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Working with nonprofit boards, we are often called in when problems arise. While the symptoms may vary, the underlying issues typically originate from the board’s mindset. The most prevalent mindset is one of scarcity, making it feel as though the board is perpetually holding its breath. This mindset introduces fear and apprehension into every decision and discussion. In contrast, a board operating with an abundance mindset breathes deeply and mindfully, creating an environment anticipating great ideas and positive outcomes.

A critical shift in creating an effective board is prioritizing purpose over the organization itself.1 With the consumerist approach to fundraising that we’ve used for decades in our sector, it makes sense when boards and staff view other organizations as competitors.  An alternative mindset to competition means embracing purpose over an entity – viewing other organizations as allies in a shared mission. This abundance mindset sees beyond the confines of organizational success (often equated to fundraising success) to broader, community-wide impacts. By focusing on shared goals rather than individual organizational wins, these boards leverage collaborative opportunities that amplify their collective impact.


The abundance mindset is the path to equity. 


Another useful mindset is to play an “infinite game,” which focuses on sustainability and ongoing adaptation, as opposed to the finite game’s aim of winning within set boundaries. Infinite game strategies involve making decisions that benefit immediate stakeholders and also contribute positively to the broader community, ensuring long-term viability and relevance.


How Can Your Board Embrace Abundance and Infinite Possibilities

How Can Your Board Embrace Abundance and Infinite Possibilities

The abundance mindset is a path to equity.  Abundance means integrating inclusivity and fairness into all decision-making processes. Boards committed to equity strive to empower every community member, particularly those historically marginalized. By prioritizing abundance, boards ensure that their policies and practices enhance access and opportunity for all, embodying a profound commitment to justice and fairness across their operations.

One of the most breath-holding situations in board meetings is the financial conversation. To achieve an abundance mindset, it is essential to distinguish between fiscal responsibility and fiscal fear. While board members must safeguard the organization’s financial health, this responsibility should not morph into a fear-driven approach that stifles innovation and risk-taking. True fiscal responsibility means strategically utilizing resources to support the mission and expand reach, rather than curtailing ambitions due to fear of financial shortfalls.

For boards to truly embody purposeful governance, change must start from within. This transformation begins with a commitment to self-assessment and a willingness to evolve. Boards can foster this change by first engaging in a thorough review of their current practices and mindsets. This often involves open discussions about the existing culture and how well it aligns with the ideals of strategic abundance, equity, and community-oriented impact.

One crucial step in this transformative process is the formal and habitual evaluation of all decisions against the organization’s values and mission. By establishing a routine in which every decision is tested for alignment with core principles, boards can ensure that their actions consistently reflect their declared intentions and strategic goals. This practice not only enhances coherence and integrity in governance but also makes the organization ‘hum’ with a sense of purpose and clarity.

Educational workshops and targeted training sessions are invaluable tools, but they must be viewed as part of a broader strategy that includes practical applications. Implementing change requires boards to develop mechanisms for accountability over a long period of time. It takes strategic thinking and there is no quick fix. 

With coaching, we have seen boards transform their approach, moving from finite, scarcity-driven decision-making to a more purposeful, abundant, and inclusive governance model that fosters long-term sustainability and impact.