Board Transformation for Nonprofit Organizations

Board Transformation for Nonprofit Organizations

By Jim Toscano & Dania Toscano Miwa

Board members have many responsibilities: decision-making, planning, hiring and overseeing the executive, making their own generous gifts, bringing peers to the table, serving as ambassadors to the community with some members actively serving on the development committee helping to raise funds.

Many nonprofits do not have such board helping to raise funds and it is at their peril not to.

The ideal situation is to gradually move to an organizational culture of philanthropy, a culture of constituent development. This starts with the Board leadership but envelops all in the organization, including staff, volunteers and others. 

The idea of engagement is hot right now, either a fad or a real commitment by nonprofits to envelop boards, staff, volunteers and constituency (visitors, members, clients, patients, volunteers, staff, committee members, board members, donors, legacy leavers, etc.) in deep recognition of the overall importance of constituency development in the life of the organization.

We know it takes years, often, to change culture; many times, the change is incomplete, even nonfunctional, maybe just memorized words.

How do we know when we achieve elements of it, if not all of it? The answer needs to be behavioral, not just what you say, but what you do. The outcome is walking the talk.

There are no rigid rules about exact behaviors required for such a change, although there are broad and measurable outlines that one should see in the results of such a change that all involved subscribe to:

  1. The importance of charitable gifts in achieving mission.
  2. Having an exceptional, positive experience with the nonprofit.
  3. Knowing constituent needs by asking them and serving those needs.
  4. Deepening constituent relationships and commitment.
  5. Financial participation in annual, capital and planned giving.
  6. Identification of individuals and groups for cultivation.
  7. Active participation in the life of the agency.
  8. Help in stewardship of funders, donors and volunteers.
  9. Serving as ambassadors to the larger community.
  10. Board members participating in active cultivation and solicitation of prospects.

In this process, some board members, as well as staff and volunteers may fall by the wayside, giving the organization opportunity to replace with those understanding the importance of philanthropy and subscribing to the values and mission of the nonprofit.

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