Board Development Resources

Building a Board that Reflects the Communities We Serve

Challenges, Trends, and Actions for Organizations and their Boards

Most organizations have a sense of their unique and pressing needs. But over the past two years, the single most common response among the nonprofits we speak to is: 

“We want to have a board that better reflects the community we serve."

Each organization will define the community they serve differently.  Some definitions may include the beneficiaries of the organization’s services, the larger geographic or ideological community that the organization operations within, the individuals who engage directly with the organization, and maybe even groups that intentionally choose not to be involved or are unaware of the organization’s presence.  We find that broad definitions of community us to be more inclusive in our board development practices.

At Cause Strategy Partners, we maintain a board definition of diversity.  Too often conversation around diversity are narrowed to speak exclusively to race and ethnicity.  This is not to say that the lack of racial diversity in nonprofit boardrooms is not a problem to solve for – our nonprofit partners identify it as one of the greatest challenges they face in board development.  But narrowing diversity to race and ethnicity an be hugely limiting.  To fully embrace this value of diversity we need to consider all forms of identity. 

Survey Results

The following survey results represent 177 nonprofit organization across the United States. Over 90% of respondents have participated in at least one round of BoardLead.

How challenging is it for your organization to build a board that reflects the diversity of the community you serve?

To what degree does your nonprofit board prioritize building a board that reflects the diversity of the community you serve?

What are the biggest challenges your organization faces in building a board that reflects the diversity of the community you serve? Select up to three.

Cause Strategy Partners board placement specialists led a conversation around board development practices that strengthen an organization’s connection with community through intentional board recruitment. Discussing recent survey data, the conversation peels apart the barriers boards face when thinking and planning for board diversification efforts – as expressed in the survey – with key attention to how boards can mitigate harm and tokenization of diverse candidates.  

Webinar Panelists:
Erika Ana Flores
Senior Program Associate

Erika Flores supports BoardLead and Concierge Board Placement programs by connecting professionals with nonprofit organizations across the country for board service opportunities.  She plays an active role strategic partnership development and relationship management to amplify and strengthen the scope and impact of our services.

Headshot of Whitley Richards
Whitley Richards
Chief Program Officer

Whitley Richards oversees all existing nonprofit board placement and training services globally and leads the development of new programs. She has designed, built, and led internal and consulting initiatives focused on strengthening diversity, equity, and inclusion in nonprofit governance and among nonprofit staff teams.

Headshot of Erin Connell
Erin M. Connell
Director of BoardLead

Erin M. Connell focuses on expanding the BoardLead program, strategically designing the program to enter new markets as well as overseeing the successful implementation of strong nonprofit board matches. Through CSP’s board placement program, Erin focuses on recruiting diverse candidates to be matched to nonprofit boards around the U.S., strengthening the overall governance and the values of diversity & inclusion across the nonprofit sector. 

Explore the DEI Blog Series