PMA Consulting, LLC

Build Your Board: Sourcing Future Corporate Leaders

Successful corporate relations is about understanding why companies support organizations in the first place. As noted in our blog earlier this month (Corporate Philanthropy is Dead), for a dwindling group of corporate citizens, participation and support of nonprofits is truly about creating a connection to community and a desire to “do good.”

But for most, nonprofit involvement is a function of business, with important connections made during nonprofit mixers. In this way, nonprofit organizations have the potential to serve as relationship brokers, a service that is too often under-messaged in corporate outreach.

How can you ensure that your organization is optimally positioned? It begins with your board of directors. One approach PMA has investigated recently is the placement of emerging corporate talent in prominent volunteer leadership positions. For companies that want to encourage mid-level talent on the rise, backing their nonprofit involvement (or encouraging it to begin with) can be a vote of confidence and facilitate deeper community connections that will become more vital as that individual grows into a position of corporate leadership.

What are the benefits to your organization?

  • Accountability – Involving corporate leadership in the placement helps to ensure active participation.
  • Involvement – Individuals “on-the-rise” are more likely to be hungry to build skills and develop relationships.
  • Investment – Relationships beget corporate investment as an organic byproduct.

Interested? Follow these steps:

  1. Identify Your Board Needs: What are the key skills, knowledge base and connections of your board that would fuel your organization for the next 3-5 years? Compile a matrix of board needs and prioritize.
  2. Make a List of Corporate Connections: Using your prioritized needs as a guide, engage your board, volunteers and staff in a brainstorming session to uncover latent connectivity. A benefit of this strategy is that the goal is not a financial solicitation, which typically encourages stakeholders to make that connection on behalf of the organization.
  3. Consider Your Resources: While a goal of the visit is to describe the good work your organization does in the community, the purpose is to position your organization as a service to the company in the development of their staff leadership – how does membership on your board help position corporate leaders for future success? If you struggle to answer that question, consider ways to better build that into your platform.
  4. Schedule a Meeting: Seek the help of your stakeholders in reaching out to a corporate decisions maker – this may be the CEO of a company, the leader of a particular service line, or a director of HR.
  5. Request a Referral: Your goal is to receive one referral of an individual who may have interest in serving on your board. Be clear about what you are seeking in terms of key skills and knowledge base, but also indicate how your board can assist the individual. Ideally, the decision-maker you meet with will brainstorm potential individuals with you.
  6. Make It True: Creating long-term relationships with companies can be a great way to ensure the stability of your organization for years to come, but only if you follow-through on your commitments. A board member sourced this way who feels bored and under-utilized is a sure way to guarantee that it is the last one from that company.