• board development,  governance

    The Five Attributes of High Performing Boards

    What are organizations looking for from their board members? Sometimes, even the CEO doesn't really know what to do with their board members once they have them. A High Impact Board knows that its job is to determine the WHY of the organization and to leave the HOW to the staff. They do that by setting policy and then holding staff accountable for performance. In my experience managing the board function for three different organizations and serving on the boards of another dozen nonprofits, I have found that there are five key attributes that must exist if you want a high-functioning board. There must be a Commitment to the Mission,…

  • board development,  governance,  leadership

    What kind of board member will you be?

    In my previous posts on governance, I covered the essence of board service and then the bad behaviors seen in many nonprofit boards. Today’s post will focus on the types of behaviors that all board members should strive toward. If you are lucky enough to serve on a board full of these board members, count your blessings. And if you aren't, then now is a good time to start working on that. Facilitator: This is the board member who likes to hear all view points while keeping the discussion moving. They make excellent Chairs but if carried out to a fault, can result in meetings that drag on and on.…

  • board development,  culture,  governance,  leadership

    Don’t be like these board members!

    Today's post includes those board behaviors that I hope you never have to witness. By exploring these behaviors before you experience them, you will be better equipped to address them when they occur. In Part One of this series on Governance, we talked about board service in general including the basic responsibilities of board members.  Before reading part two of the series, I encourage you to start with the Board service basics. Board member characteristics I hope you never encounter: Absentee: This is the member who is using the role as a resume builder or status symbol or who is serving because of their professional role, but who really isn't interested…

  • board development,  decision-making,  governance,  purpose

    Are You Ready for Board Service?

    Nonprofit organizations that have an engaged board of directors are stronger financially, attract qualified staff in greater numbers, and have better outcomes. There are many schools of thought regarding what makes a good nonprofit board - or good board members. Some believe the board must be made up of movers and shakers in the community. Other organizations look for deep pockets willing to contribute financially to the organization. Then there are those who believe that a strong board includes people of varied backgrounds and skills - finance, law, marketing, risk management, etc. And still others seek people who are committed to the cause they are organized around - environmentalists on…

  • board development,  executive successions,  succession,  transitions

    Why is succession planning so hard?

    Today’s nonprofit organizations are facing a brain drain that is unprecedented in modern society. Curtis R. Welling and John H. Vogel Jr. note that “for small and mid-sized nonprofit organizations, the average term for an executive director or CEO is about six years.” (The Nonprofit Quarterly, May 21, 2017) A 2006 CompassPoint/Meyer Foundation study  concluded that 10% to 15% of nonprofit organizations hire a new executive every year and that between 60% to 75% of nonprofit executive directors had a plan to leave their position within the next five years. It may surprise you to learn that a six month gap between an executive director leaving and a new leader…

  • board development,  executive successions,  strategy,  succession,  transitions

    Organizations at a Crossroads

    When an organization is facing a leadership change, it is at a crossroads. Down one path is a successful future. Down the other dangers lurk. An organization at this juncture can either excel as the staff and board  embrace change and work toward a bright new future or falter when the new leader struggles to get his or her stride. As nonprofit boards respond to a leadership change, they need time to find the right candidate. The problem is, most nonprofit boards are composed of successful - and busy - volunteers who do not have the time the organization truly needs for this succession process. Staff need time to grieve and…

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