Recently I was pleased to participate in a panel discussion for the Wisconsin Technical College System (WTCS) Foundation. Corporate giving was our topic, and also on the panel were Julie Bauer of Alliant Energy, and Boris Frank, who served as facilitator. Boris has more than 40 years of non-profit experience, including 25 years teaching non-profit management and fundraising for the University of Wisconsin system.
Representing technical colleges from all over Wisconsin, the attendees had come together to learn the best methods for approaching corporations like TASC for support. We discussed many innovative ideas, including building a relationship with a corporation, understanding the causes that are important to a corporation, knowing the best time to approach a corporation, and more.
On the topic of building relationships, one attendee asked about approaching the leader of a corporation to serve on a foundation’s board. My advice to any organization looking for Board members: don’t get stuck thinking your board must include Chief Executive Officers (CEOs) only. Limiting your search that way really overlooks a ton of savvy, insightful, and experienced individuals. Speaking of my own leadership team at TASC, without hesitation I would endorse any of my officers and executive vice presidents as potential board members.
Besides understanding business and being members of our communities, individuals in positions such as these usually have considerable influence over their company’s corporate giving program. These professionals have the time, talent, and resources to bring to any board the heart of TASC’s philanthropic philosophy: give of your time, give of your mind, and give of your money.
When you join the board of an organization, it’s important to follow this philosophy; give of your time and mind, in addition to giving financially. Show up for meetings, participate actively, and offer your input freely. Only by combining all three ways of giving will you be fully committed to the organization, and will the organization fully benefit from all you have to offer. This commitment holds true whether you are the CEO, the Chief Financial Officer (CFO), the President, an Executive Vice President, or a Customer Service Representative. And I wouldn’t overlook any of those titles when searching for board members. You never know where the next great board member is!