United Way’s VIP ‘essential’ for those who want to serve nonprofit boards

February 8, 2020

Veronica Mount knew she wanted to start her own nonprofit in 2014 — she established the 501c3 — but there was still a lot for her to learn.

The United Way of Greater Atlanta’s Volunteer Involvement Program (VIP) gave her the knowledge she needed.

Mount is the executive director of Land of Promise (LOP). The nonprofit’s mission is to bring awareness, inspire hope and develop programs to address food inequities in Greater Atlanta with hopes of one day eradicating food insecurity.

“As a grassroots nonprofit, I think VIP is critical,” Mount says. “There is no scientific formula to creating a productive board of directors, and the members do not know it all. However, thanks to VIP, we have trained board members that bring their skills and abilities to carry out the mission at Land of Promise.”

VIP is an essential investment in improving the effectiveness of clearly established standards of good practices for those wanting to serve on a nonprofit board, Mount says.

VIP was started in 1992 in order to identify, recruit and place diverse leaders from the Greater Atlanta region into policy making roles in order to enhance the effectiveness of nonprofit agencies in the community. These training programs are offered twice in the spring and fall and once in the summer. In the spring and fall, they meet once a week in three-hour sessions for 10 weeks at Loudermilk Conference Center at 40 Courtland St. NE. in downtown Atlanta. The summer sessions have four, full-day sessions on Saturdays.

Those workshops range from fundraising, strategic planning and marketing to financial and legal decision making.

The program has graduated more than 2,600 community leaders since its inception and provided service to more than 500 nonprofit boards and committees throughout Greater Atlanta.

“The board is the entity that helps me keep our strategic plan on track,” Mount says.

According to LOP’s annual report, in 2018 Land of Promise has provided support to 17 schools and 391 children in Atlanta, with the help of more than 20 collaborators. Land of Promise has used United Way’s Child Well-Being study to help re-affirm its focus on serving the children suffering from food insecurity in areas of low to very-low child well-being.

Mount is a United Way VIP alumna. She said VIP graduates have the tools to serve as effective board members of nonprofit agencies. It provided necessary training and relationships for her and building those connections have been beneficial for Land of Promises’ Board of Directors.

She said VIP Executive Director Janice Robinson does a great job of keeping the curriculum current. VIP also hosts an annual board recruitment fair in October for nonprofits like hers to convene with future board members.

“I believe in the program and recommend it,” Mount says. “The training is invaluable, and I am not aware of similar programs in the area.”

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