One thing that is an absolute must for any successful organization is a solid and diverse board. And by diverse I don't simply mean in terms of race, gender, physical ability, and sexual orientation (which are all important too). I mean diverse in terms of skill sets and areas of expertise.
Lawyers, CPAs, bankers, professional volunteers, law enforcement (if that makes sense with your mission), marketers, press people, etc. We all know that part of board recruitment is based on spheres of influence and ability to give. It is imperative to have at least a few board members who are willing to participate in the fundraising process (others can be thankers...etc.), but that is a different blog post topic!
One of the best "gifts" we were ever given at an agency for which I worked, was the gift of a firm's staff CPA to sit on our board. Maybe on his own, his ability to give and sphere of influence were not off the charts. But his connection to this firm was...and his professional value was even higher. The firm paid his salary as normal, but he was allowed to attend to board functions for us on the firm's time (they were not even an accounting firm, he was simply their office's staff accountant).
What's better when there is a question mid year between audits about whether a particular thing is within legal limits? I am pretty good at researching statutes that regulate our industry. But I'm not always good at deciphering what those statutes boil down to! Even if you do think you understand the laws and regulations, it is a good idea to have someone like this CPA board member to read them and see if they interpret the subject the same way as you. And they will likely have even more resources to contact regarding areas in question.
It sure helped me when trying to figure out what the Florida statute on sales tax on non-profit auction items if auctions are held more than twice in a 12 month period!
Sometimes we let the makeup of our boards get too homogeneous. Diversify and your agency will reap the benefits!
Originally posted on Tracy's blog, Fundraising: It isn't all about the Benjamin's in 2012.