Posts Tagged ‘Leveraging Good Will’

Do your board recruitment goals reflect your evolving nonprofit?

Your organization’s board recruitment goals will change depending on where your nonprofit is in its life cycle. There’s just one problem. Perhaps there was a time when people could describe a fairly predictable, steady trajectory for the life of a nonprofit board. Not so in today’s economy.

Today, an organization that is thriving one day can lose a major anchor funder the very next day. For example, a key funder could be a company that shuts down or is acquired, or an individual whose finances are wrapped up with the wrong investor, or a city government that has lost its commercial base. On the other hand, I am seeing nonprofits receive significant infusions of cash that are game-changers. For example, there are nonprofits receiving substantial new federal grants or contributions from individual donors or private foundations that are shifting their focus to fewer causes and organizations.

Organizational life cycles are also radically affected as nonprofits enter a multitude of strategic alliances – a more and more common phenomenon. Even more game-changing are nonprofit mergers.

When organizations go through such dramatic revenue changes, as well as strategic alliances, the pressure on boards to adapt can be fairly fierce. New pressures are driving some boards to be clearer about board member expectations, board assessment, plans for leadership succession and board composition.

Assessing where your organization stands

1) Before deciding whom you need to recruit for your board, think about the following:

2) What was the driving purpose to establish your organization in the first place, even if that was long ago? It’s valuable to put today in a historical context.

3) What’s your mission today? Is it still relevant and compelling?

4) What’s your vision for the organization’s greater potential over the coming years?

5) What’s your revenue model – your key sources of revenue (government, fees for services, philanthropy; corporate, individual, foundation)?

6) What are key challenges and opportunities going forward?

Assessing where your board stands

Based on numbers two through five above (the mission, the vision, the revenue model, and key challenges and opportunities), consider the extent to which your board has the diversity of expertise, experience, perspectives, networks and relationships to:

Ensure there is a strategy for financial and programmatic success, and plans to update the strategy in an iterative way (board in collaboration with the CEO).

Ensure there are metrics for the board and funders to monitor financial and programmatic progress (board in collaboration with the CEO).

Provide financial and fiduciary oversight.

Select board members with leadership potential for leadership succession planning.

Determining whom you need on your board to advance the mission

Based on “where your board stands” (above), consider the qualifications you seek as you identify and recruit new board members. Think about recruiting new board members with:

Leadership potential.

Diversity of perspectives.

Experience and expertise in particular areas such as: finance, accounting, public relations, law, strategic planning and the mission area on which the nonprofit focuses.

Ability to directly provide support or make valuable introductions in key revenue areas that are relevant to your nonprofit – for example, government relations, corporate funding, private donors, foundations, or pricing for fees for services.

A firm commitment to meet the board’s expectations to be engaged productively in the ways you discuss and define together with the candidate.

Less predictability requires greater dynamism

The era of lengthy terms of board service and board leadership are over. Historically, board chairs served for many years, and board composition remained stagnant sometimes for decades. In today’s challenging and enterprising environment, boards and their CEOs need to be engaged in iterative organizational planning, a highly dynamic process of assessing the board and identification and recruitment of board members who can and will commit to advance the organization in serving the community.

See also:

Leveraging Good Will: Strengthening Nonprofits By Leveraging Businesses

Super Boards: How Inspired Governance Transforms Your Organization

The Invisible Yellow Line: Clarifying Nonprofit Board and Staff Roles

The Practitioner’s Guide to Governance as Leadership: Building High-Performing Nonprofit Boards


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7 reasons board candidates choose one nonprofit over another

For over two decades, I’ve had the honor and privilege of guiding hundreds of business executives and professionals in choosing the nonprofit boards on which they’ll serve. Each candidate experiences a personal journey exploring regional, national and perhaps global organizations, sorting through a plethora of causes and considering nonprofits that are at vastly different stages–from start-up enterprises to century-old institutions.

When making their final choice, here are the seven considerations board candidates tend to take most seriously:

  1. Am I excited about the mission? Is it meaningful enough for me to take time from my busy life, make generous financial contributions, and ask my company and friends to support the organization as well?
  2. Do I find the chief executive officer (executive director) compelling–someone I am confident in and look forward to working with?
  3. Do I find the programs compelling? Are they achieving the work the organization has set out to do? (And if the programs need to be enhanced or streamlined, do the chief executive and/or the board seem prepared to make that happen?)
  4. What is the revenue model? What are the challenges? Do the CEO and board seem prepared to address the challenges?
  5. Who are the board leaders? Do they seem to have a handle on the key issues facing the organization? Are they prepared to galvanize the board to strengthen the organization, including with financial support?
  6. What value can I add? Am I ready to do what they need from me? Do I think the CEO and board will actually engage me and appreciate what I can contribute?
  7. Is this an organization with integrity, as evidenced by their adherence to legal and fiduciary duties and responsibilities? And if they are missing the mark on a few specific matters, what are they? Are the board and CEO interested and open to making corrections?

Deal breakers: Scaring away the board candidates you most want to recruit

Board candidates that bring diverse perspectives and valuable experience and resources are not lacking for board options. People are most likely to choose boards to which they can add value, not those that could possibly stymie their efforts.

Board candidates often consider the following to be deal breakers: too big and stale of a board to allow new board members to truly engage, obstructive or divisive board members, weak or incompetent CEO or board leadership, an obsolete board structure, lackluster board participation in attendance and/or giving/fundraising, and revenue challenges the leadership is unwilling to face.

The lesson for nonprofits in building highly effective boards

The key message for nonprofit boards is to pave the way to attract andretain the board members who will add the most value in helping to advance their organizations to their greatest potential. Pave the way by assessing your board and improving your board practices and effectiveness.

For their part, business executives and professionals are most effective onboards when they have considered a variety of options, made a meaningful choice and prepared themselves to “make the translation.” That’s when the fun begins. A good nonprofit board experience leads to remarkable results for the board member, the board member’scompany, and most importantly, the community.

See also:

Leveraging Good Will: Strengthening Nonprofits by Engaging Businesses

A Fundraising Guide for Nonprofit Board Members

The Ultimate Board Member’s Book


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NOW is the best time to rebuild your board: Here’s why and how

According to surveys by the Nonprofit Finance Fund, nonprofits face growing financial pressures while also experiencing greater demands for services. At the same time, there are new funding opportunities for nonprofits, including corporations seeking to advance social and environmental purposes as well as investors and new philanthropists. The smartest NGOs/nonprofits will weather the financial threats while capturing substantial new revenues in the next several years.

The organizations that build the most effective boards of directors, who work in concert with their CEOs, will win; they will win by maximizing strategic and financial success. So if your board is stale by a matter of years or decades, you most certainly need to build a new board. But even if you just recently completed a board-building process, it’s good to begin thinking about the next board members you want to recruit.

In fact, each board should work on building the next board that will take the organization even farther to the next level.

Here’s WHY it’s important to continuously build the board:

The role of the board is not simply to provide oversight, but also to add value and advance the community in accomplishing its mission. This happens best when the board is ambitious in achieving a greater vision.

    The social and economic environment is so dynamic it’s essential for your NGO/nonprofit to engage board members with the most current, relevant expertise.

      It can take time to cultivate the most desirable candidates to your board. And often, busy people need to build the time into their schedules in order to fulfill the responsibilities of service. So, they’ll say, “Yes,” if you give them a year or two to plan ahead.

        It often takes more time to research and identify board candidates with diverse backgrounds and perspectives than it does to recruit the most obvious candidates. The investment is essential if your organization seeks to be relevant, enriching and fully meaningful.

          There should be some planned turnover on your board in order to promote dynamic thinking and avoid stagnation.

            Here’s HOW to continuously build the board:

            Imagine the organization’s greater vision in the next several years – in terms of communities you might serve; programs you might offer; strategic alliances; and key revenue sources including philanthropy, corporations, fees for services and government.

              Consider people with the experience, networks of influence and diversity of perspectives who will be most valuable to the organization in achieving the greater vision.

                Create a plan to recruit the best candidates. Establishing a clear role for the board and a board structure and practices that are highly effective and efficient are necessary steps to attract and retain the most desirable board candidates.

                  Create opportunities for leadership succession: create room for new board members without bulking up the board by rotating people off the board.

                    By the way, many of the most desirable candidates find it preferable to serve on a particular board – even possibly ascend to a leadership position – for a certain period of time and then have the opportunity to move on to serve another organization. They regard board service as a learning opportunity as well as a chance to contribute.

                    Pacing rotations thoughtfully and carefully for board leaders and members is important and depends on a variety of factors, including the complexity of the organization. Too quick of a rotation, leaders and board members will not have the opportunity to fully engage and contribute. Too long, board leaders and board members can potentially become stale, too dominant or cliquey.

                    In all cases, dynamic board-building is vital.

                    See also:

                    Leveraging Good Will

                    The Practitioner’s Guide to Governance as Leadership

                    The Ultimate Board Member’s Book

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                    The six worst—and best—reasons to recruit business executives to your board

                    Many nonprofit executives, development officers and board members are eager to recruit business people from diverse backgrounds to their boards because they think business people will come in and solve their financial and strategic challenges. Other nonprofit leaders are more circumspect about recruiting business people to the board. Who’s correct–the believers or the cynics? Both.

                    Here are the six WORST reasons to recruit business people to your nonprofit board of directors:

                    Assume they’ll give you lots of money.

                    Assume they’ll get their corporations to give you money.

                    Assume they’ll raise money from rich friends and colleagues.

                    Assume they’ll bring business expertise to the table.

                    Assume they’ll be dedicated board members.

                    Assume they’ll be passionate about the mission.

                    Here are the six BEST reasons to recruit business people to your nonprofit board of directors:

                    Expect they’ll give you lots of money.

                    Expect they’ll get their corporations to give you money.

                    Expect they’ll raise money from rich friends and colleagues.

                    Expect they’ll bring business expertise to the table.

                    Expect they’ll be dedicated board members.

                    Expect they’ll be passionate about the mission.

                    Let me explain.

                    Having trained and placed several hundred business executives on global, national and regional nonprofit boards, I can attest to the tremendous value they provide to the boards they serve. In fact, the vast majority of these board members have ascended to board leadership positions, including serving as board chairs and officers and heading up capital campaigns, strategic alliances and other game-changing initiatives.

                    The keys to getting business people on board who will actually bring the resources, business acumen, dedication and passion the board needs in order to advance the organization are the following:

                    establishing a purposeful and thoughtful match between the board candidate and your organization, based on what the candidate has and wants to offer and what your board needs.

                    having candid conversations with the board candidate about the financial and strategic challenges facing your organization and how the board hopes she or he in particular can add value–in very specific terms, such as financial contributions, fundraising, expertise, time and introductions.

                    understanding what about the organization is compelling to the particular candidate and making sure the role you need and expect him or her to play will be personally meaningful and rewarding.

                    organizing the board so that board members can engage meaningfully and productively and making sure there is adequate staff support for the board to deliver.

                    Boards and board members become disillusioned and disappointed with each other when expectations are not clear upfront, the board environment is too dysfunctional for board members to engage productively, and there is a failure in leadership to advance forward momentum.

                    Boards and board members thrive when expectations are established and agreed upon at the outset, the board is organized for efficiency and effectiveness, the staff supports the board in implementing its work, and the board chair and CEO work in partnership to engage the board in maximizing its potential.

                    The best boards work in collaboration with the CEO to envision the organization’s greater potential, determine and commit to core programs for high impact, establish a sustainable revenue model, and work in concert to achieve strategic and financial success. The best boards are comprised of people from diverse backgrounds and perspectives who together have a deeper understanding of the issues they are addressing and the capacity to find the best solutions. Click here for more specific information and articles on building quality boards.

                    Boards that recruit and engage business people purposefully and thoughtfully will gain the full benefit of their business acumen, passion, commitment, financial resources and introductions. And a board comprised of people from diverse backgrounds with the will and the might to succeed will propel the organization to achieve its greatest potential in service to the community.

                    See also:

                    Leveraging Good Will

                    The Nonprofit Leadership Team

                    Leaders Make the Future

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                    Recruit board members that are advocates—not drab-vocates

                    CausePlanet is tackling board governance this month with an article feature coming from national expert, coach, and author of Leveraging Good Will, Alice Korngold. She’s worked with national boards for more than 20 years so keep your eyes peeled mid-month.

                    Additionally, CausePlanet is offering a workshop for Denver nonprofit leaders with nonprofit strategist and board doctor extraordinaire, Denise Clark, at the Colorado Nonprofit Association on June 18 at 1 p.m. We call these workshops Fast Food for Thought because we cover terrific solutions on a nonprofit topic as well as feature a Page to Practice summary in 60 minutes. This month’s Fast Food for Thought is board governance and covers highlights from Exposing the Elephants by Pamela Wilcox, which tackles pesky personalities and problems on boards that undermine progress (apologies for the alliteration).

                    Don’t forget to visit our Page to Practice book summary this month, which is stop-you-in-your-tracks look at philanthrocapitalism, by Michael Edwards and called Small Change.

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                    Leveraging good will from your board

                    In light of our current Page to Practice feature, The Search for Social Entrepreneurship and its exploration of nonprofits activities as they relate to business practices, we thought it would be a great opportunity to revisit our interview with Alice Korngold, author of Leveraging Good Will.

                    Korngold is a national consultant who has worked with hundreds of businesses and nonprofit organizations. She is the former chief founding executive, president and CEO of Business Volunteers Unlimited (BVU), a national program that trains and places business professionals and executives on nonprofit boards of directors.

                    CausePlanet: As nonprofit leaders and board members, our readers know it’s important for businesses to partner with nonprofits and vice versa—how would you build on this case for support?

                    Korngold: The first step for a business is to create a philanthropy, service, and leadership strategy that aligns with their corporate mission and strategy; then, choose nonprofits that will be good partners as follows:

                    Companies can communicate key messages about their company and its brand by the nonprofits and causes it chooses to invest in (like a publishing company funding literacy, for example).
                    By involving employees in volunteerism, companies build teamwork and show support for their employees, while also improving the community.
                    By encouraging and supporting the involvement of executives on nonprofit boards, companies foster leadership development.

                    In all these ways, companies improve the communities where their employees and customers live and work, and build good will.

                    Nonprofits benefit by engaging businesses by:

                    Accessing individuals with valuable expertise for their boards of directors and in providing useful pro-bono management consulting assistance; and
                    Accessing financial resources through sponsorships, contributions, and donated services (free printing, for example).

                    Most importantly, the community benefits when experienced businesspeople are involved in advancing nonprofits that provide vital health and human services, education, arts and culture, and environmental protection and conservation.

                    CausePlanet: In what ways can business executives be most helpful to nonprofits?

                    Business executives can be most helpful to nonprofits by lending valuable business expertise. Given that nonprofits must be more strategic in addressing new and greater financial challenges, businesspeople bring useful skills in market assessment, strategic decision making, organizational development, revenue models, public relations and advocacy, finance and investments, information technology, and measurement.

                    It is especially important for business executives who join boards to engage with the board in envisioning the organization’s greater potential; articulating the case for the organization and its compelling value; keeping the organization focused where it can have the greatest impact in achieving its mission in serving the community; helping to ensure there is a viable revenue model and maximize resources; helping to generate new and additional sources of revenue; and helping the organization to achieve more on behalf of the community.

                    Korngold: Can nonprofit executives also be helpful to businesses? How?

                    Yes! Nonprofit executives are highly knowledgeable about their communities. They usually have a breadth and depth of knowledge of the community, its needs, key issues, the pros and cons of various solutions to core issues. They also keep close track of the key players and who is effective for what purpose. Many of them know how to get things done in the community.

                    CausePlanet: What’s the best way nonprofit leaders can differentiate themselves from other nonprofit opportunities that are presented to a corporation?

                    Korngold: A nonprofit can distinguish itself in making its case to a corporation for support by researching the company, its mission, challenges, and key strategic goals, and then offering ways for the nonprofit to be valuable as a partner. That is, what positive message will the business get to align with? How can employees engage in productive and rewarding volunteer experiences that meet the nonprofit clients’ needs and also meet employees’ realistic schedules and interests? How can executives support the nonprofit through board service and/or management assistance (contributing expertise in marketing, public relations, human resources, and so on)? If the company makes a significant donation, how will the company be recognized in a way that will resonate in the community? Best of all, can this all be packaged in a nice, cohesive program—under a theme, a partnership concept, something inspiring and wonderful? And even better, can the nonprofit tell the company how this will make the community better, i.e. how many more children will advance from elementary school to middle school because of this company’s involvement, or how many children will learn to read, or how many babies will be rescued and sheltered in the next year because of the company partnership? Results! Outcomes! Making the world a better place!

                    Read the full summary of Leveraging Good Will by subscribing to Page to Practice™ book summaries. Or, purchase this or one of our other Page to Practice™ executive summaries by visiting the CausePlanet summary store.

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