Board members sometimes stand in the way of what their nonprofit needs most. I’ve written before about the meaningless at best and destructive at worst distinction between “overhead” and “program” dollars. And board members often are as bad as donors at forcing nonprofits to ignore the very real costs of the work they do and their very real need for organization building dollars.
But board members could break this pattern by helping their nonprofit uncover, plan for and fund the staffing, technology, expertise and systems required to make the organization more effective at creating change. Board members need to put their weight behind organization building. And they can start by giving their nonprofit these five priceless gifts:
Permission to talk about real costs. Stop asking your nonprofit staff to get by with less and less. Stop telling your executive director to lower the salary they can offer a talented development director, not to spend money on technology, or to use volunteers when they need experts. Instead, start asking what the real costs of the work are and how much you truly need to raise to accomplish your ambitious organizational goals.