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Event Recap: Spruce Council Meeting — Board Governance for Emerging Leaders

Mandisa Thomas, member on our Grants Committee and ad-hoc Spruce Council Committee, shares this recap of our recent Spruce Council event with Schultz & Williams.

Theresa Leinker, Vice President & Director, Schultz & Williams spoke during our first Spruce Council event for 2023! Theresa has 20 years of experience in the nonprofit space and has worked with all types of nonprofits, small and large. The main focus of this virtual event was to discuss broadening the definition of impact for board members on a nonprofit board. Theresa divided the conversation into three sectors:

  • How philanthropy is shifting
  • Ways to contribute to a board
  • Finding and joining a board

How philanthropy is shifting

Traditional board duties include the duty of care, loyalty, and obedience. Also, board members are seen as ambassadors of the organizations and are known to secure financial support from others. Some traditional roles remain the same; however, there have been changes. Organizations have made efforts toward inclusivity through leadership and board representation and ensuring the communities they serve are also represented by leadership and volunteers of the organization/nonprofit. Another shift is reconnecting donors to the organization’s mission by having them volunteer, something major donors have enjoyed. Traditional large donors were very recognizable in event signage; however, some organizations are making sure every donor counts. For example, they may list donors alphabetically or randomly. 

Ways to contribute to a board

Theresa overviewed impactful ways to contribute to a board, like promoting the mission or being your organization’s biggest fan! As a board member, do you have an elevator pitch? She said it’s always great to share your personal story on why you joined and how the organization’s mission is essential to you. Share your skillset: if you’re a creative person, join marketing or the events committee, or if you’re great at finance, organize the organization’s finances or help nonprofits generate revenue if you can. Theresa talked about one of her nonprofit clients and their board member suggested building a cellphone tower on top of the building, which helped generate additional income. Also, leave room for staff to do their job! You want to help as much as possible, but being mindful of everyone’s capacity is important.

Finding a board to join

In the chat, people shared their unique stories on how they found out about the board they now sit on. Theresa suggested asking yourself a couple questions, including how much time you are willing to put into a board and what type of experience is fulfilling. 

A very insightful conversation about how to stay philanthropically engaged. Stay tuned for more Spruce Council events! 



Want to get involved in Spruce Council?

Spruce Council is The Spruce Foundation’s young philanthropist program. Spruce Council is a way to become more philanthropically engaged without a full board commitment. What do you need to do to be a Spruce Council member? Attend two Spruce Council meetings per year (they happen at least once per quarter), at least one Spruce event, work on two Spruce projects, and donate a personally meaningful amount of money to Spruce or any non-profit of your choice.