Every Nonprofit Board Needs to Read This!

4 Conditions Affecting Nonprofit Boards

Nonprofit organizations are the glue that keeps our communities and citizens together, especially during these unimaginably difficult times we live in today.

The nonprofit organization is comprised of dedicated and passionate volunteers who serve on the board of trustees, led by a team of professionals who are experts in nonprofit leadership, program development, fundraising, marketing, and community outreach.

Based on my experience, a mature board functions in a true partnership with the organization’s CEO. The board must be an active participant and assume a leadership role in guiding the organization towards its vision. One of the characteristics of a high performing nonprofit board is the level of engagement between the board and the chief executive.

Today, more than ever, board members should be aware of four important areas of focus of their work to ensure their organizations will survive the current coronavirus pandemic and become even stronger, and more successful for years to come.

Leadership Assessment and Development

With all the baby boomers retiring, boards need to ensure that their organizations are committed to assessing leadership talent and investing in their development to ensure organizational success for decades to come. The key challenges for the board are to identify the specific transformational leadership competencies required for today’s nonprofit executives, ensure that each organization has a professional development plan to enhance current leadership performance, and develop a mentorship program for emerging leaders who will become tomorrow’s nonprofit chief executives. Your board should ask themselves the following questions:

  • Do we have a plan in place to identify and develop new leaders in our organization that is prepared for tomorrow’s challenges?
  • Do we currently assess our current leadership’s talent and measure a prospective candidate’s behavioral traits and cognitive abilities when considering upper-level leadership openings and promotions?
  • Do we have a pipeline of leaders at all levels within our organization when transitions are necessary?

Impactful Programs and Services

Regardless of your mission – education, healthcare, social services, environment, and many important others, your programs and services are the key determinants in generating the level of positive social impact your organization desires. Discuss these questions at each board meeting:

  • What programs and services do we need to improve their performance?
  • Which ones do we need to expand and/or eliminate?
  • What is the positive social impact we are achieving?
  • What tools do we need to have to evaluate and measure our success?
  • Where can we collaborate with others to achieve even greater value to those we serve?

Building A Positive Brand Identity

Brand identity is the total promise that your organization makes to your clients, employees, board, donors, and volunteers. It is the aggregation of everything your organization does – its mission, vision, values, and promise to those you serve. Now, more than ever before, ask yourselves these questions:

  • What distinguishes us from other similar mission-based programs?
  • How well do we communicate our achievements and success to our stakeholders, internal and external?
  • Do our social media communication strategies include heartfelt video statements from those we have served?
  • Do we prominently display all individual and organizational achievements and recognitions, awards, and positive outcomes on our website and facilities?
  • Are we still the best-kept secret in town?


The mere mention of the word “fundraising” can create anxiety and discomfort for most board members and CEOs. Yet, all nonprofits need significant financial resources to sustain their mission and “keep the glue” together for those they serve. Let us try a fresh approach to engage your board and chief executive in creating a successful culture of philanthropy. Remember these two very important reasons why people give money:

  • People give to success, not your distress, and
  • People give to the needs of those you serve, not your organizational needs.

This is the time to transition from the “tin-cup” versus the “investment” theory of fundraising. It is time to seek investors in your success, not just funders. The more your organization communicates your achievements and successes, the higher the probability donors will give to you more than to others. Ask yourselves these questions:

  • What is the value you provide to your community?
  • How do you communicate your success to your prospective donors?
  • Why are you worthy of a gift?
  • Have we developed the Tri-Partnership of Philanthropy between the board, CEO, and chief development officer?

Most nonprofit organizations have great causes and powerful missions that are advancing through the efforts of dedicated board members, leadership professionals, donors, and volunteers. Everyone has high hopes and dreams for their organization and is very proud to be associated with it. By focusing on the four areas above, board members will see dramatic results for those they serve.

If you don’t see the results that you had hoped for, DCM’s online assessment surveys, online board courses, and consultation services will help you find your way to nonprofit success. Discover our online board courses today!