noun (plural x·py·ri·as)
1. experience in life over time: active involvement in an activity or exposure to events or people over a period of time that leads to an active world view.
2. a base of knowledge or skill acquired over time: a viewpoint gained through being involved with people over a period of time
One of the big opportunities nonprofits have is to
carefully understand the best roles and responsibilities of their board. Whether a board of elders in a church, a
board of directors or a board of trustees, organizational needs for the right
type of board members changes over time.
Understanding when it is time for the board to be involved in fund
raising is key to expanding mission and ministry
Role of the CEO is key
When does the board become fully engaged in fund
raising? That question is best answered
by looking at the position of the chief executive officer. This title is arbitrary and some
organizations may call this key leader the president, the general manager or
director or in the church world, a senior pastor. However, the actual functions of management
that the CEO is charged with fulfilling tell us much about their role as well
as the role of the board.
The traditional functions of management are planning,
organizing, directing and controlling and if the CEO is charged and fully
responsible for these classical functions, than likely we have a true CEO and
the board can take on other responsibilities.
Also, as the organization ‘matures’, there are more opportunities for
the board to take on more strategic roles regarding fund raising.
The three phases of board maturity
I’ve discovered that all boards are not created equal,
nor should they be. While all board
have the fiduciary responsibilities of governance, few if any need to spend all
of their time on governance. Annual
executive compensation reviews, budgets and a financial audit take only a
portion of the time leaving the board with other opportunities rather than
When a nonprofit is in its Developmental Stage, typically
in the first few years and with revenues of less than $100,000, the members of
the board of directors are likely the key volunteers. They are idea people and dream with the
founder about future possibilities.
Their selection and appointment to board status is simple, often not
even formalized and usually happens through friendship rather than any
In the Growth Stage, typically in the second through
fifth year of the organization and when revenues are still less than $500,000
to $1 million annually, the board of director’s role begins to change. Rather than volunteers, these board members
are key partners in the ministry. CEO’s
look for skilled people to fill these roles that provide expertise and service
that otherwise would need to be purchased or gone without. Attorneys, tradespeople, skilled technology
people are great finds for these boards and they help out with services
provided in-kind. Governance becomes
more important but board members are strategically selected for what they can
bring to this growth stage of the enterprise.
The ultimate stage is the Expansion Stage, and the
organization is likely more than five years old with revenues in excess of
$1,000,000 annually. While less than 30% of all nonprofits ever get this large,
there are still much more ministry that can be accomplished but the thing that
is lacking is money. The board of
directors’ emphasis should be shifted to that of fund raising and board members
are selected based on their networks of friends and associates. These are connected people rather than
skilled people (i.e. Growth Stage). They
are ambassadors of the mission and ministry.
They are the best people to be involved in growing the funding base.
Here are just a few ways for these board members to get
involved in the effort.
• Network! Network
is not fundraising, it’s just natural
• Host a Table!
Always have a list of upcoming opportunities and invitations ready
• Coordinate a Grant Writing Initiative (City, County,
State, Federal, Philanthropic)
• Strategically create a list of top influencers to meet
• Plan an event at your club/home/work
• Host a lunch each week with a new prospect
• eMail, call or visit with donors just to say thanks
• Tell people why they serve as a board member
• Identify and recruit an in-kind service
Board Members that understand the opportunity to be
involved as an ambassador build a stronger and more stable funding base. They have the opportunity to be a key part of
the growth and success of the organization.
They build a lasting legacy and transform hearts.
I had the privilege earlier this month of attending a
memorial service for my Uncle Bob. My uncle was my dads older brother; a
highly decorated WWII vet who had lost his leg to enemy fire in one of the
concluding battles of the war.
While it may have been only a degree above freezing in
early January in Chicago, the graveside committal service was heart
warming. Our family was together and some of us had come in to be there
to show our support and to honor this dear and brave man.
Wouldn’t it be great to understand what it means to
really honor someone? The government has
it right regarding honor to our veterans.
Because my uncle was former military a detachment from the US Army
served as an honor guard in dress uniforms. The local VFW provided a volunteer
honor guard as well and fired three volleys; I even picked up one of the shell
casings for a souvenir.
The two men in dress blues in the honor guard were very
young. They obviously had never met my
Uncle but that fact didn’t matter. They
were honoring him not because who he was but because of his identification, his
attachment with the military and his former service.
The Bible tells us that we are to “honor our mother and
father” (Matt 19:19), and “honor the king” (1 Peter 2:17) as well as many
others. There are more than a few
mothers and fathers as well as kings that likely behave in a way that is less
than honorable. However, honor is due
not because of the person but because of that which is greater. Whether it is the US Government, the
military, the office of the President or the Kingdom of God, we honor those not
because of who they are but because of whose they are.