Defining & Naming Your Leadership Council

By Laurence A. Pagnoni, MPA

This is part two of a five part series on leadership councils.

Part One: “What Does A Leadership Council Do?” (click the text to read the full post)

Finding a powerful name, and defining the purpose, should be top on your list of tasks as you start and develop your Leadership Council. Here’s three reasons why:

  1. You want the members themselves and the public to take notice.
  2. You want to convey energy and vision.
  3. You want to differentiate it from the Board of Directors.

Meeting all three criteria is essential.

Secondly, there are many ways to define your council to make it attractive and give it direction. Consider any one of these:

“Friends of…” is general enough to fit many designations and what’s especially nice about this moniker is that it immediately tells a story. Friends help someone in need and do so out of love and friendship (i.e., without ulterior motives).

Sometimes “Honorary Council” makes sense, especially if your council is comprised mostly of past trustees or alumni.

I have seen Leaders Council’s named “The President’s Councils, The Volunteer Council, and even the generic, although not recommended, Fundraising Council.

There are also Councils that are really time limited “task forces” (on gun violence, coastal preservation, ending bedbugs in public housing, and so forth).

Frequently a Leadership Council relates to a major capital campaign and that’s fine too, but that sort of Council is often called a Campaign Cabinet.

Lastly, depending on your need for the Council, plus the type of members you hope to attract, an appropriate powerful name should be crafted in the way that it will best serve your purpose.

So many names of Leadership Councils are too generic. For example, why couldn’t the American Nurses Association call their Council “Healers.” Or consider Brown University’s Women’s Leadership Council, could it be named, “United”?

The point is to find a name that best reflects your reason for establishing the council.

I strongly encourage you to test the name out on a few people you trust before deciding.

We welcome your comments about this post on the LAPA blog.

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