Category Archives: Adrianne Geiger DuMond

The Link of Conversation to Good Fund Raising

Adrianne Geiger Dumond

Non-Profits face an extra challenge in these trying times as the fundraising season unfolds. Since large social events are restricted, many are struggling with creative zoom events to fill the void. In addition, the waive of the RMD (Required Minimum Distribution) from IRA funds in 2020 complicates the decisions of some donors.

Personal story: I donate to 4 large non-profits every tear from my RMD. This year, 2 sent me letters, 1 kindly called to tell me all the great things they were doing. The 4th (a man I barely know) called and started asking me questions. They were typical at first, and then he hooked me about some interest/activity I have and took an interest with me in the topic. I am sharing this because it was such a revelation to me as to how to get money from donors. I immediately decided I would take my RMD so I could continue to donate to this charity.

Moral of the story? Train and prepare all solicitors who contact your donors to master conversation and the art of asking questions!

The How To: Choose the Board members and staff who have the best social conversation skills to practice with each other. Call a training session just for this purpose – hopefully in person, at the office. Have them practice in 2’s with small talk until they grasp each other’s interests. It is not hard – just a lot of good questions.

These are very difficult times, and I hope these ideas will prove to be fruitful for you. Thanks for listening.


Author: Adrianne Geiger DuMond, Executive Coaches of Orange County, www.ECofOC.org

The Oral Briefing Goes Virtual

Adrianne Geiger Dumond

In the recent pass, for an oral presentation, you could see the faces of the audience and even ask for questions.

Now all we see is a camera. Are there ways to make this situation easier?

Trying to convey and support a culture of trust and transparency can be a challenge for those working remotely. Here are some ways that might help.

  1. Setting the stage: Make sure the camera lens is adjusted so that listeners can see not only your face but also your arms and hands. We do a lot of non-verbal movements that aid what we are saying.
  2. Speak to the camera: It may be a good idea to start the briefing/presentation with new information and updates. This gives you an easy and natural way to tell them the latest news. In the interest of trust and transparency, workers like to feel they are on the inside track for the latest news.
  3. Facial expression: This can be a tough one if you have to announce a new policy decision (that you might not agree with). This may be especially true as long as the COVID-19 rules change. But as the leader it is your responsibility to explain the changes as well as you can, and be supportive of the decisions. Remember that smirks, raised eyebrows convey a different viewpoint.
  4. Provide a way for feedback: The safest way for you to be assured that your listeners have heard you correctly – or want to ask questions – is to provide them with ways to contact you. This can be by email, text, phone – just so they feel informed correctly.
  5. Remember the Donors: After becoming comfortable with these steps it will be easier to prepare the presentation for the donors – supporters who will likely be sympathetic to the challenges you have faced, but who are also curious about how the mission is going. Representing the same trust and transparency you have given to staff and workers will hopefully engender in donors the opportunity to extend their contributions. Remember that donors also like to be on the inside track with updates and newest information. Given the uncertain times we live in, it is just as important for them to know the conditions as it is for the staff and employees.

Author: Adrianne Geiger DuMond, Executive Coaches of Orange County, www.ECofOC.org

Board and ED/CEO Relationships are Critical to Success in Times of Crisis

Adrianne Geiger Dumond

We often recommend that the relationship between Board and working staff be kept ethically separate.

But in times of crisis, especially when decisions are made quickly, the solid working relationship becomes all the more important.

This is especially true of the relationship between the Executive Director (ED)/CEO and the board.  I want to point out four (4) areas for your consideration.

  1. Board responsibility during a crisis. During times of crisis the Board has a fiduciary and personal liability to protect the mission and the health of the organization. When complex decisions are made quickly, it is imperative that the leadership team and Board are knowledgeable and have frequent shared information – operational decisions being important. The Board should be the best allies in the days ahead – if they are kept informed.
  2. Board engagement. When board members are truly engaged, they have a deeper commitment and are well informed. I heard a stressed, exhausted ED (because of all her challenges) report that the Board chair had informed her the Board wanted her to find a cheaper office space. He did not offer to help, suggest skills and competencies Board members might have to be able to help her. He was oblivious to the monumental changes she was handling. This leads me to the next point.
  3. Board and ED/CEO relationship. The basis forhigh performance governance during a crisis is the relationship between the ED/CEO, senior management and the Board. Building a trusting and transparent relationship requires time, intentionality, and vulnerability. Striving for this kind of an understanding not only makes withstanding the crisis easier, but also brings strength and stability to post-crisis planning and strategic thinking.
  4. Board and ED/CEO relationship. The basis forhigh performance governance during a crisis is the relationship between the ED/CEO, senior management and the Board. Building a trusting and transparent relationship requires time, intentionality, and vulnerability. Striving for this kind of an understanding not only makes withstanding the crisis easier, but also brings strength and stability to post-crisis planning and strategic thinking.

Author: Adrianne Geiger DuMond, Executive Coaches of Orange County, www.ECofOC.org

COVID-19 Adaptive Leadership Checklist

Adrianne Geiger Dumond

Challenges and responsibilities for non-profit leaders have increased exponentially with the pandemic.

This article encompasses the many challenges and is published by One-Justice, a legal resource business. I have given the website as a footnote below.[1]

I can’t list all of the challenges covered, but I want to provide a list of priorities that require attention as non-profit leaders start to open up.

• Employee health and safety – regulations covering workplace safety

• Legal – contact legal experts – jurisdictional designations (remote services, sick leave, legal ethics). I had an ED ask me today if a mental health leave was ‘sick eave’.

• Human Resources and Operations – workers’ comp policy, furloughs and lay-offs are handled properly, return to the office plans, appropriate equipment for remote workers.

• Financial relief – use Payroll Protection Plan, contact funders, request relief from conversion of funds to general operations, work with Board on any layoffs or furloughs.

• Remote working – establish remote policies, safeguard confidential information.

• Program design – any change to ongoing programs, check with clients on service needs, check security measures for teleconferencing.

• Culture – promote self-care and coping resources; ensure transparency with staff and employees.

Even though the challenges seem exhaustive it is comforting to know where help is available. This information was found on the BoardSource website, a valuable tool for getting answers.


[1] www.onejustice.orgLos Angeles phone number, (213) 784-3937: San Francisco phone number, (415) 834-3937.

Author: Adrianne Geiger DuMond, Executive Coaches of Orange County, www.ECofOC.org

Leadership Qualities for the Crisis

Adrianne Geiger Dumond

How many of you are as sick as I am of hearing and seeing the words COVID-19.

I couldn’t even put it in this title. But it is affecting all of our lives – and each person differently. As quoted in an article I just read, “a paramedic will understand only that the hospital is overloaded, a hospital administrator will only know that the generator is not working.”[1]

I believe it is time to consider what leadership skills and qualities can best guide this situation. I will quote generously from an author, Gene Klann who has written a book on crisis management and is referenced in the article below.[2]

Klann cites 5 ways to lead and adapt to the crisis. I will briefly cover those:

  1. Seek credible information. I think this is difficult because there is so much information available. I believe it is important to check with staff and employees to see what information they are following. This is a good opportunity for leaders to calm, support and build a reassuring culture.
  2. Use appropriate communication channels. Of course transparency is of the utmost importance in a crisis. Klann has these points to stress: Information
    • reduces emotional distress caused by the unknown;
    • diminishes fear;
    • provides tactical guidance;
    • demonstrates to employees that their leaders are concerned, involved, knowledgeable, and on top of the situation.
  3. Explain what your organization is doing about the crisis. If you are in charge take charge, be proactive, take initiative. Do something even if it might be wrong. Paralysis and over analyzing may be riskier. 
  4. Be present, Visible, and Available. Let employees know how they can best reach you for status updates and any questions they may have. Flexible leadership ranks over organizational protocol and bureaucracy.                                                                                          

Dedicate organizational resources for future needs. Many organizations don’t take advantage of what they have learned after the crisis. This time is valuable to track lessons learned as a critical step to a Crisis Action Plan.                


[1][1] Gene Klann, 5 Ways to Lead and Adapt Through a Crisis, Center for Creative Leadership, March 24, 2020

[2] Gene Klann, Crisis Leadership, Using Military Lessons, Organizational Experiences, and the Power of Influence to Lessen the Impact of Chaos on the People You Lead.

Author: Adrianne Geiger DuMond, Executive Coaches of Orange County, www.ECofOC.org

Working Remotely…The Challenge To Teamwork

Adrianne Geiger Dumond

A recent study reported that 41% of non-profits hire staff/employees to work off-site.

The study is noted in an article published by Blue Avocado [1], which is actually a primer that all non-profits should read if they have people working remotely.

I will capture the essence of the primer, but really recommend studying the primer with those teams involved.

Clear roles, responsibilities, and accountability. Probably the best way to establish trust and respect is to have those involved meet long enough to review clear job responsibilities. It helps if each person understands the job duties of others, so work proceeds as expected. This also means distributing leadership effectively.

Participate in Constructive Conflict. All teams have times of disagreement or conflict. It can be harder to deal with if someone is working remotely. Handling conflict well means that team members meet, focus on the work being done and not on personal behavior or attacks. The challenge is how the disagreement affects the work output. Success is when those involved understand the challenge, resolve it, put it behind them and learn from the experience.

Consistently support one another. It isn’t always easy for a remotely working person to feel like an integral part of the team, or they may feel they are providing an extremely valuable service the team can’t appreciate – for example a data analysis expert, or fundraising staff, or marketing staff. As the article says, “Team members who adjust their work based on the needs of others are able to keep the work moving while empowering their teammates to do the best possible along the way.”

Consider team success vs. individual success. Being aware of the language team members use in emails, conversations and discussions can shape the feelings of being a team. If the “I” word is often used instead of “we”it makes a difference. This may be especially true for the remotely working member.  Another quote, “ Teams who focus more on giving credit rather than seeking it understand the exponential impact on the group as a whole.”

I strongly recommend this primer for sound guidance.


[1] blueavocado.org, Remote Team Environments: A How To Primer, Rachel Renock, May, 2019

Author: Adrianne Geiger DuMond, Executive Coaches of Orange County, www.ECofOC.org

Performance Review for the CEO/ED

Adrianne Geiger Dumond

A performance review of the CEO/ED (Executive Director) one time a year is recommended as good governance. Yet, when I have asked some of these leaders in the past, the answer often is “ Oh, I’ve never had one” … or “I had one several years ago.”

The questions are, How can a leader grow and reach new heights without support and feedback from the Board? How can a Board really support a mission without understanding the leader’s challenges and strengths?

There are assessment tools and even resources on the Internet about this process and protocol, but I believe the simplest of discussions with everyone notified and involved produces the healthiest and most satisfactory outcomes.

• The Board chair meets with the CEO/ED to state purpose, ask about a future date, and ask if there are any items he/she would like feedback on.

• The Board chair reports to the Board the findings and sets a future date, asking that all members please attend.

In the meeting there are two (2) simple questions to answer:

1. What did the leader accomplish this year, what about effective communication with the Board, with donor and community relationships, success with leadership initiatives, and meeting the strategic goals of the nonprofit? What are his/her strengths?

2. What would the Board like to have him/her consider doing differently?

These questions should be tackled separately. That is, question 1 should be discussed by the entire Board – if small, in one group. If the Board is more than 6, then in small groups, and then each small group reports to the others. There is knowledge and information shared in this process that makes the Board a stronger team.

After there is closure to the first question, the second question is addressed in the same way.

The discussions and notes from these two sessions must be confidential and housed in the Board chair’s possession – never in the office. Feedback to the CEO/ED should convey support, appreciation, and should also touch on any development goals for the leader.

Author: Adrianne Geiger DuMond, Executive Coaches of Orange County, www.ECofOC.org

Good Leaders are Confident…But OOPS! Overconfident?

Adrianne Geiger Dumond

Good leaders are confident. Their confidence inspires trust and a sense of fulfillment for the mission. But there can be a fine line between confidence and overconfidence. The Wall Street Journal recently published an excellent article about this conundrum.[1] I will address the four questions, which are very explanatory, then add the characteristics that show up in leaders who are arrogant (overconfident?).

Four questions to ask yourself: The author of the article, Sydney Finkelstein, notes four questions that allow a leader to do a self-evaluation. They are:

            • How much time do I really spend listening?

            • Do I originate most of the ideas?

            • Do I often feel like I am the smartest person in the room?

            • Do I think of myself as indispensable to my business’s success?

The article includes some findings from a random survey of workers across the US, done online, that distinguishes characteristics of ‘bad’ managers called “The Impact of Arrogance”. Many relate to being overconfident. They are:

            • Doesn’t show concern for my career and personal development.

            • Isn’t open or interested in feedback.

            • Wants to prove himself/herself right.

            • Isn’t self-aware.

            • Betrays trust.

            • Plays favorites.

            • Doesn’t listen.

Believing in yourself makes for better outcomes. But as the author says, “in management as with everything else, you really can have too much of a good thing”.

Author:  Adrianne Geiger DuMond, Executive Coaches of Orange County, www.ECofOC.org



[1]Confident or Overconfident? Four questions to Ask Yourself” by Dr. Sydney  Finkelstein (Dartmouth College), the Wall Street Journal {C-Suite Strategies), February 25, 2019.

Performance Reviews Made Easier

Many managers dread the performance review process because of the time and preparation needed to deliver to and support their employees. BoardSource recently posted an article with practical suggestions to make the process easier.[1] The premise of the article is that more frequent, focused, and conversational discussions are more effective than the once a year variety. The author also contends that these are more efficient and timesaving.

Adrianne Geiger Dumond

The Quarterly Review: Future Outcomes

The article recommends having goal-focused reviews quarterly, keeping the focus on future outcomes. Even checking mid-quarter on progress helps. Holding positive conversations about progress makes the process far less full of tension and anxiety. Here are some questions to pursue:

  1. What has gone well in your progress toward your goals?
  2. What has blocked your progress, and what changes do you need to make?
  3. What do you plan on doing next?
  4. How can your manager help you?

As a coach, I think this model is a very good one for one important reason – it teaches all involved to think strategically. At the end of the time frame (quarterly or yearly) a team can ask:

  1. If performance went well, what can we capitalize on for next year;
  2. If the project didn’t go as planned, what changes can be made the next time, and/or what adjustments can be made.

Thinking strategically is a very important skill for being a manager. Therefore, by following this pattern, managers are also mentoring employees for more responsibility or promotion. In addition, employees receive clarity about  their manager’s expectations.


[1] 3 Ways to Lighten up Performance Management Process, Randal Vegter, NewsCred, BoardSource, February, 2019

Characteristics of a Good Leader

Adrianne Geiger Dumond

When plans don’t go as we hoped they would, or we get discouraged, we may ask ourselves what went wrong. What kind of a leader have I become? I recently read a very interesting article that provided the ten most important characteristics of a good leader. The Center for Creative Leadership (CCL) is known for its rigorous research on leadership styles.  Their commitment to growing good leaders is unparalleled.

Based on their research – interviews with leaders from many parts of the world – CCL found a consistent core of leadership traits. They are…

            • Honesty                                • Commitment

            • Ability to delegate                • Positive attitude

            • Communication                    • Creativity

            • Sense of humor                     • Ability to inspire

            •Confidence                            • Intuition

I have already blogged about self-awareness – a good start on knowing if we possess any of these qualities. Another test might be to focus on a good leader we know and ask, “do they have these characteristics?”

May this information help your organization select and develop strong and authentic leaders.

Author: Adrianne Geiger DuMond, Executive Coaches of Orange County, www.ECofOC.org