As the world, and nonprofit operations, become more complex, the makeup of a tax-exempt board takes on added importance. Gone are the days when a friend of a friend who happens to be available can fill a seat at the table.
During a recent conference sponsored by the Nonprofit Risk Management Center, Melanie Lockwood Herman, executive director of the organization, detailed the need for dynamic boards whose members bring a variety of skills. She emphasized that all the desired skills should be represented on the board. The skills are:
- Legal experience. To include legal, policy and environmental issues as well as anticipating legal risks.
- Finance experience. To prepare or oversee and understand the financial activities of an organization.
- Strategy formation experience. To identify strategic needs and issues.
- Governance experience. A demonstrable grasp of board practice and principles.
- Development/fundraising experience. A demonstrated track record of successfully raising funds from individuals, institutions and special events.
- Information technology experience. Understanding of systems and developments, either through academia or industry.
- Marketing/sales experience. To provide leadership and coordination of an organization’s sales and marketing functions.
- Risk management experience. Expertise in analyzing risk issues and identifying practical responses to cope with uncertainty.
- Human resources experience. To support organizational strategies and ensure effective operations.
- Industry-specific experience. Including industry challenges and issues, leading trends and practices, as well as a “network” to leverage.