help or instruction on that yeah could be maybe not but the reality is this is the group that you can go to when you need that hey does anybody know you know so and so from xyz this is what you get this is the power and the magic of the emeritus board because they are working within many many layers of their own professional history their professional connections and their family connections right and it is amazing to me we always say oh it’s such a small world but this is the army of leadership that you can access for things you would never imagine you know jared you talk about this a lot and that is when you’re moving forward on a big grant proposal or a community proposal or or even an mou to go to your board and just say hey we’re going to be doing this do you know anybody do you you know and you never know where this group says oh my gosh you know they’re my golfing buddy yes well and that’s the power of connection right and it also takes me back to the word we’ve been talking so much about is the return on relationship because these individuals really have sunk their teeth into the community this is where they have invested their time and additional resources and so the likelihood of these individuals truly serving as a really well-connected ambassador is really strong um we had another live i’m going to say comment that came on during today’s episode as you were just sharing julia about maintaining connectivity and this individual shares that we only allow past officers to be nominated so again not even automatically on but nominated for emeritus so they only allow past officers to be nominated in emeritus role they are called upon to serve on ad hoc committees but are always kept in the loop on organization activities and i think that is a perfect comment especially in this conversation right now where we are on maintaining that connectivity so i like that and it shows me that this organization is using this the structure they’re using this human capital if you will to move through the journey of the organization bravo to you i would challenge you to look at non-officers because if there are you know shining stars that could still be in your portfolio so to speak you shouldn’t let them go and i you know when i look at high level boards a lot of times real power brokers are hesitant to take an officer position because they’re on so many other boards and so you have to kind of look at that um if and if if you have an organization that’s run tightly in in in the separation of an executive committee versus you know full board all that you need to kind of factor some of those things in but don’t don’t look away from that general general population because it might be somebody that you’re letting go of that you really could pull in but i love that question or comment because that shows to me that they are working this group yay team i mean yeah wow we should have them on as a guest you know we don’t have much time one of the questions that you raised and even this last question is you know how are you engaging them i love having these emeritus board members serve on ad hoc committee as ad hoc committee members mentoring and all that but i’ve seen a lot of success with an annual event digital or irl where there is some sort of component with the existing board and the emeritus board comes together it might be for coffee it might be for heavy hors d’oeuvres at somebody’s home it might be yay team on the campus of the organization because a lot of times we see a trajectory of this the certain board started things but they weren’t always there to finish it i’m thinking of long-term capital campaigns i’m thinking of construction projects i’m thinking of of evolution of an organization’s physical space right i’m thinking too as we look and this has been a big conversation during the pandemic julia has really been about collaborative initiatives right of how organizations might merge or acquire with one another and how the emeritus boards plural of all or any of these organizations coming together could really unify to strengthen the community in this message and i think that is a wonderful opportunity and to really engage your emeritus boards in you know that that social event and update secondarily i had a question about how might you engage the emeritus board when it comes to these social events updates and and whatnot with the current board is there a mentorship opportunity that you’ve seen work successfully so a lot of boards and i was i’m like a big champion of this concept is no matter the age or the the sophistication of a new board member um they will pair them with a mentor for one to two years one to two years and i think that is where this can come in now you might be like oh my gosh you know sally smith she’s been on 25 boards and she knows the process and you know that’s great but she might not know the culture and so that’s where this emeritus board leadership can come into and it’s really strong it’s really powerful and you know this for mentoring yourself i think as a mentor oftentimes you get more out of things than the mentee absolutely we just started our chitty chat chat today talking about the mandela scholars how we’ve both been a part of mentoring the mentalis scholars at some point in our careers and i personally have received so much out of that um as well so it’s been it’s been really nice well julia this has been a very phenomenal emeritus boards master class i am so grateful for you opening up and sharing all of that wonderful wisdom that you have collected throughout your community service thank you for sharing with us the non-profit emeritus boards i want to say there’s some other resources in particular on this topic on the american nonprofit academy so please do check that out americannonprofitacademy.

com of course this live recording will be um on our archives you can find those roku tv fire tv youtube vimeo you name it you just say the words julia jarrett nonprofit show and you lo and behold it will show up uh somewhere in your environment so it’s kind of true jared it’s kind of true it’s true we are so grateful of course to our presenting sponsors as well without you we could not continue these uh robust conversations so thank you to our presenting sponsors that you see here um they also come on make an appearance and share with us their wisdom and experience of many many years decades so each and every one of our presenting sponsors also has an episode each and every month to help you continue the great work that you are doing here in our community i did not mean to skip us but julia patrick of course has joined us today and shared with us in this master class julia is the ceo of the american nonprofit academy and that is where you can find many more resources on the emeritus board topic as well as many others i’m jaret ransom also known as your non-profit nerd the nonprofit nerd ceo of the raven group and are just really glad to be to be back in and doing this thing with you julia it’s just been such a joy and to all of you who continue to join us we know that life is starting to open back up and everyone is starting to fill their schedules with many other activities and events so while you might not be able to join us live you can always find our recordings and we have actually seen a huge spike in our archive viewership so we know that what we are doing is helpful in supporting you in the good work that you are doing each and every day thank you we do and you know um this before we go we don’t have but just a few few moments here um we’re really excited about our new partnership with fundraising academy they are now the exclusive sponsor of um friday ask and answer and so we had our first one with tony bell last friday last friday and i’ve got to tell you it was fascinating because he totally researched all the questions he got the deck before which you do not um and i’m gonna say that’s a little unfair i know well you know what jared he’s a newbie and i didn’t want to like spring it on him i kind of did but then i was like i can’t do that but holy moly i’m not saying he was better than you i’m not saying that at all but he was better than me on certain things um because he’s a new sponsor i didn’t want to do that all like what are you talking about i disagree but we did have some different um opinions which was super cool and one of the things that i figured out which was so interesting is that you know we’re situated in the west and he’s situated in the east yes and so some of his and he’s from the east just like i’m from the west born and raised he’s born and raised from the east some of our approaches were i thought very very cultural which is interesting and i’m bi-coastal born and raised in the east working professionally in the west so i have a lot of um you know differing i want to say like those learned behaviors and the cultural behaviors um i’ve brought that with me certainly into my my western ways but you know what i i loved it i was really intrigued by it because i thought you know this is what our viewers are um yeah and and this is what we need to think about when we are looking at the operations of successful non-profits because there is a difference culturally um from some parts of our country and so it was it was riveting but yeah i want to say join us um for uh asking answered on fridays he’s not going to be with us every friday he’ll be on a couple times a month but it was really fun jared and when you do it with him you’ll really like it i’m excited well tomorrow is friday and that is our ask and answered so thank you to fundraising academy julia and i will be on tomorrow hope that you will join us as well and until then stay well so you can do well see you later you.