Governance. Crowdfunding. Leading.

This month I found three topics that I hope you can use in class discussions or at work. First, there is a story about a working relationship gone bad between an executive director and the board of a museum. Next, I found a posting about learning from mistakes made in a crowdfunding initiative.  Lastly, I came across some good advice about steps you can take to enhance your leadership development.

Governance Challenges

The article highlighting what appears to be a power struggle within the San Diego Chinese Historical Museum [SDCHM] should make for a lively discussion related to topics in Chapter 7, Human Resources and the Arts. There are several good examples of governance problems related to how the board operates at this small museum. I also included a link to the museum’s annual report because I thought it was an informative document and helpful way to profile an organization’s accomplishments. Based on the report, the evidence seems to support the narrative that the new executive director, Tiffany Wai-Ying Beres was doing a fine job. Obviously, there was a breakdown in the communication between the board and the executive director.

Learning from Mistakes

The crowdfunding article from the Arts Professional newsletter can be used as a mini-case study in conjunction with Chapter 12, Fundraising and Development. The practical advice offered (when to do an appeal, authenticity of voice, and so forth) can be applied to improve any crowdfunding campaign. I also found a few extra tips and statistics about crowd-funding campaigns at Indiegogo’s blog site. These research results could help expand the discussion beyond the article. There are also some additional statistics about campaign failure rates at the Kickstarter website. If you click on “See Categories” in the “Unsuccessfully Funded Projects” page, you will see a great many projects were funded at less than 20% of their goal.

Be a Future Leader?

The resources available at KelloggInsights on the Kellogg School of Management website can be a good alternative for instructors looking for ideas and business practices to share with students. For example, the article from last year on leading without being asked can be used to reinforce the idea of “informal leadership” covered in Chapter 8 on page 274. The first tip, “Lead from where you are,” can be good advice for students to heed. Opportunities to informally lead will likely arise at work or in a team setting. These opportunities can be a good starting point for young leaders to build their confidence. The article offers other good suggestion that could be explored through asking, “What do you think would happen if you tried this?” type questions.


Thanks for Doubling Attendance and Donations, But You’re Fired

By Erin Rubin, November 9, 2017, Nonprofit Quarterly sourced from the San Diego Union-Tribune, Nov. 6, 2017.

It’s often hard for a nonprofit entity to manage the transition from a founder to new leadership, but the San Diego Chinese Historical Museum (SDCHM) has made it much harder by failing to follow the rules of good board governance. Tiffany Wai-Ying Beres, the first executive director since founder Alexander Chuang, has brought a wrongful termination suit against the museum that may expose more than its leadership bargained for.

Before going into all of that, it is important to distinguish between nonprofits that emerge out of a founding board and those that come from a founder who gathers a board. Founding boards tend to have a very different set of problems with boundaries than do individual founders, and many founding board–type problems are exhibited in this story.

It seems like Beres was the best thing that could happen to the museum. According to SDCHM’s annual report, during her 2016–2017 tenure, the museum ran a net surplus, won its biggest grant ever, reached out and surveyed the community to help design a brand-new exhibit that garnered record attendance, and nearly doubled the number of events and attendees. Fifty-one percent of the donors in 2016–17 were new donors, showing an increased appeal and expanded growth capacity.

Link to the full NPQ article:

Here’s the link to the original story in the San Diego Union-Tribune written by Jeff McDonald on November 6, 2017.

Link to Annual Report June  24, 2017:


My experience with crowdfunding

Amy Zamarripa Solis, Arts Professional, United Kingdom, 11/21/2017

Amy Zamarripa Solis’s first attempt at crowdfunding was not a success. She explains what went wrong and reveals how – after raising less than 50% of her target – she still managed to stage a successful fringe theatre production.

In Autumn 2016, Writing Our Legacy embarked on its first-ever crowdfunding campaign. We aimed to raise £5,000 match funding towards a new site-specific theatre production, La Llorona.

La Llorona is a Mexican ghost story from my childhood in Texas. In the myth, La Llorona drowns her children to be with her lover, only to be scorned, banished from Heaven, and spend an eternity looking for her children. If you stayed out too late at night, adults said she could drown you.

In our new modernised production, La Llorona is a Mexican woman who is exploited as she tries to follow the American dream. Told through magical realism, a soundtrack by a live band and larger than life puppets.

Link to the full article:


Don’t Wait to Be Asked: Lead

A roadmap for increasing your influence at work.

Yevgenia Nayberg, KelloggInsight, 9/7/2016, Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University

Based on insights from Harry M. Kraemer

Ask people what they would change about their organizations, and you are likely to get an earful. The company website is clunky; it’s past time to rethink that tired growth strategy; and why oh why does the sales team continue to neglect potential customers in South America?

Someone should really do something. But who?

“There’s some magical group of people called ‘those guys,’ who are men and women we have to wait for,” says Harry Kraemer, a clinical professor of strategy at the Kellogg School. But the better path, he says, is to lose the shroud of magic around this group and simply become part of it. “The people who are really the leaders—the real, true leaders—are the people who literally say, ‘Well wait a minute. I am one of ‘those guys.’”

He offers the following roadmap to future leaders looking to change their organizations right now.

  1. Lead from where you are.
  2. Start offering solutions.
  3. Do your research.
  4. Build your network.
  5. Encourage future leaders.

Link to the full article: