I Know What Keeps You Awake at Night. 

 
 

As an experienced nonprofit professional who has lived each of the scenarios listed below, I understand how difficult the nonprofit world can be—and how rewarding. Throughout my 20 years of working in this environment, I have learned a number of strategies that make it possible to work effectively with leaders, staff, partners, members and donors in a manner that conveys trust, transparency, efficiency and genuine impact.  It has never been more important to have practical solutions while creating the infrastructure to identify and embrace future opportunities and translate those opportunities into actions.  My sole goal is to help your organization move beyond today’s challenges to achieve a brighter tomorrow.   

Sound Familiar?

Midnight – The Board Hour
“We are here to advise not to fundraise.”
“I am stepping down as board president.”
“I know it is not in the strategic plan, but I think we should do this.”

1:00 a.m. – The Staff Hour
“But I have worked here for ten years, you can’t let me go.”
“I can’t work with her.”
“I have cancer.” 

 

2:00 a.m. – The Government Hour
“I’m sorry; we can’t fund your contract this year.”
“You can expect payment in 90 days.”
“Remind me again what you do?”

3:00 a.m. – The Foundation Hour 
“Why don’t you merge with this organization?  You do the same thing.” 
“We can’t fund you because you ran a deficit last year.”
“Sorry, our funding priorities have changed.”

4:00 a.m. – The Donor Hour
“You have done so much for our family, but we can’t give now.”
“We give to our church and our alma mater.”
“I am so impressed with all you do with so little.”

5:00 a.m. – The Client Hour
“We decided to hold a protest rally in your lobby.”
“What happens if I throw this jar of non-dairy creamer out this 17th floor window?”
“I am going to come back with a gun.”

6:00 a.m. - Alarm
Good morning, happy Monday.

 

Contact me.

What I Do

I am a professional with 20 years of experience leading nonprofit organizations who fundamentally understands how an organization's activities are interrelated.  Successful fundraising is dependent upon an actionable strategic plan, effective communications and staff empowerment.  I will meet you where you are and help you understand where you want to be.

Strategic Planning
The successful strategic plan must truly represent your organization.  I will work with leadership to establish a strategic planning committee that includes representatives from all levels of your organization and is empowered by leadership to freely consider the current environment and take advantage of opportunities.  The strategic process will proceed from the very general (Goals) to the very specific (Tactics).  Together, we will develop annual operational plans, complete with responsibilities, deadlines and measurements that move the organization towards its strategic goals.  Part of this process will include examining worst-case scenarios to empower stakeholders to prepare for and take advantage of new opportunities or the inevitable detours.  Most importantly, I will be there from the beginning of planning through the implementation phases.   

Board development
People join boards for the best of intentions. Somewhere between election and governing, there is something missing---board training.  As someone who spent his entire career working with board of directors, I can help organizations find, train, and sustain an engaged and effective board of directors.

Retreats
Some organizations deep down understand what is ailing them, yet it takes someone who is impartial and experienced to come in and draw clarity. I can facilitate a retreat to help the board and staff come to common understanding of organizational issues and then unite around a simple plan to move forward. 

Resource Development
Without the financial resources to support and grow, an organization will not be able to achieve its mission.  I will provide charitable organizations a balanced approach to fundraising that includes individual, corporate, foundation, government and, where appropriate, earned income.  For associations, I will identify corporate sponsorships, non-dues revenues and strategic alliances with affinity organizations.  

Communications
I will help you craft authentic communications that resonate with your clients and your team and will use multiple streams (oral, print, digital and social media) to connect with your audiences.  Your communications will be both clear and compelling and will be an important tool for aligning all stakeholders.

Crisis Management
Bad things can happen to organizations that do good.  Whether it be the resignation of a key leader, a staff scandal or loss of a revenue stream, a crisis can affect your ability to fundraise or deliver your programs.  I will help you develop a strategy to address the issues in a calm, rational manner and craft effective communications that convey transparency and competency.

Executive Coaching
I will work with you to embrace the uncertainty and responsibility that comes with leadership and to help you develop the confidence and the competence to prioritize and execute organizational priorities.  By working with me, you will develop the agility to become a genuine and effective leader.

Team Building
I will work with leadership, staff and clients to develop long-term and genuine relationships within a framework of trust, enthusiasm and understanding.  Together, we will cultivate relationships that grow and deepen.  

Succession planning
Nonprofit organizations attract intelligent and committed people, people of great vision who work towards a greater good.  We can’t imagine what the organization would be like without these incredible people until it is too late and the organization is left reeling by their loss.  I can provide the structure and the procedure for developing a succession plan that is rationale, sensitive and will allow an organization to continue its good work without interruption.

Transitional Leadership
The time between leaders is stressful for all involved.  As interim leader, I will ensure all daily functions are accomplished, transitional materials are prepared for the incoming leader, and communications to leadership, staff, clients and partners are clear and frequent.

Change Management
Most people regard change as a frightening proposition, believing that the new reality will not include them.  Working with leadership and staff, I will help all participants realize that they have the power to write their own future.  If part of this change involves painful measures, such as reduction in staff, I will work with leadership to develop strategies that are open and transparent to minimize fear, confusion and low morale.

Click here to get started.

Presentations

Getting From Here to There - A Tactical Guide to Strategic Planning

This was an excellent program overall that provided me with a good insight into the most significant operational, marketing and practical management issues facing the lawyer referral process from multiple perspectives. This gave me a very good handle on understanding the work, objectives and needs of [my department] and will be beneficial in my capacity as its liaison to the Board of Governors. 

— Attendee at the American Bar Association National Lawyer Referral Workshop, Albuquerque, NM

Most strategic plans end up on the executive director's shelf because more energy was placed on the goals instead of the tactics.  In this webinar, you will learn how to take a tactical approach to strategic planning, engaging your leadership, staff, clients and partners in a coherent and achievable future.  

Please follow this link to see the webinar.

Please contact me if you would like to to discuss my approach to strategic planning.

 

Getting to Yes - Building a Fundraising Board

David Tabak was able to engage my Board of Directors and show them that development is not a painful process. Already, I have several members who had shied away from fundraising in the past taking the initiative to help grow our resources. We will continue to use David as a source of inspiration and motivation, and I would highly recommend him to any other nonprofit organization. 

— Phyllis J. Anderson, Executive Director, Foundation for Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation

It is one of the most frequent complaints from nonprofit leadership: "I can’t get my board to fundraise.

Please contact me if you would like to have copies of the documents I refer to in this webcast or would like more information on my board fundraising presentations.

In this webinar we will cover the following topics:

  • Why it is important that your board members fundraise.
  • Why board members are reluctant to fundraise.
  • How to train your board to be successful fundraisers.
  • How to develop an annual board fundraising goal.
  • What to do it board members won’t fundraise.

 

 


The Tactical Strategic Plan - Getting from Here to There

David Tabak was a great choice for our strategic planning consultant. He has been very attentive throughout the process; he is insightful and knowledgeable in the non-profit sphere; an astute facilitator who demonstrates a balanced approach and good humor while keeping the process on task toward a productive outcome.
— Stephanie Bugos, Business Law Section, New York State Bar Association

Too often, good strategic plans are relegated to the executive director's shelf to gather dust. The cause? All the energy went into the planning phase and not in the execution of the plan. This presentation examines the impediments to effective strategic planning and how to develop a tactical strategic plan in which the board and staff daily activities lead to the attainment of strategic goals.  

Please contact me if you are interested in learning more about my approach to strategic planning.

In this presentation, we will cover: 

  • The importance of strategic planning to achieve your mission.What causes strategic plans to falter.Accomplish strategic goals through the execution of daily tactics.Developing a process to ensure objectives are being met and how to deal with challenges.
  • How a strategic plan can engage board, staff, clients and funders.

Evolving Your Board

Some organizations have the best of intentions and deep down understand what is ailing them yet it takes someone else to come in and draw clarity. In our case, David did a great job of understanding our organizational issues from a lot of different perspectives and then he drew us together to develop a simple plan to move us forward. I hate to say it is a tree and a forest thing, but he helped us get past the tree in front of us and navigate a path through an immense forest.
— Brad Bartels, Board President, Oak Park Festival Theatre

People join boards for a various reasons -- a desire to do good, because a trusted friend asked them to or because their employer required it.  Whatever their reasons, very few people have a fundamental understanding of what it means to be a board members and, as a consequence, bad board practices continue for years, causing frustrations on the behalf of board members and staff alike.  By committing to an effective board training regimen, an organization can benefit from engaged board members.

Please contact me if you are interested in a board facilitation.

In this presentation, we will explore:

  • The reasons people join boards.
  • The reasons people join boards.
  • The typical board member's priorities.
  • What are we asking board members to do?
  • The lifecycle of a board member.
  • The three modes of board governance.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Articles

Tactical Strategic Planning for Bar Associations

These are challenging times for bar associations. Membership is down. Many younger lawyers are uninterested in joining voluntary bar associations. Over the next five years, the United States will begin losing more lawyers than it produces, which will in turn mean fewer potential bar association members. To adjust to this new environment and grow, it is imperative that bar associations address these sobering issues in a systematic and effective manner. The best way to survive and thrive in an uncertain future is through use of a strategic plan. This article examines why a strategic plan is essential for bar associations, discusses what kinds of impediments there are to engaging in strategic planning, and offers a model for an effective strategic planning process that focuses on tactics, rather than goals.


 

Compassion Fatigue Among Rabbis

Mary Jo Barrett of Center for Contextual Change and David Tabak of Tabak Nonprofit Strategies explore how compassion fatigue can affect a rabbi's ability to serve his or her congregation. Based on surveys completed by rabbis and synagogue presidents, this article provides the causes of compassion fatigue and offers practical solutions to minimize its effects.

 


 

David Tabak, principal, is a professional with more than 20 years of experience in large and small nonprofit organizations, professional and social services.  He has successfully helped many organizations transitioned from high-level strategic planning to operational-level execution.  He is adept at facing challenges with calmness and even enthusiasm and has experience in all aspects of nonprofit management, including change and crisis management.  His style is collaborative, forthright, and tempered with humor, which is often an essential leadership trait for overcoming difficult challenges and achieving goals.

David is immediate past president of the board of the Jewish Reconstructionist Congregation in Evanston, Illinois, Vice President for Corporate Support, Jones College Preparatory High School and president of the board of The Viola Project in Chicago, Illinois.  

In 2004, David founded the C(3)EO Forum, an online community of more than 300 nonprofit chief executive officers who share confidential and candid advice and essential resources.  If you are the chief executive officer of a nonprofit organization and wish to join the C(3)EO Forum, please send an email with a blank subject line and no text in the body of the message to c3eo-subscribe@yahoogroups.com.  


Ten Reasons to Work with Me

  1. I am experienced at running nonprofit organizations and leading nonprofit boards.
  2. I am creative and resilient.
  3. I am boundlessly optimistic, yet realistic.
  4. When things change, I will be there.
  5. I know the value of strategic partnerships.
  6. My solutions are accessible and actionable.  
  7. I am collaborative and empowering.  
  8. I understand what can be done on a limited budget.
  9. I can always find humor in stressful situations.
  10. I will always call you back.

Step one: contact me to see how I might help.

What others say about me

I am so grateful for everything that David has done for this organization. We recently contracted David to complete a 3-year strategic plan. David was very thorough - he interviewed a variety of stakeholders, reviewed piles of documents and history and took the time to walk the staff and Board through the whole process. His insights and support were invaluable and we are looking forward to implementing the final plan and moving the organization ahead in the coming years. Thank you David for all you have done for this organization.
— Dallas Tomlin, Executive Director, Escorted Transportation Northwest
David led the ABA Center for Professional Responsibility volunteers and staff through our recent very productive strategic planning process. At a time of great uncertainty for the field of ethics and lawyer regulation that we lead, as well as great uncertainty in the ABA where we live, David employed a rare combination of intelligence, humility, and firmness to guide the discussion of a lot of opinionated people to a very broad and deep consensus. His sense of humor helped a lot, too.
— Lucian T. Pera, Chair, ABA Center for Professional Responsibility
David managed to bring together multiple entities with competing priorities to form a set of unified goals for the overarching work of the Center. His extensive non-profit background and analysis of our current environment allowed him to lead several thought-provoking discussions with staff and leadership that offered a voice to all.
— Angela Burke, Director, Program and Planning American Bar Association Center for Professional Responsibility
This was a FANTASTIC presentation on an important set of nuts-and-bolts operational concerns.
— American Bar Association Bar Leadership Institute attendee.
David led our two-day strategic planning meeting. His in-depth understanding of associations and how they function was paramount in directing our members. He gently but firmly kept a group of strong personalities engaged and focused. His leadership and sense of humor helped make what could have been a tedious process seemingly swift and enjoyable. I have already recommended David to my colleagues. He’s terrific!
— Veronica M. Muñoz, Director American Bar Association Section of Litigation
“David provided three very different seminars for our Committee. He exceeded my high expectations in all three instances. His preparation was extensive including gathering information from leaders in the field, reading background material, and multiple discussions with me to ensure that he understood the audience and the goals for each program. I would highly recommend David for any program.”
— Jane Nosbich, Former Staff Counsel, American Bar Association Division for Legal Services
This was an excellent program overall that provided me with a good insight into the most significant operational, marketing and practical management issues facing Lawyer Referral and Information Services and the lawyer referral process from multiple perspectives. This gave me a very good handle on understanding the work, objectives and needs of LRIS and will be beneficial in my capacity as its liaison to the Board of Governors.
— Attendee, American Bar Association 2016 National Lawyer Referral Workshop
Loved him best speaker we have had in years!!
— Attendee, American Bar Association 2016 National Lawyer Referral Workshop
David did his homework! Rather than the typical boiler-plate presentation about Fundraising 101, David tailored his discussion using data and survey feedback relevant to our organization’s position. His easy-going manner immediately relaxed our board members who were anticipating a tense discussion about fundraising. David kept development concepts simple and clear and left the board in a state of excitement about our future fundraising prospects.
— Heidi Ruehle-May, Executive Director, Pleasant Home Foundation
David was a consummate professional, always seeking the most advantageous path for our group as we struggled with some of the more thorny issues facing the Section. Patient yet firm, he allowed us to find our way without tumbling too far off track. Always open to comments, yet kept us on task in what could have been an interminable process. Our Section sees success ahead as a result of our time with David.
— Sarah Gold, Section Chair, New York State Bar Association Business Law Section
David facilitated our board retreat. Even with short notice and a remarkable collection of strong personalities, David guided us through a packed agenda with insight and humor. He brings the wisdom of experience, a genuine respect for those engaging in this challenging work, and a willingness to learn from others. My board of high-achievers felt their time with David was well spent; that’s priceless.
— Leslie Ramyk, Executive Director, Illinois Association of Free & Charitable Clinics
I am deeply grateful to have had David Tabak by my side during my most recent hiring adventure. His objectivity, analytical skills and diplomacy were indispensable in this critical process. He’s highly effective, an excellent communicator and always refreshingly reliable.
— David Sutton, Sutton Studios
David Tabak knows how nonprofits work — and, perhaps more importantly, why they (sometimes) don’t. From big-picture retreat facilitation through the smallest details of operational planning, he combines an arsenal of experience with an open mind, a cheerful spirit, a reassuring attitude, and a perpetual sense of humor to solve challenges for startups and enterprises alike.
— Stacy Ratner, Co-Founder, Chicago Literacy Alliance
David Tabak was a great choice for our strategic planning consultant. He has been very attentive throughout the process; he is insightful and knowledgeable in the non-profit sphere; an astute facilitator who demonstrates a balanced approach and good humor while keeping the process on task toward a productive outcome.
— Stephanie Bugos, Business Law Section, New York State Bar Association
David Tabak was able to engage my Board of Directors and show them that development is not a painful process. Already, I have several members who had shied away from fundraising in the past taking the initiative to help grow our resources. We will continue to use David as a source of inspiration and motivation, and I would highly recommend him to any other nonprofit organization.
— Phyllis J. Anderson, Executive Director, Foundation for Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation
Some organizations have the best of intentions and deep down understand what is ailing them yet it takes someone else to come in and draw clarity. In our case, David did a great job of understanding our organizational issues from a lot of different perspectives and then he drew us together to develop a simple plan to move us forward. I hate to say it is a tree and a forest thing, but he helped us get past the tree in front of us and navigate a path through an immense forest.
— Brad Bartels, Board President, Oak Park Festival Theatre
When I first started working with David Tabak and Tabak Nonprofit Strategies, I had been running my human services company for nearly two decades. And I was miserable. I didn’t exactly know the reason(s); I just knew that the business side of things wasn’t working for me. David accepted and engaged my rambling mind in our earliest conversations. And as time went on he helped me develop great clarity and focus. In the end, we put together a sound, rational plan to allow my organization to grow to its fullest potential. And now I am excited about the future!!!
— Billy Kaplan, LCSW President & Clinical Director House Call Counseling
David Tabak is the exact formula any organization needs for a regroup, recharge, refocus, and/or redirecting of positive energies. He is the perfect motivator for corporate, firm, or organization retreats.  He is a clear communicator and teaches by active involvement of all participants. Everyone in our group retreat left with renewed vigor and passion for our goals. I highly recommend his services for any organization who is serious about refreshing, staying on the cutting edge, and or solving problems. 
— Mimi Coffey, Owner The Coffey Firm, Regent, National College of DUI Defense
David Tabak is a super connector and solutioner [who] can tell the hell out of a story reminding us of who we are and why we are!
— Sandee Kastrul, President and Co-founder, i.c. stars
I have learned a great deal from David Tabak over the last four years, especially on the importance of transparency.  His strategic leadership of our organization will have a positive impact for many years to come. David’s forthright manner and his warm sense of humor have helped our organization through several challenges. Even when facing the tough issues, working with him is always a pleasure.
— Sharon Diaz, Executive Director, Jewish Reconstructionist Congregation
Effective, organized and full of wit, David Tabak is an invaluable asset to our board and an intrinsic part of our organization’s larger family.  David’s attention to detail and insistence on keeping important matters in the foreground have helped bring The Viola Project from the verge of extinction to a secure and thriving place in the Chicago arts education scene.  He has been the backbone of our progress in terms of developing a strategic plan, fundraising and keeping our programming relevant and vibrant.  Without David Tabak, The Viola Project would not be realizing its full potential.  He has been instrumental in pushing us past our “comfortable” level of growth to one that challenges our core staff to build beyond the mundane and to expand opportunities and create new partnerships.  Under his guidance, we have been the recipient of multiple grants and multiple arts organization collaborations.  I have great faith in David Tabak’s passion for social justice and his willingness to put in the hours, ask the hard questions and facilitate the follow-up to make it happen.
— Skyler Schrempp, Artistic Director, The Viola Project

Click here to contact me.

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Phone - 773.320.6334

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