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Executive Voice

The Importance of Creating a Strong Non-Profit Board

Many people create nonprofits when they are passionate about something. There are many organizations that focus on local communities, children, medical conditions, and other forms of advocacy. Many people, when starting a nonprofit organization, do not realize the amount of work it takes to get a nonprofit organization going and the importance of having a strong nonprofit board.

The founder is the face of the organization and has a story to share. They are in a position such as an executive director or president. As the leader of the organization, they cannot lead without a strong team that will help to create a positive culture to help carry out the mission and vision of the organization. It can be very challenging to find people who are natural leaders or can work well with others. Here are some things you will need to consider before creating a nonprofit organization or, if you have one, ways to strengthen your team.

Do Your Homework

When creating a nonprofit, you want to make sure you are protecting your organization, yourself, and your team. Liability insurance and board and officer insurance are something you should have, even if you are a small organization. Many of the larger organizations dislike the thought of grassroots organizations competing with them and they will monitor any organization that they feel could grow and become a threat to their funding or existence. Educate yourself about branding and trademarks to make sure what you want to call your organization or the logo you want to use is not taken. The last thing you want is to incorporate your organization, get tax-exempt status, get everything in order, and then have an organization send you notice that if you don’t make certain changes, they will take legal action. You will have a big mess on your hands that could end up being very expensive.

Take Time Building Your Team

To succeed at your nonprofit, you need a strong team that is passionate about your mission and wants to make a difference. When some people start a nonprofit, they will ask family or friends to be on their board. Short-term, having friends you feel will carry out your mission is alright. Family should not be on your board of directors. They can volunteer and help to advise you, but you want to avoid it. Long-term, having a family on your board can backfire because some donors consider it a conflict of interest. Having family and friends who do not understand the operations of an organization can also backfire. If they do not understand how to strategically plan and carry out business operations, or do not understand how to market and build a brand, you will not grow. Have family and friends be there but give them things to do that they can handle, such as helping to spread the word about your work, helping at events and fundraisers, or just being there to support you as you work to make a difference.

Find Professionals Who Truly Care

Many people when they join a board think of the position as another source of revenue. That is far from the truth. Most nonprofit boards are volunteer base. You want this because if they are a volunteer; they are protected from liability through your board and officers’ policy. Once you compensate people for their work, those protections go away. If any unethical acts are committed, they can hold the board member liable for their actions. The last thing you want is your organization facing a lawsuit. It can jeopardize your 501c3 status and put you at risk of having to dissolve your organization.

Find professionals to help work in areas such as strategic planning, marketing, networking, human resources, and corporate sponsorship. People like this can give you a lot of expert advice and help you in strengthening your organization. This is a process however that does not happen overnight. Many want to see that you have been able to operate the organization for at least a few years and have the knowledge to plan and carry out your goals. For individuals in these fields, many will join a couple of boards because it shows they are helping a community in need, and they are strengthening their leadership skills.

Competition and Your Target Market

Many organizations that help certain communities focus on the same thing, resulting in them fighting over sponsors and donors. The best thing you can do is focus on an area that your competitors are not focused on. For example, if your competitor is focused on research and development, focus on helping the community in need. Many grassroots organizations are focused on what the community needs because of larger organizations having connections to research, academics, and development. Focus on an area that they have no time to commit to so if they say you are competition you can bring up the fact that even though your target market is similar or the same, you are offering a different service and will not be focused on taking sponsors or projects from them.

Conclusion

Take all these things into consideration as you plan or build your organization. Before even launching your organization, create a strong business plan so you can strategically plan and carry out the things listed above. Do not rush into launching your nonprofit. This is going to be a long-term journey that is going to take a lot of work and sacrifice to make it happen. Do it right so you can make a positive impact and a difference.

For years, Natalie L. Boehm has been through these challenges. Now she is the founder of The Defeating Epilepsy Foundation; her passion is to help remove the stigma that is associated with epilepsy and help individuals, families, and caregivers battling epilepsy live happy, healthy, and productive lives. For more information, visit The Defeating Epilepsy Foundation.

Estonian-born, Tallinn-based entrepreneur, CEO, manager, marketing strategist and professional athlete. My work have been featured by Tech.com Engadget, Medium and other publication. In my free time, I love to get engage with people, and travel to explore the world.

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