‘Knight Cities’ podcast: Nonprofit boards have power to influence policy – if they will seize the opportunity

If you serve on a nonprofit board this week’s “Knight Cities” is especially for you. Raising money is part of the job for nonprofit board members, but there’s also a significant opportunity that isn’t taken advantage of nearly enough: influencing policy.

Knight Cities podcast

BoardSource is the go-to resource for funders, partners and nonprofit leaders who want to magnify the impact of their nonprofits, and it has launched a new effort, supported in part by Knight Foundation, to encourage nonprofit boards to become effective advocates for the causes they represent. The campaign is called Stand for Your Mission.

This week on “Knight Cities,” we talk to BoardSource President and CEO Anne Wallestad about this important work and the ways that nonprofits can amplify their impact.

Here are five things you should know from our conversation:

1.     Decisions are made every day that have a profound impact on the missions of nonprofits, but too often nonprofits are not at the policy table. This slows the work of nonprofits and can compromise their missions.

2.     The most useful and underused assets nonprofit organizations have to advance their missions are their board members, people who are so passionate that they have already put their time, resources and reputations on the line. 

3.     Advocacy should be part of a nonprofit board’s culture — the way it thinks, makes decisions and measures success. 

4.     The Stand for Your Mission campaign, organized by BoardSource, calls on all nonprofit decision-makers to stand for the organizations they believe in by actively representing their missions and values, and creating public will for important policy changes.

5.     The most important action boards can take to launch this culture change is to start a conversation in the boardroom about how advocacy can accelerate the impact of the mission. Learn more about how to do that with BoardSource’s action guide at

Look for new “Knight Cities” content posted every week. You can follow us on Twitter at #knightcities or @knightfdn. And if you have ideas for people you’d like to hear from, please email me.

Carol Coletta is vice president of community and national initiatives at Knight Foundation. Follow her on Twitter @ccoletta.