In a two-part article on funding in the arts, the Fort Worth Weekly interviewed (3) arts organization execs. The execs headed organizations that were large, medium and small in that order. The exec of the smallest organization offered his insights about nonprofit governance. His thoughts are worthy of consideration, not that they are what I believe, but more as a frame of reference, perhaps as from one end of the continuum of opinions, perhaps geographically influenced, about recruitment and diversity.
Brown: Speaking of nonprofit boards, what challenges do you face in recruiting new members?
Riley: One challenge is trying to identify people who have experience and who can bring their expertise to support the organization. But I find people are very busy and already committed. The business council idea would be an opportunity to tap into that [private business] knowledge base to find resources that are already here. You can find experienced board members, and you can find people who are really passionate about supporting nonprofits, but they need training.
Brown: Is diversity a problem for Fort Worth’s nonprofit boards?
Riley: One great thing about Fort Worth is that we have several committed families who believe in the importance of the arts. [But that often skews] Fort Worth organizations to think, “Oh, it’s critical that we can get a member from this prominent family or that family.”
Brown: What’s the danger there?
Saville: I think the danger is that people seem to think if you get one person from this corporation or one person from this family that it is going to solve all of your problems, and it doesn’t work that way. These people already have various commitments. They can only dedicate the majority of their resources to a few passions.
Brown: Karen, what type of involvement do you ask of your board members?
Hall: I have a lot of board members who don’t sit on other boards. They’re not super-wealthy, but they have kept me going. They have made significant donations. Part of that’s because they aren’t on five or six other boards. They’re devoted to my organization. Part of the problem of being on so many boards is that you’re expected to go to every concert, too.