This is the first post in our Effective Nonprofit Boards series.
At one time or another, most nonprofits and ministries express frustration with their board members. The questions range from: how can I get my board members to be involved, how can I get them to stop getting involved in the day to day business of the organization and what on earth do I do with them? Other times, people will say things like, I just don’t even understand why I need board members and my board members are useless. Over the next several weeks, we are going to look at the whys and hows of boards and how your organization’s board members can be most effective.
This week, we are going to begin by looking at “the ideal board member.”
The ideal board member will:
- Listen more than he/she talks. While it is important to have good discussions at board meetings, it is also important for board members to really listen to all viewpoints and to ensure he/she has all the facts needed to make decisions in the best interests of the organization.
- Develop a positive relationship with the CEO/ED. Running a nonprofit or ministry is not an easy job, and sometimes it’s lonely as the CEO often does not have a sounding board or someone who can provide an objective perspective on challenges he/she encounters. Board members can serve in this role, acting as a sounding board.
- Be careful not to micromanage. The role of the board is to look at the big picture of the organization, not to get involved in the day to day operations of the organization.
- Ask questions. Just as in most situations in life, there is no “dumb” question. Board members will ask questions to get the information they need to fully understand what they need to know to ensure they are making the best decisions for the organization.
- Board members should be passionate about the work of the organization. Board members are most effective and serve the organization best when they are passionate about the mission and work of the organization. Most other traits can be taught, but passion trumps everything else.
Once you have a picture of the ideal board member, the next step is to develop a recruiting process for board members. Next week, we will focus on the recruitment process.
Members of the Faith Based Nonprofit Resource Center will have access to an infographic that outlines the dos and don’ts of the ideal board member.
We are experiencing all this and are now looking to possibly “merge” with a complementary nontprofit organization experiencing similar difficulties. The thought is that the few passionate board members from each entity will be more eager and engaged in promoting both missions. One organization helps build marketable skills and community, while the other works with families to address mental health and other needs. It is our belief that each canand should support and benefit from the work done by the other.