This article first appeared Jan. 19, 2017 on the Chronicle of Philanthropy website. It is reprinted here with their permission.

Our missions are far too important to sit on the sidelines while critical decisions are made. The people who depend on us need us to do more. They need us to engage. They need us to educate. They need us to organize. And, yes, sometimes they will need us to fight.

They need us to advocate.

For the past two and a half years, BoardSource has helped lead the Stand for Your Mission campaign, which has worked to educate nonprofit organizations — in particular, nonprofit board members — about the importance of their leadership as advocates and ambassadors for their missions.

Here are three important things for boards to do:

  • Assess your new reality. If you haven’t already, you should have a conversation in the boardroom about the range of potential opportunities and threats that your organization could face.
  • Articulate your values and beliefs. Now more than ever, nonprofit organizations need to have a deep understanding of their organizational values: what you are as an organization, what you care about, and why. This goes much deeper than defining your mission or advocacy agenda and is about the fundamental principles that guide your organization’s decision making.
  • Outline advocacy priorities and help make them happen. New leadership may mean that your organization’s policy priorities have shifted, or they may remain exactly the same. Regardless, a new set of players in any leadership body means new power dynamics, and nonprofits cannot take anything for granted in terms of public support — whether that support is financial or policy-related.

About the Stand for Your Mission Campaign
The Stand for Your Mission campaign is an ongoing effort to build awareness about the importance of board advocacy to advance an organization’s mission. The goal is to inspire and challenge board leaders to “stand for your mission” through active engagement as ambassadors and advocates for your organization’s work.

The Stand for Your Mission campaign has never been about partisanship or a particular political view, nor is it about advancing any policy agenda. It’s about a fundamental understanding of the role of nonprofits in society, what our work means to this country and the people we serve, and how all of that is affected by the decisions our elected officials make and the policies they enact.

Read the full article about board members as advocates by Anne Wallestad at BoardSource.