Board Members and Nonprofit Leaders: It’s Time.

By Molly Hansen, Vice President

As we ask ourselves: Now What? What do we do in this ever-evolving “new normal?” It’s time to take action. Here are the five actions to take today.

As a consultant with The Alford Group and former development professional with more than 30 years’ experience in the nonprofit sector, when my colleagues and I see what is happening all around us, we regularly ask “How might we have the most positive impact with our clients? How can we improve our work so that our clients can better serve their participants, members, families, patients, students, children and youth?”

And also as an ordained Interfaith-Interspiritual Minister, I ask similar questions, such as “How might I help? What is mine to do in this moment? Where might I have the most positive impact with those I serve, those I work for and with – where might I have the most positive impact in our world?”

It is easy to get overwhelmed these days. We’ve passed more than 400 days since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. Millions of jobs have been lost and more people than ever before are going without food, housing and medical care. It will soon be 12 months since George Floyd died at the knee of a white police officer – and so many deaths of sons and daughters, husbands and wives, mothers and fathers before and since.

Economic inequity has run rampant for centuries. Tragedies and conflicts that have lingered since before our nation’s founding. We elected a new president and yet before he could take office those who didn’t believe in the results of the fair election took to the streets en masse, not in a peaceful protest, but in an insurrection and stormed our seat of government with violence.

The litany of tragedies and lack of progress is, indeed, overwhelming.

So, we ask – Where can we have the greatest impact? What is ours to do in this moment?

The nonprofit sector in our country is a vibrant, well-managed, focused system – in most cases – of support, services, programs, productions, exhibits that lift us up, care for our children, provide food when we’re hungry, help us get sober, train us for jobs, employ us and give us hope in times of despair.

It’s time.

Nonprofit board members, executive directors, development and program professionals, and all of us in the sector: It’s time to make the biggest impact we can in our nonprofit work together.

Your organizations have the ability, the expertise and passion to change our country and our world.

It’s time to take action. Here are the five actions to take today:

#1 Recommit to and fully embrace the mission and vision of your organization.

#2 Accept that it is your duty to bring an authentic and sustained commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) as board members, staff, representatives to your organization’s donors, and most importantly to those whom your organization serves. Good intentions are barely a beginning – take action!

Read The Alford Group’s Commitment to Diversity, Equity and Inclusion

Conduct a Culture of Equity Assessment

#3 Fulfill your responsibilities and exceed expectations in your role as a board member, executive director and/or nonprofit professional. Respectfully hold yourself and others accountable.

Download The Alford Group’s Board Toolkit

#4 Commit to full transparency and engage with each other as the true collaborators you are called to be. Express appreciation for each other. Become extraordinary listeners.

#5 Embrace technology. It’s here to stay. Embrace hybrid large group meetings (virtual and in-person) allowing more team members to attend and engage in discussion. Don’t be shy about asking for help getting set up to participate in a virtual meeting. Consider a consent agenda at board meetings to save time on routine reporting and allow the focus to be on issues that require active participation. Fundraisers: Be sure to engage donors virtually.

Truth bomb! It may be time to move on

If you can’t recommit, fully embrace, fulfill and exceed, hold yourselves and each other accountable, and listen, then it’s time to consider stepping down from your position and passing the torch. Nonprofit organizations require volunteers and employees who are completely in the game and dedicated.

As a board member, CEO or executive director, or staff member you are essential to the future of the nonprofit sector and thereby essential to the future of our country and how it houses, feeds, heals, cares for and uplifts our people.

It’s time to recommit; embrace; advance diversity, equity and inclusion; and support your nonprofit.

Let’s get to work!

I believe that individuals can make a difference in society. Since periods of change such as the present one come so rarely in human history, it is up to each of us to make the best use of our time to help create a happier world.

— The Dalai Lama