Posted by collectionsconversations
Like any good woodworking joint, such as dovetail, mortise and tenon, or tongue and groove (above), non-profit boards need to secure disparate members into a unified whole that can offer strong support for an organization or institution. William F. Meehan III and Kim Jonker of the Stanford Social Innovation Review assert that the vast majority of non-profit boards are ineffective and have explored the characteristics of the relatively few successful boards. Here are a few of the most important suggestions from their study.
- Board members and executive directors need a common understanding of the organization’s mission and vision and their respective roles and responsibilities.
- Board leaders should conduct annual face-to-face evaluations of each member. In addition to performance strengths and weaknesses, these conversations should address contingencies in case of personal emergencies. The evaluation process should correspond to term limits and help the member regularly assess whether additional terms would lead to worthwhile contributions. Board members should also conduct annual evaluations of the organization’s executive director. In one example of a strong board, the director even included 10 staff members he supervised in the evaluation of his own performance.
- Some diversity in the composition of board membership is important for success. Not all members need to be wealthy, even though fundraising is often the board’s primary activity. Individuals with professional expertise related to board or institutional functions can be important additions. Boards should also include members of the community that the organization seeks to serve.
What has worked in your institution to improve your board’s engagement and effectiveness?