Building a Better Board (part 1)
One of our blog subscribers, and founder of a non-profit, has generously contributed the following board development advice.
Numbers: Have enough people on your board so that all the jobs are getting done and no one person is shouldering too big a load.
- Vice President
- Recording Secretary
- Membership Coordinator – receives phone calls and mail, send out materials, update and maintain the membership database
- Communications Coordinator — for newsletter and social media
Skills: Look for board members who will complement your current board, not replicate the strengths you already have. Do you have these people?
- A good writer
- A good public speaker
- Someone familiar with publicity
- A couple of people with a solid financial background
- Someone with fundraising experience and/or the ability to tap into high-dollar donors
- An attorney
- An expert in content related to your institutional mission
Personal Qualities: Raise your standards and you’ll raise the quality of your board. Look for people who:
- Have the ability to: listen, analyze, think clearly and creatively, work well with others.
- Are willing to: review agenda and supporting materials prior to board meetings; attend board meetings, serve on committees and offer to take on special assignments, ask questions, take responsibility and follow through on assignments, contribute personal and financial resources in a generous way according to circumstances, inform others about the organization.
- Will develop certain skills, such as: soliciting funds, identifying and recruiting board members, reading and understanding financial statements, learning about and staying up to date on museum issues.
- Possess: honesty, tolerance of differing views, a friendly, responsive, and patient approach, community-building skills, concern for your institution, a sense of humor.
Have a couple of well known and respected community members on your board. They have good connections, are effective at spreading the word about what you do, and they will lend credibility. But, make sure they are willing to do a job as well, even if it’s only a small one. Be clear with new recruits that you have a working board; there are no figurehead positions.
Even if you are thoroughly revamping your board, keep one or two long-term board members if you can. While some founding members can be being rigid and controlling, others are invaluable for their institutional knowledge and expertise.