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Five Good Ideas: Practical
Strategies for Non-Profit Success
by Alan Broadbent and Ratna Omidvar
Reviewed by Danielle S. Russell
seemed almost serendipitous, that Maytree a beacon
of Diversity in the City of Toronto should release a
book of Five Good Ideas: Practical Strategies for NonProfit Success just as this edition of Forum themed
around Ethics and Diversity was being developed.
The format of the book is easy to read and divided
into small enough chunks that one can digest Good
Ideas on a short TTC or GoTrain ride, an ideal book
to be tucked into a briefcase or purse for those few
minutes of waiting that creep into all of our days.
Maytree puts on a series of lunch-and-learn sessions
Good Ideas where they ask members of the community,
both from the not-for-profit and for-profit worlds, to outline
and explain their Good Ideas. Topics range from: Strategic
Planning to Web 2.0. This book contains versions of those
presentations that have been edited by Maytree chairman and
CEO, Alan Broadbent, and Maytree President, Ratna Omidvar.
Each topic begins with an introduction in which the
expert explains his or her perspective, and provides
anecdotal stories that either reinforce the Good Ideas
to follow, or provide an understanding of how the
presenter came to be an expert in the topic at hand.
Under the first heading Reimagining Your
Organization, Nick Saul, Executive Director of
The Stop Community Food Centre, writes;
Successfully reimagining a non-profit organization
simple. Part determination, part optimism and part good
fortune, the process requires a great board and staff, a
lot of strategic listening, a willingness to take risks, and
relentless incrementalism for all change takes time.
July 2012 Quarter
When I arrived a The Stop in 1998, it was a
straightforward food bank: three staff members in
a small space, a few programs and a very modest
budget. Today a full-fledged community food
centre with 35 to 40 staff, two locations, multiple
programs and a budget ten times what it once was.
There is no silver bullet, no that got us
there. But there are some ideas refined along the
way that help articulate our approach to change.
Each of the Good Ideas is explained with one or two
paragraphs to illustrate the point in a case-study format.
As a book-end, Maytree provides the final set of Good
Ideas Diversifying Your Board: 1. Start the Conversation;
2. Develop a Board Diversity Policy; 3. Recruit a More
Inclusive Board; 4. Create a Welcoming Environment for
New Board Members; and, 5. Track, Monitor and Evaluate
Progress. The fourth Good Idea is described as;
You now have new board members. What can you do to
create a welcoming and supportive environment? This
starts with ensuring that meetings are scheduled so as
not to interfere with major cultural holidays, that childcare
needs are addressed and that venues are accessible.
The following activities are good governance
practices in general and are particularly effective
in supporting diverse board members:
onduct a board orientation
ave a mentoring program in place
ffer governance and diversity training
eep board members engaged and active.