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The HSBC Lumberjack Ad: On Nonprofit Boards and Diversity of Perspectives

Brilliant. In a matter of seconds, even without sound, the new HSBC lumberjack TV ad tells us that communities – even families – are comprised of people with very different points of view. The ad is visceral; it conveys both the intensity of the differences, as well as the closeness of the bonds. The point is that in spite of the differences, the individuals are part of one family, and one community.

Brilliant. In a matter of seconds, even without sound, the new HSBC lumberjack TV ad tells us that communities – even families – are comprised of people with very different points of view. The ad is visceral; it conveys both the intensity of the differences, as well as the closeness of the bonds. The point is that in spite of the differences, the individuals are part of one family, and one community.

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This ad reminds me of the value of diversity of perspectives on nonprofit boards, while working together towards a common mission. Standing in front of boardrooms facilitating retreats, I hear a distinct qualitative difference in the discussion among boards comprised of people with a variety of perspectives and backgrounds, where different points of view are encouraged, appreciated, and respected. Such boards engage in the most thoughtful conversations of community needs and interests; create a vision for the organization to distinguish itself in adding value; and build support through the broadest networks.

The big question now is which nonprofits will survive new financial threats. Given that nonprofit funding sources are government, philanthropy, and fees, there is no question that the organizations that are best positioned to thrive are the ones with boards that are comprised of people with diverse backgrounds, perspectives, expertise, and networks, as well as a deep commitment to the mission and the community.

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About the author

Korngold provides strategy consulting to global corporations on sustainability, facilitating corporate-nonprofit partnerships, and training and placing hundreds of business executives on NGO/nonprofit boards for 20+ years. She provides strategy and board governance consulting to NGO/nonprofit boards, foundations, and educational and healthcare institutions. Korngold's latest book is "A Better World, Inc.: How Companies Profit by Solving Global Problems…Where Governments Cannot," published by Palgrave Macmillan for release on 1/7/14

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