How to Erode the Public’s Support of your Nonprofit

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July 6, 2011; Source: | NPQ is continually surprised at the degree to which nonprofits will play out the sordid details of even their most mundane internal disagreements in public. Here, the Cape Cod Museum of Art manages to throw itself under the bus by exposing an internal conflict among the board members that has something to do with the job performance of the executive.

It’s all very “hush-hush” though, as the board president discretely reveals that the executives performance is being protected by a “veil of confidentiality,” even while he reveals that the budget has experienced shortfalls over the past three years (2008 – 2011), explaining that the board has been filling in with last minute fundraising. He then goes on to say that the exec has had a “disappointing annual evaluation.” Way to go with that veil of confidentiality.

The exec, for her part, declares “I am not resigning . . . They offered me a severance package, and I don’t know what they were smoking, but we don’t have that kind of money.” Hunter goes on to say that without an executive director, the museum could function for six to nine months “and then it would get a little squirrelly. Someone has to manage and make the decisions.”

She goes on to say that Tom George took the organization’s chairmanship by default. “This board has not been able to fill its own offices. Tom George volunteered in fall 2009 to be chairman of governance and trusteeship and was a committee of one. He was elected president because he nominated himself and nobody else wanted it. I have never known a board that’s so blissfully happy in its ignorance.”

Sigh. Perhaps this fable does not need an explicit moral but here is one anyway. Screaming at your spouse in the street never speaks well of one’s household even when he/she is acting like a jerk.

Would you invest your money here?—Ruth McCambridge

  • Renee McGivern

    Someone once said to me years ago, after listening to me complain about my board, that executive directors have the boards they deserve. That made me really mad at first but I came to realize that I had shirked my responsibility in finding and partnering with high quality board members. This may be the case here as well. The other thing I learned – executive directors should not make enemies of their board members. This clearly is what’s happened here.