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I worry that our Not for Profits (NFPs) and Social Enterprises have Boards of Directors/Boards of Trustees etc with too many people on them.

I also wonder how many people are on NFP boards because it looks good on their CV and I then wonder how many NFPs invited people onto their  board hoping for hands on help, support and influence and just ended up with another pain in the ….. around the board table?

DSC_0056Up to now if a NFP or Social Enterprise wanted to bring on an expert pair of hands to advise, to help, to provide free assistance they would offer a Board position, unless they were one of the few with an advisory board or an equivalent.

Being a Director of anything is becoming less attractive for the Director and may not deliver the benefits the organisation was looking for.

Lovenotes http://www.lovenotes.co.nz is a Social Enterprise. It is a limited liability company but small and still finding its way. I love what they do, the vision of the business around refreshing paper appeals to my values (and provides a sustainable balance to my materialistic existence) and the creation of beautiful notebooks appeals to my love of stationary.

I have been helping Lovenotes out on a pro bono basis for about 3 years now. Lots of business advice, creative ideas and sometimes a little legal direction. We have been discussing what my role should be formally. At this stage it makes sense for Amanda to be sole director. In time I could join as a Director and/or Chair but the business is too small and what they need are my ideas, not governance.

We have come up with a new title “Social Sentinel”. A Social Sentinel is an expert in their field who is interested in and relates to the vision of the social enterprise or NFP and who provides practical hands on help and support primarily on a pro bono basis (but not necessarily) . Social Sentinels care and keeping a watching eye on the business and its staff and stakeholders (like a guardian/custodian but without any legacy baggage)  but who have no legal status and no legal liability. They neither run, manage nor govern but can provide expert practical help and ideas.

Does anyone else like the idea of doing this too and adopting this title?