Having spent much of my career as a CEO reporting to boards, there have been times when I became frustrated with a board that was not living up to its fiduciary role of raising money (at a leadership level) to fund the mission. I’m sure that many CEOs and VPs of Financial Development have had this experience, “Why is the board either unwilling or just not good enough to raise a majority of our campaign funds – especially since there is more of them than us?”
Experience tells me that this issue is a symptom of a variety of issues related to board development. Here is a summary list of the “vaccines” that can get rid of this unhealthy situation. Circle the ones you need more of on your board or in your organization:
- It starts with an intentional board development model. This includes a thorough screening of potential board members who:
- contribute at a leadership level
- have a network that can (and will) do the same
- have passion for the mission of your organization
- can provide time and talent to add value to the organization
- have a committee assignment to move them from passive to active to proactive
- An orientation program that includes the board member’s significant other.
- CEOs must spend a significant amount of time nurturing and engaging each individual board member.
- A fundraising case for support with: a) quantifiable outcomes that make the world a better place and b) real-life success stories.
- Constant training and reinforcement about what separates your organization from all the others that do good work in the community. This includes a talking points document based on the case for support. Now more than ever, as nonprofits compete for a limited supply of investors to reach funding levels of pre-COVID times, this differentiation is crucial to fundraising success.
- Board members experience your programs and the people you serve.
- A key leader study has been conducted so that you are clear on what the leaders in the community feel/perceive about your programs, board, staff, and overall long-term goals and plan. This study should answer the question, “does our organization have the right to ask top leadership to contribute?”.
- Refreshing your board with new board members each year by strictly enforcing your rotating years of service schedule.
There is more, but this is a good starting point. Take a look at where you have gaps, and I would be happy to spend time on a complementary video call to hear more about your situation. With decades of nonprofit management and CEO experience, I have helped successfully turned around several struggling organizations by focusing on board development and implementing innovative operating concepts. Please contact us today if you’d like to talk more about your board’s health and how Convergent can help improve it for the better of your organization.