EPIC Toledo Board Member Accelerator Series
So, it’s important we recognize the key components of a fertile environment: good jobs, arts and entertainment, affordable housing, great schools and, of course, a strong sense of community.
In the Toledo area, our thriving nonprofit sector provides the roots that underpin our greatest attributes and strongest attractions. World-class culture? Check. Award-winning schools? Check. Beautiful parks and accessible social services? Check and check.
In the fall of 2015, the leaders of the Chamber’s EPIC Advisory Council approached Aly Sterling Philanthropy with a challenge: how can we assist more young professionals become leaders on nonprofit boards?
- There is a limited pool of highly-skilled, engaged board members.
- Nonprofit leaders aren’t quite sure how to attract qualified, committed early-career professionals to board service.
- Many young professionals are eager to serve but feel unprepared for board service or unqualified to lead. They aren’t even sure how to approach a board and offer their service.
It’s also important to have board leaders who reflect society. One in three Americans is a millennial.
Last summer, they surpassed the number of baby boomers in the workforce. Nonprofit boards will operate optimally in strategy, skill and creativity when they are representative of multi-generational leaders. Having a multi-generational team is important to understanding the needs of an organization’s constituents, establishing credibility and cultivating connections with donors and supporters.
More than any other living generation, the millennial generation is focused on making a difference, being hands-on and pursuing what it loves. They are natural board leaders…when given the chance.
Our solution was to create a training series aimed at preparing next generation leaders to serve the missions of Toledo’s nonprofit organizations: The Board Member Accelerator.
The Board Member Accelerator delivers a real-life, hands-on education that empowers EPIC members to successfully govern nonprofit organizations. This series is the first of its kind in Toledo and, to our knowledge, nationally. It includes topics such as:
- The board member’s purpose, roles and responsibilities, including the fiduciary and legal responsibilities
- An exploration of participants’ personal values and skills, and how to research and identify nonprofits whose missions light them on fire
- Signs of a healthy board and organization, and ideas for how to handle some common challenges that could arise
- Basic training on best practices in nonprofit fundraising, marketing, leadership, succession planning, strategic planning, conflict resolution, finances and being an ambassador for an organization
Within a year of completing the training series, participants are expected to reach out to a board, clarify expectations of board service with that organization and begin serving on a board that aligns with their passions.
The potential for engaging young people through the Board Member Accelerator Series is great. In this inaugural year of the program we’re preparing 25 energetic, qualified young professionals to serve... If we replicate this each year, can you envision the impact on our society?
Can you imagine how our community will be different?
How it will be better?
Heather Gallant is an advisor at Aly Sterling Philanthropy were she guides nonprofits and their leaders toward organizational and financial stability. She has experience with mature and grassroots organizations alike, and has worked at Wellesley College, Bowling Green State University, American Model United Nations in Chicago, the American Red Cross, the Congressional Youth Leadership Council in Washington, D.C. and as an AmeriCorps VISTA.