Our world is changing at a record pace, particularly here in the United States.  As a result nonprofit organizations need to plan accordingly, not only with respect to current programs, services and financial matters, but also strategically when looking to the future and the organization’s long term goals.  One way nonprofit organizations can structure themselves to achieve their long term goals is through board member development to ensure the best leaders are in place for the future.

It may not be a surprise, but some of the changes that current statistics tell us include the fact that American adults are increasingly diverse with respect to ethnicity.  In addition, with respect to gender, the percentage of women as top wealth holders is rising, along with the percentage of married households where the wives’ income exceeds that of husbands.   These changes will obviously have an impact on charitable giving and fundraising efforts, but these same groups will also increasingly have a desire to have a voice and participate in the leadership of the charitable organizations that they are passionate about.  Lastly, younger generations today are very committed to the world they live in and are very interested in participating in leadership roles as well.

Importance of Nonprofit Board Development

So what does this mean for your nonprofit organization and what should your organization’s management team and current board of directors do in response?  Below are some recommendations of how to strategically plan for your organization’s future leaders:

  • Evaluate the organization’s current board of directors and identify what changes may be needed for the future. Are the board members representative of diverse cultures, genders and age groups?
  • Identify what skill sets are needed by various board members and ensure that your board consists of members with those skills. For example, some members with financial expertise are usually necessary, but also having board members with fundraising and/or technical skills related to your mission is equally important.
  • Ensure that your organization has a robust board member training program. When board members have an in-depth understanding of the organization they are more likely to engage and be an ambassador for the organization.
  • Consider using experienced board members to partner with each new board member to assist them in learning about the organization and their new role.
  • Plan ahead for future board member needs by tracking and monitoring board member terms and begin the recruitment process early.

A key attribute of any successful nonprofit organization is to have a board of directors that is engaged and possesses the skill sets that are needed to assist the management team in achieving the organization’s mission.  By identifying what those needs are and strategically planning to recruit individuals with the necessary skills, expertise and diversity, your organization will be well positioned for success in the future.