What Kind of Board Should You Want?

Bob Cryer

Bob Cryer

Many of our nonprofit clients dream of having a Board of high net-worth individuals, who, along with their wealthy friends, give bundles of money to their nonprofit, eliminating all of nonprofit’s financial worries.  These nonprofits typically have an existing Board of caring middle-class people who donate what they can and try to advise their Executive Director on how to better manage the nonprofit. The Board of these small to mid-size nonprofits does not typically have many useful connections to high net-worth individuals. Even if they did, their nonprofit lacks prestigious community brand name that attracts these donors to serve on their Board and give generously. Their dream is probably unrealistic, and possible dysfunctional because it may divert energy away from a realistic fundraising Board development strategy.

Rather than recruiting credible professionals who are willing to participate in Board meetings, and make a more modest donation, a nonprofit might consider trying to recruit community activists to their Board and its committees. These activists are likely to recruit others who also want to get involved by putting on various kinds of events for the nonprofit (bake sales, wine tastings, open houses, walk/hike/runs, golf outings, open houses, celebrations or gala events).  As the number of people involved in events as activists, volunteers and participants grows, the number of donors is likely to grow along with this rising awareness of your nonprofit in the community. This is likely to lead to more major donors and involved activists that can continue to accelerate your Board’s and your nonprofit’s growth.

Having activists on your Board may shake things up a bit; creating some tensions and needs for better process management.  But if it provides a more realistic path to your growth vision, it may be worth the risk.

If you would like some help with implementing this strategy, or with any other nonprofit management issues, please explore the idea of getting a no-cost mentor and coach at www.ECofOC.org .