When two boards are bet­ter than one

Modern Healthcare - - COMMENT - By Theresa Pesch

For health­care or­ga­ni­za­tions to thrive in an era of con­stant mar­ket and reg­u­la­tory com­mo­tion, hav­ing a well-in­te­grated char­i­ta­ble foun­da­tion arm is in­creas­ingly es­sen­tial. But many in­sti­tu­tions don’t have a ded­i­cated foun­da­tion board of direc­tors. They make do with a com­bined gov­er­nance/foun­da­tion board. Other or­ga­ni­za­tions with sep­a­rate boards of­ten run them in si­los, miss­ing the chance to max­i­mize their fundrais­ing po­ten­tial.

Ef­fec­tive board in­te­gra­tion starts with a CEO who’s fully sup­port­ive of their sep­a­ra­tion, but en­sures that the foun­da­tion’s ef­forts are in sync with the hos­pi­tal’s pri­or­i­ties. Sev­eral peo­ple can sit on both boards. They’re a mi­nor­ity, but they help keep the two groups on par­al­lel tracks.

Foun­da­tion board re­cruit­ment has to be based on some­thing beyond find­ing wealthy in­di­vid­u­als to fill seats and at­tend galas. Se­ri­ous re­cruit­ment fo­cus- es on four core ques­tions:

Will the can­di­date bring strate­gic re­la­tion­ships to the or­ga­ni­za­tion?

Can the board mem­ber open doors to new donors? In our or­ga­ni­za­tion’s his­tory, it has been shown that when mem­bers in­tro­duce us to a new donor, we have a 70% suc­cess rate in se­cur­ing a gift.

Is the can­di­date a role model for phi­lan­thropy? We re­quire each of our board mem­bers to do­nate to the foun­da­tion.

Will the board mem­ber be an am­bas­sador for the or­ga­ni­za­tion in the com- mu­nity? Our board mem­bers speak pas­sion­ately about our mis­sion, telling mem­o­rable sto­ries about our care and providers’ com­mit­ment to pa­tients with an authenticity and flair that arises from first­hand en­gage­ment.

Or­ga­ni­za­tions also can’t leave board re­cruit­ment and re­ten­tion to chance. We strive to en­sure our new board mem­bers un­der­stand our or­ga­ni­za­tion and their role, and feel wel­come and en­er­gized from the first en­counter. If we’re invit­ing the com­mu­nity’s most suc­cess­ful, busy peo­ple, we can’t waste their time. We set up one-on-one ses­sions for a smooth start, and after that each board meet­ing fea­tures not only business is­sues but care­fully cho­sen, en­gag­ing peo­ple and top­ics from our hos­pi­tals and clin­ics.

There’s no ques­tion that hav­ing two boards, how­ever well-in­te­grated, cre­ates more work for hos­pi­tal ex­ec­u­tives than one. But a sep­a­rate, high-per­form­ing foun­da­tion board is like a booster rocket driv­ing the en­tire en­ter­prise to­ward ful­fill­ment of its mis­sion.

Theresa Pesch, R.N., is pres­i­dent of the Chil­dren’s Health Care Foun­da­tion at Chil­dren’s Hos­pi­tals and Clin­ics of Min­nesota, Min­neapo­lis.

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