How Does it Drive Non-Profit Organizational Success?
Having worked with and been a part of a number of non-profit boards of directors, we have observed a range of involvement, producing a wide range of results. Some boards were highly organized and had very little involvement with the day-to-day activities of the organization. Others were more loosely organized but served functional roles, like fund raising, within the non-profit. To better understand the effect boards have on the success of organizations, we joined with Springboard International to conduct interviews the CEOs and Board Chairs. These leaders represented local, regional and national organizations. The complete results of this work is available in a white paper entitled, A Conversation about Board Engagement on our website: http://plangoals.com/offer/.
In the white paper, we discuss the interview process, the results of those interviews, including common trends, unexpected findings, and best practices. We will show how having a fully engaged board combined with effective strategic planning leads to long-term organizational success.
The interviewees included national, regional and local non-profits. The nature of the groups included foundations, membership-based and cause-based. Points of discussion included:
• How do you define board engagement?
• How are board member’s contributions recognized?
• How do you engage your board?
• What criteria do you use to recruit board members?
• What expectations do you have for board members?
There were a number of unexpected finds. A minority of executives don’t want their board to be more engaged- they see their board as standing in their way. Some people think that a smaller board would be more engaged, but we found no correlation. When it came to recruiting, one said that, ”A willing heart and helpful hands is all we need.”
Board engagement can impact success through its impact on:
• Growth and retention of membership
• Increased productivity and success for critical initiatives
• Improving its brand, visibility, and branding within the community
• Driving success in fundraising
Part of the discussion with these leaders, was their use of strategic planning. All either had a strategic plan, reviewed their plan on an annual basis, or completely re-writing a plan. Boards were expected to be heavily involved in the process and monitor the execution of the plan within the non-profit organization. Strategic planning alone does not make for an effective board, but it does provide a mechanism though which board members can provide organizational guidance