Who Brings In The Money? Defining Board Roles & Expanding Opportunities - Part II
At the April 19th VCG Governance Matters Roundtable, "Who Brings in the Money? Defining Governance Roles & Expanding Opportunities," our panel discussed the ways in which philanthropy is changing. Providing their insights into the fundraising roles of Board members and senior staff were Laurie Giddins (Chair) and Jeff Ginsburg (Executive Director) of East Harlem Tutorial Program and Walter Booker, Sr. (Chair) and William Goodloe (CEO) of Sponsors for Educational Opportunity.
The Link Between Board Chair and Executive Director
Vision, relationships and forward thinking were the themes discussed by the panel: Not just vision for the agency but also for the Board, not just relationships with donors but among Board members, not just forward-thinking about program needs but also Board development needs. Diverse as they may seem, they are all necessary when raising funds.
1. Vision must be aligned. All members of the Board and staff must understand why they do what they do, why it matters and why it is critical that they constantly strive to improve this alignment. All stakeholders need to understand what the organization does well, and that in addressing a particular need it serves an important purpose.
2. Nurture relationships with funders and potential Board members. Fundraising requires establishing relationships with people even before they have money or time to spare. Younger people with less prominent positions may be able to connect you to the power-brokers who can sign-off on sponsoring a gala or make a corporate donation. As the children of these young professionals reach school age and demand less of their parents' time, and as these professionals advance in their careers, they often start looking for something meaningful to do, something about which they can be passionate. If your organization has an existing relationship, the search can be short. Relationships can be nurtured through:
- Invitations to events that bring individuals into contact with program staff and clients being served.
- Meaningful volunteer opportunities, including pro bono work.
- A Junior Board to give younger people exposure to both programs and governance.
- A Leadership Council for people who want to engage but don't yet have the time for full Board commitment.
These are all suggestions for ensuring that the leadership pipeline is full!
3. Build a unified, hard-working Board. The best Boards have policies in place and use them to:
- Lay out exactly what is expected of Board members in terms of time, money and commitment to the mission.
- Mentor new Board members.
- Ensure all Board members serve on committees so they gain in-depth knowledge of some aspect of the program and have the opportunity to work closely with staff.
- Evaluate the participation and effectiveness of the each Board member and the entire Board.
- Continuously assess the skills needed on the Board to accomplish the organization's next goals.
4. Look ahead. In 2008, nonprofits tightened their belts but forward thinking ones also recognized that the need for their services would be greater. They started working out how they could expand services. Again, the process of defining a vision for the future has to be shared by all Board members and by staff. But the key to success in shaping that vision is clarity and commitment to an organization's core values. Do not seek new revenue for a program that does not fit into the core vision. Organizations must be sure to think creatively, listen to new voices, and consider new approaches. They need to have a sense of what their Board will require five years down the road in order to maintain excellence.
Yes, that probably includes mobile apps and smartphones.