Archive for the ‘Advocacy groups’ Category

Dear Nonprofiteer, Whose money is too filthy to take, and why?

April 6, 2012

Dear Nonprofiteer:

I’d be interested in your take on the Tucker Max/Planned Parenthood issue. That whole issue, which I’m sure you’ve touched on before, of NPOs making tough decisions about accepting donations is one that constantly comes up.

Signed, Hoping to Keep Clean Hands and Full Coffers

Dear Hoping:

So Tucker Max (a blogger the Nonprofiteer had never heard of until this letter) tries to give half a million dollars to Planned Parenthood, which has just lost funding from the Komen Foundation and is at risk of losing Federal funding, and PP turns the money down.

Under ordinary circumstances the Nonprofiteer would say, “WTF? So he’s a sexist piece of dog excrement! So he’s trying to whitewash his reputation! Why shouldn’t we help impoverish sexists by accepting their contributions? Why shouldn’t they pay restitution for their crimes and sins?”

But these aren’t ordinary circumstances, because the donor describes himself as follows:

My name is Tucker Max, and I am an asshole. I get excessively drunk at inappropriate times, disregard social norms, indulge every whim, ignore the consequences of my actions . . . sleep with more women than is safe or reasonable, and just generally act like a raging dickhead.

Years of public education about what Planned Parenthood actually does would go right down the drain if it permitted itself to be publicly tied to an advocate of reckless, consequence-free sex. The Republicans have clearly hit a responsive chord when they strive to outdo each other in demonizing PP, and that chord is that the very existence of Planned Parenthood represents an utter breakdown of sexual morals. Never mind that this isn’t true: Tucker Max actually DOES represent an utter breakdown of sexual morals, and Planned Parenthood can’t afford to be associated with him.

In general, though, the Nonprofiteer remains in favor of taking money from bad people: it’s not possible to eradicate them, and they ought to be good for something. If she still shudders (as she does) at entering the David H. Koch Theatre at Lincoln Center, she consoles herself that it represents millions of dollars the self-same Koch no longer has available to give to the Tea Party.

It’s fine if donating makes an evil donor look good. Just be sure that accepting doesn’t make you look bad.


Give the people at Komen a piece of your mind . . .

February 2, 2012

as they seem to have lost their own.  Komen’s decision to de-fund Planned Parenthood at the behest of an anti-choice Board member reminds us how ready the right wing is to sacrifice women’s health for political gain.

There’s a petition to sign if you want to want to make your voice heard.  If you’ve been a Komen supporter and you now de-fund the organization, your voice will be heard even louder.

The Nonprofiteer has been wondering what to write about . . .

February 1, 2012

but she’d really have preferred not to have this as an inspiration.  There is no excuse for the decision of Susan G. Komen for the Cure, until now a respected source of information and funding in the fight against breast cancer, to defund Planned Parenthood‘s program of providing breast exams to poor women.

In fact, the decision doesn’t even make sense–unless you consider that a recent addition to the Board of Komen is an anti-choice ex-politician from Georgia.  As another commentator has wisely noted, Planned Parenthood will survive this latest injury–the Nonprofiteer’s determination to support the agency has just been redoubled, and probably her gift will be, too–but Komen may not.

Please join the Nonprofiteer in notifying Komen of your distress at its decision to let irrelevant politics endanger the lives and health of poor women, and of your decision to redirect to Planned Parenthood any support you may have been giving to Komen.

Why the public should fund the arts, after all

December 6, 2011

The Nonprofiteer had a fascinating conversation with Margy Waller, a special advisor to Cincinnati’s ArtsWave, which leads the nation in evidence-based approaches to advocating for arts funding.  Ms. Waller had reached out to correct the Nonprofiteer’s misunderstanding (and therefore misreporting) of ArtsWave’s efforts, noting that the argument is not that the public should fund the arts to promote economic recovery but that it should fund the arts to promote neighborhood vibrancy.  This nuance turns out to make all the difference.

Here’s the ArtsWave insight: people are ready enough to agree with the notion that the arts are good for the economy.  But if you probe deeper, and ask what top three things we should do to improve the economy, no one answers “subsidize the arts.”  So apparently the argument that the arts are an economic engine (true or false) is unpersuasive, which is what really matters.

But the ArtsWave research also uncovered the fact that if you ask people what would improve their neighborhood the most, the arts come up time and time again.  Why?  Because artists’ residences are known to herald an improvement in real-estate values; because arts audiences mean feet on the street and therefore greater public safety; because arts venues are known to spawn coffee shops and restaurants and other places of urban liveliness.

Therefore, the argument for public funding needs to be focused not on the art but on the public benefits of art-making.  This simultaneously ends the unwinnable argument about whether x or y is valid art or a useful expenditure of public funds and reminds people of what they believe anyway, that investment in arts-related infrastructure benefits everyone—not in some airy-fairy, soul-stirring, life-improving sense but in the grossest day-to-day experience of quality of life.

Thus an appeal to provide tax breaks to bring artists to a particular area would be framed not as a subsidy to these all-important art-making beings (read: overprivileged white people who ought to get jobs) but as a way to offset (maybe even reverse) the damage to property values wrought by foreclosures.  The subsidy is to the value of private property (something that can be monetized) rather than to the value of art (something that cannot).

As instrumental and cold-blooded as this approach may seem, Ms. Waller makes the powerful point that vibrancy is what people love about the arts—and that weaving the arts into the fabric of other social needs and activities enables people to appreciate the arts “not as consumers but as citizens.”

The Nonprofiteer was particularly struck by that last point.  Asked what citizens should do to respond to 9/11, then-President Bush had nothing more to offer than, “Go shopping.”  Anything that enables us to respond to public concerns in a public spirit; anything that combats the notion that government is the problem and privatization the solution; anything that reminds us that we’re a republic if we can keep it; anything that illustrates we don’t have to buy something to value it—any of these is a consummation devoutly to be wished.

As a wise person once noted, the important thing is not to have BEEN right, but to BE right.  The Nonprofiteer has been wrong in her blanket condemnation of public funding for the arts, because she thought of it exclusively in the frame established by its opponents: as subsidies to artists to create what might or might not actually be valuable.  Once the framing shifts to “vibrancy,”* and to concrete benefits to the broader society, public arts support suddenly makes sense.  No one else may care, but it will be a relief to her to stop being the only left-wing theater critic in the country opposed to public funding for the arts.

She continues to think that the NEA itself is a lost cause and that energy spent defending it would be better spent squeezing support for the arts out of HUD, Fannie Mae/Freddie Mac and local housing authorities.  But that’s a matter of strategy.  As a matter of principle, the Nonprofiteer is grateful to have discovered a valid way to defend taxpayer support to something that matters so much to her.


*Yes, “vibrancy” can be a euphemism for “gentrification,” or at least its prodroma.  But if we plan for vibrancy (instead of simply hoping that lightening strikes in this ‘hood or that), we can also plan to prevent displacement.  And without displacement, “gentrification” is just another word for “safe streets, amenities and public services”—for everyone, rich or poor.

By any other name . . .

November 4, 2011

The Nonprofiteer has never had much time for people who want to change the name of the sector to something non-“non”—something more positive, like “Civil Society Organization,” or less meaningful, like “independent.”  But this article about the connection between Herman Cain’s campaign and a Tea Party front group funded by the Koch Brothers has her rethinking her position.  Under the headline “Cain to Review Links to a Nonprofit” we learn that

An outside lawyer will review allegations that Herman Cain’s presidential campaign accepted tens of thousands of dollars in goods and services from a tax-exempt organization founded by his chief of staff . . .

The front group, “Americans for Prosperity,” is a Wisconsin nonprofit granted at least preliminary 501c3 recognition by the IRS.  And if it were actually nothing more than a group of citizens banded together to advocate for policies they believe will lead to prosperity, there would be nothing wrong with that.  But if instead it’s just a mouthpiece for the Koch brothers—an Astroturf, rather than a grassroots, organization—then there is something wrong.

The IRS requires 501c3s to raise a third of their money from the public precisely to prevent the creation of captive organizations of this kind.   Use of a tax-exempt entity to promote the interests of a single individual or family is a violation of Federal tax law.  Moreover, if the nonprofit paid some of the Cain campaign’s expenses, that’s a violation of Federal election law—perhaps one of the few activities left that is.

The Cain campaign may collapse under the weight of far more interesting allegations (sex beats money every time); but if in fact this nonprofit was nothing more than a campaign slush fund, its existence represents a taint on the “nonprofit” label.  What a shame that “handmaiden to profit and to policies assuring that the profitable get more so and the rest of us get squat” is so unwieldy.

Maybe a new name for the sector wouldn’t come amiss; but let’s be realistic.  The Iron Law of Euphemisms means that whatever name is adopted instead will soon become an epithet itself.  This explains the “progress” in designating African-Americans, from “n****r” to “colored” to “Negro” to “black” to “Black” to “people of color”: as long as people using the term hate the people they’re describing, the term will be infected with their hatred and soon need to be abandoned.

And as long as the wealthiest people using the term “nonprofit” are determined to distort the form to support the worst excesses of the profit-driven world, it hardly matters what the rest of us call it.

Flip It to Fix It: A Cure for What Ails Us

May 31, 2011

Who are these people, and how did they get to be so smart?

A new study has found that inverting state tax structures—whereby the highest income earners would be taxed at the current percentage of income for the lowest income earners, and vice versa—would collectively raise $490 billion in new revenue, immediately eliminating states’ budget deficits and avoiding the serious consequences of budget cuts.

The report, titled “Flip It to Fix It: An Immediate, Fair Solution to State Budget Shortfalls” was released today by Boston-based United for a Fair Economy and 13 state organizations around the country.

What’s being “flipped,” of course, is the current regressive tax system, which depends on getting more and more money from those who have the least of it—or, as a study co-author bluntly phrased it, “squeez[ing] water out of a stone.”

Is there any possibility that state legislatures will accept this sensible suggestion?  Maybe not this minute; but the Nonprofiteer suggests we all wait until crime spikes this summer (not enough police officers) and schools open this fall with huge classes (not enough teachers).  Maybe then our elected officials will get a clue that dismantling workers’ compensation and blaming public employee unions will be insufficient to preserve essential services.

An appraising stare down the gift horse’s gullet

August 31, 2010

Jane Mayer’s excellent piece in this past week’s New Yorker about the brothers Koch, oil billionaires who’ve donated hundreds of millions to nonprofits promoting right-wing causes, finally clarified for the Nonprofiteer her unease at Bill Gates’s campaign to persuade billionaires to donate half their estates to charity.  It’s not a question of who has or hasn’t taken the pledge, though that’s an entertaining parlor game.  Nor is it the fact that the generosity of extremely wealthy people may not be what the rest of us have in mind when we hear the word “charity.”  (The Kochs’ “charity,” for instance, is a term of art encompassing donations to all kinds of institutions, predominantly think-tanks churning out rationales for the economic interests of wealthy people and front groups to make it appear that defending those economic interests is the political will of the non-wealthy majority.)

What’s troubling about the billionaires’ pledge remains so even when the receiving causes are unexceptionable.  Gates, for instance, has very generously underwritten substantial efforts by the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria.  Good for him, and for the world.


Even the best-intentioned best-directed private donations are a way for moneyed people to work their will on the public, while the rest of us have nothing but the vote.  And when the level of contributions is discussed in fractions of $1B, it’s no longer charity within a democracy: it’s benevolent dictatorship.

Maybe our country should be giving less to treat AIDS et al and more to eradicate infant and maternal mortality through the UN Population Fund; maybe not.  That’s a decision to be made by the people of the United States, through our government.  It’s really not a decision for a single person.

Why not?  Well, for starters, the “single person” in question is a billionaire, and thus always a man.  That means almost by definition that the highest levels of charitable giving will overlook women, though we constitute more than a majority of the population.  And if that’s the case—if society’s needs are met by individual whim instead of collective decisions about the greatest good for the greatest number—then what, actually, is left of self-government?

Of course, billionaires have plenty of assistance in the task of allowing economic power to trump political will.  The Supreme Court’s decision in Citizens United, holding that corporations are “persons” with First Amendment rights violated by limits on their campaign spending, already put the nation quite a way down that road.  But somehow it’s worse when something that sounds so benign—“half my estate to charity, because I’ve been so fortunate”—actually translates as “I set the agenda for the future of this country, because I’ve been so fortunate.”

What we really want from billionaires is for them to pay a lot more in income taxes: say, the 87% of taxable income paid in 1954,  or even the 70% paid at the start of the 1980s.  And then we as a group can decide where our group’s money goes.  All contribute, all decide.

And what we really want from billionaires’ heirs is for them to pay the 77% estate tax rate in effect in 1941, or even the 70% estate tax rate in effect in 1976.   (And let’s not hear any nonsense about “death taxes.”  The dead aren’t the ones paying.)  Why shouldn’t people who get money by inheritance have to pay taxes on it, just like people who get it by working?

Merely to ask that question is to answer it: no democratic society decides that people who don’t work should be privileged over those who do.  Societies like that are called “aristocracies,” and all those so-called Constitutional Originalists running around hijacking elections by screaming about excessive taxation should take a moment to remember that our Constitution was designed precisely to interfere with the establishment of a government by inheritance.

The Constitution prohibits not once but twice the granting of any title of nobility; but the Framers didn’t rest there.  They fought to cripple and ultimately abolish entail and primogeniture, the primary devices by which English law kept family fortunes together.  Why?  Because they realized that, if you’re founding a republic, it’s really not a good idea to let money keep piling up generation after generation in the same few pairs of hands.

Self-governing societies can’t operate on noblesse oblige, and societies that do aren’t truly self-governing.  As Dr. Franklin said, “A republic—if you can keep it.”

Are you a tax-exempt charity? Sure about that?

August 18, 2010

While it’s not yet true that “Illinois Does A Few Adult Films To Make Ends Meet”, the state has begun to cast lascivious glances at its nonprofits.  Those property-tax exemptions look mighty comfortable.  Why don’t you push that  cushion over to my side of the bed? And with most interactions taking place behind closed doors, don’t expect a warning before the moment of truth arrives—or to be kissed while you’re getting screwed.

Unlike other localities re-evaluating nonprofit tax exemptions, Illinois has bypassed the legislative process, allowing county assessors and the Department of Revenue to take the initiative.  And this spring the Illinois Supreme Court decided that the state’s constitutional provision exempting charities from property taxes applied not to all nonprofits but only to genuine charities.

When the Court ruled that Provena Covenant Hospital didn’t merit a property tax exemption because it failed to provide adequate charity care, there was a brief frenzy of press speculation about the decision’s impact on hospitals—but hospitals only.  Rarely do the media connect the dots between the budget crises of state and local governments and their relationships with nonprofits, and then generally the focus is on the governments’ failure to pay nonprofits for contracts they’ve already performed.

But revocation of property tax exemptions poses an even bigger and longer-term threat than governments’ failure to pay.  And it’s a threat of which few nonprofit executives—let alone members of the public—are aware.

Two cases of denied exemption, one in nearly-bankrupt Chicago and the other in one of its suburban counties, are now working their way through the Illinois courts.  Each concerns a luxury retirement community, and either could break new ground by clarifying what qualifies as “charity” and how much of it a nonprofit has to provide.

The state legislature hasn’t specified a percentage of charitable services required to support continued property-tax exemption.  And though the Provena court ruled that the hospital’s practice of charging fees for nearly all patient care meant it could not be considered a charity, it too stopped short of prescribing when enough charity will be enough.

“The property-tax assessors out there are going to be aggressive, because they need you back on their rolls,” said Elaine Waterhouse Wilson, a partner at the Quarles & Brady law firm. “They’re going to make you come in and prove” charitable work.  Ms. Wilson said the charities that may be at risk “include organizations that are supported primarily by fees . . . . It was very clear [under the ruling] that you had to be giving things away rather than providing general charitable benefits,” she said.

It’s not a tragedy that people are asking whether Illinois nonprofits are worthy of favored tax treatment.  What would be a tragedy is if the challenge came as a complete shock, catching agencies unaware with the sudden need to prove their charitable nature.  Yet that’s what seems likely to happen.

Executives at several Chicago-area nonprofits seemed incredulous at the idea that Provena would be applied to them.  “We provide human services and all our activities are nonprofit,” said Karen  Singer, Executive Director of the Evanston/North Shore YWCA.  “So it’s not on my radar screen at the moment.  It probably should be, but there are only so many things I can think about.”  William Ratner, Executive Director of Lawyers for the Creative Arts, and Alvin Katz of Mayer Brown LLP, the attorney for Victory Gardens Theater and the Chicago Architecture Foundation, both expressed confidence that the organizations they represent are secure in their exemptions.  “They’ll keep going after the hospitals because it’s easy, and because that’s where the money is,” Mr. Ratner said.

But there’s also money in, or rather under, many other nonprofits.  The Chicago retirement development sits on prime Gold Coast real estate.  Can YMCAs in gentrifying neighborhoods withstand challenges to their exemptions when they look and feel—and charge—so much like for-profit health clubs?  Can settlement houses be considered charities if they get paid, by government or clients, for all the services they provide?  Can arts organizations be considered “charitable” just by offering art, or do they have to give out a certain number of free admissions?  (Churches and schools are immune from this calculus because the Illinois constitution separately exempts them; but the educational programs of arts groups aren’t considered “schools.”)

Perhaps the charities will organize and persuade the Illinois legislature to clarify the amount of “charity” necessary to retain tax exemption.  But Professor Phillip Hablutzel of IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law, co-author of the Illinois Not-for-Profit Corporation Act, doubts it.  Though he predicted Illinois nonprofits other than hospitals will soon find themselves battling efforts to withdraw their exemptions, “In the twenty years I’ve been involved, there hasn’t been a coherent front among charities in facing the legislature.  It’s hard to get these people to make common cause–the museum people don’t see what they have in common with the churches.”  Nor, apparently, do many human services agencies or arts groups see what they have in common with the hospitals.

If and when a Provena-style loss of exemption hits another nonprofit, the impact on its operation will be substantial.  “In the current economy,” said Professor Hablutzel, “it would be hard to do fundraising for another one-third of your budget so the taxes could be paid.”

Maybe there’s something to be said for making adult films after all.

Dear Nonprofiteer, How do I turn Board generosity into Board requests for generosity?

May 26, 2010

Dear Nonprofiteer,

I’m the ED of a growing nonprofit doing bridge-building work on a highly divisive social issue. Our work is getting rave reviews. Our Board, however, is really struggling with its role in fundraising.

All of the nonprofit literature I’ve read says that the Board of Directors is largely responsible for raising funds for the organization, and that they typically do this through their own individual contacts and influence. But everyone on our Board was chosen for their commitment to our cause and understanding of the sensitive nature of our work, not for their contacts or influence. They’re wonderful, passionate people, but they have no fundraising experience and no wealthy or influential contacts to speak of, and they’re all geographically separate from one another. When fundraising comes up in Board meetings, everyone agrees that it must be done, but no one is sure what exactly they can do.

Our Board does have a “give or get” clause, and our Board members meet and surpass that requirement by giving generously of their own money. There’s no question of their devotion! But I’m concerned that relying too heavily on our Board members’ personal finances rather than external fundraising is a dangerous long-term proposition, and I feel like we could be doing so much more if we had a real fundraising strategy. (We have been raising other funds, but those projects have been primarily overseen by our staff.)

What say you? Are there situations where a nonprofit Board shouldn’t focus on fundraising? Or do we need to rethink things?


Empty Pockets

Dear Empty,

Of course the people you recruited to your Board were chosen for their passionate commitment to your cause–who else would you choose for such a task? That doesn’t mean they can’t raise funds; in fact, it means they’re the people best positioned to raise money for the group, because they understand it so profoundly and can speak about it with such depth and conviction.

And they’re going to be especially wonderful fundraisers because they’re so generous themselves. Many agencies struggle with fundraising because the Board thinks someone else should put money on the line while its own members fail to do so.

But Board members have to take on the fundraising task, and there are no exceptions–not for particular kinds of organizations, nor for particular Board members whom others may think can’t afford to be involved. There’s a misconception floating around the nonprofit world that fundraising can only be done by certain kinds of people, ones with those mysterious “contacts” and “influence;” when in fact, everyone can identify prospective donors, everyone can ask, and everyone can thank.

Here’s how you get started: bring to the next Board meeting a list of five prospects whom the staff has identified through your fundraising activities to date–the people you think are most likely to be convertible into serious major donors alongside your Board members. Then divide your Board into pairs and get each pair to contact one of these small-givers-who-are-big-givers-in-waiting. The pair should take the prospect out to lunch and ask him/her for money.

How? Please see the Nonprofiteer’s never-fail luncheon ask. And, because everyone you’re dealing with is so new to this activity, spend the rest of this Board meeting practicing the never-fail ask, doing in 10 or 20 minutes what in the real world you’ll do in 60. You practice by dividing the Board into groups of three, and then having two people ask the third; the second time, you have the prospect join the asking team.

Stay on your Board members between Board meetings to assure they actually take the prospects out and ask them for money, and then have them report back at the next Board meeting. Also tell everyone to come to that next Board meeting with the name of one–one!–person they know whom they can persuade to come to lunch to talk about your agency. Reassure them that they’re not going to be required to ask their friends for money–they’re going to ask EACH OTHER’S friends for money. You can practice that at this second Board meeting.

Then keep noodging and supporting them, but let there be no doubt that this is the main thing with which they should occupy themselves now. No matter how passionate–for that matter, no matter how rich!–no Board is able to support its agency single-handedly through its personal wealth. Fundraising is essential; it’s the job of the Board; and if the people you’ve got now refuse to do it (which the Nonprofiteer doubts), go get some people who will.

And if the guidance the Nonprofiteer has just molded into a brick and thrown at your head seems daunting, hire a Board development consultant [like, say, the Nonprofiteer; but plenty of people do this] to come in and train your Board–and read the fundraising Riot Act to its members, if need be. Often Boards will hear from a consultant what they won’t hear from their employee/Executive Director, namely, that they have a clearly-defined job; that the name of the job is “fundraising;” and that they have to do it.

Dear Nonprofiteer, Where, oh where, has my agency gone? Where, oh where, can it be?

August 20, 2009

Dear Nonprofiteer,

Help! I’m the new-ish ED of an organization that serves victims of intimate violence. Our bylaws require that a certain percentage of the board identify as female. I get this, and am completely supportive of it; I believe that the board composition reflects the values of the organization and its leadership, and the organization’s understanding of the world. Problem: the board pres doesn’t get it, and isn’t happy about it, and wants to remove it from the bylaws because she thinks gender has nothing to do with good governance.

For this and a couple of other reasons, I am finding myself looking at being the director of an organization whose board seems to have different values than I signed on for. I came to the organization completely inspired by its anti-oppression, progressive voice for survivors of violence- it was edgy, pushed the boundaries, had a very diverse board, etc. I am finding that through board turnover, and a board recruitment process that had excluded me, we have a more conservative, homogenous, and less connected-to-the-issue board.

I know I have an important role in board development, and the recruitment process does now include me, but I feel like it’s too late–not to mention that I don’t feel like I have the internal or external resources, support or mandate to change board members’ values and worldview to become more in line with what I understood to be the organization’s philosophy.

I know I am framing the issue as a no-win, but I can’t see out of this. Whew. Do I have to find a new job? What about the tragedy of this organization becoming a cookie-cutter social service agency, instead of an instrument of social change?



Dear Disappointed:

Whether that’s a tragedy or not depends on whether your community is in need of a social service agency that serves victims of intimate partner violence. But I take your point: you signed on to make change and instead you’re simply providing services.

If the question were just the one about women on the Board, I would suggest that you sit down with your Board president and spell out to her as you’ve done to me the way in which having a certain percentage of Board members identified as female makes for better governance of the institution. It’s easy to say she “doesn’t get it,” but it’s also exclusionary and snobbish: if fostering social change is an important part of your work, then you have to be prepared to spend time with lots of people who don’t get it–so that when you’re done with them, they do.

But if as you suggest it’s a broader problem–that now you’re surrounded by people unsympathetic to your goals–you have two choices: you can throw up your hands, or you can help those people enlarge their perspectives. That’s an often-overlooked part of Board development: educating Board members after you’ve recruited them. Can you and your Board president agree that the subject of how social change intersects with social services is important enough to the Board’s governing competence to warrant a thorough conversation?

In other words: you only have to leave this group if you’re not willing to do the work of orienting and persuading people who’ve joined its Board in good faith and probably have no idea that there’s anything wrong with being “a cookie-cutter social service agency. ” If you can make them see that there is, and that there’s something more the group should be doing, you can stay.

Otherwise: the Board always wins. Find yourself a different job.

The Nonprofiteer was once hired to run an agency which she understood one way, the Board understood a different way, the staff understood a third way and the clients a fourth way. The bad news was, she didn’t realize that, and spent all her time wondering why nobody seemed to get–that term again!–what she was trying to do.

You DO realize that, and that realization gives you the chance to shape the conversation about what the agency is doing, what it used to be doing, what it could be doing, and how the Board can contribute with more than just dollars and cents. Take the lead in setting up that conversation (though perhaps have the conversation itself facilitated by a neutral outsider), and see what progress you’re able to make. The worst that will happen is you’ll end up very clear that you need to go.