If you can boast that your board of directors is fun-filled and fulfilled, then you, my friend, may be a miracle worker. Far too many boards are rife with résumé junkies and do-nothings. That’s not to ignore the superstars who sit on boards and do the lion’s share of work … because of the résumé junkies and do-nothings.
Nip this in the bud.
You’ve got too much work to do to have slackers sitting in the most important positions. Here are some simple solutions to ensure your board is tip-top.
Revisit Your Mission
Sounds like a no-brainer, right? But, you’d be surprised.
Do all of your board members know what your mission is?
Are they invested?
Do they … care?
I have vivid and painful memories of having to educate board members on the actual mission of the organization and watching them go … oh … OK.
Don’t let a seat on your board be occupied with a seat filler—this ain’t the Oscars.
For all of you new-up-and-coming nonprofits desperate for a board, don’t settle! It’s not worth it. If your board members aren’t invested, they will not work as hard as they need to foster financial and programmatic growth and help your organization further the mission.
Assess Your Gaps and Opportunities
Perhaps you don’t have any slackers on your board. If that is the case, kudos to you! But have you assessed the representation on your board? Do you have adequate professional/family/community representation?
You need the folks who have heart—those who can relate to the demographic, the folks that have soul—the ones who create waves of change and the ones that have their eyes firmly planted on the bottom line—the ones that ensure the programs are fiscally sound and efficient.
Make sure you have balance on your board.
Define Expectations Clearly
All 501(c) 3 nonprofits are required to have bylaws that outline the requirements of the board, though smaller organizations may not have as specific of rules as the larger ones do.
Is there a minimum give-get policy for your directors?
Are there volunteer hour requirements?
What are the concrete expectations for them?
Whatever your requirements, it is imperative that you are upfront, honest, and specific about those expectations with your potential board members. Be transparent.
If the applicant is unable to fulfill the requirements, then it’s not a good fit. And that’s OK. It saves everyone time, energy, and embarrassment.
Recruit to Replace
It’s not just your job, nonprofit staffer, to recruit new board members. It’s the board members’ job, as well. In fact, it’s a major part of what they should be doing. Remind your board to be cognizant of their limited time on the board and/or their elected position and that, when they are recruiting new members, they need to recruit their successor. When it is time for a board member to roll off, you should not be left with a gap to fill.
Nonprofit board members, good ones, spend so much time, energy, and money to help further the organization’s mission. Please make sure that you acknowledge that, thank them, and genuinely appreciate the work that they are doing. Were it not for your hard-working board members, your job would most certainly be less pleasant.
Boards of directors are the ultimate decision makers, the go-out-and-getters, the higher-level schmoozers! Stock your board with the right people and the results you want will be the results you realize.
Johnson & Wales University College of Online Education offers online MS – Nonprofit Management, MBA – Nonprofit Management, and MPA – Nonprofit Management degrees. For more information, complete the “Request Info” form on this page or call 855-JWU-1881.