Over the years, I have had the opportunity to work with many boards of directors both as a senior staffer as well as a consultant. I have been involved with boards from a number of different organizations and in all shapes and sizes. I have seen the good, the bad and the ugly in boards and when asked to assist in strengthening a poor board, I have found there to be one absolute consistency from one to the next: a lack of clarity in EXPECTATIONS… of the board and of organizational leadership.
Those organizations with successful boards are those whose leadership has gone out of its way to ensure that EXPECTATIONS were clearly stated, agreed to and practiced. And when I say EXPECTATIONS, I mean that there is absolute clarity about EXPECTATIONS of board members as well as those of leadership by the board.
If you are struggling with your board’s effectiveness, perhaps you might wish to consider sharing the following EXPECTATIONS with the board and with the staff:
Expectations of board members by the organization:
- Take attendance at board and committee meetings seriously… SHOW UP!
- Be informed about the organization and committed to its mission
- Help ensure effective planning
- See that the organization’s resources are being effectively managed
- Enhance the organization’s public image
- Serve as an enthusiastic ambassador of the organization within the community
- Utilize professional and personal skills for the betterment of the organization
- Give to the best of your ability and assist in identifying, cultivating and soliciting prospective donors
- Self-assessment of one’s performance as a board member
- Recruit quality new members to the board
Expectations of the organization by board members:
- A clear Job Description
- Frequent communication to the board on programs, developments and issues
- Provide meaningful opportunities to serve
- That board members’ time will be used appropriately and not wasted
- Provide ongoing education and training
- That organizational leadership will be active participants with the board in raising funds
- Serve as responsible stewards of the organization’s resources
- Ensure that board meetings are substantive and that board members are given every opportunity for meaningful input and participation
- Assign adequate staff to assist the board in carrying out its mission
- Actively participate in the orientation of new advisory board members
The last point in each of the above lists is in my estimation extremely important in building the right board. The very best time to ensure that a board member fully understands what is expected of them is when they are being recruited. And, once a new member has been enrolled, EXPECTATIONS should be reinforced during the formal orientation process. The last thing an exec wants to hear from a board member is “they never told me I was expected to do that.”
JB&A offers a comprehensive array of board training and educational programs and would be thrilled to have the opportunity to partner with you and your organization in making your board the most effective governance body it can be. Let us know how we can help – call us at 816.237.1999 or email info@FundraisingJBA.com.