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11. case study


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11. case study

  1. 1. Case Study Part I Amy, a small business owner and friend who knows that you work with nonprofits, has asked your advice about how to improve the 501c3 organization board of directors that she joined about six months ago. Save Our Kids is a 20 year old community service organization that was originally founded by a group of parents who were concerned about the quality of education that their children were receiving in their neighborhood public schools. Save Our Kids runs an after-school tutoring and daycare program, monitors school board meetings and organizes community response as needed, raises money for arts enrichment, and helps parents whose primary language is not English advocate on behalf of children who seem to be getting “lost in the system.” The nonprofit has a budget of about $750,000, about 75% of which comes from federal and local government grants subsidizing the after-school program, and the rest from candy sale and gift wrap fund-raisers, corporate in-kind and individual contributions and a small amount of client fees. Save Our Kids has about 15 full and part-time staffers and 20-30 volunteers. The executive director was hired about the same time Amy joined the board, following the retirement of the previous ED, who had served in that position for 15 years. The board consists of about 20 members: 13 parents from the community whose children are or were students in the schools, 2 retired clergy who were among the founders of the organization, 3 teachers, and 2 local business persons. The board meets monthly between 7 and 9 pm. At times it is difficult to achieve the 11 person quorum. The economic crisis of the last two years has severely impacted both the neighborhood public schools and the nonprofit. The Save Our Kids board is very concerned about impending teacher lay-offs in the schools, and budget reductions that will eliminate a significant amount of the government grants that support the organization’s programming. Amy explained that there seems to be a disagreement on the board about the role of board members in fund-raising, and she noticed that some of the directors have not attended a meeting since she joined the board. The last meeting she attended focused almost exclusively on concerns raised by a long-time board member following a private conversation he had with a Save Our Kids staff member. The staffer had shared with the board member her unhappiness about a series of operational cost-cutting decisions that the new ED had made, and about which she and other veteran staff members did not agree. Amy admits that she is becoming disillusioned with the Save Our Kids board meetings and hopes you can give her some ideas that would help improve effectiveness.