NPO Succession Planning at Harlem Children’s Zone

There is a lot that sounds right about how Harlem Children’s Zone is executing on Geoffrey Canada’s decision to step down from his leadership role. It is the model used in most NPO Boards; affording incoming board leadership the time to be ready for their leadership term and to offer assistance and guidance after their term. But we don’t hear so much about this type of succession planning with NPO executive staff.

Harlem Children’s Zone, nationally recognized as a model of community schools impact in the lives of Harlem youth, seems to have been just as thoughtful about their leadership succession planning as the role they play in the lives of youth in Harlem.

1) A clear successor was identified years in advance of the move. Anne Williams-Isom has had the opportunity to position herself internally and with the board as the leader for the organization. This means that there will likely be a smooth transition.

2) By remaining as a part of the Board, Canada will be accessible for internal and external advising. As a high-profile leader, Canada represents the vision of HCZ. His remaining as an advisor will alleviate concerns from major donors and investors about brain drain of this institutional vision.

The third step to make this a success will bear out in the execution only: Canada  successfully acting as an advisor and Williams-Isom’s own leadership not being hampered by his presence. Given the care of the succession planning, I am sure we will begin to hear about HCZ’s successes that are attributed to Williams-Isom’s leadership.

The Joy of Giving – NPOs, It’s Time!

‘Tis the season for the Joy of Giving. While I tend to not be a fan of giving gifts at a prescribed date or reason. I believe the joy of giving a gift is the reason to give a gift. There is something powerful in bringing someone something they want or need. The best gifts bring the giver as much joy as the recipient. I’m an only child – what can I say?

It’s time to amp up the Joy of Giving
Nonprofits are invited by Andrea Ball at the Austin American-Statesman to offer their annual holiday wish list – an opportunity create their wish list for either their organization or for the people they work with who need a little help this holiday season.

If you’re a nonprofit – Andrea’s note to you is below. If you’re a Gift Giver, keep an eye out here – I’m excited about being able to embrace the Joy of Giving!

P.S. Andrea – Thanks for doing this every year & being a good steward for the nonprofits and community.

— From Andrea:
Dear nonprofits –
It’s time for the annual holiday wish lists! The guidelines are the same as usual. Please send me your submissions by Dec. 11. Also, please make sure your submissions follow the format described below.

Here are the guidelines:
1)      Groups must be an official 501-c-3 or be under the umbrella of a community foundation.
2)      Groups may not ask for cash or volunteers. If we allowed that, it’s all people would ask for! We’re looking for stuff that people can give to you in time for the holidays, such as computers, office supplies, gift cards, clothing, food, furniture, cars or whatever you need. The sky’s the limit.
3)      Groups must provide a short explanation (one sentence) of what it does, provide contact information (phone, email, website) and then list its requests.
4)      Groups should limit its requests to one sentence. Please make it a real sentence, not a 300 word compound sentence. No funny business! 

Please submit your requests in the following format:
Group: The Andrea Foundation
Mission: To collect as many stuffed animals as possible for needy children
Contact info: or (512) 912-2506
Request: Beanie Babies, gift cards to Hallmark, etc.

If you could spread this email around, I would be grateful. No matter what I do, I always end up leaving someone out and I’d rather have someone get this email four times than not at all.

Any questions? Shoot me an email. Thanks!
Andrea Ball
Austin American-Statesman

A Few Ways to Celebrate #GivingTuesday

15665f9f-d6df-4dcf-8c57-a42d82521a76Today is #GivingTuesday – a day when you are encouraged to give back to your community. Here are some ideas about how to remind yourself, your friends and family, and your community to give back.

1. Make a gift to the nonprofit who has a mission most aligned with how you wish to better the world or community. You know which one you want to support, right? If not, today is a great day to start learning about them!

2. Make a gift in the name of a loved one to a nonprofit that impacts their community in a way most aligned with their beliefs.

3. If you haven’t yet spoken to friends and family about the causes and organizations they care about – this is a great opportunity to start that conversation!

4. Sign up to volunteer with a nonprofit after the New Year – when the attention to support them wanes.  Remember “giving” doesn’t mean just your financial gift – but that of your time and talent also have value!

5. If you can’t commit funds right now, consider sending a nonprofit a note that thanks them for the impact they have had on the community.

6. Take the box of clothes that no longer fit, toys that are no longer played with, and kitchenware you never use anymore to Goodwill or a non-profit that helps people rebuild their lives. It gives organizations the opportunity to help others with the things you will sell for $3 someday if you ever host a garage sale. We do this every Black Friday – I love it and the space it leaves!

7. #GivingTuesday need not only be for nonprofits. Give your neighbor who lets your dogs back into the yard every time they escape out the front door a Thank You note or some baked goods. Send a note to your children’s teacher thanking them for their hard work.

8. Do many random acts of kindness today.

9. Share the idea of #GivingTuesday with people who may not know about it – and find out how others are participating!

10. Commit to #GivingSaturday or #Giving3rdWeds or #GivingMarch or #GivingJanuary5 – whatever time frame or date works with your schedule.

#GivingTuesday and the end of the year shouldn’t be the only time you remind yourself of the amazing things that nonprofits bring our communities. It also isn’t the only time that you can be a part of that by supporting them.