Having a father that worked in development and fund-raising throughout my entire childhood (and still to this day) and serving on several nonprofit boards myself, I have picked up more than my share of tidbits on the things that separate the good nonprofits from the great ones.  High on that list is (if not number one) is board construction.  The strength of any nonprofit organization is the strength of its board.  The recruitment of the correct board members is essential to successfully achieving the mission of the organization.  When looking for new board members, it is important to remember that while you should strive to have a well-rounded board, it is not necessary or even ideal for the board to be solely constructed of well-rounded individuals (as it relates to their time, skills and abilities, and means to contribute to organizational success).  Each board needs people that can provide time, talent, and treasure (but not necessarily all three).  Time – every great board has that handful of young, passionate individuals that are relatively unencumbered with other time commitments.  They show up to every meeting and event, and they drive the mission through their sweat equity despite not having the means to make large gifts.  Talent – it is so important to recruit individuals with specific specialized skills that are needs of the organization.  For example, dealing with a bunch of contracts?… A practicing attorney that will lend an eye as a board member is very valuable.  Having financial professionals on your Investment Committee also serves as a great example of taking advantage of the talent on your board.  Finally, Treasure – a great board will have several individuals serving that have both the willingness and ability to make substantial gifts.  These people may not have perfect attendance or roll up their sleeves at the theoretical tree planting, but their dollars are essential in driving the success of the organization.  A great board has members that fall into all three of these groups.  Some individuals may even check multiple boxes.  As nonprofits contemplate their board construction, it is essential to make sure that they are not neglecting one area in favor of over-doing it in another.  After all, the strength of any nonprofit organization is the strength of its board.

Author: Gary Lendermon

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