Make your Board Leadership Award application shine

If you haven’t submitted your Board Leadership Award application, use this advice from selection committee member Andy Davis to make your application stand out from the pack. Davis is BoardSource’s Director of Training and has served on the Board Leadership Award selection committee for five years.

1. What are committee members looking for in a nomination?

I’m looking for two main things: First, that the board is doing the right things, the right way. There are well published best practices for nonprofit governing boards and the boards we choose need to have heeded those best practices. This doesn’t mean that a board can’t be unique or find what works best for them – we want that! – but it does mean that the board should be meeting all minimum requirements of good governance. Secondly, I’m looking for innovation. As the Director of Training for BoardSource, we know that there are great boards out there doing great work, but we want to know what you are doing differently or better than everyone else that is helping you succeed. Hopefully, it is replicable and we can share it with the entire sector to improve nonprofits, communities and lives all over the country.

2. What makes an application stand out to you?

I say this all the time, but if I was starting a nonprofit today, I would hire a great writer. Concise information that conveys passion and the importance of your board’s work will shine through if it is written in a way that takes the process seriously and respects the reader. Oh, by the way…no one sentence answers, but we do read a lot of applications, so also respect the reader’s time and try to keep it somewhat brief.

3. What advice do you have for applicants?

Tell YOUR story. Not what you think we want to hear. What have been your challenges? How did you overcome those? All of us on the committee understand that no board is alike and that governing a nonprofit is not an easy job. Don’t be afraid to share the difficult stories, but also make sure you tell us how you overcame those difficulties and how other boards can learn from your story.

4. Why would you recommend making a nomination for the Board Leadership Award?

The Board Leadership Award is such a unique opportunity for nonprofits. Many times in this sector we get lured in to great photo-ops to frame our organization’s accomplishments. Painting a wall, planting a garden or tutoring children are vital to the health of our community – and they make for great pictures. What often doesn’t make a great picture is a group of smart, hardworking, committed volunteers sitting around a board table, having robust discussions, making great choices, and planning for an organization’s future. The board leadership award is a unique opportunity to highlight a different side of your organization that the public often doesn’t get to see. Winning this award will enable you to inspire confidence in donors and civic leaders and help earn the public’s trust.

Do you have a board you’d like to nominate for the Board Leadership Award? The deadline for nominations has been extended to Tuesday, April 7. Apply here.

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