Last Word: Letter from Marv Berenblum, NESC Chairman
As nonprofit organizations continue to feel the pressure of diminished resources in this economic downturn, a number of explanations have surfaced as to why some nonprofits continue to thrive, while others struggle and even find it necessary to discontinue their operations.
Forward looking strategies and clearly understood objectives, effective operational leadership, diversified sources of revenue, strong development initiatives, and organizational efficiency – all contribute to the vitality of nonprofits in answering the needs of those who are beneficiaries of their services. The one consistent factor, however, in a nonprofit’s success, I would posit, is the strength of its board. It’s axiomatic that board strength correlates directly with the viability of a nonprofit organization.
There are a number of ingredients in the composition, structure and operation of a board which are contributory to board strength. For example, when our clients have requested assistance in developing a search strategy to find the right blend of highly qualified board members, we’ve not only been able to help with strategy formulation, but our executive search team has been able to identify and help attract top talent to fill specific niches in our client’s board membership.
NESC also has been helpful in facilitating board retreats, improving the working relationships between board members and between boards and operating staff. A great deal of NESC’s work with boards revolves around governance issues, board organization and structure, as well as board training. As many of our clients increasingly value the continuity of strong board leadership, we’ve also been called upon to assist in the development of succession plans for board officers.
In view of the importance of our role in all aspects of board development, NESC’s Board Development Practice Group is composed of consultants with in depth experience in this field, along with a variety of disciplines in organization and strategy development, training and facilitation which can be harnessed to address a broad spectrum of board issues. NESC consultants are available to make presentations to prospective clients interested in our board development consulting services.
The Board Development Practice Group has also launched a series of peer-to-peer facilitated networking groups of Board Chairs to help them explore best practices, share information, and solve challenges and solutions (see details for the Connecticut Session here). In my view there is no better way for us to fulfill NESC’s mission to help strengthen the management of America’s nonprofits than through the consulting services we offer in the realm of board development.
In the Fall, NESC will be offering a workshop on Collaborations and Partnerships to assist our nonprofit clients in assessing opportunities to collaborate with another nonprofit in a manner that benefits both organizations. We will present a framework for facilitating collaborations, offer an overview of transition funding sources, as well as hear the “lessons learned” of a few who have experienced the process. Details will be posted in September.
Chairman & CEO