BOARDway Bound's 2017 graduates
Photo credit: Carlynne with Bergette Photography

The recent Stanford Survey on Leadership and Management in the Nonprofit Sector revealed that more than half of U.S. nonprofits struggle with board governance. Despite the important role the board plays in the success of organizations, 56% of nonprofit leaders reported that their board was ill-equipped, inexperienced, or not sufficiently trained in its responsibilities. Passion for the cause is just one part of the job!

For 15 years, ArtsWave has forged a different reality for the nonprofit arts sector in Greater Cincinnati. ArtsWave’s BOARDway Bound is a two-month board training program, culminating in a match with a local arts board. In total, BOARDway Bound has trained and seated over 300 business leaders, creating a marriage between for-profit business professionals and leadership for the arts. This pairing of savvy business leaders to the arts has paved the way for new solutions to important problems.

For instance, an arts organization often generates earned revenue through box office ticket sales, but that alone cannot cover the cost of operations. Charting a course for and monitoring a sustainable revenue mix for any nonprofit arts organization is a part of good board governance. As another example, since the arts have unique potential to bridge cultural divides, boards that are attuned to the importance of inclusive business practices and diverse artistic programming choices are best positioned to guide an arts organization’s future direction.

The benefits of board leadership are not confined to the nonprofit world. In fact, nonprofit board leadership is one of the top professional development tools for retaining talented leaders. It's one of many ways companies encourage talented new leaders to put down and deepen their roots in a region. Those who serve on nonprofit boards are also exposed to business challenges that stimulate their leadership, creativity and innovation, ultimately fostering skills that are valuable in all types of industries.

Today, some arts organizations report that a majority of their board members are ArtsWave’s BOARDway Bound alumni. Each fall, about 30 selected participants attend six sessions of study, discussion and interaction with professional experts and arts visionaries. Then, through an intentional, skills-based matching process, BOARDway Bound pairs each participant with a local arts organization in need of board members.

The resulting influx of about 20 trained volunteer leaders into the arts ecosystem each year has undeniably helped to develop and strengthen Cincinnati’s arts sector. BOARDway Bound is ArtsWave's signature program for boosting organizational capacity from the inside out, and is just one of many ways we serve the community beyond fundraising and financial support.

Find out how you can take part in BOARDway Bound at ArtsWave.org/BOARDway Bound.