From time to time I’m approached by friends and colleagues for advice about how to become a member of a not for profit Board of Directors. I believe very strongly in the value of this kind of volunteering, and I’m happy to share some thoughts. Here are five key tips that I have learned over many years as a volunteer and as a consultant working with NFP Boards.
Follow your passion
The most successful Boards are comprised of people who have a deep and sincere passion for “the cause” of their respective organizations. What do you really care about? Which NFP organizations are working in that...
In July, I discussed the complicated marriage of operations and governance for a board without paid staff and how a consent agenda can help maximize your board meetings. This week, I offer some tips and tricks for achieving this balance and ensuring the important work of governance does not get mired in the detail of operations.
Mitch Dorger discussed this topic in an edition of Nonprofit Quarterly, outlining five possibilities for balancing these two important functions:
Divide the board into governance and operational committees
Develop specific job descriptions for each of two boards – a...
In a blog post last October, our Associate Executive Director Maria Turnbull highlighted the importance of building your board with ‘forest thinkers’. These individuals naturally focus on high level strategic direction, mission, relevance and values – rather than on operational details.
Forest thinkers create an atmosphere that is conducive to governing, strategizing, and visioning; which are key activities for your board to perform effectively. A critical dimension to effective governance is inspiring these activities, and your forest thinkers, during board meetings.
I had the most delightful conversation with Dick Vollet over lunch in March. A man with an interesting career (London Drugs, VANOC, and St. Paul’s Hospital Foundation), uncompromising values, and sense of humour, Dick is an inspiring leader.
Growing up, Dick wanted to be a professional skier. His career took a different path, but Dick often draws on his experiences in sport to find parallels in his approach to leadership.
Dick was more attracted to individual rather than team sports because individual sports demand accountability – a value that has translated well to his role as a CEO. He...
The relationship between board chair and executive director is critical. Many of us know this, and yet it’s not always easy to figure out what to actively do as a result.
I recently interviewed the board chairs of two different organizations; both alumni of our Governance Lab. From them, I learned there is a simple first step to building the relationship between an executive director and board chair. And that is – a commitment to make time and space to be together. Both board chairs felt their relationships with their executive directors had improved after spending regular time together...
Are you proud of your board? Do the people around the table inspire you? When recruiting, do you ask yourself: will this person bring greater pride and inspiration to the board?
Too many of us begin board recruitment with lofty goals and end up accepting “warm bodies.” We know these people are not a perfect fit. They are only “qualified” because they have the time and some interest.
Let’s stop this practice and start working with only the best. Period.
Your board composition is greater than the sum of its parts. One person has the potential to change the entire culture. When high performing...