Publications & Products
Volume 4, Issue 3


Revamping a Foundation Board

Leaders of community college foundations with weak boards have the power to help these bodies overcome a history of underperformance, says a nonprofit development expert.

Steve Klingaman, author of Fundraising Strategies for Community Colleges: The Definitive Guide for Advancement, says that foundation leaders should first determine if they have a weak board. Some of the symptoms are:

  • The board only gets together for board meetings.
  • At board meetings, people just talk and nothing is ever decided.
  • The board is not involved in donor engagement or prospect development.
  • The board protects the status quo agenda and doesn't engage in creative fundraising or engagement projects.

Klingaman says that one of the characteristics of a strong board is that its members not only give their money—because even weak boards can have strong annual giving figures—but also their time. Board members must be engaged with the college and understand their roles, he says.

To keep boards stocked with engaged volunteers, Klingaman says that foundation leaders should encourage inactive or underperforming board members to step down and join an honorific body such as a president's council—consisting of emerita college officials and high-level donors and volunteers, for example. He notes that this is a way for these individuals to "maintain a nominal involvement with the college but not take up a valuable board seat."

In addition, Klingaman says that foundation leaders should recruit board members who are already engaged with the college or other local philanthropic causes.

"If you want to get stuff done, ask busy people," he says. "Busy people already have it in their DNA how to create efficiencies and accomplish things. When you think about where to find them, go back to the principle ‘nothing succeeds like success.' Get your most successful, engaged board members working on the nomination committee. They have the culture and network to recruit the best people."

Klingaman will further discuss how to build a strong community college foundation board in an Oct. 21 CASE webinar.


This article is from the September 2014 issue of the Community College Advancement News.

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