Strengthening Our Nonprofit Community

Associate Expertise

Should You Hire a Search Firm? by Fred Stang

June 4th, 2019

When your organization needs to hire a senior-level leader, you may wonder about the value of hiring a search firm versus managing the search in-house.

Searches take a great deal of thought, energy, resources and time.

Do you have the time to manage a search on your own From start to finish, a well-run search takes an incredible amount of time to do well. From revising or creating the job description, to recruitment, screening, interviews and making a decision, each step needs to be done thoughtfully and in a timely manner.  When moss+ross takes on a search, we are committed to giving your search the time it needs at each and every stage of the process.  We are skilled at keeping the process moving and the search team engaged.

Do you have the time to recruit a strong pool of applicants Posting a job on myriad websites is one way to attract your next leader.  However, your next leader might not be looking for a new job.  That’s where recruitment is so important and where moss+ross excels.  Ours is a very assertive process of discovery and personal outreach.  Your next leader might not know he/she would be happier working for your nonprofit.

Do you have the time to screen your pool of applicants Applicants can look great on paper.  You won’t really know how great they are until you talk to them and dig deeper into their experience, skills and personalities.  It takes a skilled interviewer who listens, asks the right questions, listens more and balances inquiry with inspiration.  moss+ross doesn’t just find out about the applicants, we also find out what excites them about the opportunities within your organization.  We are working to find the person who has the experience, temperament and enthusiasm to take advantage of your organization’s strengths and also the determination and smarts to confront its challenges.

moss+ross can help you find the right leader for your organization. Give us a call!

Fred Stang is a Senior Associate with moss+ross.

Taking Time to Hire the Right Skill Set by Kim Glenn

April 11th, 2019

A familiar refrain in the nonprofit world is: The team is working at capacity and needs help. Even with the help of generous volunteers, the staff are stretched to raise enough dollars and to meet the ongoing demand for your services. Once you’re in the fortunate position of having a new position approved by your board of directors, everyone is thrilled.

But what begins as excitement can turn quickly into panic or disappointment without a good action plan. You’ve waited a long time for a new staff person so don’t rush – take the extra time to hire the right skill set.

According to the 2019 Nonprofit Employment Report, the Triangle is the nonprofit mecca of North Carolina, comprising 10 percent of the private workforce, compared to 8 percent for North Carolina as a whole. With a large and diverse pool of potential candidates, let this be a time for you to carefully evaluate your needs and consider what skills you most need to help further your mission.

Steps to Hiring the Right Skill Set:

  1. Start with your vision and mission – If your board has recently completed a strategic plan, use this as your roadmap to consider your needs. Although you and your team are in the trenches every day, think about the bigger, long-term vision and how this new staff person can help move you closer.
  2. Create a search team of key board members and staff – Engage a few key members of your board and staff to help you throughout the process. This is a big decision and their input will create a shared culture of excitement and responsibility for finding the best fit.
  3. Conduct a mini-assessment to identify your gaps – Invite the staff into this process to help you evaluate what activities can be streamlined, identify which areas need more support, and define the skills that are needed to support your efforts: fundraising, volunteer coordination, marketing, operations, or program management?
  4. Create a job description – Add an introduction to the list of roles and responsibilities to help potential candidates understand your organization, your vision, and your goals. Develop a method to evaluate candidates by identifying the five most important qualities/skills you are seeking in a candidate and rank them. Which ones are a must, and which ones are good to have? Keeping this list handy during your interviews will help you evaluate skills sets.
  5. Confirm the salary – Before posting the position, work with your board to confirm the salary and benefits package. What are your peers paying for similar positions, what’s competitive, what intangibles do you offer that could make up for a lower salary: comp/ flex time, vacation, health, or retirement. Being mission-oriented doesn’t mean you shouldn’t consider competitive wages.
  6. Post the position – Post the position in familiar nonprofit outlets, but also through your board and staff networks. Be proactive about seeking referrals, keeping a focus on the skills you are seeking. Be sure to ask candidates for a cover letter and resume, and writing samples if the position requires strong communication skills. Review candidate qualifications carefully keeping in mind the five most important qualities/skills you outlined.
  7. Develop a consistent set of interview questions – Consider group interviews with the search team so that you have the benefit of multiple perspectives.
  8. Conduct reference checks – Ask for a list of references but be sure to conduct circular references as well. While you want to be very careful with candidates who are currently employed (so that you do not jeopardize their current employment), think about widening the reference checks.
  9. Consider interim help – Evaluate if your team needs help now. A successful search can take two to three months at a minimum. Consider hiring interim staffing to help bridge the gap.
  10. Hire a search firm – Think carefully if you have the time and resources to conduct a search, and if you find you are too stretched, engage a search firm to help you with leading the search and hiring the right skill set.

 

Our experiences with Executive Searches and Interim Solutions staffing services have honed our perspective on what’s most important in the hiring process. Please reach out if moss+ross can help you develop the right action plan for adding the right skill set to your nonprofit.

Kim Glenn is a Senior Associate with moss+ross.

Making the Most of the Midpoint by Jeanne Murray

February 27th, 2019

In the fundraising world, beginnings and endings are cause for celebration: from kickoffs and launches, to end-of-year campaigns and recognition ceremonies. Yet significant work must also happen in the middle – whether that’s in mid-fiscal year, or in mid-campaign, as many of our clients are experiencing now.

Beware of just muddling through the middle! Take proactive steps that will inspire energy and passion among your volunteers, staff, board, and donors. Rekindle that burst of energy you felt at the outset of your year or campaign with these tips.

Six tips for midpoint action:

  1. Take stock. For an annual fund campaign, examine annual giving trends, and follow up with specific donors whose gifts traditionally came in during the first half of the year but aren’t in yet. For a capital campaign, go back to your campaign plan – are you doing what you planned you’d be doing at this point?
  2. Consider a re-boot. Particularly in campaigns, there’s often opportunity to look at a prospect pool in a new way. You can segment by interests, such as creating a women’s initiative, or by activity, such as developing a plan with a volunteer group. You can plan events to bring focus and attention to the project. On-site events for capital projects or small in-home gatherings can infuse energy, and piggy-backing campaign messages into your existing events can help people see the larger vision.
  3. Refresh the inspiration. When was the last time your board considered ways they can talk about the mission? At your next board meeting, spend 10 minutes in small groups discussing easy ways to start conversations with other people about your organization.
  4. Set mini-goals (and mini-deadlines). For an annual fund that closes June 30, what can you accomplish by May 1? For a capital campaign, can you create a challenge that will encourage donors to give? We’ve seen success with a wide range of giving challenges, for example, involving small groups of leadership donors to inspire first-time givers; time-bound challenges to motivate quick action; and volunteer-led challenges that focus on the goal of participation.
  5. Communicate what you’re doing. You’re accomplishing your mission each day. Stories abound! You don’t need a campaign launch or an end-of-year push to bring attention to the good work of your nonprofit. Tell your everyday stories in media as well as in informal settings, especially with your volunteers (who are your best word-of-mouth network.)
  6. Celebrate milestones. Similar to the point about communications, you don’t have to wait for major milestones to recognize the good work of your team. Whether it is effort by staff, contributions by volunteers, reaching a nice round number en route to your goal, or celebrating achievements of those you serve – look for ways to acknowledge accomplishments.

Let the mid-point serve as the accelerator to the finish line, not just a point in the middle of the continuum.

Jeanne Murray is the Director of Marketing and a Senior Associate with moss+ross.

Take the Bored Out of Board Meetings by Anna White Hosea

January 9th, 2019

Taylor Swift and Michael Scott were deep in conversation. Across the room, Buzz Lightyear and Frida Kahlo were having a spirited debate. Meanwhile, at the front of the room, two 90’s era game show hosts and Big Bird were watching the clock. Three… two… one… Buzzzzzz!

A Halloween party? A new game show on Bravo? No – a custom designed Board retreat for moss+ross client Marbles Kids Museum.

Anna White Hosea, Big Bird, Brooke Jenkins

Marbles is known for emphasizing play, fun and creativity. Mirroring their culture, Partner Mary Moss, Senior Associate Brooke Jenkins and I developed a creative costume/game show themed retreat. In one game, modeled after Family Feud, Board members and Senior Leadership laughed and learned about Marbles signature programs and community impact. During the Amazing [Marbles] Race, teams bonded while racing through the museum dressed in costume. During a “commercial break,” teams wrote and acted out commercials for museum audiences.

We were pleased to see how this “out of their chair” experience engaged everyone. Attendees reported that they felt “refreshed” and “energized,” that they learned more about museum programs, and that they felt inspired to “get under-the-hood of all that Marbles has to offer.” Board members also reported that they felt like they had strengthened their relationships with each other and senior staff.

Lest you think that this could only happen at Marbles, I recently worked with Linda Nunnallee, Executive Director of StepUp Ministry, to develop a “commercial break” for StepUp’s Board. Board members broke out into four groups and were asked to develop a commercial that would appeal to potential participants in StepUp’s employment and life skills programs.

One group wrote a radio ad and performed it so well that we were ready to purchase air time. Another group developed a social media post, hashtags and all, to target teenage participants. As at Marbles, we saw a Board that was turned on, highly engaged, refreshed and energized after their activity.

So, what can you do with your Board to keep them, well, not bored?

  • Know thy culture: Mirroring the culture of your organization is key. Some organizations are willing and able to get a little silly in the interest of board development, while others may need a more tailored approach.
  • Small groups work: Next time you have an issue that needs discussing, put your Board members into small groups. Everyone engages when the table gets smaller.
  • Make connections: Look for opportunities for Board members to engage with each other in ways that are meaningful and go beyond their title and board committee. Building relationships with one another strengthens their relationships with you.
  • Turn on their brains: If you and your staff are doing all the talking, your Board members brains are turned off. The one doing the talking is the one doing the learning. If you need Board members to learn about a new program you are launching, have them develop a skit or commercial to explain it to potential audiences. If you want them to better understand your physical space, send them on a scavenger hunt.
  • Have fun: We all need more play in our lives. Play can reduce stress, stimulate the brain and improve our relationships. Joy, silliness, and fun deserve a seat at the Board table, right next to strategic planning, balance sheets and fundraising plans.

Take a chance in 2019 and add some fun to your next Board meeting. And if you need a play partner, contact moss+ross to start a conversation about how to get your Board to turn-on and tune-in.

Anna White Hosea is an Associate with moss+ross. She is currently serving as the interim Director of Development for StepUp Ministry in Raleigh, NC.

 

Anna White Hosea is an Associate with moss+ross.