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The Rich Palette of Nonprofits

When people think about joining nonprofit boards, they often think in general terms: arts, education, healthcare, etc. In fact, the nonprofit sector has such a multitude of widely diverse and differentiated organizations. The key is finding the board that will meet your unique set of interests, so that you will be passionate and do a terrific job.

When people think about joining nonprofit boards, they often think in general terms: arts, education, healthcare, etc. In fact, the nonprofit sector has such a multitude of widely diverse and differentiated organizations. The key is finding the board that will meet your unique set of interests, so that you will be passionate and do a terrific job.

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When Bonnie Weill was thinking about joining a board in New York City, she couldn’t imagine that she’d find a nonprofit that specifically combined her interests and work and volunteer experiences in both the arts and environmental awareness and action.

In fact, there was an organization that was a perfect match. A nonprofit that supplies hundreds of public schools, senior centers, and arts organizations with discarded, but brand new, supplies donated by businesses. A nonprofit that puts hundreds of tons of would-be-waste into the hands of eager artists and educators.

The nonprofit that gathers, warehouses, and distributes these supplies is Materials for the Arts (MFTA). Not only does MFTA broker the supplies but they also provide art classes to show educators how to do creative projects. MFTA, headed by executive director Harriet Taub, is funded by the City of New York.

The organization also relies on significant, additional funding from the Friends of Materials for the Arts (FOMA). In 2006, Weill was invited and joined the board of FOMA. In 2008, Weill was asked to chair FOMA. Under Weill’s leadership, FOMA’s fundraising has been robust, enabling MFTA to expand and renovate its warehouse and classrooms.

Demonstrating the centrality of MFTA to New York’s cultural community, last month, the New York Innovative Theater Awards awarded MFTA with the Stewardship Award for providing “free costumes, set pieces and other tidbits to needy companies for three decades” and “to recognize significant contributions to the Off-Off-Broadway community.” According to the NYT, “the Stewardship announcement seemed to garner the loudest and longest applause of the night.”

Weill found the perfect match. That’s the key to your success on a board and the organization’s success.

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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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