By Josephine Victoria Yam, J.D., LLM.
2016 November 15
Despite the heavy downpour of rain a few weeks ago in downtown Vancouver, I encountered a lot of sunny smiles and spirits at Vantage Point (VP)’s 2nd Annual BOSS Conference held at the Marriott Hotel. “BOSS” is the acronym for Building Organizational & Sector Sustainability. There was a happy buzz as more than 200 people from the nonprofit, corporate and academic sectors attended to learn, share and network at what is touted as B.C.’s premier nonprofit leadership conference.
Led by Denise Baker, VP’s Executive Director, the conference offered an impressive array of insightful learning opportunities focused on governance, leadership and people engagement to build capacity in the nonprofit sector.
(Left to Right) Maria Turnbull, Associate Executive Director of Vantage Point, Josephine Victoria Yam, CEO of Skills4Good/B3, and Denise Baker, Executive Director of Vantage Point at the BOSS Conference in Vancouver.
One of the sessions I thoroughly enjoyed was presented by Maria Turnbull, VP’s Associate Executive Director. Maria discussed some practical steps that a nonprofit board can undertake to achieve a high performing board culture. What is key to achieving this level of board culture is a set of shared values of respect, openness, and mutual trust among all board members. A particular takeaway I had is that the board should develop a distinct board mission, separate and distinct form the nonprofit’s mission. The board mission should set out its goals for the coming years as well as articulate the value proposition it brings to the nonprofit it governs. Interestingly, in my experience as a board director, I don’t recall our board deliberately developing a specific board mission that engaged us to think of our board role at this foundational level.
Board leadership defines its culture. And if a board’s culture is more focused on creating meaningful social impact over mere compliance, that paves the way for inspired leadership to create a high performing nonprofit. A high performing nonprofit guided and inspired by high performing board leadership is fundamental to successfully advancing its mission to create a better world.