A not-so-quiet change in happening in non-profit organizations across the country. Due to government funding cutbacks, increasing needs of clients in our communities and a need for organizations to adapt to new business models, these non-profits have to look at changes across all levels of their organizations.
Among the most important change that can be enacted is how the Boards of Directors conduct business, engage in the success of the organization and support the administration in creating a successful workplace. In the past, Boards of Directors primary job was oversee their fiduciary responsibility, hire the Executive Director and perhaps help fundraise. They would attend an annual strategic planning sessions where they would conduct a SWOT analysis (identifying the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats) and come up with ideas on what the agency can do for the next year. Attending monthly or quarterly meetings usually meant sitting through a bunch of reports and oftentimes not feeling like they were making a significant contribution to a cause they believed in.
According to a study by the Stanford Social Innovation Review, there are 5 ideas about how to make non-profit boards exciting places to be…and ones that make a real difference in our community:
- Serve and Advocate: Advocate for the mission of your organization. It may just be attending fundraisers and other events, but the best board members will soon be raving about the work of the organization.
- See the Market Opportunity: Business people love to serve on boards but often don’t consider how best to help these organizations create markets. They often just want to bring business practices to the non-profit rather than bring business thinking.
- Build aCo
mmunity of Believers: People believe in the work of non-profits because they make a difference in people’s lives. When I served on the Board of a school, I told the principal that it would be great if the student chorus came sometime during our meeting to serenade us. That one visit helped all the Board members remember why we were serving.
- Collaboration: Its tough out there in the non-profit world and inviting other board members to get together for a meeting can help find common interests and possibly create new projects.
- Adapt, Execute, Evaluate: You are no doubt on the Board because you are smart and committed to their mission. Use your skills and commitment to improve outcomes.