Lego Love: Building a Board Your Nonprofit Deserves

nonprofit strategy

Over the years, I have had many conversations with executive leaders around the practice of finding and keeping talented board members. In fact, IPM Advancement has worked with countless boards in the nonprofit sectors and we’ve discovered that a large majority of them fail to live up to their true potential.

Through some of my discussions with these leaders, I’ve realized several best practices that can help organizations build a board with high performance expectations for their members. And more importantly, one that every organization deserves.


What Makes a Good Board?

If your organization wants to transform the world, changing your board leadership model is a critical first step. Many great nonprofit boards share several common characteristics that help them to better lead their groups more effectively.

I believe the ideal members of a strong board of directors:

  • Should share a genuine passion for the nonprofit’s mission;
  • Are always willing to support efforts to raise money, specifically understanding the concept of “give or get”;
  • Are willing to roll up their sleeves to help out;
  • Have strong ties to their local communities; and,
  • Are diverse in race, age, religion, occupation, background and more.


Consider a Contract

One way to ensure that each member on the board is clear about his or her responsibilities is to adopt a member “contract.” A contract – not intended to be legally enforced – typically outlines what is expected of individual board members, and how the organization will in turn be responsible to them. A key principle underlying a contract is the board’s responsibility to hold the organization accountable to its supporters, as well as to the public.

Finally, prospective board members should always be told whatever expectations exist, and given a chance to politely bow out of the process if they are not comfortable with them. All things considered, I think it’s a good idea to have a formal expectation that every board member will help the organization boost awareness and revenue.


On average, new IPM clients see a 34.8% increase in direct mail fundraising acquisition response rates within the first year of working with us. Want to learn more?

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