The Importance of Lived Experience in a Nonprofit Board
The vast majority of boards, writes Jim Taylor, are missing a focus on lived experience, "having individuals on the board who understand in a real way the issues and challenges that they are working to address."
“Who” matters in a conversation; the "who" shapes the conversation that takes place, Taylor mentions in this BoardSource piece.
But who are the “right people” when it comes to populating a nonprofit board? Well, the answer is of course different depending on the specifics of the organization’s work and focus, but I would argue that the vast majority of boards are missing something critical when they think about what boards need to include in terms of experience, expertise, networks, and influence. They are missing a focus on lived experience – having individuals on the board who understand in a real way the issues and challenges that they are working to address.
As Taylor adds, "Having a more racially diverse board may help address this in part, but the importance of lived experience goes deeper than demographics. It’s about real, on-the-ground knowledge of the work that the organization is doing from the perspectives of the individuals and communities it seeks to serve."