Friday, August 03, 2007

Building Better Nonprofit Board Leaders

Nonprofit leadership is as much about an effective Board as it is about a visionary staff. Well-meaning, yet ill-intentioned, business leaders can wreak havoc. Help them help you. When staff clearly explain the Board member's role and the responsibilities, they can all be better leaders. Add these four things and you've got business people who will build and support better nonprofit leadership:

1. Take responsibility. Nonprofit service isn't about building a resume and it's more than feeling good about "giving back." Nonprofit leadership is about being accountable for moving the organization forward from a position of strength. Take responsibility for asking questions and making tough decisions.

2. Bring a business mind to the table. Board members need to bring the same business sense to making decisions on a nonprofit Board that they would in their own Board room. Yes, there are differences between not-for-profit and for-profit operations, but limited resources make the balance between them all the more important.

3. Commit to communicate. Consensus-building is often the norm on Boards. Business leaders committed to clear communication that aligns stakeholders can facilitate the type of progress that converts leadership into progress. Communicate clearly, communicate often.

4. Build a better bottom line. Business leaders need to operate from the mindset of fiscal responsibility that bends to mission. It isn't about turning a profit, but it's not about losing money either. Deficit budgeting is dangerous for any organization. Business leaders can bring their financial goal-setting expertise to the table so that the strategic direction of the organization is strengthened by balanced budgets.
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