The MSG Team
ONE OF THE BIGGEST BOARD MISTAKES YOU COULD MAKE . . .
As an Executive Director for a nonprofit, helping to put your board of directors together, can be one of the most rewarding experiences ever. In partnership with your board development committee (more on that later), you have the chance to gather the greatest minds, to solve some of the greatest hurdles, to make some of the greatest impact in your community.
We work with boards all the time and some common feedback we hear include volunteers not knowing what is expected of them, being bored at meetings, not understanding the mission of the organization well, and not even knowing the names of other board members or key staff members. That's why we wanted to take a moment to point out one of the BIGGEST mistakes you can ever make with your board . . . NOT using the group to their fullest potential.
Often times everyone has the best of intentions when developing their board but assumptions, lack of time, and no direction, can sometimes lead to a board lacking motivation. Here are just a FEW tips, to help unlock the full potential of your board:
TAKE IT EASY ON THE RUBBER STAMPS - Does your board meeting agenda pretty much consist of approving this, approving that, and then a mile long report from different committees? How many of you would be bored of sitting through that, yet that's what we expect our board members to do. Don't get us wrong, that stuff is important and needs to be done. However, what if you spent MORE at your meetings trying to tackle issues? Bringing in guest speakers to talk about a program you are considering or even (when appropriate) have clients or staff members give testimony about their experiences? If your board is made up of the greatest minds in the area, why would you have them rubber stamp things over and over, instead of asking them to help you come up with solutions for issues? Having them do this not only will help you from having to think of every answer on your own but it will help make your board members feel like they have more of a purpose . . . not to mention, it will help draw your board closer as a team.
HAVE EXPECTATIONS IN PLACE - How many board meetings are members asked to come to per year? How much money are they asked to give or get? Do they have to serve on committees? Do they have to volunteer? Nothing can frustrate a board member OR an Executive Director more than not knowing what is expected from the board member. If board members understand their expectations, IN WRITING, then they can perform the way you need them to. Worst case, they understand their expectations, decide it's not for them, and you then have to replace them with someone who IS on board with the expectations. If you do not have any written expectations for your board members, you are NEVER allowed to be upset with anyone who does not show enough involvement, until you do.
BOARD DEVELOPMENT NEEDS A BOARD DEVELOPMENT COMMITTEE - Great ideas so far but someone needs to put things together, right? Consider creating a board development committee. This group should be made up of your Board Chair, Executive Director, and a few other board members of your choosing. This group could meet as often or as little as you would like (Even just once a year) but should focus on things like suggestions for new board members, creating expectations for board members, and educational opportunities.
Don't feel like you need to start all of these things right away but consider trying a few items out. Let Midwest Studies Group know if you could use a little help getting things moving forward. These tips will help your board become more active and most important, make more of an impact.
------------------------------------- To learn more about strategic and fundraising plans, feasibility studies, planned giving studies, need assessment studies, and capital campaigns, visit us at www.midweststudiesgroups.com.