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Board: Effective Governance


Every time I facilitate a leadership governance training I go through a range of emotions. It starts with curiosity, veers into terror, and then settles into curiosity and exhilaration as I get into the room and start working with the participants. My last session working with not-for-profit board members in Kelowna was no different except that everything was amplified. Instead of one organization there were 18. Instead of 15 people there were 50. Oh yes, and it was seven hours long with a diversity of organizations from the not-for-profit sector!

I am always interested in how not-for-profit leaders can bridge the gap between giving and asking, and create an invitation for others to become involved in delivering their mission. Even with many differences in the room, this session reaffirmed three things:

1. We are blessed in this province with an abundance of givers. I calculated at least $15,000 worth of donated time just for that session. It's humbling to see the diversity and enormity of people who dedicate their precious time to support this work.

2. We often struggle in translating this abundance into revenue development. Our brains do a little switch and we stop thinking about why we give and start worrying about how to get others to give. We forget our own enthusiasm, and consider the ‘ask’ akin to begging from our friends.

3. We are doing this work because it speaks to us. There is a personal connection to the cause and impact we create. This can liberate us from the feeling of ‘begging’. We all have our own stories to tell. We all have our 'why'. This 'why' is where we need to start. No one wants to be pressured into a gala ticket, but they do want to know why you sacrificed your Saturday for a governance bootcamp. They want to know what speaks to you about your mission. Your ‘why’ can become an invitation for them to find their own ‘why’.

Our sector does amazing things. Things that save our lives. Things that make our lives worth saving. We build community and fill it with stories and art. We know this, so let us keep telling our story and keep sharing our ‘why’.

About the Author

As Secretariat Director Julia works with CAI’s Leadership Council and staff team to support and enhance community based NGOs in BC in their provision of mental health and substance use programming, while also focusing on CAI operations and meeting the strategic goals of the CAI. Julia brings 20...
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