February 28, 2019

What’s the Secret to Boards that Take Smart Risks?

This brilliant advice comes from one of the interviews I did for my new book, Let’s Raise Millions Together

Kelley Parris, the new head of the Children’s Board of Hillsborough County shared it.

Implement it or even move toward to create healthier boards that take calculated risks to launch your nonprofit upward and onward.


00:00 What’s the secret to taking smart nonprofit risks?

00:28 A challenging and brilliant board best practice

01:27 How can you help your board take calculated risks?



Hi, I’m Karen Eber Davis, and I want to talk about boards today. This is Added Value Video, and the question is, “what’s the secret to creating boards that take risk calculated risks? Not craziness but thoughtful risk things that say, “Let’s try this.” And, let’s try in a sensible way the thoughtful, important risks. Nonprofits are known for being averse to risk-taking, but sometimes to move forward, you need to take some risk and try some things.


And, here’s what I’ve learned Kelley Parris, who I interviewed for my book, Let’s Raise Nonprofit Millions Together—it’s just beginning its in the editing process. They’ll be more about that here.


To share a great story, a great practice that she does, and it’s really difficult, but it’s brilliant, and that is: she meets with her board members one-on-one once a month before each meeting. And what she does at this meeting is–she shares data. She shares stories, and she s shares the consequences of not acting versus acting. And while she’s doing that, she’s listening to the board’s concerns and objections and things, and as she hears that, she takes all that.


When she gets to her meeting, she’s got concrete responses to their concerns. And, therefore she helps them make better decisions. They help her make better decisions, and the risk is still there, but it’s come way down to a real management level.


So how can you help your board take risks, calculated, smart risks? Spend time meeting with them. If you can’t meet with them every month, begin a practice when you regularly meet one-on-one with your board members. If you’ve never done any, begin by meeting them in the first quarter or even if you mean them once a year–double back this year. Work towards more frequent contact one-on-one with your board members. I’m Karen Eber Davis, and there’s more my newsletter, Added Value. The link is below.

For more answers, check out this Nonprofit  CEO Library.

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Karen Eber Davis

Karen Eber Davis provides customized advising and coaching around nonprofit strategy and board development. People leaders hire her to bring clarity to sticky situations, break through barriers that seem insurmountable, and align people for better futures. She is the author of 7 Nonprofit Income Streams and Let's Raise Nonprofit Millions Together.


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