It’s been a little over a week since Central Ohio’s nonprofit community gathered for a day of connection and learning at Huntington’s Seeds for Growth at COSI.
One of the themes of the day was equity, which was discussed among a panel consisting of Steven Moore, The Columbus Foundation; Chad Jester, Nationwide Foundation; Alyvia Johnson, American Electric Power; and Elizabeth Martinez, Big Brothers Big Sisters of Central Ohio. Their insightful conversation centered on the following quote from a Harvard Business Review article entitled “Moving Beyond Diversity Toward Racial Equity” by Ben Hecht.
“To move toward racial equity, organizational culture must prioritize humanity. People need the ability to work with the dignity of having their histories acknowledged and their life experience valued. Only then will companies be able to recruit and retain the thriving, diverse workforce that leaders and customers want — and need — in the next decade, and beyond.”
Our nonprofit and funding communities are working tirelessly toward creating a more equitable Columbus, but there’s still so much work to be done. Only by working together can we truly achieve equity within our community.
Another theme was board governance, which was discussed through a table activity that focused on the four findings from Leading with Intent: BoardSource Index of Nonprofit Board Practices, which are:
- Boards are disconnected from the communities and people they serve.
- Boards that prioritize fundraising above all else when it comes to the board’s role do so at the expense of organizational strategy, relevance, and impact.
- Boards and executives should reflect on what is prioritized in terms of board expectations and how time is spent.
- The board chair’s leadership in ensuring that there are clear expectations of board service seems to matter most when it comes to the board’s overall culture.
Attendees from different organizations discussed these findings and shared their key takeaways. Some of the comments received back were:
- “How important it is to clarify and define expectations”
- “We have ‘the board’ not connected with our population.”
- “An indicator of a connected board is that board members attend the organization’s community events, but that is often a challenge for us.”
- “We create a menu of opportunities for our board members to be engaged, such as making thank-you calls for year-end giving.”
- “Fundraising isn’t priority #1 for boards.”
- “Our board is making progress towards community representation but there is still work to do.”
- “We need to focus more on key indicators for our board as it relates to the board reflecting our community.”
- “Our board president must: be a good communicator, be active/involved in the community we serve, and know the people within the organization.”
- “We need to equip corporate executives with knowledge and resources on board governance, especially first-time board members.”
- “On our board, very little time is spent on strategic planning, much more on reporting and tactical efforts.”
- “Every nonprofit is in a different place all the time, and we can learn from each other.”
- “Good relationship between the board chair and executive director builds trust and confidence throughout the rest of the board and staff.”
- “Need to examine ‘give/get’ policies to be more socio-economically inclusive.”
- “Intentionality and cultural competence are critical.”
- “The board should always be expected to lead by example.”
We are inspired by the level of engagement and connection we observed throughout the day and can’t wait to see the impact of the discussions on equity and board governance.
From all of us at Mollard Consulting, thanks to the Huntington team, led by Christina Brown, and the hundreds of nonprofits who attended Seeds for Growth. We look forward to sharing the recording when it becomes available from our friends at WOSU Public Media.
Article by: Kerri Laubenthal Mollard, Founder & CEO