How to Develop Your Board


At SOURCE’s 10th anniversary nonprofit Summit, I had the honor of facilitating a Board Governance workshop held by David Factor of Executive Service Corps, a nonprofit consulting organization that is based in Southern California. Having been in both the role of a board member and a nonprofit management professional, he shared some valuable insight regarding nonprofit board governance with our workshop participants.

Upon introducing himself, David posed a question to the audience: “What are some common problems that you have faced with your board?”

The answers came flying in:

“We don’t share the same vision and ideas.”

“We are not sure what to expect out of the board!”

“The board doesn’t support the management financially”

“How do we recruit the right board members?”

Do you happen to share the same concerns that the participants of the grant workshop had experienced in their own organizations? Here are some of David’s best practices tips for effective nonprofit governance:

1. Cause comes first!

The board of trustees is called that for a reason: they are trustees of an organization’s mission. To have a board that is effective and helpful, each member must believe in the mission and vision of the organization and set that as the overarching goal of being a nonprofit board member. If they feel dedicated to the cause, they will act in the interest of the cause. In fact, when recruiting for a board member, make sure that the candidate puts the organization first and being a board member second!

2. Culture is everything!

David has three culture rules, collaboration, partnership and organization, which essentially boil down to the age-old concept of working as a team. First of all, it is crucial that the board and management staff engage in collaborative planning, where expectations and accountability are established for each side of the partnership. Know who is going to take the lead and who is going to support the other for each task, or when the two will share responsibilities. A partnership requires honesty and transparency to function successfully. David was kind enough to provide a breakdown of responsibilities within the Board-Management partnership.

3. The “Triple-A Board” for Fundraising

Nonprofit executives often find it difficult to engage board members in fundraising. When it comes to raising money, nonprofits should develop the triple-A board, which consists of ambassadors, askers and advocates. This way, the organization can maximize the board’s participation and take advantage of their individual strengths.

Ambassadors: Everyone should be an enthusiastic ambassador: board members should be representatives of the organization, focus on outreach and cultivation of relationships with prospective donors and stewardship of continuing supporters.Askers: Askers should be actively seeking for funding, Askers are matched with prospective and current donors to focus on securing a new or renewing a gift.

Advocates: An advocate should be skilled at strategically sharing information about the organization to an audience, telling the nonprofit’s story and advocating for its mission. Not only are they proficient at making the case for support but are also integrated into the strategic plan and vision.

If you’re interested in learning more about how to develop your nonprofit board, please contact us at