4 Reasons Why Board Members Need to Participate in Margin & Mission IgnitionPosted on May 11, 2023 by Michael Corley, consultant with The Patterson Foundation
Editor's Note: Michael Corley is a strategy consultant specializing in strategic planning and meeting facilitation. With clients across the spectrum of private companies, governmental agencies, and nonprofit organizations, Michael believes that groups of people, properly engaged, can solve any strategic challenge. Glimpse his podcast, I 501(c) YOU, here. Learn more about The Patterson Foundation's Advancing Mission Thrivability initiatives here.
A nonprofit organization's decision to engage in Margin & Mission Ignition must be thoughtful, intentional, and fully supported by its board of directors. Why? Because thoughtfully and intentionally approached, starting an earned-income venture can transform the agency on many levels. Throughout this blog section, you will read how earned income is a game-changer.
Because it has the potential to be a game-changer, everyone in the organization needs to be supportive. This includes the members of the board of directors. Without board support, we have observed a limited ability for the agency to reach its "earned income potential."
We have learned that to be successful, board members, some, not all, need to participate in the earned-income process because:
1) Someone needs to be the conduit between the full board and the project. While the CEO will be involved, a board member or more needs to work in lockstep with the CEO so they can address any board questions or concerns. Pursuing earned income is an engrossing process, and someone on the board needs to fully appreciate this and be able to articulate it.
2) To offer a different perspective. A board member(s) will have different perspectives than even the CEO/ED, so this situation is when more heads are better.
3) To show support when the going gets tough. Pursuing earned income is time and energy-consuming, and there are many challenges. (This is just like starting a new company.) Board member support throughout the process will help work through the challenging times.
4) To help the CEO prioritize with the board. This may be the most important. A nonprofit has multiple programs and projects, and new ideas always emerge. It is important that the CEO/ED have the support of a board member(s) who can keep the organization focused on this priority. There will be temptations to begin new projects, change the course of the earned-income project, and question the work's value. (A good board will ask these questions.) Having a fellow board member continue to explain why the decision was made to pursue earned income and to remain focused on its implementation is essential.
Developing a business plan is not easy, and implementing one is even more difficult. Doing both or either well requires focus, commitment, and support from the entire board, and this is best achieved by having board members involved in the project.