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Why Board Leadership Matters

By Josephine Victoria Yam

Despite the heavy downpour of rain a few weeks ago in downtown Vancouver, I encountered a lot of sunny smiles and spirits at Vantage Point (VP)’s 2nd Annual BOSS Conference held at the Marriott Hotel. “BOSS” is the acronym for Building Organizational & Sector Sustainability. There was a happy buzz as more than 200 people from the nonprofit, corporate and academic sectors attended to learn, share and network at what is touted as B.C.’s premier nonprofit leadership conference.

Led by Denise Baker, VP’s Executive Director, the conference offered an impressive array of insightful learning opportunities focused on governance, leadership and people engagement to build capacity in the nonprofit sector.

(Left to Right) Maria Turnbull, Associate Executive Director of Vantage Point, Josephine Victoria Yam, CEO of B3 Canada, and Denise Baker, Executive Director of Vantage Point at the BOSS Conference in Vancouver.

One of the sessions I thoroughly enjoyed was presented by Maria Turnbull, VP’s Associate Executive Director. Maria discussed some practical steps that a nonprofit board can undertake to achieve a high performing board culture. What is key to achieving this level of board culture is a set of shared values of respect, openness, and mutual trust among all board members. A particular takeaway I had is that the board should develop a distinct board mission, separate and distinct form the nonprofit’s mission. The board mission should set out its goals for the coming years as well as articulate the value proposition it brings to the nonprofit it governs. Interestingly, in my experience as a board director, I don’t recall our board deliberately developing a specific board mission that engaged us to think of our board role at this foundational level.

Board leadership defines its culture. And if a board’s culture is more focused on creating meaningful social impact over mere compliance, that paves the way for inspired leadership to create a high performing nonprofit. A high performing nonprofit guided and inspired by high performing board leadership is fundamental to successfully advancing its mission to create a better world.

B3 Canada is a proud partner of Vantage Point, the premier organization on not-for-profit leadership in B.C.

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  • Alberta's Promise operates within the Government of Alberta’s Department of Human Services. With over 1,800 business, nonprofit and community partners, they help businesses connect with non-profits across Alberta to make meaningful contributions that benefit children and youth ages 0 to 24.

  • CanadaHelps is a nonprofit serving Canadian charities and donors. They increase charitable giving across Canada by making it easier to donate and fundraise online. Because CanadHelps is a charity, their fees are a fraction of for-profit alternatives, making donation dollars go further.

  • The Edmonton Chamber of Voluntary Organizations is a member-based nonprofit organization founded in 2002 in Edmonton, AB. They serve the nonprofit and charitable organizations in the Alberta Capital Region.

  • The Ontario Nonprofit Network (ONN) is the provincial network for the approximately 55,000 nonprofit organizations across Ontario. As a 7,000-strong provincial network, with a volunteer base of 300 sector leaders, ONN brings the diverse voices of the sector to government, funders and business to create and influence systemic change.

  • For over 62 years, Propellus has been supporting volunteers and volunteerism within the communities of Calgary. It strongly believes that volunteering is essential to creating and sustaining healthy, supportive and connected communities.

  • The Sustainability Network is a national organization that works with environmental nonprofits to make them more effective and efficient. Their mission is to enrich environmental leaders and nonprofit organizations so that they can help us all achieve sustainability.

  • Founded in 1943, Vantage Point delivers learning opportunities focused on governance, leadership, planning and people engagement for new and seasoned sector leaders, board directors and managers, aimed at advancing not-for-profit leadership.

  • Women Get On Board is a leading member-based company that connects, promotes and empowers women to corporate boards. They do this through an engaged community of women and men in Canada committed to advancing gender diversity in the boardroom.


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