Bringing diversity to the board can strengthen nonprofits

July 19, 2013

Bringing diversity to the board can strengthen nonprofits

Some of the most successful nonprofits have a team of board members who not only bring diverse skills to the organization, but also work well together to solve problems occurring within the organization. This is why it is extremely important to build a team of board members who have endless potential. According to new research from Ernst & Young, integrating diversity into the team of board members can bring in a number of differing perspectives that can lead to spirited discussions and the best strategic decisions at the organization.

"Diversity in skill sets, experience, expertise, viewpoints and gender can lead to a stronger, more effective board," said Bryan Pearce, director of Entrepreneur of the Year and venture capital advisory group at Ernst & Young.

Women directors can supplement lead to more success
Many nonprofits are run similarly to companies throughout the United States, so it is important to note that the study found businesses in the top quartile of the number of women on their board outperformed the bottom quartile by 26 percent. Furthermore, enterprises with board members who are women achieved higher average growth over the past six year. Nonprofit leaders may want to take this research into account, apply it to their own organization and add more women to their board.

"A diverse board can be a valuable resource when it comes to diversity in hiring, financing alternatives and in diversity supplier situations," said Tom McDonnell, CEO for the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation.

Women can make a difference right away
Nonprofits work throughout the year to support their cause, and board members play an important role in the growth and prosperity of an organization. Women who take on advanced roles know how important the nonprofit is to its beneficiaries and take their jobs very seriously. Here are some suggestions from Today's Chicago Woman magazine for women who join a nonprofit's board of directors:

  • Be accessible: Many nonprofits try to leave a lasting impression on their community so it's important to always have time to talk to people looking to learn more about the organization.
  • Treat volunteers, clients and vendors with respect: No one has to work to help the nonprofit, and by welcoming volunteers, clients and vendors, board members have a better chance of improving their reputation in the community.
  • Always thank donors and volunteers: People who contribute to the nonprofit want to know that their time and money is appreciated by the organization's board members.
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