Saturday, January 5, 2008

Non-Profit Board Leadership

If you are involved in recruitment of non-profit board members I hope this information is helpful. I posed this question to former Presidents of the Cincinnati Chapter of the American Marketing Association. Our chapter has been named national AMA Chapter of the Year on three occasions in the past two decades. As I've mentioned in the past, I am the current President of the organization. Anyhow, I digress. Here's the question:

What quality or qualities are most important for individuals serving on non-profit boards?

The overwhelming response was possessing a belief in and passion for the organization's mission. This was backed up by mentions of other leadership skills that flow naturally out of this first point.
  • Lead by offering your background or experience in your area of responsibility on the board;
  • Provide a succession plan;
  • Lead by example by giving time and talents and supporting events/programs;
  • Energize volunteers to do their best and do it NOW;
  • Recognizing who the "players" are among your membership so you are bringing in people who might be even more passionate, committed and perhaps more qualified than YOU;
  • Display wisdom based on marketplace realities (know when it's time for change).

One respondent in closing was reminded of a quote by former First Lady Rosalynn Carter that could best describe a non-profit leader:

A leader takes people where they want to go. A great leader takes people where they don't necessarily want to go but ought to be.


Miki said...

Pat -

Great quote to sum up the points on hiring board members. I think sometimes we forget the difference between good and great leaders.

reff said...

Great list! Although I think the most important is to "lead by offering your background or experience". People who are asked to provide input and make change in an area where they have expertise will be much more successful than those who are asked to handle something they no nothing about or are uncomfortable doing. It's also important to confirm that someone has the time to donate to a board. Many people want to help but they simply are already overstrapped and can't give the new board enough attention. So it's not a matter of leadership or expertise as much as it is time to share.

Brian Siegel said...

Non profit service/leadership shows a lot about one's character (or anything where one is not paid directly with monetary value). To have a specific focus, plan to succeed, and get people involved are points I couldn't agree more with for great impact!

Brian Siegel