Some want to boost their resume; some have genuine intentions, and others simply can’t say “no.” The intentionality behind your board of directors’ service is fundamental to a healthy and thriving board. In this episode, Katie interviews Andy Davis, the Associate Vice President of Education and Outreach for Boardsource. They talk about everything from board members asking for a “pass” on their duties to the goal of developing purpose-driven board leadership.
Andy explains how we’ve created a prototypical “good board member” built around fundraising, connections, or technical skills. Instead, we need to seek people who deeply understand our purpose, audience, and ecosystem. Nonprofits must learn to forgo a well-connected attorney or accountant if they lack a commitment to the mission.
When board members go dark on us or bail on their duties completely, it may be because we recruited people who lack the capacity and passion necessary to serve our cause well.
Creating strong, clear, and blatantly truthful (yes, we expect you to show up and raise support!) job descriptions for board members can help set clear expectations. The intentionality of your board members (what do they expect) is as important as your intentionality (what do you expect) in recruiting them.
Having a goal is good, and purpose-driven board leadership is ideal for any governance-led organization. This concept was pioneered by the team at Boardsource and is rooted in research on the dysfunction of traditional boards. The basis of the concept of purpose-driven board leadership is simple: prioritizing the organization’s purpose over the organization’s mission. Let’s break it down:
Vision: the desired future state
Mission: an organization’s role in working toward its vision
Values: the principles and beliefs that guide how an organizatoin enacts its mission
Purpose: an organization’s reason for being in the world is melding the concepts of mission and values in pursuit of a vision.
Check out this in-depth Purpose Driven Board Leadership article from the Stanford Social Innovation Review. Also, stay tuned! In February, we’ll welcome Andy Davis back for a Part II segment going deeper into this topic!
My advocacy, systems-brain, says, “Yes! Yes, yes, yes!” If only this were how we’ve always thought about the impact and social change. And I would go even further to say that this is also how for-profit businesses should consider how they fit into their surrounding ecosystems. Governed less by “profit-at-all-costs” and more by purpose-driven practices that aren’t destroying our earth and humanity.
I love how the idea of impact and change is reframed into something more significant than each organization. A successful nonprofit does not necessarily lead to a thriving community. And since the problems are so complicated, nuanced, and intertwined, I am glad BoardSource is reminding us that one organization focused on one population will only move the needle so far, if at all. I hope more of us begin to talk about ecosystems!
As BoardSource’s director of education, Andy Davis is responsible for creating and delivering public training for the nonprofit sector, overseeing the BoardSource Certified Governance Trainer program, and aligning BoardSource’s educational offerings across departments. Additionally, as a BoardSource consultant and trainer, Andy works with the organization’s clients nationally, developing and delivering consulting and training services. Before joining BoardSource eight years ago, Andy was a professional development coordinator for Quality Enhancement for Nonprofit Organizations (QENO) in Wilmington, NC. He holds a master’s degree in public administration with a concentration in nonprofit management from the University of North Carolina at Wilmington. Andy also serves as the vice-chair of the national advisory council of AmeriCorps Alums and is a charter member of the selection committee for the Center for Nonprofit Advancement’s Board Leadership Awards.
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