17 March 2009

Board of Directors or Booster Club?

Welcome back!

Last week I was at an educational event for leaders of nonprofit organizations where I heard that the fundamental work of a board of directors must now be that of fundraising because some nonprofit organizations may fail because of recent adjustment of the worldwide economy. In an environment where support and resources will be in short supply, it seemed that some are saying that boards no must become booster clubs to attract diminishing sources of support.

There is a foundational disconnect with this idea that dismisses the reality that the board has real work to do that is really governance and is an essential value added to the organization.

Board fundamental job remains the same.

  1. Articulation of board level values that describe what difference the organization will make in the world, who will benefit from that change and at what cost that change will be worth the investment
  2. Hold the organization accountable for achieving that change without violating prestated situations and circumstances that are unacceptable
  3. Linkage to the moral ownership or membership or the community on behalf of which the organization accomplishes #1 above.

It is clear that the above tasks may require certain skills of individual board members who may or may not also possess those characteristics required to be a part of this new requirement of promoting the cause to prospective funders and supporters. I highly recommend that within operations, and that may include people who also serve as board members, as many people with the right skills and attitudes be empowered and encouraged to apply all of their skills and energy into efforts that will bring the required resources to the table for organizations to continue their important work of creating a difference in the communities where they work.

The fundraising efforts and the board governance work both must be done and one cannot be achieved without the other. Capacity partnership Group provides training, assessment and evaluation and technical assistance for implementation of a complete system of board governance that equips boards of directors to accomplish the 3 job outputs listed above. These job outputs work for nonprofit organizations and for equity corporations. If boards of directors had done this work, in the financial sectors, there would be much less news about bailouts and bonuses today.

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