Business and the Board of Directors of Nonprofits
One of the great relationships in business is the relationship with nonprofit organizations. They provide services to people with basic and advanced needs, animals who must be protected and nurtured, arts of all kinds to be enjoyed and promoted, environmental issues that we have to address, and many other good things for our community and its inhabitants.
Nonprofits do these well, and with the kind of success that individuals cannot match. I can’t feed thousands of low-income children, but nonprofits can and do and I can help them do it. That is both the beauty of the relationship and the rationale for it. This article is not to convince you to work with a nonprofit. That is a self-evident truth. This is about doing that better.
For most businesses, relationships with nonprofits are far deeper than just writing a check. Businesses provide a large number of board members to the nonprofit community. If that includes you, here are a few ways you can bring tremendous value to your favorite nonprofits.
- Make a personal gift. Every board member should donate financially as well as with their time and professional expertise. Three good reasons for this. First is modeling. Your gift sets a good example for others to follow. Second is that grant funders want to know that the people closest to a nonprofit are giving, before they decide to make a grant. Most grant makers want to see 100% of a board supporting the cause. Finally, the primary rule of fundraising is that you don’t ask someone to do what you don’t do. You give, then you can ask others to give.
- Be a connector. Talk about the nonprofit whose board you serve on, and give a reason that you are involved, and a report about what good the nonprofit does. Then introduce those you talk with to the nonprofit staff who can explain the ways they can be involved too.
- Don’t be afraid of fundraising. It doesn’t need to be a daunting task. You believe in the mission of your nonprofit. You believe that the community is better off because your nonprofit exists. You know the nonprofit will benefit if more people become aware, get involved, and help out. So take a chance that people you work with, associate with, live near, or just hang out with, might have the same belief in the nonprofit that you do. Not all of them will, and your nonprofit will benefit from those who do.
Most importantly, if you are not yet involved with a nonprofit, get involved. It will be good for you personally, good for your business, and good for your community. Will it cost you time and money? Sure it will, as does everything that is beneficial to you. You can contact the Center for Nonprofit Excellence (CNPE) or call me and I can help you get connected. And if you are involved, I counsel folks like you to ask yourself (annually) two questions—Could I do more?—and Do I want to? The answers to those two questions will tell you all you need to know about whether or not you are in the right place for you. Nonprofits make our world better, and you can make them better. Do it today!