What's Next for Boards?

Amy Schiffman and Judy Gadiel

The current pandemic has been full of challenges and hardships, while also offering opportunities for reflection, assessment and a renewed focus on priorities. As many nonprofits come upon the end of their fiscal year and the start of a new one July 1, this too is a time for reflection, assessment and a renewed focus on priorities; and this starts with board leadership.

Your nonprofit board has a few straightforward responsibilities that do not waver with the times: fundraising & fiscal oversight; vision, mission & planning; legal & ethical accountability; and management of the chief executive. What likely has changed during the economic and social crisis is the way you do business and your board’s ability to manage. So, what do you do? Below are four recommendations of concrete steps to take with your board starting today:

  1. Assess board members’ ability to govern: Connect with each board member individually and have an open and honest conversation about their ability to govern in the new reality. Do they have more time or less time to devote to your work? How will their financial support change from recent years? How can they best serve the organization in the new fiscal year? Do not assume the worst – we are finding many board members are more eager and available to dig in and support their organizations in new and creative ways. Remember, there is no judgement here, rather an understanding of where each person is today and a compassionate response to their circumstances and abilities to support you.
  2. Identify new volunteer leaders: Take a look around at who has stepped up in recent months to lend a hand, lead a charge, or make a significant donation. Many of us are seeing new leaders emerge during this time, and now is the moment to encourage and formalize their role.
  3. Focus on financial planning: Work closely with your board president and treasurer to examine your budget and identify changes, as well as opportunities. Where do you need to cut expenses? What do you predict will be lost in revenue? What new opportunities have emerged for revenue generation? Consider creating two versions of the budget (realistic and aspirational) and build in time for evaluation after the first quarter of the year.
  4. Consider your strategy: Does your board need to create an ad-hoc committee to revisit your strategic plan? With changes to delivery of services, finances and governance, having a roadmap to guide your work and the work of the board for the next 6-12 months will be a gift to the organization and a valuable tool for you.

A final thought - use this time wisely. Take a moment to breathe, create space for brave conversations, and you just may find that your leaders and organization emerge stronger.

What other questions do you have that we can help address about what is to come in the next few months? Please reach out to Amy with your questions. We are always here to help.

Our team continues to offer nonprofit professionals and volunteers complimentary 30-minute coaching sessions during this uncertain time to help keep your fundraising programs on track.