If you’d like to add community members to your board, here’s a playbook from one nonprofit that just did it.
Here’s a radical idea for nonprofit leaders that shouldn’t be so radical: Elect members of the community you serve to your Board of Directors.
For all the expertise we expect out of nonprofit boards, like legal, marketing and fundraising, not all consider lived experience. Yet for those looking to energize a board, increase fundraising capacity and even rediscover your organization’s impact, this is an easy priority.
Before I joined Children’s Scholarship Fund Philadelphia (CSFP) as its Executive Director in March of 2020, CSFP’s board decided to include parent voices in leadership roles. But the strategy for recruiting and electing parents to the board was not in place.
When I researched best practices for inviting and including the families we serve on our board, I found that advice on this topic was severely lacking. So along with a team member, I consulted with other leaders, participated in a workshop, and did some good old-fashioned research to learn why it was important to include parent voices, how to recruit them, and how to ensure those voices would be heard and valued.
If you’d like to add community members to your board, here are things that helped CSFP to strategically recruit and retain community members to sit on our board of directors:
For CSFP, the results of this strategic and intentional shift were impressive.
Our board now includes two permanent seats to be filled by current or former CSFP parent/guardian leaders. Lateefah Lucky, Owner at Bookkeeping and Consulting Made Easy, and José Santiago, Analyst at Comcast, have held these seats for the past two years.
Examples of their contributions, which other organizations may be in need of, include:
Lateefah and José presence on CSFP’s board was immediately energizing, and we learned so much as an organization from their participation at the highest leadership level. Their personal experiences, along with their ideas and networks, have been invaluable, and you can replicate this success within your own organization.
This piece was written by Keisha Jordan and featured in a Generocity article on September 7, 2022.
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