board service is a two way street
One of my favorite type types of consulting engagements is helping newer organizations with their board recruitment. Many times there's a transition experience going on. There's a shift from family and friends that joined up to help out the founder towards a diverse board with individuals with a genuine interest in serving and a real connection to the mission. I personally believe this is the right direction for nonprofits to head in so they can have the type of committed leadership they need.
With a recent assignment, I had two very different interviews with prospective members. In one, the potential board members was surprised when I shared that there was an expectation that individuals joining the organization would provide a financial contribution. "I'm giving my time and expertise- that should be more than enough" he exclaimed in a way that showed his irritation. Another candidate when asked the same question said they would gladly give and hoped to help the organization with introductions to other potential institutional and individual donors.
I'll share two points from this brief story:
1) I always suggest boards not make exceptions to any requirement they have for giving or fundraising. It sets a terrible precedent - a truly slippery slope - to not having the commitment you're asking for. It becomes the model for your current and future board members.
2) Board membership is a two way street. While I agree with the first individuals point about their providing their valuable insight, I encourage the organizations I work with to ensure that board members are provided with a meaningful and valuable experience.
If you're in the process of building board, I hope these two tips provide some guidance. And if I can be of assistance, please let me know.
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Robert Grabel is the President of Nonprofit Now! You can find his posts here and at www.robertgrabel.com