Maximizing Your Nonprofit Board for Growth
Most mid-size and nearly all large nonprofit organizations have a board of directors comprised of five to ten volunteer board members. From governing entities that provide oversight and professional guidance to fundraising support, nonprofit boards are the most effective way to support and grow your organization.
Yet, most nonprofits struggle with how to best implement and leverage their boards collectively and the members individually. And, when asked, “how do you utilize your board of directors?” most nonprofit executive directors struggle to answer the question.
Developing Roles for Each Board Member
What does the organization need, oversight, strategy, professional support, fundraising, or a combination of services? Thoughtfully define these answers and then methodically identify and invite individuals with the skills you need to join your organization. The most effective boards and board members understand their role and how they fit into the organizational structure.
Establishing roles and expectations at the beginning of the relationship is essential to an easy and productive partnership. Ensure your board members share the same values and want to passionately promote your mission and cause within your community and their networks. Work closely with each board member to ensure they know what you’re asking of them and how they can best add value. Board members should feel as if they’re also gaining in the relationship, from networking opportunities to hands-on experience.
Establishing Board of Directors Main Functions
Like the organization, board members should ask themselves the same question: why am I joining this organization? Nonprofit board positions are volunteer roles. Time and talent are high-value commodities, so make sure this is an organization that you feel passionately about supporting.
Fundraising Boards: board members are dedicated to helping the organization fundraise through major gifts, sponsorships, and corporate giving. Fundraising boards develop prospect lists and assist executive directors and staff with cultivation, solicitation, and stewardship. Peer-to-peer fundraising and donor engagement via board members are proven effective in incrementally building a solid donor base and cultivating major gifts. This is our personal favorite because it helps create a donor pipeline and a sense of financial investment in the organization.
Working/Oversight Boards: Board members fulfill specific positions such as finance, public relations, marketing, social media, legal, and fundraising. Board members act as a governing body, provide professional advice, and often services to the executive director. Working boards are most often utilized during the early days of an organization and tend to phase out as the organization grows into itself and has the resources to hire staff.
Combination Boards: Board members fulfill a specific role and engage in fundraising. While helpful and effective, these boards can burn out quickly due to high demands and work product. If this model works for your nonprofit, we suggest limiting board roles to terms so you maximize impact with a mutually agreed upon timeline. We often see this type of board as a working board (early stages of a nonprofit) transitions into a fundraising board.
Strat Labs regularly counsels its nonprofit clients on their board compositions and works with them to ensure a proper fit of talent and passion. We help each client identify its unique set of needs for growth and then develop an individualized strategic plan for board composition and alignment. Schedule your board management and composition strategy session with us today!