Michigan Women's Foundation, 17177 North Laurel Park Dr., Suite 445, Livonia, MI 48152
telephone: (734) 542-3946; fax: (734) 542-3952; http://comnet.org/mwf
Center for Women, 25 Sheldon Blvd., SE, Grand Rapids, Michigan 49503
telephone: (616) 742-2389; fax: (616) 459-8460

Michigan Women's Foundation
Women's Road Map
The Newsletter of MWF's Management Assistance Program
December 1991-January 1992

Board Development

Improving the Board Membership Experience: This is Part II of an article by MWF Executive Director Susan Church on ways to make board membership a mutually satisfying experience for those who volunteer and for the organization itself. Part I, published in the October/November issue of Women's Road Map, addressed the role of the board and board recruitment.

Inactive Board Members
Almost every board has at least one member that no one has ever seen. Sometimes these are people who could be very helpful if only they were involved. After developing a job description that all active board members agree to (this should be a formal board resolution), the board president should have a candid discussion with the inactive member. Explore whether she can agree to the terms of the job description; if not, she will likely offer her resignation (which should be accepted gracefully). Board members who agree to the job description, but do not abide by it, should not be renominated when their terms expire. (You do have board terms, don't you? And a nominating committee? If not, both should be established ASAP. The nominating committee's job is not only to oversee the recruitment of new board members, but also to review current board members being considered for renomination -- and also, of course, to propose a slate of officers when elections are due.)

Is there anyone worth keeping on your board just for name value? No. The message you send to the rest of the board by doing that is that some people are good enough to do all the work and others get a pass just because they have a "name." A working board that really works, even if no one is especially well-known in your community, is a hundred times more valuable than a "name only," star-studded, inactive board.

Board and Fund Raising
Board members would be better fund raisers if they had a better set of fundraising choices and better materials to do the fund raising job. Some people are good at selling tickets to benefits; others are good at calling on businesses. Some are happy to write notes to friends asking for gifts. Board members need a "menu" to choose from in fulfilling their commitment to raise money for the organizations. And they need to understand that the commitment is to try; no one can promise that they will always succeed. Your fund raising committee (you do have a fund raising committee, don't you?) is the group responsible for devising the "menu" and for following up with each board member to find out what she will do. (This approach has the added advantage of reminding everyone that the fund raising committee cannot do all the fund raising without the involvement of the full board.)

Don't send board members out to fund raise without the information and materials they need to do the job. Ask a development professional (or, better yet, a talented board member form another organization) to provide some practical training on how to ask for contributions.

Above all, work hard to make sure that board members are so committed to the organization's programs that they are actually enthusiastic about asking others to support it. How many of your board members refer to fund raising as "begging"? Spend some time examining this idea (which is very common among volunteers). If your board members don't believe that your organization is a good place for others to invest their money, it may be because they themselves aren't fully convince.. Or it may be that they don't fully see that giving to a nonprofit is a transaction: donors "buy" what they think is valuable, and the volunteer's job is to help them see how your organization provides the value they are looking for.

What do E.D.s what from their board members? A recent study that included 200 executive directors of health and human service organizations in the San Francisco Bay area suggested 25 board behaviors that executive directors consider helpful to the E.D.s in carrying out their jobs. The 12 behaviors which received the highest score from executive directors were:

  1. Actively promoting the organization in the community.
  2. Understanding the legal responsibilities of a governing board.
  3. Holding effective and efficient meetings
  4. Taking an active part in long-range strategic planning.
  5. Accepting leadership positions on the board.
  6. Choosing new members with regard to their skills or connections.
  7. Leaving administration to the executive.
  8. Evaluating the executive's performance.
  9. Opening doors to possible funding sources.
  10. Preparing for meetings by reading material sent.
  11. Making policy rather than rubberstamping.
  12. Reviewing financial statements carefully and asking for explanations.
Source: Fletcher, Kathleen Brown, "Improving Board Effectiveness: Suggestions From A Recent Study," Nonprofit World, Vol. 9, No. 4, July/August 1991, pp. 24-26.


Donated Computer Software: Compumentor, a San Francisco-area program that matches local nonprofits with volunteer computer mentors who help them learn the "ropes" of computer use, periodically issue a list of donated computer software and books available to nonprofits. To get on Compumentor's mailing list, send a stamped, self-addressed envelope with your organization's name, address and phone number to Compumentor, 89 Stillman St., San Francisco, CA 94107. For further information, call 415/512-7784.

Postal Tip: To keep postage costs down (19 cents for a postcard vs. 29 cents for a first class letter) and reduce paper waste, make greater use of postcards. Buy cards sold by the U.S. Postal Service or have your own printed -- use them for brief messages, meeting notices, reminders, invitations or anything that's short and to the point.


Attracting the New Volunteer: Looking for concrete tools and strategies to recruit and retain volunteers -- especially in n age when it seems harder than ever to do just that? Nora Silver's new book, At the Heart: The New Volunteer Challenge to Community Agencies, addresses a disturbing paradox, according to the July/August 1991 issue of Nonprofit World -- "while more people than ever are willing to volunteer, fewer and fewer nonprofit organizations are benefiting form this rich pool of energy and talent."

Silver's 20-month study found that many nonprofits are still trying to recruit the traditional volunteer form the past -- a woman who can regularly come in to do office work during regular office hours. However, available volunteers in the 1990s fit a different profile -- they may be career women or men who want to volunteer during evenings or weekends and aren't interested in typing and filing,or they may be people who would prefer to volunteer on an occasional rather than regular basis.

According to Nonprofit World, Silver's book teaches readers "how to create flexible volunteer programs to meet the new demands." For information on ordering the 178 page book, write Nora Silver, Volunteerism Project, 425 Bush St., Ste. 201, San Francisco, CA 94108 or call 415/291-1811. The cost is $14.95 plus shipping and handling.

Older Volunteers: A new study conducted by the Marriott Corporation examines the untapped potential of older volunteers and identifies ways to recruit them. The study found that over 41% of Americans aged 60 and older volunteered last year. Thirty-seven percent said they would volunteer if asked to do so and 26% of current older volunteers said they should volunteer more time if asked. For a copy of the "Marriott Seniors volunteerism Study," write Rick Sneed, Public Relations Manager, Marriott Corporation, International Headquarters, Marriott Drive, Washington,D.C. 20058 (301/380-5177).


New Foundation: Michigan has a new foundation -- the Nokomis Foundation -- addressing the need for social and economic change for women and girls. Founded in 1991, Nokomis seeks proposals that work toward fundamental change in attitudes, policies and social patterns that affect women and girls, giving preference to projects that empower women to change both their own lives and those of other women.

Grants are restricted to nonprofits whose efforts are directed primarily toward women and girls, and who are working in advocacy, community awareness and education, public policy, and/or research.

Though Nokomis' primary concentration is in the greater Grand Rapids area, they will consider national organizations and those located elsewhere in Michigan for grants. Areas of project interest include: violence against women and girls; economic participation; reproductive rights and health; advocacy on behalf of girls, women and children; public awareness of girls' and women's issues; and expanding philanthropy for girls and women. Proposals are reviewed twice a year; submission deadlines are March 1 and September 1.

For further information, write or call: Kym Mulhern, Nokomis Foundation, 48 Foundation Street, NW, Grand Rapids, MI 49503, 616/451-0267.


Personnel Crisis: The Applied Research and Development Institute (ARDI) has conducted a cross-sector compensation study that points to a personnel crisis for nonprofit organizations. They found that nonprofits lag far behind other sectors in salaries and benefits -- a fact that means that nonprofits will fond it increasingly difficult to attract and retain quality staff. Among the findings:

The compensation issue presents a dilemma for nonprofits. To compete effectively for staff, nonprofits must expand their benefits and increase salaries. At the same time, donors have an expectation that we keep our administrative costs down. One possible solution is to effectively communicate to our donors that better compensation for staff will translate into better services; and then we must deliver on our promise. We'd like to hear what our readers think about this issue -- drop us a line or give us a call.

Source: Adapted from "Nonprofits Face Personnel Crisis," Nonprofit World, July-August, 1991.

Is there a question on your mind about managing a nonprofit? Drop us a line and we'll do our best to find and publish the answer.

"I was delighted to receive your recent Women's Road Map. I have recommended it to several groups who are working on developing positive outcomes for girls and women. Thanks to whomever had the idea? And to the Chrysler Fund for funding it."
Katherine R. Saunders
Management Consultant
K.R. Saunders & Associates, Flint

Women's Road Map is a publication of the Michigan Women's Foundation. Published bi-monthly and free of charge as a project of MWF's on-going Management Assistance Program, this newsletter is designed to improve the management of women's organizations and, thus, enable them to compete more successfully in the nonprofit world. 1991 publication is made possible through a grant from the Chrysler Corporation Fund.

General Notes
MWF was founded in 1986 as a way to increase support for programs and projects that empower Michigan women and girls . In addition to the Management Assistance Program, MWF uses donor's contributions to make grants to a variety of women's organizations and works to increase public awareness of the needs of Michigan women and to encourage other foundations, individuals and the corporate community to increase their support of women's programs.

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