Who should you hire for your non-profit board? Why is diversity necessary for building a successful non-profit? What is a unique skill or resource that you have to offer that is needed in the community?
In the second episode of this two podcast series, LaToya Smith speaks about starting a non-profit with Nichole Henry.
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Nichole, a Fort Worth native, has a Bachelor’s degree in psychology and Master of Arts degree in professional counseling from Texas Wesleyan. She has more than 20 years of experience in nonprofit work.
The people that you hire for your non-profit organization’s board will depend on its focus and the work that you want to do.
Hire professionals in that area, experts, and people with hands-on experience with both the running of non-profits and the scope of the service you want to provide, or need that you want to fill.
Board members should be people that can help you fundraise, whether it’s within their scope of practice and business or outside within the general community. For a non-profit organization, this is a must.
People will reach out to their professional and personal circles to help their non-profit gain traction, however, for most people, their circles consist of people who either have similar backgrounds, experiences and look as they do.
Boards need to be intentional with fostering diversity because the greater community is diverse, and a non-profit is more likely to have a positive influence if it consists of people that are present within that greater community it serves.
Do not let impostor syndrome get in the way of your work in a non-profit. You may be sharing the table with some high-ranking or successful people, but a non-profit is stronger with a diversity of both background and lived experience.
Every person has something unique to offer.
If everyone on your board has united together under the banner of solving a common problem in the community, each member has valuable insight, experience, or resources to share in that space.
You can receive grants for the work that your non-profit wants to do, however, they are not easy to get.
LaToya is a consultant with Practice of the Practice and the owner of LCS Counseling and Consulting Agency in Fortworth Texas. She firmly believes that people don’t have to remain stuck in their pain or the place they became wounded. In addition to this, LaToya encourages her clients to be active in their treatment and work towards their desired outcome.
The Grow A Group Practice Podcast is part of the Practice of the Practice Network, a network of podcast seeking to help you market and grow your business and yourself. To hear other podcasts like the Practice of the Practice podcast, go to www.practiceofthepractice.com/network.
You are listening to the Grow A Group Practice podcast, a podcast focused on helping people start, grow, and scale a group practice. Each week you’ll hear topics that are relevant to group practice owners. I’m LaToya Smith, a practice owner, and I love hearing about people’s stories and real-life experiences. So let’s get started.
Let’s back up to the board part. Again, I’ve heard different things about it, like who are the key people you want on the board? Like, do you want people to have certain skillsets? Do you need, I mean, we can’t have all my family, like my mom and my sister and my brother, technically we can’t, but is that good to do? Do you want diversity on the board? Do you want people from different backgrounds as far as work backgrounds, as far as race? What’s a good board makeup?
Don’t have mama on the board, because again, with any business what do they say when you’re doing business with family and friends? But if mama is a major contributor or mama has this experience and it’s going to guide you along the way there may be a good person to have on your board. So this is what I tell people. It depends on the work that you’re doing. If you are an organization that is meant to help providers and support other providers, so say you wanted to start a nonprofit that helped other practice owners and for some reason you wanted to start a nonprofit, so maybe there would be something like an educational arm to it for counseling associates in those in school, I don’t know.
But you want to start this nonprofit, but it’s to support other owners of businesses. Then your board may be comprised of experts from the field, so other practice owners. Say you want to start a nonprofit, you want to start ride for hope and this is a service for the community. You’re going to need somebody that specializes in marketing and fundraising. You’re going to need people because you may need resources, you’re going to need funds and you’re going to need people to come in with checks. So you’re going to need people that have influence in the community. It may, it may not be somebody that has any idea of working with kids, but they have a desire and they believe in the mission but they are a CEO of PepsiCo or they have influence in the community.
So it depends on really what your goal of your organization is. And then you may want to have also, and I think that’s always good to have someone that has been there and understands the need of the community you are trying to serve. So one of the things that a lot of local grants, local funders will require is that your board makeup, you have to have somebody that is a former person, whether it was a client or yours or a client of someone else. For homeless shelters, they all have to have somebody on their board that was formally homeless. You have to have somebody on your board and you don’t have anybody, one time you don’t know who, you never know who’s experienced something.
But you need that because you want to make sure that your services are keeping in mind the need and what those, the population needs. Who knows better than somebody that’s been there? So that someone would influence, if this is a faith-based ministry type you want, may want to have the pastor of the local church that’s well known in the community, again, that’s also somebody with influence. So it really depends on the type of work that you’re trying to do. If it’s a coalition you’re building then you want to have people from the different agencies on that board. But if it’s a service directed program, then you need people that’s going to help your agency grow.
Then with those board members, what do they do? You have boards that are just a governing body and they meet once a month and they come in, they look at your finances, make sure everything makes sense, then they ask questions, “Hey, why were your expenses 50% higher than they were this time last year and 20% higher than they were last month? What’s going on? What’s the plan?” Someone that holds you accountable. Or this board can be a working board where the board member that happens to be an attorney provides legal advice to you and is on call when you need help with something. The person that’s there that may have a marketing company, they’re the ones doing your publicity and helping with social media. They are working, they work.
Then also either of these boards you’re going to have a bit of fundraising, so board members should be expected to be people that can help you fundraise whether it’s them with their individual contributions, you can require board members to be contributing. And it looks good for a lot of grants because they ask well what percentage of your board is giving? Because if nobody on your board is giving, but you want us to come in and say we believe in your mission, but your own board doesn’t believe in the mission enough to give, people don’t think about that. Then also when comes to fundraising, some boards have requirements that if even if the board member, individual board member isn’t required to give X amount of dollars a year, you’re required to bring in X amount of dollars. That means you’re out there using your influence and getting others to donate.
This is great information you were just dropping. I feel like I’m taking notes, y’all just like, I’m just writing all this down. I know I said it jokingly, but I think it’s a valid question, we shouldn’t just look around to our friend circle and be like, be my board guys because one, again, you dropped a lot of great information, one, you want to make sure your board are believers in the project. If I say ride for hope but you couldn’t care less about a bicycle or a young person than a physical fitness, whatever, you probably won’t be the best person, not probably. You ain’t the person for the board right now.
Two, the board has to be an active member. Either you’re going to be the governing body, like hey, we going to oversee, or you going to be out here doing some work and some fundraising and I need to know, are you going to bring us some money? Do you know people with money? Because we got to help this thing. We got to push the mission forward. I don’t need you just to be sitting pretty or just having a seat and a title. I need you to do some work. Then I love what you said about the homeless shelter too, somebody who has been there. I just love that part, so I think it is a beautiful thing because you want to include the voices because wait, I was going to go off on a tangent someplace else, but, you want to include the voices of people who have been there, who better to know like what you said. Then of course, listen, I know I’m going to need some mark now, I know I’m going to need a lot, like put the pieces together. So it’s going to take the hard work. This really something you want to do. It’s not, the next step is really scanning who you know and who you may know. There’s somebody else that could be beneficial in this work because I’m all about, it doesn’t hurt to just ask and see what somebody wants to do.
And you never know who knows somebody.
Right, and we can be one of the members of the board, so we have to start with three and we can be one of them. So again, now the board can always grow. I don’t have to have my board solidified in the first couple. So I can start with me and two more and then I can add, is there ever a max to board? You don’t want 85
You put a max on there. I’ve been a part of boards where there were 28, 30 people but I’ve also been a part of boards where it’s eight. So it really depends on, again, your organization and the need and what you’re trying to do. Also just like you said it can grow but your board can also change. So it starts out your new nonprofit, you just trying to get off your feet. So your mama that is a retired accountant may need to serve on your board and be your treasurer but your goal is that in the next year, by then you’re going, you will have recruited someone else to fill that role. It also may be in the first three to five years of getting it off the ground and building it that your board is the one working. But five years in you get a grant. For three years that’s $300,000, so you have the salary to hire a publicist and a marketing person. So it really just depends. You can start anywhere but you don’t have to have all these things out together up front to start. Get in it, get started and move slowly at the pace that’s comfortable for you.
Yes, no, I love that. That’s a whole lesson in itself, just getting board members together. I heard you say about the bylaws. I love that part too. It’s okay to ask other agencies what theirs look like and just play off it. Of course, you want it fitting to what you’re working on, but what I hear you say, create somebody else is doing it and has some amazing ones they have but then create your own
Then create your own. Then also you sit on a board, which I think people should do anyway. Even LinkedIn now even has a feature for board search and so can help you find a board. Ask people that you know that work at nonprofits or volunteer at nonprofits, hey and if it’s an interview that is near to your heart, do y’all have any board openings? You can go to nonprofits websites and they may have it posted. Some do, some don’t but there’s ways out there to find it. Because one of the challenges that I see for most boards and I don’t believe that it’s intentional for most, is that we tend to reach out to people that look like us.
So a lot of times the boards are not as diverse as they should be, but that’s because people on the board have reached out to people in their circle and people in their circle look like them. I’m a real estate agent, so all of my friends are real estate agents or retired real estate agents and so this is who I bring in, someone else doing what I do and looks like me? So it’s important to also, for boards to be intentional with reaching out. One of the things that we do is we reach out to the Hispanic Chamber, the. Black Chamber, and other organizations so that we can make sure we’re getting a diverse group of people. But I think it’s important for you also to have that board work and watch and learn.
I am a big fan of watching and learn and listen. I watch and learn. I go and I sit. My first time being on the board, I had no idea what I was doing, but I was like, I’m finna learn this today. So I sat there and then in the end, the woman dissolved her nonprofit and gave it to me. She’s like, I’m retiring. She didn’t dissolve, said I’m retiring. Do you want this? She transferred it to me and then I transferred it to my church. So you never know what opportunities are going to come from doing that work and getting out there and networking and getting to meet people.
I love that. I love the idea of what you said, if you want to learn now again, ask. If you want to learn, go sit on another board. Don’t just sit there for one meeting. I mean, if they invite you, I don’t know, join the board. Be active, sit and learn, because you never know what’s going to happen.
I think we get intimidated sometimes because we think we may not be smart enough, we may not have the money? So I can’t be on the board. I don’t have anything to offer. Every board is different. The board that I was on, and I just stepped away this past spring because it got to be too much and I couldn’t, so I told them I had to step away early before my term ended. But that that board, I told them, I was the pity hire because on this board were all of these attorneys and so when it came time to have an event, they would bring in checks with five and six digits and I’d be like, aah, what I can do is stuff envelopes with your staff next Friday. I would take lunch for your staff when they work over on Saturday, also what you can.
They would always be like, “Nicole, we know you’re a nonprofit like us.” But they would be like, “But the wisdom you bring for the population we serve as another nonprofit, because most of the board members, like I said, were attorneys,” so for the staff of the nonprofit, they liked having me on board because, no pun intended, but they liked having me on board because then sometimes business people don’t get how nonprofits run. So sometimes board members would be like, “Well, why did y’all do this this way?” They would be like, “Nicole, what do y’all do in your agency?” I’d be like, “Well, this is exactly how it runs.” So you may have other skills to offer, so don’t think that you’re not old enough and you don’t have enough experience, or you don’t have money, or you’re not the right person for whatever reason. Get out there and put it out there. Apply. If they don’t respond, find the next one, but you’ll find the right place. You’ll find the right place
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All right, Nicole you know what you also said a couple times and I’ve been hanging on to, again, this is like things you think with nonprofit, there’s so much grant money out there, and as soon as we have a nonprofit, we just going to apply for this grant and this money is going to come pouring in. But it does not work that way because I think even nonprofits also have to have a good grant writer too. You got to find the grant and write the grant. So I don’t want anybody to think you form a nonprofit and then this funnel of money is just, is easy action. You got to go pick it up at the local bank and get that money. There’s steps to this.
There’s steps to it. I had someone tell me once yes, don’t see, just get a portion of every grant that their agency received and that’s how their salary is paid? No, no, no. You have an established budget regardless of what money you have, you have an established budget and then you apply for grant funds that will cover certain items or portions of that budget. So grants can cover service delivery, there are few out there that cover administrative costs, that’s your accounting and your supplies and your leadership team and that’s usually a very small amount. You have grants that will cover a portion of those costs, so we have grants, we have positions, we have a case manager position and that case manager position is covered by three different grants because each one only covers like a third?
So you can piece funds together that way. As far as there being just this endless supply of money that just comes to you, no, it’s not. You have to find the grants that you are eligible for, that you meet the criteria for as far as what their focus is. Ride For Hope is a program that provides support to teenagers and but also physical activity. It’s about getting kids moving and while they’re moving, they’re talking, so you’re going to look for grants that are focused on health, maybe focused on physical ed, maybe focused on counseling, maybe focused on at-risk youth. If you are targeting certain neighborhoods or a certain population, you look for those grants that provide, that align with your mission, with your purpose so then you apply for those.
Then grants will have guidelines. What are your outcomes? They have expectations. So what are your outcomes? What are you saying you’re going to use these funds for and then what is going to be the outcome? What is going to be the result? You want us to pay for 20 bikes? Okay, what are these bikes going to be used for? They’re going to be used for your twice a week sessions with the youth where you go to the park and you do a riding camp twice a week? Then the outcome is that these teenagers will be physically fit, have an increased desire for outside activity that they will, if it’s about weight loss, lose X amount of pounds or whatever that outcome but you have to show that. Then you have to report on your progress towards those goals. People often think you just ride a grant, they’re going to give me $200,000 and I do whatever I want with it. It is going to be very specific as to what you can use for it. The grant is to buy bicycles, you have to buy bicycles and show proof that you bought the bicycles with that. If you do not show proof that you bought the bicycles with those funds, you may have to pay those funds back.
You better buy them.
You don’t always understand that.
Yes, because that’s the part too. I love that you said, okay listen, you got to make sure there’s different grants, you can piece them together so I don’t have to worry about starting with this six-figure budget. I may start riding for hold and we may just get $1000 grant and this is what we working with this year until I can find other grants to add to it and piece it, piece it, piece it together and it’s okay starting out if you’re piecing a whole lot of stuff together.
It’s okay. We’ve been here 40 years and we still piecing stuff together because again, funders are very specific and sometimes they have tunnel vision. There is a guy I encourage everybody to look up. His agency is called Nonprofit AF, he’s hilarious. He does a demonstration where you have a water hold and you are watering a garden and you’re going to have one funder that says, “I want to pay for the seeds for the garden.” Then somebody else says, “I’ll pay for the soil.” And somebody else pays, “I’ll pay for the water, but I only pay for the water once it’s out the spout of the hose.” Then somebody else says, “I’ll pay for the garden hose.” Then somebody else say, “I’ll pay for the nozzle to turn the water on.”
It gets that granular and that’s very frustrating but people don’t understand. It takes a lot to manage. So it is not a easy thing to be taken lightly to think, I just apply for this and if I don’t do what I’m supposed to do with this fund, it’s okay. That’s not always the case, especially when you’re talking about federal funds, local funds from local municipalities, big entities. You have to be accountable and do what you said you were going to do. If not, you will be responsible for paying that money back. You may be put on a list ss someone that can’t ever apply for government funds again. They’re on list.
I want to, I don’t want to be put on that list. Alright, so that’s all. I like that Nonprofit AF
He’s hilarious. He’s hilarious.
But the way you broke it down, it makes sense. Nicole, you have given us like, man, you’ve helped me a lot. Say, so those look into practice owners, first things first, what Nicole chatted about is understand your why, understand the what, why you’re doing it. What’s the benefit that you hope to accomplish? Most importantly, do the hard work to know is this a passion project or is this something bigger that I’m committed to in the long run for building and sticking with, not just something I’m happy about doing for today. So I’m not starting riding for hope because I like bicycles and I want to give something out. No, I’m starting this because maybe I was a young person and riding bikes changed my life and I want to see our youth today do it and I know the benefit that’ll bring Boom.
Okay, so with that, she talked about the next steps, how to form it, the formulation, send it off to your state, make sure you check with the state, wherever you’re located about how to formulate it and put it together. And the wonderful knowledge of course on building the board itself. Don’t just look at your friend group, don’t look at the group chat and make them the board members. Nicole just took us deeper into that about who you should pull on, you want active members. Then the money that’s out there is not just your money. Just because you have a nonprofit, you don’t have rights to everything. It’s okay to piece it together and build it, but also understand that once you get a grant, you got to document, document, document and that money has to be used specifically.
So listen, start to do the hard work. Start to figure out what’s the benefit of the nonprofit you want to form attached to your practice and who do you want to help? As Nicole said in the beginning, maybe somebody’s already doing it and you can just add, you can offer funds to do it. So what’s going to set yours apart? What’s the benefit for you doing it? If you feel like you know that, then build. I’m all about starting. I’m a visionary. I’m like build that thing but Nicole said, back up and think about it first. Nicole, I thank you so much for being on the podcast again. I really appreciate you all your wisdom. Again, how can people find you if they’re like, yes, I want to work with that woman on building my nonprofit. I want to chat with her some more.
Well, you can email me to my personal email in [email protected]
, simple as that. Just send me an email and we’ll connect.
Awesome. Thank you so much Nicole, and I really appreciate your time and your knowledge and wisdom.
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