Authors; Leslie R. Crutchfield and Heather McLeod Grant
At some point or another, you interact with non-profits. Either you are inspired by, donate to, volunteer with, or are benefited by a non-profit. Perhaps some of you work for one, have already, or will start your own non-profit. Perhaps you will lead, govern or support one as a board member. Whatever your interaction with this type of organization, you know they support our society, you might not know they can be tricky to lead and manage. I’m Elise with Woodworth Enterprises and I happened upon a LinkedIn Learning course titled, “Nonprofit Management Foundations”. Instructor Leslie Crutchfield had me wanting to learn more when she introduced the course with a quote by Margret Mead. “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it's the only thing that ever has.” This quote resonated with me as part of the intention my alma mater, the Virginia Military Institute’s (VMI), mission to create citizen-soldiers ready for civilian-life and service.
I’m also well into the midst of a book Leslie co-authored with Heather McLeod Grant called, Forces for Good: The Six Practices of High-Impact Nonprofits. It is a must-read if you operate in the nonprofit world. The well-researched material presents in depth examples of how the nonprofits studied achieve their high level of impact. There is a common trend so far about the organizations leveraging power, resources, and networks to achieve their mission. Another trend is that there isn’t any one right way to be a successful nonprofit. The six-practices they outline exist and persist in their study group, but their application is far from a miracle formula. The key is having the mindset and strategy for success.
Why the sudden interest in nonprofits? Well, we’ve decided to focus our efforts this year on helping nonprofit boards build more effective board members so they can better support and govern their organizations. This ball started rolling in 2014 when I accepted my first board position with the VMI Foundation. I believe that NPO’s are important and beneficial to society. By law they need a governing board. Over the past years, I’ve noticed there is almost always a need for good board members. There are many types of boards and many types of members that make a board. The best ones are engaged with their organization.
What better way to help a nonprofit, than to strengthen its board? So, I looked at the Ignite Model we’ve been using to help companies strengthen their culture and with a few tweaks to our Insight Tool have made it work for non-profits too. As with companies, there is no one-size fits all solution to problems that may arise. But I’ve found having an effective board that is aware of needs and responsive to the organization is the best place to start.
I would love to hear about your experience with or on a nonprofit board. Did you have an enriching experience? What were the pros and cons of your group? What worked and what didn’t? Comment below or set up a time to chat. I always welcome a conversation about forces for good.