Tag Archives: board members

Keys to unlocking board involvement

Part three of a three-part series

The vitality of a nonprofit lies with its board members. Their individual and collective action, engagement and clarity of mission make all the difference in the world. In this final installment of our interview with Lisa Hoffman we share her thoughts regarding the important work of a nonprofit board.

Lisa Hoffman

Lisa Hoffman

“Board members are critical to successful fundraising. They are in a unique position as volunteers to invite investment, to express their passion and say ‘join me’ in strengthening communities, cleaning up the environment and other essential causes. Fundraising enthusiasm, transcending anxieties and fears about asking, and board engagement in general are all strongly rooted in effective board development,” Hoffman shares.

“And that development begins with how board members are recruited – figuring out what kinds of people are needed, clearly conveying expectations ranging from board meeting attendance to fundraising, and new board member orientation that continuing board members facilitate. It also includes creating an intentional culture, one that focuses on relationships, commitment and accountability, and board governance policies that cover nuts and bolts like board terms and term limits – which are stewarded by board leadership.”

Part One: 3 Tips to Achieving Fundraising Success

Speaking from her experience, Hoffman continued, “most people live up or down to expectations – and that includes board members. Members of high-performing boards want clarity about the commitments they are being asked to make, and they respond to high expectations. Sometimes that response is to articulate limits – which I feel is optimal because it is honest and opens up the possibility for discussion and authentic commitment that grows from a mutual understanding of expectations.”

We also asked Hoffman about the future for nonprofits in the areas of management, messaging, infrastructure and fundraising. “I think the nonprofits that will thrive in the future will do so because of a combination of classic strengths: staff and board leadership; relationship-based fundraising combined with smart, strategic and tactical use of new and emerging communication tools,” Hoffman shared. “And they’ll remember that remembering that these tools are simply ways of connecting and engaging with people – they aren’t magical solutions. They are just additional, certainly powerful, tools in the toolbox.”

Finally, because she lives and works in San Francisco, California we asked Hoffman about engaging technology firms. Her guidance: “I think that most people, technology firms or otherwise, support nonprofits with which they share mission, values and passion. I would add that more than most donor-investors, the tech community seeks impact that can be proven, and has a deep interest in innovative and effective approaches to solving problems.”

Part 2: Resources and mindfulness in the life of nonprofits

Lisa is the real deal. She knows there are no simple “solutions” to fundraising. Rather, it’s a process. Bring your best and join with others in an ongoing process of change.

You can reach Lisa at www.lisahoffman.net

Mel and Pearl Shaw are the authors of “Prerequisites for Fundraising Success” and “The Fundraiser’s Guide to Soliciting Gifts.” They provide fundraising counsel to nonprofits. Visit them at http://www.saadandshaw.com. Follow them on Twitter: @saadshaw.


How to Create Your Fantasy Celebrity Board

If you could have any five celebrities on your nonprofit board, who would you pick?

Celebrity board membersVisualize yourself as chair of the board of a nonprofit you believe in. Maybe it’s a university, an early childhood education center, a food bank, international research institute, or performing arts company. You pick the nonprofit – and the board members!

Focus first on your vision: as board chair, what do you want the organization or institution to accomplish under your leadership? Be specific. Do you want to ensure all first year college students graduate in less than five years with less than $12,000 in student loan debt? As an early childhood education program, are you seeking to enroll 97% of children under five years of age within a two mile radius? Do you need to fully automate the warehouse for the regional food bank? Maybe you want your research institute to bring two new drugs to clinical trial. As a performing arts company, do you seek to increase the number and quality of performances? You determine your vision, and then pick your board.

Make a quick list.

Does it include Sheryl Sandberg, Malala Yousafzai, George Lucas and Melissa Harris Perry? Are Sean Hannity, Whoopi Goldberg, or Mark Zuckerberg on your list? What about Kim Kardashian, Lorretta Lynch, John McCain, and Jon Stewart? Or maybe you are thinking of Serena Williams, Beyonce, Joel Osteen, Ellen DeGeneres and Michelle Obama. You have a universe of celebrities to pick from!

Review your list with an eye to the qualities “your” celebrities possess. Look beyond the obvious “rich and famous.” In fact, don’t consider wealth and fame. Think about what attracts you to each celebrity. Is it their creativity, persistence, sense of justice, risk taking?

Remember to focus on your vision. Which celebrities possess the qualities, experience and connections that can bring your vision to life? Are they accessible? Committed to a personal or public vision that dovetails with yours? Are they passionate about it? Do they have access to people who can bring your vision to life? Do they follow through on their promises? Are they willing to be an advocate? Can they move beyond their “celebrity” to let a cause be the focus? Are they respected? Do they have political connections, influence, a proven track record – are they involved with other nonprofits?

Once you have your top five it’s time to determine how to approach each. Remember, this is your fantasy board – there are no barriers standing in your way. So, what will you say? How will you make your case? What do you want your celebrities to actually do as board members?

Now, back to reality: can you think of people in your community who can help you bring your vision to life? Who will you pursue and why? The choice is yours.

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Mel and Pearl Shaw are the authors of “Prerequisites for Fundraising Success” and “The Fundraiser’s Guide to Soliciting Gifts.” They provide fundraising counsel to nonprofits. Visit them at www.saadandshaw.com. Follow them on Twitter: @saadshaw.