Live From IS: Board Revises Organization’s Mission

October 28, 2015       Paul Clolery      

Miami, Fla. — Independent Sector’s (IS) year-long, 15-city tour called “Threads,” coupled with the search for a new president and chief executive officer, has sparked what the organization’s board is calling a “refounding” of the 30-year-old national leadership group.

The board unveiled new language for the organization’s bylaws and a “revisioning” of the organization’s purpose, which includes reaching into state and grassroots organizations. The plans were outlined during IS’s annual business meeting at its annual conference here. Nearly 1,000 participants are at the annual conference.

The board didn’t want “a conventional three- to five-year plan,” said Board Chair Neil Nicoll. The board was not planning on also needing a new chief executive when the “Threads” meetings were launched. But, board members came to the conclusion that the convergence allows a complete reboot of mission and thinking around five pillars:

  • Bringing people together;
  • Creating more insight/foresight for action;
  • Advocating for public policies;
  • Driving solutions; and,
  • Providing practical tools and programs.

Audience members expressed concern that IS might not have the resources or staffing to handle the ambitious revisioning. The key, said Nicoll, is to better integrate the sector, business and government around the core beliefs. To that end, he said the board wants to “move Independent Sector out into the field” to “turn knowledge into action.” The plan is for partnering with organizations doing regional and local work, fostered by a national infrastructure for idea exchange to strengthen advocacy work, he said.

It is clear the organization’s members highly value public policy work, said Nicoll. The plan calls for it to be more proactive, rather than reactive. Much of that will fall on the shoulders of the new chief executive. Diana Aviv left the job after 12 years to head Feeding America. The search committee is working with search firm Russell Reynolds to formulate a job description. IS Board Vice Chair and search committee chair Steven McCormick encouraged members to suggest potential chief executives through an email address the organization set up.

Board members speaking to The NonProfit Times on background said while the plan is long-term they might not be opposed to a transitional chief executive of three to five years to get the new plan rolling.

“Those unwilling to change are unlikely to remain relevant,” said Nicoll. During the “Threads” process the board was willing to consider the outcome might be that the organization was no longer essential. They found the opposite, he said, and pointed to a 90-percent member retention rate.