Sometimes, we can use all the help we can get.
Such is often the case for nonprofit organizations that even during the best of times struggle with operational issues, such as meeting fundraising goals, controlling expenses, and fulfilling the goals laid out in a mission statement. As we know, the past few years have been anything but the best of times, as the COVID-19 pandemic ravaged the books of nonprofits operating with a wide variety of mission statements.
Ideally, help would come in the form of sudden inflows of cash to help finance your mission. However, in the real world for nonprofit organizations, the most effective and realistically expected type of help comes from the expertise provided by an advisory board. Take the example of a community health center that recently needed to update its aging computer network. The nonprofit did not have anyone on staff that possessed the technical expertise required to bring the community health center up to speed with its technology infrastructure.
With the support of an advisory board consisting of current and former information technology professionals, the community health center achieved its goal of modernizing its computer network.
What is an Advisory Board?
An advisory board represents a group of individuals that provide advice to a nonprofit organization’s board of directors. In the community health center example, the advisory board recruited to help enhance the technology infrastructure first met with the board of directors before interacting with the employees and volunteers responsible for upgrading the obsolete computer network. Although staff and volunteers handle the daily responsibilities of fundraising and organizing events, an advisory board is formed to implement strategies to complete a single project, such as upgrading a nonprofit organization’s computer network.
How Does My Nonprofit Form an Advisory Board?
The first step required to form an advisory board sets the wheels in motion to address a single challenge: Your nonprofit organization must identify a glaring need. The glaring need can be to upgrade a computer network or plan an extensive renovation of your nonprofit’s headquarters. After identifying a glaring need, the next step involves choosing volunteers to comprise the membership of the advisory board. Although one or more current volunteers might have the proper skills and expertise to provide advice on a certain project, recruiting volunteers to serve on an advisory board from outside your organization allows you to receive more objective input on what needs to be done.
After forming an advisory board, it is up to the members to select a leader who has the time to devote to overseeing the entire project from start to finish. The leader sets the direction for the project to take, while assigning responsibilities to each board member.
The type of advisory board formed depends on the goal of your nonprofit organization. The most common types of advisory boards form to address fundraising and leadership issues, as well as deliver support for nonprofits that want to start providing a new service or managing a new program.
The Bottom Line
Advisory boards represent a vital resource for nonprofit organizations that struggle with a specific operational issue. After an advisory board helps your nonprofit overcome a challenge, the board can disband while your nonprofit waits for the next challenge to overcome.