The Non-Profit World
MOUSE is an organization that I am very proud of. I chaired this group for 3-4 years at the very beginning. This fall MOUSE turns 10. Pretty impressive knowing how many groups try to do good and end up failing after a year. I am still attached to the organization although decided to not be on the Board since after being Chair it is probably a good thing to walk away for awhile otherwise you end up in the same role which is difficult for the new chair and the rest of the trustees.
MOUSE has had the good fortune of having two excellent Exec Directors which has been the key to their success. Also, the staff is talented and devoted.
Boards go through many transitions. At the beginnings most organizations are in need of serious wisdom. Brain power. What is the mission, how are we going to execute on this, who could help us, what are our long term goals and how are we going to meet them, where is our funding going to come from, etc. Setting the foundations of a non-profit organization are incredibly important otherwise the probability of failure are high.
I am going to be chairing MOUSE’s 10th year anniversary event this fall. So work is beginning now. The past Exec. Director and I are going to do this together with of course the current Director and the staff, and most important the Board. This would be a time when you really need to look at the make-up of your Board. Is this the Board that is going to take us through the next 5 years. How are we going to get there? What do we need from a Board now? This is the key question – what do we need from the Board.
I have spent some time not only thinking about this but talking to people who are going to help us prepare and fund-raise for this event. One woman I spoke to said something to me that I had never heard before, the 3 W’s. I knew the 3 G’s which I am a huge fan of "give, get or get off". The 3 W’s are "work, wisdom or wealth.". Each are good mantras to think of when reevaluating the Board. There is no doubt that each individual Board member cares about the organization but are they fulfilling the job that the organization needs from them.
When I chaired MOUSE I was so involved at many different levels. Partly because it was a start-up and partly because it is my personality. I had 2 Board members who I had tremendous respect for take me out for drinks and asked me what I wanted to be. Did I want to be the Exec Director or did I want to be the Chair? It was a total "aha" moment. A Chair has a very different job description than the Exec Director and the staff. The Board isn’t the staff who are there for executing and brain power. The Board is there to give advice but primarily to raise money, raise awareness and help the Exec Director execute through connections, knowledge etc.
It is hard for a young Board to realize the differences. It took that one drink to realize my role. I am looking forward to re-involving myself with MOUSE. Sometimes it is good to step away. Gives everybody a completely different perspective.