Best Practice

Best Practices

Best PracticesA best practice is a method or technique that has consistently shown results superior to those achieved with other means, and that is used as a benchmark. What are these benchmarks for nonprofits and how do you measure your organization's practices against them. Our Best Practice Resources are designed to help you sort it all out.


Discounts on membership and board self-assessments Center members can save 15% on organizational membership or $200 on BoardSource's board self-assessment service. BoardSource members get complimentary access to BoardSource's collection of white papers, webinars, and more. They also get member discounts on their print or digital copies of their books, such as Board Fundamentals: Understanding Roles in Nonprofit Governance and The Source: Twelve Principles of Governance That Power Exceptional Boards. Learn more
Posted on: January 29, 2018
Topics: Featured

Common Impact's Skills-Based Volunteering Toolkit

Since 2000, Common Impact has supported nonprofits in effectively utilizing skills-based volunteering to build internal capacity to better serve the community. With this knowledge, they have developed this toolkit to equip nonprofits with the resources and best practices to engage in successful pro bono projects. 
Posted on: November 27, 2017
Topics: Best Practice | Volunteer Management

Exit Agreements for Nonprofit CEOs: A Guide for Boards and Executives

Source: Nonprofit Quarterly
Nonprofit Quarterly breaks down the circumstances leading to, types of, and key considerations for CEO exit agreements.
Posted on: March 31, 2015
Topics: Best Practice | Board Roles & Responsibilities | Executive Transition

Four Tips for Cross-Sector Collaboration

Source: Rockefeller Foundation
Zia Khan, Vice President for Initiatives & Strategy at the Rockefeller Foundation, shares four counterintuitive lessons he's learned from collaborations across sectors.
Posted on: March 31, 2015
Topics: Best Practice | Collaboration

Curating Change: The Merger of Two Historic Women's Organizations

Source: Nonprofit Quarterly
Nonprofit Quarterly examines the causes, successes, and failures of the merger of the International Museum of Women and the Global Fund for Women.
Posted on: March 31, 2015
Topics: Best Practice | Collaboration | Strategy

Leading with Intent: A National Index of Nonprofit Board Practices

Source: BoardSource
BoardSource's Leading with Intent: A National Index of Nonprofit Board Practices report uses data from their one-of-a-kind, national survey of both CEO's and board chairs that can help you compare your organization against the national average and identify trends in the sector.
Posted on: January 27, 2015
Topics: Best Practice | Board | Data & Research | Leadership

2014 Leading with Intent Survey

Source: BoardSource
BoardSource recently released the key findings of their 2014 Leading with Intent survey, a national survey of nonprofit chief executives and board chairs that was previously known as the Nonprofit Governance Index.
Posted on: November 3, 2014
Topics: Best Practice | Board | Data & Research | Executive

Urban Institute's "The State of Nonprofit Governance"

Source: Urban Institute
The Urban Institute recently released "The State of Nonprofit Governance", a report on nonprofit governance systems. The report includes data on board characteristics and governance best practices, broken down by both the size and mission of the organization.
Posted on: September 24, 2014
Topics: Best Practice | Board | Data & Research

Using Loans: A 101 Guide To Borrowing For Nonprofit Organizations

Source: Nonprofit Quarterly
Nonprofit organizations are founded and operated with a focus on a mission to serve their communities. This makes them different from businesses, which operate with a goal of making a profit for their owners. Yet nonprofits share many characteristics with businesses—both have revenues, expenses, personnel, and facilities. Like businesses, nonprofit organizations sometimes need cash in the form of a loan to operate their programs effectively. Astute managers and boards understand that loans can be a tool that can help their nonprofit grow and succeed.
Posted on: June 24, 2014
Topics: Best Practice | Finance | Nonprofit Basics

Planned Giving Committees That Work

Source: The Nonprofit Times
John Elbare, MBA, CFP, a Florida-based philanthropic consultant to both donors and nonprofits, details the first steps for creating a planned giving committee, as well as common mistakes to avoid and best practices.
Posted on: September 30, 2013
Topics: Best Practice | Board | Fundraising | Philanthropy

The Cost of Bad Data

Source: NTEN
Do you have dirty data? Having good data hygeine practices means more than just dusting your database, and can save you money while helping you raise more. Sara Rowland of International Data Management shows the real world effects of bad data, and highlights three best practices for keeping your database squeaky clean.
Posted on: September 25, 2013
Topics: Best Practice | Communications | Data & Research | Fundraising | Marketing

The Magic of the Welcome Email for New Subscribers

Source: Future Fundraising Now
Citing a recent blog post by email marketing company Emma, Jeff Brooks makes the case for welcome emails for new subscribers, which have open rates or 50%, can increase long-term engagement by 33%, and have transaction rates nine times greater than other emails.
Posted on: September 24, 2013
Topics: Best Practice | Communications | Data & Research | Fundraising | Marketing | Technology

The Art of Creating Online Communities

Source: The Communications Network
Kate Emanuel of the Ad Council highlights four nonprofits who made the right decisions and took the right steps to create successful online communities, and are now benefiting from their hard work.
Posted on: September 24, 2013
Topics: Best Practice | Communications | Marketing | Online Tools | Social Media | Technology

Do We Have to Choose Between Management and Leadership?

In her article, Esther Derby defines leadership and management, and shows how one manager incorporates both. Although the example is taken from the software industry, it provides a model for thinking about how the leader / manager of a small nonprofit can combine these two skill sets. Read the article from Sticky Minds.
Posted on: May 2, 2013
Topics: Executive | Best Practice

Are You a Manager, a Leader, or Both?

Source: Poynter
Why not just leadership, or just management? What's the difference between the two? Is one more important than the other? This article offers a quick tour of some observations from leadership scholars on the differences between managing and leading. Read the article from Poynter.
Posted on: May 2, 2013
Topics: Executive | Best Practice

Achieving Breakthrough Performance

Source: Stanford Social Innovation Review
Great organizations have one thing in common: great managers. In this article from the Stanford Innovation Review great managers share four simple management principles that they use to guide organizations from mere mediocrity to stand-out stardom. Read the article from Stanford Social Innovation Review.
Posted on: May 2, 2013
Topics: Executive | Best Practice

The Inclusive Nonprofit Boardroom

Source: Nonprofit Quarterly
A look at how the reasoning behind board diversity can impact an organization, and a model for inclusiveness that nonprofits should strive for. Read the full article from Nonprofit Quarterly.
Posted on: May 1, 2013
Topics: Board Recruitment | Board | Best Practice

Nonprofit Dissolution: What to Do When Closing the Doors

Source: Nonprofit Quarterly
Dissolution, or the closing of an organization in its current state, is more common than one might think. But when an organization seriously considers ending its life, it’s a difficult and complex process. It is a time of mixed and strong emotions for those involved, including a nonprofit board, senior staff, administrative and line staff, partners, and stakeholders.
Posted on: March 21, 2009
Topics: Best Practice | Operations

Asking the Right Person for the Right Amount

Source: Nonprofit Quarterly
Three stories that highlight the importance of choosing the right prospective donors and asking for the right amount.
Posted on: September 21, 2006
Topics: Best Practice | Fundraising | Philanthropy
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