All posts by Adrianne Geiger DuMond

The Glossary for Nonprofit Governance

Adrianne Geiger Dumond



Many of us in the nonprofit world use terms and acronyms that may be confusing to newcomers – especially young employees trying to learn about the nonprofit as a business. I recently ran across a very useful tool for educating everyone in this business. The glossary should probably be in every manager’s office.

The Glossary is published by BoardSource and can be found under Nonprofit Board Fundamentals on their website. The glossary is alphabetized and runs five pages and has every term that is ever used in this business.

For example: have you ever wondered what the difference was between a 501(c)(3) and a 501(c)(6)? There are also simpler definitions: For example:

  •  Board Development
  •  Disclosure requirements
  •  Emeritus status
  •  Fiduciary duty
  •   Immediate sanctions
  •   Operational reserves

Possibly the most Important definitions provided for novices are the terms for IRS requirements, which can be confusing. For example:

  • Form 990
  • Form 990 – PF
  •  Form 990 – T
  •  Form 1023
  •  Form 1024
  • Or maybe a ‘Federated Organization’ ?

I recommend every nonprofit have a copy of this glossary – maybe even board members might appreciate the information.

Author:  Adrianne Geiger DuMond, Executive Coaches of Orange County,

Form 990 Can Be a Public Relations Tool

Adrianne Geiger Dumond


Many nonprofits consider the IRS Form 990 to be a dreary necessity at tax time. In the 2008 tax year, major revisions were made to the Form. Nonprofits have been slow to realize the impact the revisions may have for donors and the public.  The diverse information provided in the new Form is now available to the public and can be found online free at at such sites as, and

In a recent article by Michael Wyland, an author and member of the editorial advisory board for the Nonprofit Quarterly, Wyland points out the advantages to providing accurate and complimentary information on the Form.[1] The Form displays not only financial information (assets and liabilities), but also facts that address governance, programs, and fundraising. His article shows a breakdown of the Form with its schedules and functional area relevance, because not every nonprofit completes the same schedules. However, he points out that most of the 990 parts and schedules still address the multiple categories of governance, programs, and fundraising.

As Wyland notes,”not all organizations complete all parts of the Form, and not all file each and every schedule. For example, while most 501(c)(3) public charities must file Schedule B (Schedule of Contributions), it is considered confidential and not disclosed to the public. Private foundations, on the other hand, must disclose and make it publicly available.”

Never the less, ALL Form 990’s do reveal to the public governance (governing bodies and management, policies, and disclosures), programs, and fundraising. A potential donor may look for efficiencies and financial data, but still seek the charity that meets his/her passion for a particular service or need. A potential volunteer may consider who manages the organization and where they can fit in. It is important for all nonprofit staffs and boards to be aware of the public exposure, but also the opportunity to be more advantageously promoted to the public.

[1] Your 990: What Nonfinancial Matters Does It Reveal to the Media and the Public, Michael Wyland, Nonprofit Quarterly, November 17, 2017

Author:  Adrianne Geiger DuMond, Executive Coaches of Orange County,

Changing Leadership Skills for the Promotion

Adrianne Geiger Dumond


Even good leaders often face uncertainty when they consider what skills need changing in the new job. In a recent newsletter published by the Center for Creative Leadership, they present four (4) important attributes to consider: Self- Awareness, Communications, Influence, and Learning Agility. The premise is that these skills vary depending on the job level in the organization.[1]

Self Awareness: This knowledge may be the most important for the accomplishment of all the skills. For example, do you lead intuitively, deliberately, or strategically and to what degree? If you move from an operational level to a management level, will you need to think strategically and how do you get there? Self-assessment instruments and feedback surveys provide this kind of knowledge so a person can use his/her strengths effectively and make adjustments to the weaknesses. ECOC has coaches skilled in this process and are able to assist in the planning and execution of this process.

Communications: Communications becomes more complex as one moves up the ladder. It is basic to success at many job levels, but requires a different perspective in a larger role. This is especially true if a new boss has been a peer before. Different skills may be building trust, encouraging discussion, listening well, and conveying the vision, mission, and strategic intent.

Influence: Now you need to bring people along and influence their thinking, align the actions of others, and build commitment to achieve measureable outcomes. Again, it is wise to know one’s style of doing this so that adjustments can be made, if necessary. New skills required may be: presenting logical and compelling arguments, more focus on steering long-range objectives, giving insight, inspiration and motivation.

Learning Agility: Being constantly open to learning provides the confidence it takes to learn new skills. “ Learning agility involves asking good questions, respect for give-and-take, listening well, and being open to feedback. For senior leaders, learning agility also includes inspiring learning in others and creating a culture of learning throughout the organization.”[2]

[1] “Leading Effectively”, The Center for Creative Leadership, September 29, 2017.

[2]  Ibid.

Author:  Adrianne Geiger DuMond, Executive Coaches of Orange County,

Improving Board Governance: Part 3

Adrianne Geiger Dumond


The role of the CEO/Executive Director: Barriers and Risks

I have spoken in past blogs of the importance of a ‘generative mindset’ for enhancing the importance of Board governance. Generative mindset encompasses a macro level of thinking for Board meetings. There is a risk when Board members are confortable with a less strenuous mode of thinking. They may be uncomfortable with the new mode. It may take some time for Board members to accept and participate easily.

Perhaps the most important role for success is by the CEO/Executive Director (ED).  The ED is the primary conduit between staff and Board (as should be defined in the by-laws). The ED is responsible for educating the Board – to improve governance – and is accountable for the knowledge and information the Board receives. The ED also controls the pace of meetings so they are useful as well as informative – and this is an important necessity. Meetings can drag on, lots of talk, little new understanding or resolution on next steps.

Meeting guidelines for the CEO/ED:

  • In a separate meeting, beforehand, brief the Board chair, explain your goals so that he/she can support your quest.
  • Explain how governance is a partnership – between ED, staff, and Board.
  • Prepare and select carefully the project/subject for which the Board can provide guidance.
  • Encourage Board members to ask more questions than statements – challenging suppositions.
  • Ensure that nothing is “undiscussable” in the board room, and assure confidentiality.
  • Encourage different opinions.
  • Share information and leadership opportunities – asking questions can prove this to members.
  • Control discussion where a member dominates – one way to do this is to say,  “Sam, in the interest of time, let’s meet after the meeting to hear your viewpoint so that others can express their opinions here more openly”.
  • Don’t be too wedded to the past, but also not too far ahead of the Board.

Author:  Adrianne Geiger DuMond, Executive Coaches of Orange County,

Improving Board Governance: Part 2

Adrianne Geiger Dumond

The Importance of Effective Board Meetings

Board meetings can be comprised of dedicated supporters, and/or highly trained professionals – all committed to the cause, but with different skill sets for good governance. Part 1 of this series named the three ‘mindsets’ that Boardsource likes for adequate governance of a nonprofit. They were: Financial Insight, Strategic Insight and Generative Insight – the third mindset being the most challenging to grasp.

Generative governance requires time being spent to feel comfortable with the concepts – critical thinking, problem analysis, and tackling ambiguous Board circumstances. It’s more than the usual Board meeting agenda. Board, staff, and CEO must work as partners to handle the strategies going forward. A generative mindset might be quite healthy in a nonprofit’s staff and its teams. For example, a problem arises, the appropriate team analyses cause and effect, researches possible solutions, proposes recommendations to the CEO – who then takes it to the Board. A generative mindset might mean that the staff person/team leader also present their reasoning to the Board, since the Board may need to approve a large expenditure. This thinking for the Board is at a macro level that may feel uncomfortable at first. And it requires better preparation for Board meetings – asking better questions instead of focusing on immediate, short-term considerations – like balancing the budget.

Operating in a generative mode is educating Board members and requires more meeting time and resources for critical thinking, discussion and debate. Here are some tips for making the transition easier.

Consent agendas:  Sending out an agenda ahead of the meeting allows quick acceptance of routine reports and approval of recurring actions.

Pre-reading: No meeting time should be spent reviewing documents for information and knowledge, Information should be sent early enough for Board members to be prepared for discussion and to provide their opinions.

Board Composition: A diversity of thinking styles and problem solving is important. This is a great learning opportunity for all involved. Often, great team work is the outcome – members having better understanding of each other.

In Part 3 I will cover the important role of the Chief Executive in this process, and the risks and barriers.

Author:  Adrianne Geiger DuMond, Executive Coaches of Orange County,


Improving Board Governance: Part 1

Adrianne Geiger Dumond


Three Important Precepts – or ‘mind sets’

How many of us as Board members go to meetings, approve the minutes, the budget, listen to program staff or a video on a success story (that matches our mission), exchange pleasantries, and go home feeling quite satisfied that we have fulfilled our volunteer commitment? Is that good governance of our organization? Should we be thinking deeper?

I recently ran across some excellent concepts on that I would like to share with you. Boardsource calls it ‘generative governance’, and although I don’t favor the esoteric title, there are some precepts that compel me to write several blogs. The concepts are very practical. Boardsource calls the precepts ‘mind sets’. There are three of them, and two are quite traditional and recognized. They are:

  • Fiduciary oversight – review budgets, oversee financial policies, ensure reserves, avoiding unnecessary risk.
  • Strategic oversight – the chief executive, board and staff work together to develop and determine strategic goals and initiatives. They must also work together as strategic partners to determine the organization’s direction.
  • Mindset 3 – ‘Generative insight’ – is the use of critical thinking (challenging suppositions) and problem analysis, tackling ambiguous situations, so that both board and staff partner to establish mission and goals.

The generative mindset tends to take everyone out of their comfort zone – the chief executive (who plays a major role in the transition), staff and board. But there are steps to be taken that ensure board members learn to be part of the decisions and feel comfortable with the process.

In Part 2 of this series we will define those steps, and provide tips for restructuring the board meetings to facilitate the mindset.

In Part 3 we will consider the importance of the chief executive’s role in leading this change, and the barriers and risks involved.

Author:  Adrianne Geiger DuMond, Executive Coaches of Orange County,

Listening: The Strategies to Hear What’s NOT Being Said

Adrianne Geiger Dumond




Have you ever left a conversation and said to yourself, there is more to this than was said. The art of good listening is hearing those unsaid thoughts. How does that take place? A recent article I read by David Grossman, a communications expert[1] caused me to reflect on a team meeting I had just left. I could identify with the description Grossman gives for the listener’s perspective, and I quote:

  • We talk too much and don’t listen.
  • We listen to respond instead of listening to understand.
  • We’re not listening for word clues or noticing body language that signify there’s additional information that is yet to be uncovered.

What are the strategies to be employed that can help alleviate these challenges?  Here, again, are Grossman’s good recommendations:

  • Listen to understand and don’t be thinking about what you will say next.
  • Listen for the underlying issue or emotion, and push back on your assumptions.
  • Listen and clarify, asking questions to ensure everyone understands before moving on to another topic.
  • Trust your gut if you feel as if the whole story is not being told. Repeat, listen and clarify.
  • Notice body language – body shift, facial expressions changing – which are clues that more questions could be asked.
  • When we communicate effectively, we understand where the other person is coming from. That DOESN”T mean we need to agree with them.
  • Ask yourself in your head, “ What’s not being said.”

Effective leaders know the importance of good communications – especially in building strong teams. But also, effective leaders are sometimes narcissistic and feel they know all the answers. Here are ways to tackle those weaknesses.

[1] ‘Strategies that Work to Listen for What’s Not Being Said’, leadercommunicatorblog, David Grossman, the Grossman Group, April 24, 2007

The Impact of Social Change on Non Profits

Adrianne Geiger Dumond

  • “I would expect that more than one third of all men in the U.S. between the ages of 25 and 54 will be out of work at mid-century.”[1]
  • “The collapse of work for America’s men is arguably a crisis for our nation – but it is a largely invisible crisis.”[2]
  • “And the troubles posed by this male flight from work are by no means solely economic. It is also a social crisis.”[3]

This writer is neither an economist or a sociologist, but I feel compelled to pass on some critical information noted by economists. The staggering statistics will make the non profit world all the more important, and also stretch their work load to the extreme – if not already there.

John Mauldin, the economist in his weekly newsletters, has recently covered the findings of a book entitled Men Without Work, America’s Invisible Crisis by Nicholas Eberstadt. The findings portend the social change that will require ever more help from social agencies. The book claims that “…there are some 10 million men of prime working age (25-54) who have simply dropped out of the workforce, and the great majority of them have not only dropped out of the workforce, but they have also dropped out from any commitments or responsibilities to society.”

The trend is not recent. Manufacturing jobs have been waning for decades, Trade policies, technological advancements have also snuffed out jobs – especially for low skilled workers. “As economic life has become less secure, low skilled workers have tended towards unstable cohabiting relationships rather than marriages……The growing incapacity of grown men to function as breadwinners cannot help but undermine the American family.” The book also explains the drastically increased mortality rates ( e.g. up 190% since 1998 for white men, unskilled, ages 50-54) from alcohol drugs, depression and suicide.

I highly recommend the book. It is only 216 pages of serious warnings for the future.


[1] Thoughts from the Frontline, weekly newsletter by John Mauldin, March 28, 2017

[2] Ibid, Men without Work by Nicholas Eberstadt, a book referenced in the above article.

[3] Ibid

Author:  Adrianne Geiger DuMond, Executive Coaches of Orange County,

Tips to Engaging a Foundation

Adrianne Geiger Dumond



It is reported that most foundations are reluctant to accept unsolicited proposals.[1] Rick Cohen, the author, states that “philanthropy is increasingly an insider’s world” – meaning that if a nonprofit is not in the foundation’s circle, or doesn’t socialize with foundation leaders and staff they won’t be heard. Some foundations set aside funding for new nonprofits (see the article for names), but some 60% do not. However, Cohen contends there are ways to vault the wall and here is a shortened version of his recommendations.

  1. Get visible to build relationships. Attend conferences where many foundations show up. Never solicit money there, but try to meet leaders, get their names, and follow up with material they might be interested in. Cohen even suggests a ‘rump’ session led by a nonprofit leader, presented aside from the formal program. He reemphasizes that building relationships is crucial, and means being visible, connecting, and interacting.                                                                                                         .
  2. Research their boards and staff for connections. Doing homework first is probably the most important for success. Foundation websites provide lots of information – missions, key issues they support, board members names (and sometimes their bios and resumes), and staff names. When you find issues, topics and organizational interests that intersect, reach out to those individuals with information and materials.                                                                                              .
  3. Send information, working papers, and thought pieces. Cohen maintains that fresh thinking and new ideas may stimulate an interest in your nonprofit’s needs. He even suggests that one might ask the foundation’s leader to provide feedback and his/her reaction to the information.
  1. Send a letter of interest/information (LOI) anyway. Once the home- work has been done, you can also check with the Foundation Directory Online to verify foundations that align with your objectives. Sending information, and even including a cover letter that is close to an LOI, may stimulate new interest. But, again, NEVER ask for money in these kinds of pursuits. 
  1. Work for philanthropic change. Cohen makes the point that foundations need to be more open to changes in the environment, and seek to embrace more strategic thinking in their grant making.

[1] Scaling the Wall: 5 Ways to Get Unsolicited Proposals Heard, Rick Cohen, Nonprofit Quarterly, Feb. 22, 2017

Author:  Adrianne Geiger DuMond, Executive Coaches of Orange County,

Culture’s Link to Job Performance

Adrianne Geiger Dumond


Korn Ferry recently released a global study that found “culture is the lifeblood of an organization”.[1] Culture is the expectations and assumptions of values that a person has for the organization. I am reminded of what my husband, a former Marine, says about the Corps. He says the Corps takes a recruit’s head, empties it, and stomps in valor, loyalty, and patriotism. The Corps reinforces it with training, leadership, and discipline. For most Marines that is a lifetime culture. If only it were that easy in the real world.

Leadership is the defining quality of shaping culture. In the below article, Arvinder Dhesi, a Hay Group (Division of Korn Ferry) senior client partner states, “we believe that talent, leadership and culture are intrinsically linked, and they are critical for strategic execution”. To create a cultural foundation, Korn Ferry  proposes four (4) pillars of learning for their leadership development programs.

  • Context is critical: Development work to support an existing or desired new culture must be connected to an organization’s current issues and strategies. Thus, stressing the goals, mission, and strategies are necessary.
  • Develop the whole person: Maximizing a person’s strengths and motivations, and matching them to the organizations goals and needs, are more likely to align the person’s values, beliefs, and behaviors to the culture.
  • Treat leadership development as a journey: While the authors stress that an employee shoud have a variety of work experiences to thrive, I might add that this step means performance reviews, personal goal setting, and succession planning are crucial to this pillar.
  • Service promotes purpose: I believe this is the most important pillar for the nonprofit world. Most nonprofits claim a powerful purpose that employees can embrace. Keeping this mission, and the values it represents, always in the forefront, succeeds in strengthening the employees’ motivations to keep the culture healthy and thriving.

I believe that culture as an entity is under duress. There is so much divisiveness that surrounds us – liberal vs. conservative, globalism vs. nationalism – that it becomes crucial for an organization to stress and remain loyal to its mission and strategies. This allows an employee to understand if he/she can faithfully embrace the culture and perform successfully.

Click here for information on how one of our coaches might you develop your skills as a leader in developing people and your organization.

[1] BoardSource, Smart Briefs, “CEO’s Rank Culture as #1 Priority for Success”, Michelle M. Smith, CPIM, CRP, January 16, 2017

Author:  Adrianne Geiger DuMond, Executive Coaches of Orange County,