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Board & Volunteer Leadership Development

As the need for external funding grows, the demand for knowledgeable and experienced board members is growing also—and fundraising is everyone’s job.  Ashley | Rountree can assist your organization with the critical work of building a strong board.  Just as important, we assist you in nurturing a wider volunteer corps that can assume leadership in the years to come.

Like staff, board members are held to ever-higher standards of performance and accountability.  They’re expected to not only advise staff on the execution of programs, but also to devote more time to fundraising than ever before. After all, the board holds the ultimate public accountability for any 501(c)(3) organization.

Our team includes former key leaders of small and large organizations who have worked as paid staff supporting a board.  We are all experienced volunteers, too. We can help your organization assess board effectiveness and make recommendations on how to improve alignment with your mission and goals. 

We understand not every board member or volunteer leader is fully prepared to cultivate and close major gifts, plan major fundraising events or lead membership efforts. Our job is to help them grow into their role as thoughtful leaders of staff and volunteers.

Board Governance

Case Studies

Louisville Visual Art Association (Louisville, KY)

The Louisville Visual Art Association (LVAA) is among the nation’s oldest and most respected visual arts organizations. Established in 1909, the LVAA has engaged artists and audiences through an energetic agenda of education, community outreach, artist support, and exhibitions that nurture creative expression and stimulate dialogue.

As they approached their 100th anniversary, LVAA leaders sought outside expertise to assess their development programs and annual events, evaluate the growth potential of their major gifts program and assist in re-setting board expectations and committee roles, providing renewed commitment to recruit and retain a new generation of board leadership. 

LVAA engaged Ashley | Rountree to take a fresh look at the whole organization, and to explore the tougher mission-based dynamic of “education” versus “exhibition” with a focus on philanthropy, fundraising and board/staff roles.

We worked with LVAA staff and board members to assess the history and recent trends of annual support revenue streams, identify opportunities for growth, and develop specific strategies for increasing major gifts from new donors and estate gifts from loyal donors. 

Annual giving programs were evaluated and new plans were proposed to help grow the base of members and program underwriters. Comprehensive recommendations were developed for critical changes to the board’s policies and procedures, committee roles and functions. 

A particular focus of the project was to substantially strengthen the role of the Development Committee and align its efforts more strategically with the LVAA’s small staff and limited resources. Five years later, the LVAA entered its second century with an even stronger record of service to the community and fundraising success.

Volunteers of America – Kentucky (Louisville, KY)

Volunteers of America of Kentucky (VOAKY) is committed to serving individuals and families throughout Kentucky, Tennessee, West Virginia, and Southern Indiana, by creating positive change in the lives of individuals and communities through a ministry of service.

In addition to being one of the region’s largest and most comprehensive human services organizations, VOAKY is an interdenominational church with a distinctive ministry of service. VOAKY opened its first location in Kentucky in 1896, the same year social reformers within the Methodist faith founded the national organization on the promise to “go wherever we are needed, and do whatever comes to hand,” filling important gaps for those who would otherwise be overlooked. Today the organization provides professional services to individuals with developmental disabilities, families facing homelessness, individuals at risk for HIV/AIDS and affected by HIV/AIDS, veterans who are homeless and addicted, and other individuals recovering from addiction.

Seeking assistance with a strategic initiative focused on community engagement, the organization turned to Ashley | Rountree.  We evaluated Volunteers of America’s major gift program and focused on increasing corporate support in the Louisville Metro area. 

We identified qualified prospects that were uniquely matched to the organization’s mission, developed winning strategies to secure new gifts, and consulted on potential future board leadership for the organization. Ashley | Rountree staff remained on-call through the entire project, providing timely coaching and guidance to senior staff.

Seven Counties Services (Louisville, KY)

Seven Counties Services was founded in 1978 to build healthy communities by helping individuals and families affected by mental illness, developmental disabilities, addictions and abuse realize their potential. It serves as the state-designated regional behavioral health and developmental services center for the core seven counties of Metro Louisville.  It is one of the largest nonprofit organizations in Kentucky, with 1,400 employees assisted by more than 400 volunteers, all serving about 32,000 people annually.

In 2007 the staff and board reached out to Ashley | Rountree for expert guidance in strategic planning, asking us to create and guide a board retreat process that would result in a new multi-year plan for the entire organization. As one of the largest nonprofits in the state with a staff that includes several of the region’s most respected administrators, Seven Counties leaders realized that they needed unbiased assistance to assure that the planning process was open, thorough and responsive to long-term needs of the region. 

This activity also needed to examine fundraising or advancement plans in order to insure that funding was balanced.  Ashley | Rountree designed a comprehensive 2-day planning retreat that took in mission, vision, situational and SWOT analyses, and programmatic/funding implications.

The process moved into specific strategies and action steps, followed by creation of a planning task force that implemented the recommendations. As a result, Seven Counties successfully and smoothly navigated a significant transition in its top leadership — a process assisted in great measure by the early planning efforts.

Steve Moss, Board Chair for Seven Counties, recalls, “the task of developing a strategic plan was daunting, but with the help of Jeff Ashley and Chris Stevenson, we conducted two all-day retreats that helped us really drill down into the process. With what we learned, the board and the staff are now a well-oiled machine. The staff has taken ownership and we have a document that serves as a lighthouse in the navigation of difficult times.”

Farmington Historic Home (Louisville, KY)

Farmington Historic Home is one of Kentucky’s most invaluable historic and educational resources. A 14-room Federal-style home that was built for John and Lucy Fry Speed and their family of 13 children in 1815-1816, the house was the center of a 550-acre hemp plantation. In 1959, Farmington opened as the first house museum in the Louisville area.  Today the museum owns 18 acres of the original property.

Beginning in 2007, the staff and volunteer leaders at Farmington started planning for a comprehensive capital campaign to enhance educational exhibits and visitor services, and to complete critical restorations throughout the property. 

Since such a large campaign had never been attempted and the philanthropic appeal of the programs was admittedly specialized, the The Farmington Historic Home Trustees thought it wise to engage  Ashley | Rountree to conduct a feasibility study to determine the likely success of a proposed $1 million campaign. 

We conducted extensive interviews with prospective donors and worked with staff and board to clarify roles and expectations and provide board training for a major campaign.  As a result, the board asked Ashley | Rountree to remain as campaign counsel, assisting staff and a newly formed campaign committee. 

Early in the campaign, we assisted in efforts to receive a $200,000 challenge grant and two $100,000 gifts, among others. Despite a recent national recession, Farmington exceeded its $1 million goal. 

Just prior to the campaign’s completion in early 2011, we led the board in two planning retreats focused on strengthening and growing the board, with an eye on increasing sustained annual support for Farmington.