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Nonprofit Partner Guide

Thinking of applying but not sure if BoardLead is right for your nonprofit organization? Check out our FAQs to get a better sense of our program and process. If you’ve read through the document and still have questions, please reach out to BoardLead for clarification!

Getting Started

What is BoardLead?

BoardLead is the flagship program of Cause Strategy Partners. We elevate and transform leadership in the social good sector by partnering with top companies, professional services firms and foundations to recruit, place, train and support talented professionals for high-impact board service.

Through a rigorous recruitment, training, and matching process, BoardLead will identify promising candidates and make the connection. Nonprofits then meet one-on-one with each candidate and together begin the process of deciding whether it’s a “match made in heaven.” For the candidates ultimately vetted, nominated and elected to boards, we provide governance training and offer one-on-one support they need to make an impact on day one.

Who pays for BoardLead?

BoardLead is offered free of charge to our nonprofit partners! Costs are generously covered by our corporate partners.

Should my organization apply to BoardLead?

BoardLead is designed for nonprofit organizations eager to develop and grow their Board of Directors. BoardLead candidates bring passion for the mission, keen intellect and skills, an understanding of good governance, and a readiness to generate resources for their organization.

Organizations must meet the following qualifications to apply:

  1. You must be a 501(c)(3) organization
  2. Nonprofits can apply by invitation only: Organizations must be nominated by a collaborating partner, but we occasionally accept self-nominations from interested organizations. Simply fill out our contact form to let us know you’re interested.
  3. A board member “give” expectation of no more than $5,000 and a “give/‘get” expectation of no more than $10,000, in all markets outside of the New York City area. For nonprofits in the New York City, a “give/‘get” expectation can be no more than $15,000.

Organizations interested in participating in BoardLead must join us for our informational webinar and submit an application during our open application period for your respective city. 

When can my organization apply for BoardLead?

BoardLead operates on an annual basis in each city, with either a Spring or Fall launch. For Fall rounds, nonprofit applications begin in September, with matches made in December. For Spring rounds, nonprofits apply in February and are matched in May.  As we have multiple corporate, foundation, and nonprofit partners participating in these rounds, we are unable to adjust these program timelines.

Each city represents a region; for example, nonprofits and candidates from our New York City round hail from all five boroughs, and parts of New Jersey, Long Island, and Westchester County. We anticipate adding more cities as we grow in the coming years. 

BoardLead will operate in the following regions for Fall 2020 and Spring 2021:

Fall 2020:

  • New York City, NY
  • Bay Area/Silicon Valley, CA
  • Los Angeles, CA
  • Washington, DC / N. Virginia
  • Minneapolis, MN
  • Seattle, WA
  • Raleigh, NC
  • Tampa, FL

Spring 2021:

  • New York City, NY
  • Chicago, IL
  • Boston, MA
  • Philadelphia, PA / Wilmington, DE
  • Atlanta, GA
  • Houston, TX
  • Dallas, TX
  • Charlotte, NC
  • Detroit, MI
  • + Others TBD
Can BoardLead identify candidates for our Advisory Board?

BoardLead is designed to work with Governing Boards with fiduciary oversight. If you’re not sure if your Advisory Board qualifies for BoardLead, please contact us and we will get you an answer.

Can BoardLead work with a Regional Board of a national organization?

We likely can.  Please mention this on the contact form linked above and we will provide you a clearer explanation.

The BoardLead Process: How does it work?

What is the typical profile of a BoardLead candidate?

BoardLead candidates have been identified by their employer as being high-performing and high-priority professionals. They’re coming with considerable management experience, and are often in management positions with on average 10-25 years of experience. They come to the table with a range of expertise, from finance and strategy to HR, IT, marketing, legal, and more. While this is often their first board experience, they tend to be passionate and seasoned volunteers that have self-selected for this program. BoardLead is a great way for these professionals to find board placement opportunities and receive wrap-around training and support to be impactful board members.

All BoardLead candidates are employees of our corporate and foundation partners.

How do you prioritize finding candidates for our board that meet our diversity needs?

While we cannot promise that we will be able to identify a candidate that meets your specific diversity needs if your organization is invited to join the cohort, we do include your diversity goals as one of many of our matching criteria for candidates.

How strict are "Give" and "Give/Get" expectations?

When joining a nonprofit board, individuals should take their giving and fundraising commitments seriously, but board members are rarely asked to leave a board if they miss their target in a given year. “Give” and “give/get”  expectations should be viewed as minimums.  Strong board members want to drive as many financial resources as possible into the organizations they help lead.

Do we have to elect our matched candidate?

No – BoardLead does not require you to elect the candidates we present to your organization. While we do our best to make matches that appear strong on paper, we trust you to decide whether they are ultimately right for your organization. We do, however, ask that you meet with each candidate BoardLead matches you to.

Is my organization guaranteed a candidate match through BoardLead?

Matches are made based on a variety of factors, including expressed candidate interest. If we are unable to identify a candidate whose passions and contributions don’t align with your organization’s stated needs, there is a chance we will not be able to make a match. However, due to the number of candidates we work with and the variety of missions represented in the pool, this does not happen often.

Will candidates be interested in my organization’s cause area?

There is a good chance! We build our nonprofit cohort to represent a wide array of mission areas, as we find that our candidates come to us with a diversity of personal passion areas and expertise.

Will we only receive candidates from the corporate partner who nominated us?

No – If selected for our cohort, you will be eligible to meet candidates from any of our partners based in your specific city.

My board might not be able to elect a candidate by the election deadline. Can I still apply to BoardLead?

This is a great question to ask your Round Manager. Please reach out to them directly following our webinar with more specifics.

Can elections happen before the deadline? Can board service begin before then?

Yes – Elections can take place at any time before our election deadline. As soon as a candidate is elected, they may begin their board service.

How long will a BoardLeader serve on my board?

BoardLead candidates are expected to serve their full term of board service, once elected. After that, it’s up to both you and your candidate to decide if they will stand for reelection.

BoardLead candidates receive “ongoing training” after their election. What does that mean?

In addition to gaining access to BoardLearn, our virtual good governance training suite, BoardLeaders are also provided one-on-one consultation support for the first few months after their election.

Can my current board members attend your training?

Unfortunately, our Good Governance Training is only designed to accommodate BoardLead candidates. However, we encourage our BoardLeaders to share their learnings with your board. Please note that BoardLead hosts a separate Nonprofit Learning Series, which is a multi-part webinar series designed to support nonprofit leaders in practicing diversity, equity, and inclusion through board development. This series is open to your whole board.

Application Questions

Who is the Round Manager for BoardLead in my city?

Various members of the Cause Strategy Partners staff serve as Round Managers for each city. A Round Manager is the key point of contact for any questions you may have during the course of your application and potential participation in the program.

Erin Connell:

  • Dallas, TX

Gaby Bianchi:

  • New York City, NY
  • Philadelphia, PA / Wilmington, DE
  • Bay Area/Silicon Valley, CA
  • Tampa, FL


Erica Cheung:

  • Chicago, IL
  • Washington, DC
  • Los Angeles, CA
  • Seattle, WA
  • Houston, TX

Nick Boyle:

  • Atlanta, GA
  • Boston, MA
  • Detroit, MI
  • Raleigh, NC 
  • Minneapolis, MN
How do I start my application?

Once you have been nominated for BoardLead, the primary contact at your organization will receive an invitation to access to complete your application.

How long will it take to complete the BoardLead application?

The BoardLead application is similar to a grant application and requires that you submit detailed information on your organization’s mission, finances, current governance practices, and recruitment needs. Several of the questions require narrative responses, and the most competitive applications will demonstrate strong attention to detail. We recommend that you devote at least 6 hours to complete your organization’s application.

Can I save a draft of my application?

Yes – You are able to save each section of your application as you work through it. However, in order to save properly, you must first make sure all answers within a section are completely filled out and then hit ‘Save and Continue.’ To avoid any responses being lost before a save, we recommend you download our PDF copy of the application first to help you compose your answers in advance.

Will I be able to edit my application after submitting it?

Yes – You will be able to edit your application at any time before our application deadline. Once the deadline passes, please reach out to your Round Manager, as they will be able to make edits from the back end of your application.

The application asks for Directors & Officers Insurance. Do I need this?

Yes – Nonprofit D&O insurance is a requirement for BoardLead, as we will not introduce candidates to your organization without it. If selected for our cohort, you will need to acquire this insurance, should your organization not already have it.

What other time commitments are required of nonprofits outside of the application process and candidate vetting process?

Nonprofits selected for the cohort must attend BoardLead’s mandatory Kick-Off Webinar. This Webinar shares more specifics about our program, including information to prepare you for your first meeting with candidates.

Will BoardLead share a recording of the Nonprofit Kick-Off Webinar?

Yes – After the presentation, we will circulate a recording of our webinar for your review.

Can I share the webinar recording with my Board Chair?

Yes – And we encourage you to do so! Please feel free to share our recording and deck with members of your team involved in the board development process.

Is the 5:00 pm application deadline in local time?

The 5:00 pm application deadline is given in your round’s local time. For example, a NYC BoardLead application will be due at 5:00 pm ET, while a Los Angeles BoardLead application will be due at 5:00 pm PT (8:00 pm ET).

Still have questions?

Contact us! Use our contact form or contact your Round Manager and we’ll get back to you soon.