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“Tough times lead to tough choices, but there is a tangible opportunity for nonprofits to emerge stronger and smarter,” according to The Bridgespan Group’s “Managing in Tough Times: May 2009 Nonprofit Leaders Survey Update.” 


I am seeing this first hand, working with nonprofit boards and CEOs who are making tough choices in reducing programs and services.  In some cases, board discussions relate to possible mergers or affiliations with other providers, which might ultimately result in more robust organizations and better services.  I am also involved with a number of boards and their CEOs who are expanding their organizations because there are opportunities to build resources and add value – regionally, nationally, and globally.


Business people bring vital experience and expertise to strategic decision-making in nonprofit boardrooms.  Business people and their companies also bring valuable resources to the table.


At the same time, nonprofit board service presents a tremendous opportunity for businesses and their executives.


In today’s challenging environment, nonprofit board service is the ultimate experience in ethics, accountability, leadership, group dynamics, crisis management and communication… in other words, the best breeding ground for companies to develop their most talented people.  Not only do business people on nonprofit boards engage with peers from diverse backgrounds and perspectives to lead organizations for success, but business people on nonprofit boards also build knowledge of vital issues including economic development, environmental sustainability and corporate social responsibility, education, healthcare, social justice, and the arts. 


Your company’s professionals and executives will become stronger and smarter if you involve them on nonprofit boards. The only caveat is that your executives will only be effective board members if they are properly trained for nonprofit board service, and matched to boards based on their personal interests as well as their qualifications. And in my experience, the better the preparation and the matching, the more likely the board member is to rise to board leadership and play an even more meaningful role in leading the organization to success in serving the community.


By helping nonprofits to emerge stronger and smarter, your company’s executives will also emerge stronger and smarter.  Good for business.  Good for the world.