Many nonprofits begin with caring friends and family taking board leadership positions. This may work fine for a while but for the long term health and vibrancy of your nonprofit, there are some key board positions that need to be considered. Many of my clients feel that they must seek board members from people they know rather for the kind of expertise that is necessary for a strong and well-functioning organization. This friends and family approach doesn’t always bring about the results that you desire for your organization.
Below are five critical areas that you need to consider as your plan board development and growth.
The 5 important sectors that need representation on the board are:
- Human Resources
- Strategic planning
These are the positions that will be the drivers for innovation on your board, recognizing the needs of the organization as it works to effectively deliver its mission.
· Finance is not necessarily bean counting or accounting, but how money can and will flow through the organization and be well stewarded. A good treasurer will not be as concerned with every penny as much as the overall financial stakes of the organization, what the directions and trends need to be for fundraising and programming to provide the optimal financial situation.
· Technology is unavoidable these days, and there seems to be a new product, system or application daily. There are simultaneous issues of security of information, databases, and access to financial information that require expertise in this field. How data is acquired, managed, filed and protected is critical to offering both tools and security to the operation you have.
· Marketing is the exercise in producing ‘customers’ for the organization; to let interested people, even ones you don’t know yet, who you are, where you are and what you do. It is bringing your message to the world, and defining it well enough that it will be seen and heard by the very groups you wish to engage.
· Human Resources: having the right people in the best positions, whether staff, board, volunteers or advisers, is crucial to your success. Having open policies and records, while not having the white hot sex appeal of fundraising, can make all the difference in how effective your organization can be. The talent you choose and place will directly affect how your clients and donors interact with the organization. Making the smart choices is critical; how many companies have been brought to their knees by a rude receptionist?
· Strategic planning– Having vision, planning and insight are utterly key to your future. Where do you want to be in 1 year, what would you like to look back and have accomplished? How about in 3 years, or 5? What is it going to require in terms of funding, staffing, planning and programming to achieve those goals? It is this vision and the answers to these questions that will allow you to realize the vision you have for the future.
Just Showing Up is Not Good Enough
Board leadership is a commitment, and one that requires both passion and hard work. Simply showing up is a disservice to the member, the organization and the mission it serves. Finding those special people that can bring both skill and dedication is essential.
These board members may not come from your close circle of friends, instead they may be found at your Chamber of Commerce, at local companies that share an interest in your arena, or even possibly from vendors or suppliers.
Your Board President is the premier brand representative; choose thoughtfully, it IS worth the time and effort to find the best you can. We all know what it is like then you have the wrong folks in the wrong job, No one is happy and no one thrives.
The stakes are high, but so are the rewards. The right board member will more than add value to your nonprofit, that person will be materially involved in making this world a little better every day. What other work can offer that?