Expand the playing fields

Knight Foundation spoke with Anne Wallestad from BoardSource recently and posted a podcast of the conversation. In short, it addresses how nonprofits can have a greater impact in shaping policy if their boards are engaged for that purpose. Of the key points, these three stand out:

1. Decisions are made every day that have a profound impact on the missions of nonprofits, but too often nonprofits are not at the policy table. This slows the work of nonprofits and can compromise their missions.

2. The most useful and underused assets nonprofit organizations have to advance their missions are their board members, people who are so passionate that they have already put their time, resources and reputations on the line.

3. Advocacy should be part of a nonprofit board’s culture — the way it thinks, makes decisions and measures success.

For nonprofits with staff, the board should be as focused on its responsibility to support the staff’s execution of the mission as they are on expanding the playing fields for executing the mission. Anne Wallestad’s comments hit home as a reminder for my own board responsibilities, and I hope to figure out better ways to expand the playing fields whenever possible.

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