Last time, I began sharing my early attempt to create my own nonprofit board member job description, one that speaks to the broader, unique contributions of governance. Today, I introduce the second half of this work-in-progress.
In the AMBASSADOR role, the board member acts as boundary spanner – reaching out from the organization and building relationships with key stakeholders. As community leaders and volunteers, board members have a credibility that staff on the organizational payroll can never have with many audiences. That gives great power to the contacts that board members make – power to engage donors and potential donors, policy makers, opinion leaders, volunteers and others. Whether these contacts occur in a formal setting, or in the informal interactions of daily life, they carry great potential to make a difference and build support.
The VISIONARY role may be the biggest stretch for the board – and the hardest to squeeze into the press of everyday responsibilities. But it may be the one of greatest long-term importance. It’s where the board creates the future: anticipating the issues and opportunities, generating ideas that shape what the organization will become. Boards must make time for visionary work, to generate a compelling image that will inspire greatness within, and commitment to, the organization.
In reframing the way board work is portrayed, I hope to balance the emphasis on the fiscal with the equally critical roles that often take a back seat. They’re all important, they’re all the responsibility of a nonprofit’s governing body. They are all worth our time and energy.