Professional Development
Career development / DEI / Nonprofits

Spur Leadership is boosting access to nonprofit board seats in Delaware

As boards seek more diverse members, Spur Impact's new program prepares people from the community to serve.

The Spur Leadership cohort meeting at CSC Station. (Courtesy photo)
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Spur Impact, the organization best known for its annual #MILLSUMMIT and the Delaware Gives platform, has a new program that will match board member candidates with nonprofits with available seats.

Called Spur Leadership, the program’s mission is to take people who may think they’re not qualified to be on a board of directors and train them over eight virtual sessions to understand the duties and responsibilities of being a board member, before matching them with a nonprofit.

“Over these years, we’ve noticed that sometimes it’s challenging finding board members in Delaware for nonprofits,” said Spur Impact VP Kristen Isaac, who manages Spur Leadership and is a Spur Impact board member. “Not only finding board members, but finding a diverse group of board members — different ages, races, socioeconomic status, all of that. And so we put this program together in response to those needs.”

Isaac based the platform partially on her own experience.

“When I joined, I was lacking a little bit of confidence in being a board member,” she said. “I don’t think I meaningfully contributed for the first six months to a year. So I built this program to help build confidence with knowledge around your role as a board member, what is the purpose of nonprofits, financial management, how to read a financial statement, and all of the things that are the key responsibilities of board members. So you go in and hit the ground running, versus ‘I don’t know what I’m doing.'”

Portrait of Kristen Isaac

Kristen Isaac. (Courtesy photo)

Spur Impact is initially using its set of connections through #MILLSUMMIT, which centers on local emerging talent of any age, and Delaware Gives, which is connected to a large number of Delaware nonprofits, to fill the first cohort. People outside of those networks will be able to apply for future cohorts.

Why is it important that nonprofits have board members with a diverse set of backgrounds and experiences? For one thing, the communities served by a lot of nonprofits are disproportionately made up of people of color and ethnic minorities, while boards skew disproportionately white, even all-white. That has started to change with the help of programs like Spur Leadership that are intentional about making boards inclusive.

While the program has a fee, Isaac stresses that there is a sliding scale for both the participants and nonprofits: “We don’t want to put any barriers in there for people to not be able to participate because of funding challenges,” she said. The only criteria are that participants are not already on a board and have had about six months of some kind of leadership experience.

The current inaugural cohort runs through July 18 and will culminate with a board matching “speed dating” session with the nonprofits.

“We want the skills to match,” Isaac said. “The nonprofits have identified a gap and skill set that they’re looking for. We want that skill set to be matched by an emerging leader. Passion, personalities, all of that good stuff needs to match.”

Those interested in participating in future Spur Leadership cohorts should email Isaac and Spur Impact Executive Director Charlie Vincent at leadership@SpurImpact.org.

“If you’re looking for a creative, innovative way to use your leadership skills, and you haven’t been able to really find a volunteer opportunity, this opportunity allows you to really give back to the community in a different type of way than you may have thought about before,” Isaac said. “It’s not something to be afraid of, it’s something that you can have access to.”

Companies: Spur Impact

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