This guest post was written by Lisa Hoffman, coach, consultant. Lisa brings 25 years of experience and success to nonprofit fund and board development, facilitation, and coaching.
Most nonprofits seek to recruit board members from the corporate world, especially tech, to turbocharge fundraising, energize strategy, and open new doors.
But when these unicorns are recruited, clashes often ensue that frustrate, even bewilder, all parties. The frustrations I hear are:
“Why does it take the Board sooooooo long to make decisions?”
“Doesn’t she understand that our bottom line is the mission, not money?”
“But I have expertise in marketing materials, why can’t I continue giving feedback to our designer?”
“We have to get input from our clients, donors and partners before we can move forward?”
There are many reasons for these kinds of challenges, from individual style, to mismatched expectations, to weak or nonexistent recruitment and onboarding. New board members are often expected to automatically understand their role and the organization. This is especially challenging for board members who are used to a very different culture, power structure, and approach to getting things done.
As complex as these dynamics can be, addressing questions of different cultures, and clarifying the board role in an intentional on-boarding process goes a long way in mutually satisfying board service, and problem prevention. Once oriented, ongoing communication is important in supporting new board members, and addressing issues right away.
Successfully Integrating For-Profit Board Members is a conversation on this topic I’ll be having with Thomas A. Raffin, MD, MD on Thursday, April 6, 3 PM-4:30 PM at the Foundation Center San Francisco.
Our goal is to provide straightforward solutions to effectively integrating new board members from business onto nonprofit boards. Tom is Professor Emeritus at the Stanford University School of Medicine and Senior Partner at Telegraph Hill Partners, an investment firm focused on cutting edge biotech. He is also a committed and enthusiastic Board member with a number of nonprofits, including The AIDS Memorial Grove.