Lessons for nonprofits from former Lincoln Center president

Posted on: May 7, 2015

In Tuesday’s (3/5) Chronicle of Philanthropy, Maria Di Mento covers themes in former Lincoln Center President Reynold Levy’s “new book that is part memoir and part how-to guide, They Told Me Not to Take That Job [in which] he unspools several management debacles at the center.” Levy was president of Lincoln Center from 2002 to 2014. “The case studies provide important lessons about board governance, fundraising, fiduciary responsibility, and operating practices: Trustee involvement can mean life or death for a nonprofit. Levy argues that trustees should take an oath to participate regularly and actively in governance and … make sure it is living within its means. Trustees need to be blunt about the executive director’s performance. Holding an executive accountable is a straightforward task. Both parties should agree to a set of objectives … and hold regular, ‘no holds barred’ discussions about an executive’s performance, with blunt feedback. Keeping employees happy is as important as recruiting new ones. Find out what they need to reach their professional aspirations. ‘Fortifying staff and fostering their growth is a legacy that will endure,’ he writes. Make changes gradually if you’re a new leader. A new leader should ‘become an insider’ before rushing to judgment about an organization’s needs, Mr. Levy says.”

Posted May 7, 2015