Board Leadership Feed

Funders: Give Big where You have or Take a Board Seat

I hold an endowed chair at a College where the funder was once Chairman of the Board, won the College's top honor, and still serves on the Foundation Board. For those who exercise leadership with leadership gifts, I have a tip based on personal experience:

Give, funders, where you have a board seat. Give, if you ever give big, where not only the people responsible for managing your gift inside the organization, but the president of the organization know your name and are happy to keep you happy. Vision ---> Choice of Charity --> Implementation ---> Accountability. Isn't that the drill? If you have the vision for what you want to change or preserve in the world, consider putting the money where you have visibility into the organization responsible for getting the results you want. Then use the board level clout to get the accountability from the front line people doing the work. My own funders, he and she both, are doing more than holding me accountable, in a cordial way, with quarterly reports, annual reports, regular emails and an advisory board on which they sit. Their vision is a key asset for me as a front line person. What they want, within reason, is what they get. That makes my job much easier. I believe in the funders' shared vision of public benefits, not just benefits to my own institution. In carrying their idealistic vision out, I have their money, their name, and their clout with those above me. We have in short a tightly organized feedback loop. We all know from business that with such loops good things, by self correcting, happen over time. So, the moral is, give big or invest big, if you are ever going to give or invest big, where you, like a social venture capitalist, have board level leadership.

Here are my funders interviewed by the President of the College.  It was shot the day our funders came to see us for a mind meld with me, the President, and the Comptroller, 4 months after I was hired. The vision is clear. Why the College was chosen is clear. Why the particular program was created is clear. What the role of the Chair is couldn't to be more clear. So too, by the funders very presence in our facility that day, and the President's very presence in the video, is the accountability structure. The person in my Chair knows which way is up. All that is exactly how it should be. It helps that the vision is one I personally embrace. Because are all on the same page, results flow more quickly. This alignment of means and ends with accountability for process and results is Good Business 101 and is directly applicable to good, Board level, philanthropy. I guess we are supposed to call it "stewardship" in a nonprofit context, but it feels like good business to me.