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Archive for March, 2015

Finding the Right Members for the Effective Board

Last week I wrote about how nonprofit leaderscan go about identifying good candidates for their particular Board.
Part of the focus needs to be on people who share a passion for this nonprofit’s mission.
Here’s a way not to go about it.
A couple of years back, I was at Staples making copies of handouts for my nonprofit fundraising class. Another gentleman was there, making copies of a document. He noticed the subject matter of my material. He asked if this was part of my work. Within 5 minutes of the start of this casual conversation, he asked if I’d consider joining a nonprofit Board he was on that needed help.
Well, I had a clue right then and there why his Board was troubled.
The search and selection process for nonprofit volunteer leadership should be as rigorous as the process for seeking an executive director. There should be a job description, an interview and screening system, and a trial period; perhaps service on a Board committee first.
This is why more nonprofit Boards are designating a Governance Committee with the task of doing the nominating work, and bringing vetted candidates to the Board for consideration.
Thoughtful cultivation of volunteer leaders is a hallmark of an effective nonprofit organization.

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What’s the Mortar that Keeps an Effective Board Together?

Why is it that so many nonprofit boards struggle and fail?
There are so many challenges to nonprofit sustainability. Raising money. Raising a staff in stages. Setting strategic direction. Building and retaining a working Board of Directors.
Today I focus on this last key piece. Building, cultivating and firming up the Board. Not easy. But there are steps from start-up to high performance.
FIRST gather a few (maybe five) people with some sense of what makes a nonprofit work, who love the mission that you’re envisioning, and will give you some time to make this work.
SECOND ask around for sample Board job descriptions. Collect a few. Bring them to one of the first meetings and talk it through. Seek common ground on what it takes to succeed.
THIRD Agree on frequency of meetings. Monthly for first 6 months? Alternate months thereafter?
FOURTH Agree on necessity of committees. Finance. Development. Governance. And recruit a few volunteers to join the committee who want to help but aren’t yet ready for Board prime time.
FIFTH Organize meeting agendas so important stuff needing Board action (vote) come forward. Easy on staff reports. Those can be required reading prior to each meeting.
Get members’ agreement to come to meetings prepared to discuss and decide. As the Board grows, members will develop a sense of what’s involved and where they can best contribute.
Building from ground up gradually over time will help get your nonprofit right where you want it to be.
At least you’ll give this key piece of the puzzle of effectiveness a strong chance of success.

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