Recruitment of board members has been a necessary task of executive directors all around the country. Unfortunately, that has become a difficult task to accomplish as those willing to serve on a nonprofit board of directors have been come fewer and farther between as the years go by. But quality is better than quality right? Whether or not you have a large board, what’s most important thing is having an effective board.
First, it’s important to set a benchmark that is specific to your organization. This goal or standard can be pulled from your mission statement or simply a goal you set together as a board, Regardless, having a clear vision for what you want the board to look like, how you want it to behave or the impact you hope to have will be key in choosing the right approaches and the right members.
Effective boards also have a clear and shared view of what their role in the decision-making process is. What decisions are board-only decisions and when should the board have influence on the executive director’s decisions? Are there decisions that the board should be informed of after the fact? At each meeting, effective boards review these decisions at each meeting.
Next, what type of culture does your board have? Do your member cultivate mutual respect and trust for each other? Does each member contribute to the encouragement of meaningful participation? Are the meetings productive and on task? Like mentioned earlier, do they understand the scope and limit of their responsibilities? Not only that, effective boards have a healthy relationship with its board president. It’s a balancing act, but it can be done! A good way to track how you’re doing is to keep track of meeting attendance. If your members consistently show up and engage with each other, you can assume that they are enjoying what they do.
What type of people do you have on your board? Do their abilities and skills that align with the organization’s needs? Do you have different types of people that will create creative abrasion (a principle where ideas are productively challenged to truly evaluate their approach and decision-making)? Though it sounds pretty simple (and sometimes a bit scary), but it requires a deep understanding of what the organization needs and what each member can provide.
At the end of the day, understanding the gap between where the board is currently and where you want it to be is the first step towards creating a more effective board of directors. Interview your board members and identify where members agree and disagree. Once these problems are resolved, your board is one step closer towards going beyond the basic needs and into high-performance and full actualization!