Hi, I’m Brian Kurth, founder, and President of Revere Software.
I know you’re busy, so I’ve created a new series, Three Tips in Three Minutes, to host leaders in the corporate social responsibility world in order to share some of their best practices.
My first guest is Robert “Rob” Acton, J.D., founder, and CEO of Cause Strategy Partners, including board services, BoardLead and BoardLearn.
Rob discussed the many reasons nonprofit board service is a perfect match for ascending and senior-level executives to leverage their network, experience, and wisdom while taking on a visible leadership role in the community.
From his experience with Cause Strategy Partners, he provides three practical tips to encourage employee board membership in partnership with a company’s skills-based volunteering program.
Rob concluded our brief discussion by saying, “We lead scores of these learning experiences each year for Fortune 500 companies. The incredible interest in serving the community through board service inspires me every time.”
Tip 1: Once the program’s professionals get a taste of leveraging their skills for a cause they care about, they want to do more. Skills-based volunteerism revolves around a time-bound, discrete project. Board service lasts for years and asks a professional to give the wholeness of what they have to offer in service to the cause: skills, life experience, wisdom, network, resources, and more. Tip: To assess what interest there may be among your employees, offer a “whosoever may” Board Service 101 training for your professionals to learn more about the role, responsibilities, commitment and benefits of nonprofit board service. Based on our experience, you may be surprised how broad and deep that interest goes. At Cause Strategy Partners, we lead scores of these learning experiences each year for F500 companies and we are always inspired by how much interest there is in serving the community through board service.
Tip 2: Board service programs bridge the gap between the corporate volunteerism team and the HR/talent team. As a powerful experiential leadership development activity, board programs serve as cross-functional wins for a company. Board placement programs also are a strong fit with ERGs and DEI goals. Tip: Survey your employee resource groups about their interest in connecting the group’s members to nonprofit board training or board service opportunities.
Tip 3: Board service programs can reach senior executives who may be reluctant to dedicate their already-stretched time to a team-based pro bono project, but will resonate with what board service will bring them: deeper and more lasting impact on a cause they care about, an expanded professional network, a visible leadership position in the community, and a meaningful addition to their professional profile. Tip: Prominently profile your CEO’s nonprofit board service journey. Help others see how having served in leadership roles on nonprofit boards has been an important part of your CEO’s personal and professional journey.
Rob has nearly three decades of experience founding, leading and scaling social good organizations as both a nonprofit chief executive and board leader. He served for 11 years as Executive Director of two nonprofit organizations: Taproot Foundation in New York City and Cabrini Green Legal Aid (CGLA) in Chicago. Under Rob’s leadership, CGLA received the prestigious Alford-Axelson Award for Nonprofit Managerial Excellence.
Rob is a recognized expert on good governance and nonprofit leadership, training thousands of executives and employees from Fortune 500 companies and professional services firms each year. He has served on numerous Boards of Directors, Advisory Boards and Governmental Commissions. Rob currently serves as Co-Chairman of the Board of Directors of Broadway Inspirational Voices and on the Board of Directors of Nonprofit New York. He serves on the Advisory Boards of Cabrini Green Legal Aid and Parkes Philanthropy.