Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Harvard Business School’s Social Enterprise Summit & OI Board Expansion

Over 500 non-for-profit leaders converged at the Harvard Club in New York on Sept. 23 for the Harvard Business School’s Social Enterprise Summit. The focus was on “New Directions in Non-Profit Leadership.” I followed the ‘board development track’ as I am actively involved with strengthening the boards of the organization I founded in 1999, Orphans International America.

Over four long sessions I met with and listened to executives from AmeriCares, the Brooklyn Academy of Music, the Brooklyn Museum, Fountain House, the Hauser Foundation, Helen Keller International, Outward Bound, and the U.J.A. Federation.

I heard what I have already learned through experience: that one-third to one-half of an NGO’s income should come from its board. As founder, my mission is to increase the commitment of OI America’s Board of Directors and Advisory Board – their “stretch commitments” – as far as I can.

My ideas for 2009 are as follows:

.....24 board members -
.....$6,000 each = $144,000 [$5,000 each is another option]

.....24 advisory members -
.....$1,200 each = $28,800

.....Total = $172,800

OI America’s 2009 budget – just under $500,000 – is approximately three times the stretch commitment of OI America’s proposed boards. I realize that 24 board members are ‘a lot of people’ for 2009 – twice as many as we have in 2008. However, as a point of reference, the United Jewish Appeal Federation (U.J.A.) has 150 board members and the Brooklyn Academy of Music 52.

I advocate this significant expansion of our Boards in 2009 because we need all the help we can get in achieving our mission. I am further suggesting the creation of an Emeritus Board in 2009 with the same “stretch commitment’ as the Advisory Board. I have already put forth suggestions for several 2009 candidates to the Nominating Committee.*

The Nominating Committee for 2009 is comprised of OI America’s Executive Committee: Don Hoskins (President), Nancy Zhang (Vice President), Linda Stanley (Secretary), Kimberly Andino (Treasurer), Kristie DeKoker (Development Chair), and me (Founder).

Several specific ideas have been raised to expand OI America Board responsibilities for 2009:

— Attempt to raise $6,000 per year (10 Child Sponsors at $600@).
— Attempt intros to high-net worth individuals or foundations.
— Require active participation with one standing committee.
— Require active participation with OI’s spring and fall benefits.
— Require annual all-Saturday meeting focused on group dynamics / organizational goals.
— One-on-one mentoring of an OI Intern or Senior Intern.
— Serve as a resource to existing OI Chapters at your alma mater, if any.

OI Committees, like any other organization, is where the actual Board work takes place. The Executive Committee of the Board of Directors manages its governance. I strongly believe that the most critical ingredient for the success of Orphans International America in 2009 is the strength its Board of Directors and Advisory Board members.

I am busy this fall scheduling individuals on our Top Hundred List who have given Orphans International significant contributions in past years. I hope to meet with them personally before the end of this year to request additional funding. Like many other organizations, we have a President’s Circle for those who contribute $5,000 and a Founder’s Circle for those who give $10,000 annually.

The renowned child advocate Regina Skyer, Esq. has just agreed to host a pre-New Year’s reception in her Sutton Place home for all of our new Board members and heavy-hitters. Last year Regina hosted a dinner for us to honor Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney, a long-term supporter of Orphans International.

Sitting through the Harvard Business School’s Social Enterprise Summit, at the incredible Harvard Club, I was delighted to feel that Orphans International America is directly on track with Board development. Bankers at JP Morgan have said they feel OI is the next Habitat for Humanity or Doctors Without Borders. Bankers at the Summit, from many investment firms, said they would welcome the opportunity to help ramp up OI’s boards in 2009.

After years in the field, it is obvious that our programs are work well. OI Haiti, OI Indonesia, OI Tanzania, and OI Sri Lanka are all running smoothly. Our Boards will continue to sustain them. I believe we can sustain them better than we have in 2008. As always, my door is open to anyone of goodwill who can help us in our Interfaith mission of Raising Global Citizens in 2009. Join us!

To be considered for an Orphans International America Board of Directors or Advisory Board position, please send your résumé and letter of intent to Jim Luce at jim@oiww.org. For more information, go to www.oiww.org.

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