A nonprofit’s board of directors helps guide an organization, encourage innovation, and support long-term success. They act as passionate advocates for your cause and steer your nonprofit through internal and external challenges. But what makes for a strong nonprofit board? Here are 4 qualities of an ideal board that can best serve your nonprofit.
1. Experienced in critical service areas
Think about board recruitment with your nonprofit needs in mind. Look for a member, or members, skilled in essential aspects of running your nonprofit.
A board member who specializes in strategy could help refresh a strategic plan, and one with marketing skills could lead branding exercises. An HR board member could promote talent management planning, and a technology specialist could consult on new tech investments.
2. Focused on governance and advising, not day-to-day tasks
While boards can counsel nonprofits, only staff should act on those recommendations. Board members should not assist in the day-to-day management of the nonprofit but instead, focus on governance and coaching. Your board advises, the CEO/Executive Director leads, and the staff executes the strategies.
3. Diverse in backgrounds and skills
Today, more funders, donors, and philanthropic organizations review a nonprofit’s board composition. Does your board include members who reflect the community your nonprofit serves? Are your board members mostly from the same backgrounds or have the same skill sets? With the expanding importance of DEI initiatives in the nonprofit and corporate worlds, your board should aim to be diverse in background and skill set.
4. Comfortable raising resources—financial or otherwise
Too often, nonprofits set large fundraising or donation requirements for board members. This typically favors people who have benefitted from generational wealth and privilege.
Many boards are now shifting from the standard definition of fundraising to a broader concept of “resource-raising.” This can break the mold of who “traditionally” sits on a nonprofit board.
Board members can acquire resources by requesting in-kind donations and using pro bono services. For example, a board member could ask a marketing agency to donate their services or encourage an organization to connect with volunteer professionals on Taproot Plus, our online matching platform. The more in-kind donations and pro bono consulting services a board can secure, the more financial resources are available for other needs.
Allowing individuals to contribute resources other than money opens the door to candidates who may not have deep pockets. Welcoming diverse, talented, qualified people to your board could benefit any nonprofit.