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The Role of the Board of Directors – What can a nonprofit expect?

Board member engagement is critical for nonprofit success. The million-dollar question is “What exactly is the role of the board?” Is it surprising to learn the role of the board may not always be clear to nonprofit board members?

Is the role of the board of directors to be actively engaged in fund development activities? Is it to make decisions about the day-to-day operations of a nonprofit? How about strategic planning?

From my experience as a nonprofit advisor and coach, and 23 years as a nonprofit professional in Northeast Wisconsin, board members of nonprofits are highly dedicated to serving the mission and want to be effective but aren’t sure what to do or what is expected. Sound familiar?

It was very clear to me early in my career as an executive director that I had to “bring the board along” and provide opportunities for them to be better, effective board members. That opportunity was board of directors training. That’s right. Formal training to inform board members of their role and duties as a board member.

In my first executive director role, I invited the then board president to a day-long local board training session and at the end, they stated, “Now I know what to do as the president.” Score! That opened my eyes and I never looked back.

NPLI Steering Council 2024 Seated: Peter Mariahazy, Greta Lax, Lindsay Fenlon Tammy Geenen, Mike Sandercock, Trisha Witt, Tonya Dedering, Sridevi Buddi, Becky Boulanger, Angela Gargo, David Weiss. Not pictured: Vicki McAuliffe, Richard Thompson.

Training a board of directors of their role is essential for success. The Fox Valley is fortunate to have an excellent board of directors training resource — the Nonprofit Leadership Initiative (NPLI). As the chair of NPLI’s Fund Development Committee and member of the Steering Council, we identified the need for board training in fund development as we are growing and need to ensure financial resources are secured to serve our mission. Oh, and by the way, seeing to it that the organization has the necessary funds and resources to fulfill its mission – fundraising – is one of the most critical responsibilities of nonprofit boards.

I am honored to be conducting the fund development training for the NPLI Steering Council later in February. Our goal is to “Walk the Talk” and be an example of what NPLI teaches in the Board Academy training. Is your nonprofit board of directors ready to gain clarity on their role? The timing is ideal as NPLI is planning their upcoming Board Academy training course. Is it your time to “Walk the Talk?”  I highly recommend applying for the Board Academy. Registration closes Feb. 9.

Maybe you too will say “Now, I know what to do as a board member.”

Tonya L. Dedering is the founder/CEO of Vigeo Nonprofit Advising & Coaching (Advising & Coaching Nonprofits to THRIVE.) She is an NPLI Steering Council member, a member of the Association of Fundraising Professional (AFP) NE WI chapter Board of Directors and a Certified Fundraising Executive (CFRE).

Annette Look, NPLI Program and Communications Manager

The Nonprofit Leadership Initiative within the Community Foundation is a partnership of Fox Valley-area nonprofits, funders, educational institutions and businesses dedicated to providing resources needed by effective nonprofit boards and executive leaders. NPLI offers a wide range of leadership, management and technical skill-building programs, as well as peer learning circles, to the entire nonprofit sector in the Fox Valley.

We support NPLI with a grant from the Community Vision Fund within the Community Foundation for the Fox Valley Region, one among many community partners supporting NPLI. Click here to learn more.

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