That's not to say external advisors understand the mission of the organization - not at all. External advisors may never have been involved in program delivery, worked for a non-profit organization, or even been a board member of one.
Having said that, advisors and auditors often report directly to the board of directors of many kinds of organizatons - for-profit and not-for-profit - and have a great appreciation for good governance practices and commonly faced challenges.
Professional advisors like investment managers, auditors in public practice and management consultants also have a great understanding of the roles and responsibilities of the board and Executive Director/CEO, and can help boards improve oversight without micro-managing the administrative leader. They perform a range of tasks that involve the Audit Committee or Finance Committee of the board, and typically review a range of board-approved policies such as delegation of authority (spending and/or signing authority), Code of Ethics, risk management, travel and expense, etc.
Are you an external advisor to any non-profit organizations? What insights do you have that could be helpful? Leave me a comment or question below!