Constantly putting out fires created by CEO

I work for a mid-large nonprofit as the chief development officer. Been with the org for about 5 years. The annual operating budget is ~$7 million.

My issue is with our current CEO. He is a great guy whose seen the organization grow from two people to 50+…. He adds lots of value for his expertise of the issue we are addressing and historic knowledge of the organization.

The issue I have with him is his poor financial literacy. This often results in incredibly bad decision making… like, I recently secured a $2 million dollar grant. Great right? Well… as I found out a couple days after we submitted the signed agreement he is calling the funder in a panic asking everyone when the money is going to be deposited…. When I asked him about this he said that he wants it to show on the upcoming board meeting cash flow document. So – forget relationship building and respecting the funders process… we want money in the bank…right now…to get brownie points from the board!?!?

He’s even texted major donors asking “WHEN are they are going to give again?” Then if they do… he refuses to meet with them because “they already gave.”

Secondly, he has the most warped perspective of compensation. We’ve included an across the org salary increase for staff within the budget this year. Essentially this will cost around 150-175k.if we initiate the raises first quarter.

I’ve already secured all the funding needed to meet budgetary requirements this year (yup- even that 2 million is in the bank). So, he could pull the trigger for a much overdue pay bump. What does he do? Well… he pulls all the staff together and tells them that when we get enough money he will pull the trigger- probably in the 4th quarter. And that “it’s not like we are sitting on a pile of cash.” AND the cherry on top… he starts telling everyone that he is one of the lowest paid staff member because as a CEO he should be making a lot more money!!!!????? What!?

Just to be clear he clears more then 50k above the next highest paid staff. And he is telling this to some staff who make $38k a year…

These are only a couple examples. It blows my mind that he is so out of control. Things like this happen every week. There is always a fire I have to put out. Like today- he told some outreach workers (who drive as part of their contract) that they should just pay for gas rather than expense mileage because it’s cheaper… and if they really care (like he does) they wouldn’t expense it at all. Whhhat? Want to know the kicker of this… last year we came under budget by more than $10,000 for travel – the biggest expense? His parking spot that sat vacant for a year while he worked from home.

Now, the only way I can somewhat try to understand his perspective is if we were somehow a small grassroots organization that had zero dollars in funding. But that’s not the case – we are a multi million dollar organization. The only thing moving this ship forward and preventing it from sinking is the staff who are constantly filling the holes he makes.

The worst part of all of this is the toll it is taking on the staff… our programs… and the people we serve. We could be doing so much more but unfortunately, he is more interested in saving a dollar or coming down on someone for a $35 lunch with a community partner. It’s insane.

Part of me thinks he does this because he doesn’t have the capacity to lead the organization in the direction it needs to go. It’s an easy distraction. I also think he is just… really bad with money.

His house recently went into foreclosure because he made some bad financial decisions and the “bank was out to get him” plus… “he doesn’t make that much money.” I think his relationship with money is one of scarcity and this definitely is being reflected in how he interacts with it at our organization.

I feel like I have a couple choices… first, I could leave… and I’m really considering it. I love the cause and the other people I work with – but I’m a chief development officer – not the chiefs babysitter.

Secondly, I could bring my concerns up with the BOD. I’m not sure what would transpire and given his age and history with the org… things could get nasty if they don’t take action.

I’m thinking of doing both.

Curious what others would do in this situation? Better yet – share a horrible financial decision your ceo has made so I feel better. Lol

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