The Dodge Foundation has once again teamed up with The Nonprofit Center at La Salle University’s School of Business to present a free board training program for executive directors and board members available to grantee organizations.

This year we are trying something new to accommodate the busy lives of nonprofit leaders and their boards. We're offering a new streamlined program featuring four day-long workshops, a new video training series, “Just in Time” consulting, a matching grant opportunity to bring the learning back to the full board via “Day of Clarity” retreats, and peer-to-peer learning circles for graduates of the program. 

Click on the links below to toggle to each section, but please be sure to read the overview and requirements before registration.  

 Workshops Overview

Your team must commit to attend all four workshops in order to participate in the series and for your organization to qualify for a “Day of Clarity” retreat that will help you build on your team’s learning.

Who should attend the workshops?

Your team must include the executive director and board president or vice president for all four workshops. You may also invite one additional board member per workshop. Depending on the session, you might invite the board vice president, treasurer, and chairs of the governance, fundraising, personnel, and strategic planning committees.



Workshop Requirements

  • This series requires a substantial commitment from both staff and board. To participate in the program, the executive director and the board president must attend all four workshops. Other members of the group may vary workshop to workshop.
  • Each organization can send a minimum of two and up to three participants. Upon completion of the workshops series, your organization will be eligible to apply for a Day of Clarity retreat for your entire board. 
  • Please register your organization’s team for all four workshops by October 9, 2017. The workshops are limited to 30 participants and will fill up quickly. Preference will be given to Dodge grantees who are new to the Dodge Board Leadership Series. Space permitting, we will admit previous Board Leadership Series graduates and non-grantee nonprofit organizations.

Questions about these requirements? Please contact Wendy Liscow or Judy Ha Kim.

Workshop Registration



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Upcoming Dates

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Getting Started: Lifecycles, Assessment, and Building a Culture for Effective Change
Saturday, October 14, 2017 (Morristown)

This full-day workshop, led by David Grant, Dodge’s former President and CEO, sets the stage for the whole Board series by exploring essential questions of organizational development and culture. Using Susan Kenny Steven’s award-winning book, Nonprofit Lifecycles, we explore the predictable challenges that nonprofit staff and board members will face as they grow and evolve. We will re-think assessment practices, learn how to plan backwards from a vision of success, examine ways to “measure what matters” most to your organization, and improve the work as a result.  And finally, we will learn how to think about change as something we design rather than something that happens to us, and  establish ”a learning culture” that will help your organization take the necessary steps to prepare for the transformative impact of the workshops to follow.

Each participating nonprofit organization can bring a team of up to 3 people which includes the Executive Director (or comparable staff) and Board Chair (or Vice Chair). We recommend bringing a total of three board members since this will be the team responsible for bringing the learning back to the full board.

The Board Bootcamp
Wednesday, November 15, 2017 (Morristown)

The Board Bootcamp, led by Laura Otten, provides a definitive foundation of best practices for effective and satisfying nonprofit Board participation. This full-day, interactive experience will deliver a comprehensive overview to help new and seasoned Board members increase their capacity to be purposeful and fulfilled leaders. Content will include an overview of board roles and responsibilities, legal liability, fundraising, financial management, board development, strategic planning, and the board’s relationship with the executive director. This workshop touches on every area of board governance needed to excel as a strong board and will help your team target areas to focus on for the rest of the series.

Each participating nonprofit organization can bring a team of up to 3 people which includes the Executive Director (or comparable staff) and Board Chair (or Vice Chair). We recommend bringing a total of three board members since this will be the team responsible for bringing the learning back to the full board.



The Board’s Role in Fundraising
Saturday, December 16, 2017 (Morristown)

To be successful at fundraising, you need to know all your options and pull together a diversified strategy that is right for your organization.

This full-day program focuses on the Board’s role in fund development and fundraising, including how to inspire reluctant fundraisers, ask for gifts (large and small), and determine trends in philanthropy and giving. You will leave with an understanding of all that is involved in fundraising so that you can decide where to spend your time and energy to achieve the best results. Additionally, you will have an opportunity to learn and practice making an effective "ask.

Each participating nonprofit organization can bring a team of up to 3 people which includes the Executive Director (or comparable staff) and Board Chair (or Vice Chair). We recommend bringing a total of three board members since this will be the team responsible for bringing the learning back to the full board.


Recruiting and Retaining Effective Board Members
Tuesday, January 16, 2018 (Morristown)

It’s an ongoing challenge to find qualified Board members who bring the appropriate skills, temperament, expectations, and passion to the organization they serve. Once you have strong board members, how do you keep them motivated and content? This full-day workshop will provide practical tools to help design a culture of board assessment and development that fuels healthy organizations. Participants will learn how to monitor and build their boards’ profiles in terms of skill, experience, expertise, and demographics; explore strategies to recruit new board candidates; develop effective board member orientation; manage officer and committee chair succession and board performance appraisals; and run productive meetings.

Each participating nonprofit organization can bring a team of up to 3 people which includes the Executive Director (or comparable staff) and Board Chair (or Vice Chair). We recommend bringing a total of three board members since this will be the team responsible for bringing the learning back to the full board.

Institutionalize the Learning

Over the past 10 years of offering the Board Leadership series, we have learned that attendees want to bring training tools back to their full board, and often find it difficult to do so without support. To help with this knowledge transfer, we have developed a new training video series of short exercises gleaned from the workshops that you can immediately implement at your next board meeting.

Additionally, upon completion of the workshop series, grantee organizations are eligible to apply for a “Day of Clarity” retreat, and executive directors and board presidents are invited to join small group Learning Circles that meet virtually every month to discuss nonprofit and organizational issues. 

How you can Institutionalize the Learning:

 Board Leadership Video Toolkit

Did the board workshop facilitator lead you in an exercise that you wanted to share with your fellow board members? Don’t fret. Upon completion of each workshop you will be sent a password and a link to related videos and companion worksheets that your board members can use to guide the full board through strategic exercises. 

You will be able to pick from the following Dodge Board Toolkit video exercises:



Through this video, you will understand:

Measuring What Matters led by David Grant 

1)    Four Critical Questions
2)    Developing a Tool to Capture What Matters Most to your Organization

Exploring Mission led by Laura Otten 

1)    Seven Word Mission
2)    Why, What, How, Who?
3)    Money/Mission Equation

Everybody Can Play a Role in Fundraising led by Allison Trimarco 

1)    Why I do and do not give
2)    Telling your story
3)    Making the Case to Donors

Activating Strength, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats led by Allison Trimarco 

1)      SWOT/TOWS Grid



Day of Clarity Board Retreats

This full-board training opportunity, adapted from the La Salle Nonprofit Center’s successful retreat model, is designed to help boards focus on developing effective strategic practices and outcomes as well as new skills to fulfill their organization’s mission and goals with confidence. After the grantee team completes the four mandatory workshops, the organization can apply for a matching grant to bring one of our faculty to lead a “Day of Clarity” retreat for the full board.  

All of the “Days of Clarity” will include some pre-planning time with the consultant, a full-day training, and a short follow-up report on the retreat’s key findings and suggested next steps. Board Leadership Series graduates will be sent a short application by February 12, 2018 to apply for a “Day of Clarity” which must occur by April 1, 2019. Each organization will be required to provide $500 in matching dollars, preferably raised by the organization’s Board of Directors.

The "Original" Day of Clarity

Offered by The La Salle University Nonprofit Center

The “Day of Clarity” is divided into two integrated, supportive components:
  • “A Foundation in Best Practices for
     Today’s Nonprofit Boards”
  • “Bringing Best Practices to Life"  
The first half of the day takes the board through an immersion into the “good, better, best” model of board governance, guiding them through the steps to becoming a high performing board and providing new insights to sharpen board effectiveness individually and as a whole. Among the essential topics covered are board, staff and volunteer roles; legal liability; financial management and control; policy-making; fundraising and resource development; strategic planning; key organizational phases and their impact on the board; board self-appraisal; and identification of the board’s development goals for the year.During the second half of the day, the board is led through a “clarity” discussion that enables them to use this new-found knowledge, insights and intention to recognize priority issues that need to be addressed to move forward — be it engaging in a meaningful strategic planning process, resolving a problem or confronting a challenge. This session, which includes brainstorming, is then transformed into a highly focused discussion, based on the understandings and accord that was reached in the first part of the retreat.With a clearer vision and consensus on priorities to address, the board is better equipped and engaged to continue planning and goal-setting to determine mission-guided organizational direction.

Financial Management: Building a Financially Resilient Organization

Facilitated by
Hilda Polanco

To ensure long-term sustainability and resilience in today’s challenging environment, it is critical that leaders set the strategic financial direction for their organizations. Board members must understand their organizations’ business models — including key revenue drivers as well as what it really costs to run a program — and use that information to inform long-term programmatic and financial plans. This session offers a day of learning, planning, and prioritizing to help gain clarity around financial management and strategy. The morning session is dedicated to understanding financial resilience through best practices in strategic financial management such as multi-year planning, understanding the organization’s business model, the importance of predictable and flexible funding that covers full costs, the importance of reserves, and the role of the board in ongoing financial oversight. In the afternoon, the facilitator will lead participants through a brainstorming and prioritization process to bring the best practices to life. The process begins with a review of the organization’s financial health — using a three-year financial trends analysis prepared in advance by Fiscal Management Associates — which serves as a baseline for identifying key challenges facing the organization. Together, the group then raises and addresses critical questions related to the strategic direction of the organization and through a facilitated discussion creates a shared action plan for the future. At the conclusion of the Day of Clarity, the goal is for the board and leadership to have come to a shared agreement about the path forward and to be better equipped to continue planning and goal setting towards a future of greater financial resilience.


Facilitated by
Allison Trimarco

To be successful at fundraising you need to know all the building blocks that comprise nonprofit resource development and then be able to craft a diversified strategy for your organization that includes all the areas where you have the greatest potential for success. This program gives you the starting point by introducing the fundamental fundraising concepts, providing a snapshot of tools available to you and what it takes to implement them. Topics covered include funding trends, donor motivation, creating your case, planning, and an analysis of the pros, cons, and requirements of different fundraising strategies. You will leave with a realistic understanding of what the skills, techniques and resources involved in fundraising entail so that you can decide where to spend your time and energy to achieve the best results.

Measuring What Matters 

Facilitated by
David Grant

In an age of metrics, nonprofit leaders are under pressure to “show me the numbers,” to demonstrate their effectiveness. Yet some of the aspects of performance and impact that matter most to us resist quantification, and sometimes, paradoxically, the pursuit of numbers actually diminishes the social profit we strive to achieve. This day will clarify your organization’s approach to assessment. Some of your efforts will always have to be for others, based on criteria and/or metrics they have identified. But much of assessment can be in our own hands: formative, in that it helps shape good work, as opposed to summative, which judges work at the end; and qualitative in addition to quantitative, in that it helps us define and achieve levels of excellence that need words rather than numbers to describe. By the end of the day, your organization will have the shared vocabulary and tools necessary to make assessment one of the strengths of your operations and organizational culture.

Nonprofit Lifecycles

Facilitated by
David Grant

Organizations, just like human beings, go through stages of growth and development, with predictable challenges at each stage. Unlike humans, in the end, organizations can face decline and turn it around into a new era of growth and vitality. But to do so, they have to understand where they are in their own lifecycle, what aspects of their organization are developing faster, or slower than others, and what their staffs and boards need to do in order to reach – and maintain - maturity.

This day will clarify the Nonprofit Lifecycles Theory, as presented by Susan Stevens in her seminal book Nonprofit Lifecycles, and will help you learn how to apply it to your organization in ways that constantly clarify your sense of purpose and your decisions about “what to do next.”  We will do a case study that clarifies the dimensions of lifecycles thinking, and then we will apply the lessons learned to your organization.

By the end of the day, you will have a mental model for organizational development that you will likely refer to in all future board and staff meetings as you strive for mission-based impact.

Strategic Refresh: Moving Your Board From Good to Great 

Facilitated by

David Grant

Strategic planning, as critical as it is, takes enormous resources of time, effort, and money.  Sometimes what is needed is a strategic “refresh,” that focuses on the most important effect of good planning, which is strategic thinking.

This day will clarify what aspects of organizational practice and performance need strategic thinking.  Is there a clear, shared sense of mission?  Are you set up to succeed in pursuing that mission?  Are you spending time together in the most effective ways?  Are there new strategic alliances or partnerships that would advance your work?  Are there changes in the world around you that have implications for your mission, or the way you go about bringing it to life?

To maximize the effectiveness of this day of clarity, there will be a series of phone interviews with board and staff members before gathering in person, in order to prioritize key questions and jump-start discussions.


Just in Time Consulting

Are you grappling with questions like these:

  • What is the first step we should take to get our Board ready for strategic planning? How do we know if we're ready to start a capital campaign?
  • How do we deal with a disruptive Board member? What is the best structure for a search committee? 

We know it is difficult to figure out where to turn for answers to finite questions that don't require a consulting project, but nevertheless do need objective expert input. Just in Time Consulting is designed to provide free, on-call timely guidance about a specific question or issue that can be reasonably addressed in a one to two hour consulting conversation with a Dodge Board Leaderships Series faculty member.

To request assistance, please email a brief outline of your question, time frame and contact information to the faculty member you are interested in talking with using the email address on the workshop handouts.


“In Good Company” Learning Circles

Facilitated by Larry Capo

You have the tools in your toolkit; now the challenge is to apply them to your day-to-day practices.

These professionally-facilitated “In Good Company” Learning Circles offer nonprofit executive directors and board presidents, who have completed the 2017-18 Board Leadership Program, additional in-depth practical training, combined with invaluable peer support, problem-solving strategies and coaching. They also provide new insights in a supportive and confidential environment that enable the participants to benefit from each other and share experiences that they would unlikely raise with co-workers or fellow board members.

In the first three-hour in-person gathering, the participants meet each other and begin the team building process. The remaining seven sessions are held by phone, for convenient participation from home or office. There are separate sessions for executive directors and board presidents.

Meet the Faculty 

David Grant
 was President and CEO of the Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation from 1998 to 2010. He now lives in Vermont and consults with mission-based organizations around the world. A career educator, David co-founded and directed from 1983 to 1994 The Mountain School of Milton Academy, a semester-long, residential environmental studies program in Vermont for high school juniors. At Dodge, he instituted a highly successful Assessment training program for Dodge grantees, which has evolved into the current series of workshops. 

His new book, Social Profit: Defining and Achieving Success in the Civic Sector, was published by Chelsea Green Publishing Company in March 2015. David holds a BA in English from Princeton University and an MA in American Studies from the University of Michigan. In 2008, he received an honorary Doctorate in the Humanities from Drew University. 

Laura Otten has been the director of The Nonprofit Center at La Salle University’s School of Business since 2001 and is also the first director of La Salle’s new MS in Nonprofit Leadership. She began her affiliation with The Nonprofit Center shortly after it was formed in the early 1980s, working as a consultant and trainer, primarily in the areas of Board development, strategic planning and program evaluation. Laura continues to play these roles in addition to providing direction and leadership to The Nonprofit Center's educational, consulting, and leadership development programs. She is an Associate Professor in La Salle’s Department of Sociology, Social Work and Criminal Justice and former director of the Criminal Justice and Women’s Studies Programs.

Laura, a national expert in numerous aspects of nonprofit management and governance, earned her MA and Ph.D. from the University of Pennsylvania and her BA from Sarah Lawrence College. 

Hilda Polanco, CPA, CCSA, CGMA, is the Founder and CEO of Fiscal Management Associates, LLC (FMA), the go-to advisor foundation and nonprofit leaders seek when addressing nonprofit financial management capacity. Hilda provides capacity building, training and coaching services to foundations and nonprofits throughout the coun
try. Prior to founding FMA in 1999, Hilda worked with Citigroup and previously with the firm of Ernst & Young, serving Fortune 100 companies in various industries.

Hilda graduated from New York University with a B.A. in Accounting. She holds the Certification in Control Self-Assessment from the Institute of Internal Auditors, in addition to holding the Chartered Global Management Accountant (CGMA) awarded by the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA).

Allison Trimarco is the founder of Creative Capacity, LLC, which helps nonprofit organizations increase their management capacity and mission effectiveness.

Her practice focuses on fundraising, communications, strategic planning, and Board development projects. Prior to beginning her consulting practice, she held leadership positions at nonprofit theatres, public libraries, and public television. Allison serves as an instructor and consultant at The Nonprofit Center, and is also an adjunct faculty member at both Drexel University and La Salle University. 

She earned her MA in Arts Management at Carnegie Mellon University and her BA in Theatre at Smith College.

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Please contact Wendy Liscow