Equipping corporate leaders for nonprofit board service

Intuit Inc., creator of QuickBooks, is a familiar entity to many nonprofit leaders for their financial management products, software donations, and technical support. For years, Intuit has also supported the work of nonprofits across the U.S. and internationally by offering employee volunteer hours, matching employee contributions to nonprofits, and providing service grants to nonprofit organizations where their employees serve on the Board. Since 2014 Intuit employees have volunteered a total of 159,000 hours and raised in excess of $21 million for local nonprofit organizations.

This past year Intuit stepped up its game to do even more after seeing their board service grant funds were being underutilized. “The people at Intuit are so generous and so engaged in their communities. Our programs to support employee volunteerism and giving have been widely successful, so it raised the question of why board grant funds were being left on the table,” says Dee Reel, Senior Program Manager for Corporate Citizenship at Intuit. Dee led the effort internally to learn more and discovered that the topic of nonprofit board service was itself unfamiliar to many Intuit employees. With this understanding of the underlying problem to solve, Dee contacted Center for Volunteer & Nonprofit Leadership (CVNL) in search of nonprofit and governance expertise.

I was thrilled to get Dee’s call. CVNL’s work is primarily with nonprofit boards themselves, providing training and guidance to help boards work strategically and effectively. The notion of designing a program for potential board members to equip them for board leadership was an exciting new opportunity. The enthusiasm about what was possible began to grow as Dee and I talked further. 

The product of the Intuit – CVNL partnership that resulted is an interactive Board Basics workshop to build employee confidence, capability and visibility. “We wanted our staff to be well equipped to pursue nonprofit board service, and appreciated the thoughtfulness, and thorough way in which Gina approached our needs,” says Dee. “She was a great partner from start and immediately understood what we were trying to achieve.” The initial Board Basics workshop was launched at Intuit’s Mountain View, CA campus in August 2018.

“The workshop reinforced my commitment to board service as I had the opportunity to meet a strong and growing community of fellow board members within the Intuit community who are passionate and committed to powering prosperity around the world via board service,” said Jesse Lopez, Group Marketing Manager for QuickBooks Brand Strategy and Performance. “The workshop also expanded my ambitions into how I can leverage my knowledge and resources to further advance an organization’s mission and achievements. I am excited to elevate my board service with all the tools and resources available at Intuit in the coming year.”

Board Basics provides a full-day intensive workshop including fundamentals of nonprofit boards, a panel discussion with Intuit employees currently serving on boards, a self-assessment activity, core elements of board fundraising, governance practice scenarios, and an opportunity to network with local nonprofits at an informational mixer.

“This workshop was very insightful to give me an idea of how a high-functioning board should operate,” said Melissa Petterson, Tax Processer. 

“The trickle-down effect of this training is unbelievable. I will be a better board president, my board will run more effectively, the nonprofit will be able to implement lasting change, and most importantly, in the end, the youth in our community will end better off because of it,” said Nico Valencia, Channel Sales Manager IEP. “I learned how to run an effective meeting, how to implement strategy, who is responsible for the different aspects of the board, and what you can do to make your nonprofit stand out to potential board members, volunteers, supporters and employees.”

At the close of the workshop session, participants applied one of Intuits core performance assessment practices to examine the outcomes of the day and generate insights and ideas to inform future offerings.

“I am a huge advocate of this workshop. It showed me I could serve on a board. I had the assumption it was only for VPs and above!” says James Rizzo, Product Manager.

“I have a better understanding and will be meeting with an organization next week to talk about board membership.” said Lanya Turner, Administrative Assistant.

Following the first session in 2018, four additional workshops have since been offered at Intuit’s Plano, Reno, Mountain View, and Tucson campuses over this past year. A total of 78 Intuit employees have participated across the five sessions. Overall, participants have been highly satisfied and have given the Board Basics workshop a net promoter score of 91. A total of 5% of participants have joined a nonprofit board.

“We’ve been pleased to see the positive impact with Intuit employees and how they are better prepared to contribute their tremendous leadership skills to their local communities via board service,” says Dee. “CVNL has been a great partner from concept to design to execution to help us make this happen.”

“The board member workshop was such an amazing ‘above and beyond the call of duty’ program,” Valencia said. “It’s a program Intuit does not need to provide; however, they consistently surprise me with what they are willing to do to empower employees in all aspects of their lives.”

To learn more contact Linda Jacobs, CEO at or 415-448-0300