Todd Hornback

Building Better Boards in 10 Easy Steps

posted by
Todd Hornback,
Director of Community Life
DMB Associates, Inc.

"Your board is your destiny." You could have heard a pin drop when this simple, yet elegant answer was given to an apparently complex question.

When fundraising legend Jerry Panas was the featured presenter to a small group of nonprofit CEO's and board chairs in Phoenix, those in the room hung on his every word. I mean, why wouldn't they? Mr. Panas has raised something like a gazillion dollars through the years. In fact, with over thirty years of proven fundraising success, he certainly knows a little something about that complex question: "So, what is the board's role in fundraising?"

Your board is your destiny.

It's brilliant. It's brilliant because it's so true. It's also brilliant because it's compelling. Whatever your past accomplishments, whatever your organizational journey, be assured that the makeup of the group sitting around your board table is a direct precursor to where your organization will end up — for better or for worse.

Your board is your destiny.

It's shocking to me how many nonprofit boards are unaware of the power and importance they possess. Worse, some are outright shirking their primary responsibilities, leaving all faith (and important decisions) in the hands of their CEO. I mean all due respect to the abundance of massively talented leaders in the nonprofit community. But left alone, even the most successful CEO's could be creating an unsustainable enterprise. Without broad-based community support, an abundance of boisterous stakeholders, and support from multiple consumer markets (all work that should be driven by the board), organizations with leadership models containing narrow distribution of meaningful roles do not survive over time.

Your board is your destiny.

Board development is the most important work of the nonprofit enterprise. Yet, it is largely under-valued, under-resourced, and under-appreciated for its potential. So, here it is. Developed over the past decade with broad support and inspiration from a variety of friends, trusted colleagues, and published wisdom: Board Development 101 — Building Better Boards in 10 Easy Steps: