What a Leadership Council Does
A leadership council is a group of individuals outside of your board (though some of them may also be board members) who fulfill a number of special functions for your agency. Unlike your board members who assume a governance responsibility, the council is a non-governance group.
This is part one of a five part series on leadership councils.
Depending on the type of council you empower, a leadership council can enable you to achieve any number of goals: fundraise, deal with community politics, offer or facilitate access to expertise, write letters advocating or defending on your behalf or sometimes simply provide a healthy dose of ex officio credibility for your agency.
One of the most common uses of a council is that it can act as a liaison with the community at large, though usually in a directed and less public-relations-intensive way than might be done through a regular board or marketing initiative. For instance, a group of doctors might provide testimony at public hearings about health issues (e.g. diabetes prevention, air pollution) at the behest of the nonprofit on whose council they serve. They could endorse the work that the nonprofit is doing or simply act on behalf of the nonprofit as experts on the topic at hand.
In either case, this public platform increases their own credibility while simultaneously enhancing the image of the nonprofit they represent. It’s a perfect win-win.
Laurence is author of "The Nonprofit Fundraising Solution," the first book on fundraising ever published by the American Management Association. He is chairman of LAPA Fundraising serving nonprofits throughout the U.S. and Europe.