In Board Engagement and Governance

Is managing your board of directors an ongoing source of angst for your organization? Do you need more engaged board members but aren’t sure where to find them? Do you need to impose term limits but don’t want to ruffle any feathers?

Board engagement and management is something that many nonprofit organizations struggle with, for a variety of reasons.

Preparing for board meetings falls on an already overwhelmed executive director (or key staffer). In this instance, the strain on this individual can compound as time goes on – especially as the board and organization grows – and the time spent can take a toll on an organization’s progress.

The board started out as an informal group. The transition to putting formal processes in place can be tough, especially for family foundations and boards initially comprised of friends.

Board members are typically very busy. But aren’t we all? And what ever happened to, “When you want something done, ask a busy person…”? Yes, but a good board member often serves on more than one board, has a leadership role in another organization, and/or a very active encore career. In other words, to keep members engaged, information needs to be presented in an organized and concise fashion that’s free of jargon.

The good news is that there are a lot of easily accessible governance resources that can help. Here’s a few we recommend:

  • NYC Nonprofits offers a comprehensive blueprint as well as an easy-to-navigate website for quick advice, best practices and helpful information;
  • Council on Foundations offers webinars like this on governance basics; and
  • Here at NSS we offer a custom board portal that can save your organization time, increase productivity and enhance board engagement. Most of all, it’s a secure, one-stop shop for all your documents and information.

As with most things, don’t expect your challenges to be resolved overnight. Define a realistic time frame for instituting best practices, prioritize based on your organization’s needs, and be sure to pat yourself on the back as incremental progress is made.

What has worked for you to improve board engagement? We would love to hear from you in the comments section below.

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