Funny and Awkward Nonprofit Board Tales

Nonprofit board members tell their tales of woe or whoa: Funny, sad, silly or gut wrenching stories.

Funny and Awkward Nonprofit Board Tales
4 mins read

Truth or Dare, Blue Avocado Style

Sitting around a campfire sure makes our readers blurt out funny, sad, silly or gut wrenching stories. Our Truth or Dare game gave our readers to the opportunity to tell their tales of woe or whoa!

Building respect

  • A small foundation was bringing together community experts to discuss homelessness. With little progress and facing yet another meeting, a board member encountered the best expert of all: a real live homeless person. Imagine the surprise when she brought him to the meeting.
  • As a board meeting was about to begin, an elderly director mistakenly lowered his chair so low his chin just cleared the table. The chairman immediately did the same saving the other’s dignity.

A world without filters

  • By year-end, several large bequests were realized. The university president exclaimed to the board, “Aren’t you glad all those people died?”

What really impacts board performance

  • The big bowl of red and green chocolate-covered espresso beans was set in the middle of the table. Thinking M+Ms, my board colleague eats half, couldn’t shut up.
  • A board meeting included a 10 minute conversation on potential solutions for the poor quality toilet paper. And no one ever mentioned the word micromanagement.

This is due diligence?

  • Motion: to budget $2000 for the executive director to travel to national meetings. Discussion: the executive director is incompetent; the funds should be denied. Motion CARRIED.
  • I applauded BOD for repaying $685,000 owed IRS. Surprised, the Chair noted that the board merely voted to remove the debt from the audit.
  • Board explains to their auditors that they have no need for a finance committee “because the staff handles the money.”

And here’s to the days when it’s all worthwhile…

  • At my third board meeting, I was given a Certificate of Appreciation. Because of this gesture, I continue to do my best…25 years later.
  • “The board thanked the outgoing president with chocolate; she thanked us with an original ukulele piece, which she performed at her last board meeting.”
  • “After being grilled on the use/care of a bus we wanted to buy, a board member immediately wrote a check for $17,000 to buy it.” That person is welcome at my next board meeting.

Congratulations to the authors of the winning entries: Ellie Alexander, Audrey Alvarado, Sarah Barr, Debbie Ferguson, Liz Heath, David Karoff, Jennifer Lohse, Don Mangers, Beth O’Connor, Jayne Pimlot, Debra Sanchez Reed, Andrea Rundell. Winners are invited to participate in a “Truth or Dare” campfire conversation with Blue Avocado’s former editor Jan Masaoka in November.

Thanks to contest judges Blue Avocado columnist Vu Le, executive director of the Vietnamese Friendship Association in Seattle, Washington, Jane Kornblut, Principal and Senior Leadership Coach of Third Sector Services in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, and Bob Wittig, executive director of the Jovid Foundation in Washington, D.C.

About the Author

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Blue Avocado is an online magazine fueled by a monthly newsletter designed to provide practical, tactical tips and tools to nonprofit leaders. A small but mighty team of committed social sector leaders produces the publication, enlisting content from a wide range of practitioners, funders, and experts.

Articles on Blue Avocado do not provide legal representation or legal advice and should not be used as a substitute for advice or legal counsel. Blue Avocado provides space for the nonprofit sector to express new ideas. Views represented in Blue Avocado do not necessarily express the opinion of the publication or its publisher.

5 thoughts on “Funny and Awkward Nonprofit Board Tales

  1. I applaud the “transparency” of allowing broader, deeper stories of nonprofit challenges to be told! Bravo to the brave souls who came forward in ways that can help staff and directors to learn more. All too often, only the “positive-based stories or strategies” are communicated in print, through the media, at training conferences, at board meetings, with social-sector partners, etc. Yet the reality is ALL nonprofit stories and struggles are an integral part of their ability to effectively operate, solve problems and find the best solutions for issues. No, the sky will not fall in by sharing our truths….especially when we learn to balance our conversations around BOTH “positive-based and negative-based stories.” Bottom line: we all need to be lifelong learners from the good, the bad and the ugly! .

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