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Association for the Blind & Visually Impaired Charleston wins South Carolina Award for Nonprofit Excellence

Posted By Together SC, Thursday, March 9, 2017

Columbia, S.C. – During South Carolina’s 2017 Nonprofit Summit held at the Columbia Marriott this week, the Association for the Blind & Visually Impaired Charleston was recognized with South Carolina’s Award for Nonprofit Excellence., sponsored by Blackbaud, and presented by Together SC, formerly SC Association of Nonprofit Organizations.

Courtney Plotner, executive director of the Charleston-based nonprofit, was presented the award by Janet Martini, executive director of Keystone Substance Abuse in Rock Hill, last year's recipient.

Pictured: Center with award is Courtney Plotner with members of the Together SC Awards Committee during the 2017 Nonprofit Summit in Columbia.

"We could not be more excited and honored to win this award," said Plotner when informed about being selected. "The mentors were amazing and the process itself was so rewarding."

"It is so incredible to be honored for doing the work we love."

The Association for the Blind & Visually Impaired Charleston is celebrating its 80th year as an organization dedicated to improving the quality of life for people who are visually impaired by providing services, programs and advocacy to promote independence and self-sufficiency as well as help individuals’ participate fully in their communities. Their programs provide vision clinics for children in Title-I schools and vision clinics for uninsured or underinsured adults in the Charleston Tri-County area.

“We had several very strong candidates, but what stood out to the committee was the understanding that excellence is a continuous process with the Association for the Blind,” said Derek Lewis, Together SC board member. Lewis serves as the award committee chair and is the executive director of Greenville First Steps whose organization received the award in 2014.

“There were so many places where the Association for the Blind excels — governance, clearly defining the roles of staff and board, responsible fundraising best practices — but their commitment to consistently seek ways to continually improve stood out to our team.”

Together SC goes through an intensive selection process to identify a member who demonstrates nonprofit excellence within the state. The recipient is selected by a committee and announced during the annual gathering each year in front of hundreds of nonprofit peers.

Tags:  Association for the Blind & Visually Impaired  Blackbaud  Courtney Plotner  Derek Lewis  Greenville First Steps  Janet Martini  Keystone Substance Abuse  Nonprofit Excellence Award 

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Strategies for Effective Board Governance

Posted By Rachel Hutchisson, Vice President, Corporate Citizenship & Philanthropy, Blackbaud, Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Hello, SCANPO friends!

Thanks to those of you who joined Madeleine and me during SCANPO’s Wednesday Webinar as we discussed the role and responsibilities of a Governance Committee and how you can create a great experience for all of your Board members. As Governance Chair of the Coastal Community Foundation (CCF) for the last three years and a former SCANPO Board member, I’ve spent a lot of time learning just what makes a successful committee. Below are a few key points from our podcast (which you can listen to here), as well as some helpful CCF and SCANPO resources for your reference.

First of all, what are the primary responsibilities of a Governance Committee? It’s not just about recruitment...

  • Determine how the Board operates – define and frequently review your by-laws.
  • Facilitate Board nominations and orientation – have a written and tested process.
  • Define Board policies – make sure your by-laws are keeping up with the growth of your organization.
  • Outline Committee roles and responsibilities – each Committee needs to know how it helps your organization’s mission, as well as the scope of its power.

Still, recruitment is a very important part of the Governance Committee. How can you make it a successful process?

  • Allocate sufficient time – this can be a year long process.
  • Have prerequisites / requirements for service – and be sure to write them down.
  • Pay attention to recruitment for committees – it’s not just about the overall Board.
  • Have agreed-upon written criteria each year to guide the diversity of your Board.
  • Bring in new members as a “class” once a year – have a well thought-out orientation.

My last big point is crucial for an effective Committee. How can you make the overall Board experience worthwhile?

  • Provide Board mentors – help new members feel welcomed, and utilize the experience of returning ones.
  • Continually check in with new members to see how they’re enjoying the experience.
  • Let Board members sit in on different Committees before deciding which to join.
  • Keep up Board education at every meeting – education should never stop!
  • Have conversations with members before they serve a second term – make it a peer-to-peer experience.
  • Interview members leaving the Board – what did they think of the experience, and how can you improve it for the future?

For some real word examples, check out the Coastal Community Foundation’s Board Member and Governance Committee Responsibilities documents:

You can also view SCANPO’s Board Member Agreement document here. Don’t forget that SCANPO offers its members a free hour of consultation with your Board Chair and CEO/ED.

And finally, your Governance Committee is the backbone to your Board and plays a huge role in successfully reaching your mission. I encourage any one of you interested in being a part of a Governance Committee to take on the challenge! I can tell you it’s a rewarding experience.

Thank you,

Rachel Hutchisson

Vice President, Corporate Citizenship & Philanthropy

Blackbaud, Inc.

Tags:  Blackbaud  board  Board Governance  coastal community foundation of sc  SCANPO 

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