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 nongovernance group.
This is part one of a five part series on leadership councils.
To read part two, “Defining and Naming Your Leadership Council”, click here.
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 non-profit 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.