My last post was on March 8, just over 3 weeks ago. I enjoyed a week-long vacation following that post, and returned to NY with the virus closing in. Now, in the covid-19 era, we're all physical-distancing and figuring out how to work from home (WFH). If you're a non-profit leader, you have some special challenges, trying to manage staff, engage the Board, and calm everyone down as uncertainty and chaos may be the leading emotions of your stakeholders.
I'd like to offer a series of posts to help leaders manage under these unimaginable circumstances. In each post, I will suggest some work to do (WTD) that is well-suited for this moment. These are tasks that can be done easily from home, result in concrete outcomes, and are often put on the back-burner when your organization is running at full-steam.
First, consider a careful review of your bylaws. This isn't the sexiest work but having up-to-date bylaws helps you and your Board work efficiently and effectively. If you haven't done this in a while (or ever) you might be surprised to learn that you've been operating in ways that don't comply with your bylaws. Make note of these so that you can take them to your Board for review. You may decide to modify the bylaws, or move into compliance.
You might find that your bylaws don't allow actions to be taken outside of a physical meeting. Now we know this limits your ability to function in times like this. You need to add a provision for voting via phone, e-mail, Zoom meeting, or something else. Consider generic language that will allow you to use new technologies as they emerge.
Be thoughtful in revising your bylaws. They serve as the guiding rules for the way in which your organization does business. They provide the continuity necessary to govern an organization in which the stakeholders change often. But you want to be sure they don't tie your hands in unintended ways. They shouldn't get into the weeds of day-to-day operations; those belong in policies and procedures documents. You need to be sure they comply with any federal and state requirements as well. If I can be of help in a bylaws review, please contact me!