Expanding Your Reach

The founding board members probably knew each other professionally or socially and agreed to pitch in to get the organization running. Their incredible drive and personal commitment has helped the group reach the point where you are free to think well beyond the confines of a start-up and finally prepare to realize the dreams of those founders.

Viewing Committees as a Route to the Board

The committees established through language in the by-laws have become far more than a way of spreading the work to fulfill your mission. They are a training ground for potential board members who are already accustomed to the way the organization functions. Inviting community members to become active at the committee level where they can contribute their time and expertise as they learn more about the organization is an excellent way to prepare them for possible board involvement.

Exercise Care When Extending Invitations

Drawing from your committee membership can be an excellent way to develop the board in a way that both complements and enhances the group. However, each individual must also meet the specific needs identified by the board through a careful assessment of the organization's strengths and weaknesses.

Founders' syndrome, in which the original founders remain in positions of authority longer than necessary, is a real problem that many start-up nonprofits must face and address head-on. By broadening the circle of people with decision-making authority, everyone — including your founders — will be much better off.

Much of your carefully planned outreach (discussed in detail in Chapter 15) will now come into play. As more people learn about the work your organization does, its name will become more recognizable. This will lead to a rise in the number of highly qualified people you may draw upon to meet the specific needs the board identifies as necessary for growth.

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