Sitting on a Nonprofit Board? How to Rapidly Increase the Transfer of Your Corporate Know-How

So, you are sitting on one or more nonprofit boards. Your commitment is in place but your time is limited.

If your nonprofit does not have seasoned for profit firepower at the helm, what can you do to rapidly increase the transfer of your corporate know-how to the leadership?

Get copies of Steven Rothschild’s just released book, “The Non Nonprofit: For-Profit Thinking for Nonprofit Success” or the nonprofit’s senior leadership. Rothschild offers a brilliant distillation of corporate know-how illustrating seven key principles with examples from innovative, highly successful nonprofits like Habitat for Humanity, the Grameen Bank, and Caring Bridge.

Rothschild was Executive Vice-President at General Mills, Inc., where he also launched Yoplait, USA, and served as its first president. He left the corporate world to engage in social entrepreneurship and now heads Twin Cities RISE!, a successful poverty reduction program.

I heard Rothschild and Habit for Humanity’s Senior Vice President Liz Blake, whose executive experience includes General Electric and U.S. Airways, speak recently at an intimate gathering where Rothschild presented the book’s seven principles:

  1. Have a Clear and Appropriate Purpose – Nonprofits are better at this than most for-profits but it is easy to get sidetracked.
  2. Measure What Counts – It is critical to discern between inputs and outputs versus what is most important: outcomes. (I can tell you that nonprofits aren’t the only ones who need to finely hone this ability!)
  3. Be Market Driven—Focus on serving your customers. Your customers and clients may be different.
  4. Create Mutual Accountability – Clarify expectations and commitments with and among every stakeholder so that all are contributing and accountable.
  5. Support Personal Empowerment—Help change beliefs, not just behaviors, of those you serve. Blake, for instance, revealed how Habitat is completely about empowerment, addressing beliefs and increasing financial literacy to ensure sustained success.
  6. Create Economic Value from Social Benefit – You can then monetize the value to find investors or new, innovative ways of acquiring funding.
  7. Be Learning Driven – Build a working model on best ideas, adjust, implement, adjust again.

While you can’t be everything to the boards you sit on, you can help increase the degree and transfer rate of corporate know-how by referring the nonprofit leadership to these principles and this book.


U.S. Library of Congress ISSN 2164-7240

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