Good Governance: No Longer a Luxury–a Necessity Today’s nonprofit boards face a changing landscape, with rising expectations for accountability, new definitions of fundraising responsibilities, and a fresh emphasis on the value nonprofits bring to the community. Here, governance and fundraising expert Chuck V. Loring discusses what nonprofit boards need to succeed.
hen Chuck Loring talks about nonprofit governance, people listen. Loring has helped hundreds of nonprofits improve their governance, among them the Special Olympics, Girl Scouts USA, Feeding America, Planned Parenthood, and The Smithsonian National Museum of The American Indian. Every year he conducts dozens of training programs for funders, community foundations, and nonprofit centers interested in good governance. He is the senior partner of Loring, Sternberg & Associates, a Fort Lauderdale- and Indianapolis-based nonprofit-consulting firm, and is also senior governance associate for BoardSource, the national organization devoted to nonprofit governance. Loring is a CFRE—a Certified Fund Raising Executive—with an MBA (from the Marshall School of Business at the University of Southern California), but don’t let the acronyms deter you: He tells it like it is when he talks about governance, making his points with clarity, brevity, and drive. Lately Loring has focused on orchestras. This January, he led a seminar presented by the League of American Orchestras, “Building an Effective Fundraising Board,” that drew a standing-room-
only crowd of executive directors, board members, and development officers eager to understand what it takes to promote a healthy culture of fundraising among boards of directors. The seminar was designed to help attendees learn how to recruit and develop board members with the ability to give and get; increase board members’ confidence and effectiveness in fundraising; nurture a healthy and productive board-staff fundraising partnership;
“During my training sessions I encourage boards to work with their staffs to create a menu list of reasons to support and donate to the orchestra. Every board member must know all of the orchestra’s talking points so they can easily learn and articulate the orchestra’s reason for being.” and of course raise more money. In November, Loring led a similarly successful “Building an Effective Fundraising Board” seminar, with panelists from three Ohio orchestras—the Canton Symphony, the Cleveland Orchestra, and the Firelands Symphony—at a day of League events in Cleveland. We caught up with Loring this winter.
Chuck V. Loring
Your firm works with a broad swath of nonprofit clients, in sectors ranging from arts and culture to animal welfare to education. How do orchestras fit in that world, and what kind of governance challenges do they face? Sweeping generalizations most likely lead to trouble, but since you asked, I will make some sweeping generalizations. Over the past two decades, large arts organizations—not just orchestras—have often suffered from less than outstanding governance and directors who have not been fully engaged. It was not unusual to see a board of directors with 50 or 60 members who got there simply because of an annual financial contribution. Board work was often done by a smaller executive committee, and the full board only showed up for show-and-tell meetings and celebratory events. When the going got rough, many of these board members did not stand by the organizations and get their nails dirty. Fortunately, many organizations have abandoned this model and gone to smaller boards that are fully engaged. Established cultural organizations have sometimes been cursed by their prestige in the community. Individuals often want to symphony