This is the third blog post in our series on not-for-profit board composition and communication based on survey results from 43 members of management and the boards of directors of not-for-profit organizations throughout Arkansas. Our previous posts in this series introduced the purpose of the survey and summarized the results of the survey related to board size and term limits. Below is a summary of the results of our survey related to board expertise.

Board Expertise

At least 70% of all respondents stated they look for the following attributes in new board members: financial expertise, legal expertise, program-related expertise, fundraising and advertising expertise, and current volunteer experience with the organization. The respondents ranked these attributes, along with a few others, by the value each attribute brings to their organization (one being the attribute providing the greatest value to the organization and seven being the attribute providing the least value to the organization). The following tables summarize the rankings by organization size.

 

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As noted above, willingness of board members to participate in fundraising efforts is considered one of the most important attributes in board members. With a limited pool of resources available and a growing number of worthy causes to which people can contribute, many of the respondents indicated fundraising and finances are one of the greatest challenges currently facing not-for-profit boards. Though not all board fundraising is performed by fundraising and advertising experts, one-third of all respondents stated this expertise is currently missing from their board. When asked how the fundraising challenge could be overcome, respondents offered the following suggestions:

  • Encourage board members to contribute financially,
  • Involve board members on donor visits so they can share their stories and why they are passionate about the organization’s mission,
  • Train staff and board members how to ask for gifts, and
  • Begin or grow an endowment that will help to provide for the organization in the future.

*Coming up in Part IV of the blog series, we will discuss the information needs of not-for-profit boards.