Shannon Binns founded Sustain Charlotte in 2010 to help advance regional sustainability through smart growth. A new Charlotte resident, he realized that Charlotte was lagging behind other metro areas in key sustainability areas that would have long-term impacts on Charlotte’s ability to be a healthy, equitable, and vibrant community for both current and future generations. He launched the organization to advocate for a sustainable approach to development that encourages diverse housing and transportation, a mix of building types and land uses, and diverse community engagement across neighborhoods.
Building a Strong Board
By 2018, Shannon was at the helm of a fast-growing organization and Sustain Charlotte was the area’s leading voice for sustainability. The board was active and engaged, but they were still operating as a ‘working board’ and struggling to engage foundations and fundraisers in their work. “As our chief fundraiser, that was hard for me,” Shannon said. “I recognized it was hurting our ability to get institutional funding and that we needed to recruit board members more strategically and intentionally.” The board agreed, but the team wanted help building a plan.
Sustain Charlotte engaged Next Stage to create a board development plan that would strengthen the existing board, while recruiting new members who could help influence revenue generation. Next Stage worked with Shannon and the Sustain Charlotte Governance Committee to launch a three-month effort that included interviews, research and whiteboard sessions. The end result was an implementation plan that included a board development plan, a handbook, and prospect research to guide volunteer sourcing efforts.
A Strong New Class
“This process really streamlined the plan and helped us pull everything into one place,” Shannon said. “Board members better understand what is expected of them and how it fits into the organization.” By the end of 2018, Sustain Charlotte recruited a class of four new board members. “We had a lot of success with that class. They each met the criteria we identified in the development plan and each was influential in the Charlotte community.” Shannon recalled.
In 2019, these same board members helped the organization expand their donor base and develop key connections within the community. Since then, Sustain Charlotte has added several additional board members who meet the criteria and developed a new strategic plan with Next Stage’s help that continues to focus on sustainability and success for everyone in our city.