Board Members: The Highest Form of Volunteer
According to the National Center for Charitable Statistics, more than 1.5 million nonprofit organizations are registered in the U.S. This number includes public charities, private foundations, and other types of nonprofit organizations, including chambers of commerce, fraternal organizations, and civic leagues. Individuals looking for a nonprofit board to serve on have many options to choose from!
AbilityPath has fantastic board members, bringing with them their own areas of expertise. We strive to ensure our board members can amplify the voices of the communities we serve and that they are experts in subjects that are relevant to our mission. We are fortunate to have these excellent advisors further our organization’s work!
Perhaps the most critical role of a board member is as a trusted advisor to AbilityPath’s Executive Team. The Board-CEO-Executive Team relationship is a partnership. With good dialogue and by asking good questions, the board, CEO, and executive team can focus on long-term strategic initiatives that support our mission. Having a supportive and engaged board creates an environment that encourages our entire organization to be successful each day. This partnership only strengthened during the pandemic. As safety protocols, public health guidelines, virus-related information, and much more changed frequently, board members made themselves available to listen, offer guidance, share examples of what “works,” and continued to actively support our staff, participants, and our programs.
As an example, in March of last year the board authorized paying each staff member their full wages through the end of fiscal year 2020, which ensured each team member was able to focus on their wellbeing and the wellbeing of their families too. Throughout the year, the board remained focused on supporting our staff; for example, they authorized additional wellness time for each employee, acknowledging that staff may be experiencing burnout during these trying times.
There are many other important responsibilities of the board, such as:
- Fiduciary and governance responsibility of AbilityPath. The board ensures the fiscal health of the organization through their planning and oversight role. They review and approve our annual budget and audit reports. The board also ensures that the financial structure of the organization is adequate to meet current and long-term needs.
- Strategic guidance and advice. The board receives regular updates on the organization’s operations and offers guidance on our strategic direction and initiatives.
- Board members are ambassadors for AbilityPath and its mission and programs. Our board makes regular program visits, attends program events, and gets to know the people who are served by our programs. Our board provides introductions to key community leaders and helps to open doors to collaborations with organizations that complement our work.
- Financial support and volunteer service to further AbilityPath’s mission. Board members make personal contributions, often solicit donations from their personal and professional networks, and they also make introductions to foundations and corporations. In addition, they often extend their professional expertise to directly meet the needs of AbilityPath.
I attribute our success in enlisting new, highly qualified board members to the work and commitment of our current board and staff. Our current board members nominate incredibly talented candidates. As part of the “introduction” process, the prospective board members see firsthand all the incredible work done every day by AbilityPath’s team. They see our commitment to realizing our vision of a world where people of all abilities are fully accepted, respected, and included – and they want to be a part of that!
Early in my tenure, a well-respected leader said to me, “Board members are the highest form of volunteer you will ever enjoy.” I am reminded of that every day through our board’s tireless focus, dedication, generosity, expertise, advice, and friendship.