In March of this year, I had the privilege to attend the Community Foundation of Broward County’s Boards in Action Leadership Academy. The two-day workshop I attended was only part of an extensive 18-month program designed to assist area nonprofits in reaching their highest potential. Chuck Loring of Loring, Sternberg & Associates, an Indianapolis & Fort Lauderdale based nonprofit fundraising and management consulting firm, lead the informative and thought to provoke program.

In a room full of board members and ED/CEOs representing 16 different organizations, Mr. Loring opened the first morning’s session with a statement and an example of how important it is for board members and staff to be connected and connected on the same page. In the aftermath of 9/11, local nonprofit organizations went into survival mode. Emphatically, Loring described the difference between organizations that survived the crisis and organizations that did not—simply, if the board and staff were connected and working towards the same goals via the vision and values of the organization, the organization survived.

Statistics taken from the Nonprofit Times report that fundraising is down for the first time in 20 years. Using this evidence, Loring emphasized why boards and staff must connect by describing the salient needs of nonprofits in the next five years—more money, more volunteers, more staff, more board members, and branding and marketing awareness. With the exponential increase of nonprofits in the past 20 years, each one must articulate what sets it apart from all the others. Furthermore, Bridgespan estimates that 75% of the current ED/CEOs will be gone in the next five years. Unquestionably, consideration and action on all of these needs are vital to the survival of an organization.

The following are questions your board should ask of itself: Does your board participate in fundraising? Do your board and staff have a recruitment and training program for volunteers? Do your board and staff keep a pulse on the new social media and recruit and employ members of the younger generation to keep up with such trends? Does your board recruit potential board members year around? Does your organization occupy a unique place in the community? Finally, does your organization incorporate leadership planning into its overall board governance?

The podcasts on the CoreStrategies website offer insight into many of these issues. Please peruse them and comment with your thoughts and questions.

By Patti Hansen