The Great Recession taught many not-for-profits some hard lessons that they could have known ahead of time. Some didn’t learn, and thus didn’t survive. Here are the keys to help your favorite not-for-profit survive and thrive:
- Fundraising. You absolutely MUST be both a) contributing personally, and b) bringing other donors to the organization. This is a baseline expectation. If you’re not giving, make room for someone who will. The key question is, “Why should I support your organization if you, as a board member, do not?”
- Fiscal Responsibility. This is a very close second to the above — again, it falls into the MUST category — you absolutely MUST be knowledgeable and engaged with the budget, so that the board can be confident enough to make the decisions necessary to keep the organization on a sound financial footing. There are programs to be evaluated and risks to be taken, all in the name of advancing the mission and fostering financial sustainability.
- Planning. A strong vision and a strategic plan are baseline expectations that major donors have these days. They need to know where you are going in the next 3, 5 and 10 years, because their money is tied up in getting you there. The board must take the long view, even in a time of uncertainty.