How to Increase Nonprofit Funding – 5 Best Practice Traits for a Board

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At a recent luncheon for the Association of Development Officers, collegues and I listened to a very informative presentation from Nonprofit BoardDon Crocker, CEO of the Support Center for Non Profit Management. Don has been able to crystallize what I believe most non profit organizations strive to attain. Don touched on three important aspects essential to all non profit boards. Aspects including a board that is functioning well, one that brings needed value to the organization, as well as a board that supports the leadership team in all ways.

Right now more than ever due to dramatic economic downturn (severity and length still a question), increased regulation (Auditing, IRS 990, other), late and slow payments, credit markets tight, an environment full of fear and cynicism, and increased public scrutiny, boards now more than ever need to reorganize and rally for the common good of the organization.

As Don said during his presentation, status quo is no longer enough nor is it acceptable. Building this new board can take several years. A long sometimes frightening task, but one that can be best tackled piece by piece.  He referenced a few members from organizations that have done this very well, one being Geoffrey Canada.

Harlem Children’s ZoneGeoffrey Canada is the president and CEO of the Harlem Children’s Zone in Harlem, New York. He has done a terrific job turning the organization and its board around. It was only 4 short years ago that he realized that 95% of his organizations revenue was funded by government sources. Looking at a downward spiral, Geoffrey took it upon himself to make a change. He began rebuilding his board, bringing in many new members that have now instilled a new found sense of value and support to his organization. The Harlem Children’s Zone now receives most of their funding from various foundations, corporations, individuals, and other sources causing the government funding to be only 28% of their operating revenue.  

Listed below are Don’s lists of the traits for the board of the future:

  • Increased Board engagement is NOT optional!  Board must step up and govern and they must be “in-charge” of hiring and firing competent management.
  • The Board as a body and as individuals must sharpen their understanding and ownership of finances.
  • Board members must up their activity in engaging new supporters &   stewarding long-term supporters.
  • The Board leaders and CEO must communicate openly and often.
  • The Board must organize itself and its individual members to be effective and efficient, set clear goals for itself, and regularly measure its progress toward results.

Since having heard Don speak I have talked to many clients about this topic. There are mixed reactions to this. One of the big stumbling blocks is that many non profit boards still have not enacted term limits or don’t enforce them. It is hard to bring in new board members if there is not a spot to put them.

I would love any feedback on these topics, please feel free to leave a comment.

Photo By Okeefew from
Don Crocker can be reached at:
Phone: 212-924-6744 ext. 306

Done Crocker LinkedIn

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