July 05, 2016

4 Types Of Board Members All Nonprofits And Charities Need

board of directors, bod, board, charities, nonprofits, member, board members, experts, diversity, network, connections, worker, pockets,

Share This Post

By Rob Wu, CEO & Co-founder at CauseVox

Charities and nonprofits of all sizes and structures rely on a board of directors to provide governance and guide decision-making. While the exact role of a board varies from one organization to the next, board members often manage everything from your organization’s mission and goals to the overall operational strategy.

If a “big picture” decision needs to be made for your nonprofit, then the board of directors will be the ones to make it.

Each board member will bring different strengths to the table. And you don’t just want, you need board members with a wide range of skills, connections, and means to contribute. Whether your organization has 4 or 30 (yes, 30!), each board member plays an important role. Ensure that you’re choosing the best board members for your nonprofit by finding people who fit into these categories.

1. Pockets

While governance is the main job of your board, many nonprofits rely on board members to be the first to donate to their fundraising campaigns.

A whopping 68% of nonprofits require a financial contribution from board members (a rule that is generally written into the bylaws) and while this may seem high, it’s because board members are responsible for managing a fiscally sound organization. These donations prove that they support the cause.

Your board members will be passionate about your cause, but some may only be able to contribute time and small financial gifts. While these board members are great, it is also essential, for the overall financial health of your charity, to recruit people who can and will provide gifts when asked.

Tip: Celebrating board participation in campaigns (especially if you hit 100% participation) will support camaraderie and encourage future giving.

2. The Expert

Experts in business, from lawyers to financial planners, are great assets to a nonprofit. You want experts on your board who can provide insights into key areas of running a business and add a fresh perspective. Recruiting experts to serve on your board that have exceptional business or industry skills can help your nonprofit or charity handle obstacles as they happen, and prepare for the future.

Tip: Don’t forget to diversify!  While you may want to stock your board up with those that can give financial and legal advice, it’s also important to have people who are experts in fields similar to the work of your organization, such as teachers or directors of similar nonprofits.

3. Worker

Like most nonprofits and charities, the staff at your organization are likely struggling to manage unrealistic workloads. Board members that are eager to jump and assist, what we refer to as the “worker”, are your nonprofit’s best friends.

Startup or small nonprofits, in particular, often rely on their board of directors when they don’t have the organizational capacity to do all the work needed. When a board member steps in, they are helping the nonprofit grow and thrive in jobs such as marketing, creative writing, and fundraising. 

Tip: Ask your board what roles they are comfortable performing so when the time comes, you know who to go to when you need assistance.

4. Networker

Nonprofits thrive because of connections, so you need people who are clued into the community to serve on your board. You’ll rely on these folks to connect you to other potential donors, volunteers, and even future board members. Networkers can introduce your organization’s story to more people and broaden your audience. 

Set your networkers up for success by making sure that they have the tools they need to tout your organization, such as a short “elevator speech”,  pocket-sized pamphlets, or business cards. 

Tip: Remember that board members go out on a limb to spread awareness, but it is ultimately up to staff to follow through with that connection.

Does your nonprofit have board members that fit these characteristics? If not, don’t panic! It’s likely that your current board members have term limits (in the nonprofit world, there is generally a two-term limit). As board members move off the board, consider diversifying your board with the people you need to create a well-rounded and engaged board of directors.

Share This Post