Nonprofit Board Talk

From the article - “In our recent Philanthropy Journal poll about recruiting board members, respondents indicated that they frequently face challenges in recruiting competent volunteers to their board. The economic downturn the country has been dealing with for more than five years has made it even more challenging for more than a third of the respondents to recruit competent board members. At a time when nonprofits need skilled and dedicated volunteers to help make the strategic decisions necessary to navigate difficult financial times such leaders appear to our survey respondents to be in short supply.” read more

Does Your Nonprofit Retool?

"Only those who constantly retool themselves stand a chance of staying employed in the years ahead." - Tom Peters

     I love this quote from Tom Peters.  It is true for individuals but I think it is also true for organizations as well.  Is your nonprofit retooling?  In a fast changing world, it is important to “retool" if you want to survive and be relevant in your mission.

     Everyone talks about using social media.  A great “retool" for any nonprofit.  Is your nonprofit board using eGovernance tools to help with board and committee meetings?  Have you looked at cloud computing to lower techology costs, expand capacity or improve productivity?  What about crowd funding as a new source for donations and program funding?  Are you using meetups to help with outreach and volunteer recruiting?  Your nonprofit must improve, adapt and retool … or lose ground to other nonprofits that do.

Thanks for reading the Nonprofit Board Talk Blog!

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Brent Jackson

From the post - “Board recruitment is broken — and I’m not the only one who thinks so. In recent surveys conducted by the Taproot Foundation and BoardSource, nonprofit leaders reported frustration in securing the right talent and, specifically, with knowing where to look for it.”  Read more.

From the post - “With the increasing demands of billable hours and outside commitments, it is tougher and tougher for young lawyers to find time to join nonprofit organizations as board members and take on board leadership positions. However, nonprofit corporations are searching for new and enthusiastic board members to bring energy and knowledge to their organizations.

As you develop your practice, you will come into contact with individuals who are members of nonprofit organizations’ boards or officers of nonprofit organizations. As discussed below, there are many great reasons to join nonprofit boards and several issues that you should address before deciding whether to join a particular nonprofit board.”  Read more.

From the post - "Nonprofit board service is particularly compelling for business people and professionals seeking to develop as leaders."

From the post - “Mario Morino, Venture Philanthropy Partners Chairman, recommends that nonprofit boards answer six critical questions to insure that their nonprofit is prepared for changes that might lie ahead.”

Searching for a Nonprofit Board – Try BoardNetUSA

         I listed ideas to find a nonprofit board for board service in past blog posts.  Remember you must have patience during the process (Searching for a NonProfit Board: Patience is a Virtue).  I have a post on the number of nonprofit boards and the process to join most boards (Joining a Nonprofit Board – The Intro).  The simplest way is to find a local nonprofit you are interested in and just ask to serve on the board (Joining a Nonprofit Board – The Search and the Ask).  Lastly, I gave three places you can check for a list of nonprofits in your area (The Search and the Ask Follow-up).  This is all you need to actively search for your first (or next) nonprofit board.

          What if you’re a busy professional.  Or, you’re new to the area and don’t know the local nonprofits.  There is a passive way to search for a nonprofit board to serve on … let the nonprofit board find youBoardNetUSA is a website that matches nonprofit boards to people looking to serve.  And, it’s free to use!

          All you have to do is set up a profile on the service.  List your skills, interests and background information in your profile.  Nonprofit boards post requests for new board members.  The nonprofit will list any skills or background it’s needs in a board member.  If you match, BoardNetUSA will send you an email.  Easy!

          Be prepared!  It may take a month or two to get a match.  Also, once a match is made, it could end up a false start.  The process is very close to interviewing for a job.  At anytime during the process, either party could decide “this will not work out after all”.  Don’t take it personally and don’t give up!

          I’ve served on 7 nonprofit boards.  I found 5 of the 7 boards using the service.  Try it and tell me if it works for you.

Thanks for reading!


The Search and the Ask Follow-up

I got a question to my post, “Joining a Nonprofit Board – The Search and the Ask.” It’s a good question:

“How do I find a list of the non-profits in my area?”

I’ve lived in my neighborhood over 4 years. I couldn’t give you a list of non-profits in my area. Not off the top of my head anyway. But, I do have a few ideas to get a list of nonprofits you can contact for board service:

  1. The United Way – Get a list of United Way supported charities from the United Way’s website. Search by your zip code (USA) to get your local United Way site and then search for a list of local nonprofits.
  2. GuideStar – GuideStar is an online database. It contains information on all nonprofits in the United States. This information comes from IRS tax forms and other sources. You can search the database with your city or zip code. Once you find a nonprofit you like, get the address & contact information. There are fees to get detail information from the database.
  3. Your local volunteer center – Most counties and cities have a volunteer center or nonprofit association. Most will give you a list of nonprofits in your area that are members. Some have a board service matching program. Be prepared to pay a fee and take a training class before you are matched with a nonprofit board.

I hope this will get you started. Good luck on your search!

Thanks for reading!


Joining a Nonprofit Board – The Search and the Ask

In an earlier post called “Joining a Nonprofit Board – The Intro,” I reported that at the beginning of 2010, there were 87,151 nonprofits. This number came from the NCCS ( National Center for Charitable Statistics). From this number, I concluded that an estimated 435,755 to 1,307,265 people are needed to serve on those boards. In other words, a lot of nonprofits need a lot of board members.

How do you find a nonprofit board to serve on? There are many methods to find a board. The first and possibly, the easiest … just ask.

If you live in a city or large suburb, there are small nonprofits within easy reach. By law, each one must have a Board of Directors. Even a small nonprofit (if it is well managed), will always be on the lookout for new board members.

What are you interested in? What issues or causes are you passionate about? Would you support animals, housing, or research to cure an illness? Do you want to help those in need? Every state has to deal with domestic violence, sexual assault, child abuse, homelessness, and crime prevention. Find a local nonprofit that deals with a subject you want to work on and ask to serve.

Contact someone serving in a leadership role for the nonprofit. Ask if the board is looking for new members. Remember to have patience. If that nonprofit is not looking, ask the next one on your list. Believe me; many nonprofits will be happy you asked! Good luck with your search.

Thanks for reading!


From the post -“

Most nonprofit boards are including pro bono service and in-kind donations in their resource development. Are you?

No one knows better than you that nonprofits need strong boards to harness the resources they need to thrive. Until now, chief executives and board members have lacked direct guidance on how to work together to access resources beyond cash — such as pro bono services and in-kind donations. Business professionals have skills and networks that can provide invaluable resources to nonprofits and our research shows they are eager to join nonprofit boards.”

This post speaks for itself. It’s a good article on nonprofit board burnout. The article is called “5 Symptoms of Nonprofit Board Burnout” and it can be found on the X Factor Consulting Blog. It answers the questions:

  1. What is board burnout?
  2. What are the signs?
  3. How do you treat or prevent it?

There is also a recorded webinar dealing with problem boards and offering ideas to fix the problems. The webinar is called Board CPR: Revitalizing Troubled Boards for Service. You have to supply your name and email to see the webinar but it’s worth it. [read more]

“Healthcare professionals describe burnout as a “state of emotional, mental, and physical exhaustion caused by excessive and prolonged stress. It occurs when you feel overwhelmed and unable to meet constant demands. As the stress continues, you begin to lose the interest or motivation that led you to take on a certain role in the first place” ( When the role that someone loses interest in is serving as a board member, then what we’re discussing qualifies as board burnout.” [read more]

Thanks for reading!


From the blog - “I have a daily (7 days a week) subscription to Google Alerts on “Nonprofit Management” and “Nonprofit Governance.” Every week, three or four nonprofit case stories surface, in these listings, related to inadequate oversight by nonprofit boards of directors. Many of the cases result six or seven figure dollar losses to the nonprofits. Following is my personal list of what reasonable board oversight means to attempt to help nonprofit boards of directors to avoid such losses. “

I have no problem giving credit where credit is due.  I found a good article on the role and duties of a nonprofit board member.  The article even has a thoughtful comment with an additional duty I completely agree with.  (I said so in my comment to the blog.)

One of the most important things to understand about any board of directors is that directors are required to carry out their duties and responsibilities under certain standards of care and attention. Board Source describes the three legal standards that have been established as:   [read more]

The article is called “My board of directors does what again?”  It’s posted on the YNPN Blog (Young Nonprofit Professional Network).  Go read it!

Thanks for reading!


Joining a Nonprofit Board - The Intro
So, you want to serve on a nonprofit board. Where do you start? What nonprofit boards have openings for new members? What is the process? I plan to spend a few posts discussing the process of finding and joining your first board.

I checked the website for NCCS ( National Center for Charitable Statistics). At the beginning of 2010, there were 1,514,530 nonprofits in the United States. I live in Washington, DC . The numbers for my area are DC (14,349 nonprofits), Maryland (32,692) and Virginia (40,110). That is 87,151 nonprofits in my area! (Check your state). Each one is required to have a Board of Directors.

I do not know if anyone tracks the total number of board members on all nonprofits. We can guess. Let’s say that most Board of Directors have from five to 15 members. On that basis, there are between 435,755 and 1,307,265 nonprofit board members in DC, Maryland , & Virginia.

Add another fact to this; a growing number of nonprofits are beginning to limit the time a person can serve on a board. This means a constant need for new board members. Bottom line … if you want to serve on a nonprofit board, there is a very good chance you will find one.

Finding a nonprofit board to join is the same as looking for a new job. There are three stages to join most boards:
  1. The search & contact
  2. Interview & evaluation
  3. Orientation
I will start with “The Search" in a future post. As this series unfolds, I would love to hear your stories about joining a board. Also, let me know if there is an issue or a question that I should address.

Thanks for reading!