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Cultivating Leadership on the Nonprofit Board

As nonprofit organizations form, grow, transform…the needs of the board of directors change.  And by that, I mean the mix of skills that can help the nonprofit organization develop proper strategy and do the legal and fiduciary business of an effective governance group.

For the newly forming nonprofit, it’s common for the person organizing the group to seek friends and acquaintances to serve, to meet State requirements.  Over time, as the organization grows and begins to deliver service and the need for revenue changes, the original board members see that that the work of building capacity is changing. Some founding board members decide to move on.  At that point, the time is ripe to create a small nominating or governance team on the board to work with the executive to find volunteers who can help take this enterprise to the next level. And these new volunteers need to demonstrate commitment to mission if they’re going to pass muster for board service.

As the nonprofit grows to face new challenges and meets with success, the demands on senior staff change, too.  The effective nonprofit board works to build capacity to train staff (as well as themselves!) in nonprofit best practice.  Whether it’s sending staff to conferences or college courses, the board knows the investment is essential to keep their staff team as close to the leading edge as possible to deliver on the mission and bring home the bacon.

Members of boards of directors have their eyes on the big picture:

  • Quality of the service delivered
  • Clarity on role board plays vs role of staff
  • How roles and demands can change over time

Taking the time and money to train leaders, to grow and evolve leaders, is an essential to nonprofit effectiveness.

Does your nonprofit board of directors have a plan to grow competence and capabilities of your leaders as the market changes?

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