Not long ago, a friend invited me to coffee – she had recently been elected to be Board Chair for a nonprofit. It was her first time as a Board Chair although she had been on this board for several years and had also served on other boards. She asked me if I had any advice for a new Chair. Here is what I shared: Don’t Act Alone Remember that while you can influence many things as Board Chair, you don’t have more power than anyone else on the board. You have one vote. Every board member has one vote.… Read more
Let's start a conversation: How can boards be most effective? What lessons — good and bad — have you learned from your experiences?
In my last post, I stated that sometimes being good leader is knowing when it is time to step back and allow others to lead. Some of the best leaders I know have graciously handed the reins to new people – often younger and more diverse people, though not always. These amazing people keep the mission of the organization at the forefront. They understand that fresh ideas and new voices are necessary to have the most impact. That said, long-time leaders also offer a huge amount to an organization. I would never advocate for an organization having all of its… Read more
Sometimes being a good leader means knowing when it is time to step down and let others lead. I have been thinking about this a lot – several long-term CEOs that I know have wisely made this decision, knowing it is best for the organization even if it is personally difficult for them. I applaud their leadership. And I personally have made this decision several times – stepping down as board chair or going off a board altogether. I have stayed close to these organizations, donating to them, acting as an ambassador, often privately consulting with new board chairs or… Read more
Everyone wants to diversify their boards. Having a diverse board, especially one with people who have lived experience around your mission, will help you make better decisions. Here are some things to think about: Think Broadly. Think of diversity in the broadest sense – ability, age, ethnicity, gender identity, geography, race, religion, sexual orientation, and socioeconomic status. All of these areas can enrich your discussions and add important perspective. Depending on your mission, some may be more critical than others. Remember too that just because someone is white, male, or older does not mean that they are bad board members.… Read more
I interviewed Hal Abrams, a major gift consultant, about how to involve board members in fundraising. He said the first step is to engage them in the mission. Tell me about what you do. Many organizations live hand to mouth off their gala or just one big push. As a major gift consultant, I try to help nonprofits be more efficient with their time and change their processes to build relationships with donors and to help donors accomplish their philanthropic goals. What role do board members have in fundraising? Board members have an important role in fundraising. But I think… Read more