Involve Your Board, Don’t Push Them Away!

In this unprecedented time, how is your organization treating its board members? What can and should board members be doing to support your organization now? I have spoken to a handful of board members in the last couple weeks. These have been casual conversations as we all check in on each other. I have heard two very different scenarios. Increase Reliance on Your Board in a Time of Crisis In one group, board members feel their organization’s staff and leadership have reached out to the board and all are working together on short- and long-term planning. Staff at some front-line… Read more

Act NOW to Cope with Coronavirus + Market Downturn

Boy are we in unsettled times! We face a potential pandemic and market downturn. As board members for nonprofit organizations, your responsibility is to make sure your organization is strong and able to provide its important services to your community. Your role is to ask good questions, act as a thought partner to your ED, support the decisions that are made, and help with fundraising. Your organization’s top priorities: assess risks, make a plan, and act now. I live in the Seattle area so I’m on the front line of the virus in the US. Our health officials have asked… Read more

Creating Strategic Board Agendas

I have a couple complaints about board meetings. One is that they can be incredibly boring and unproductive. I wrote about this in my last post and will address the issue in this post with ideas on how to create and structure an effective board meeting agenda. I start with the assumption that the reason to get everyone in the room (or online) at the same time is to interact. If you spend your entire meeting on committee reports, you could just send them by email. I can read them at home or the office and use the time to… Read more

How Do You Know That?

After my last post which encouraged board members to ask hard questions, several readers asked what questions? Board members need full information to make good decisions. And that means asking lots and lots of questions – the ones that break out of group think, that uncover hidden issues, and that get to the essence of unseen problems or opportunities.  I started brainstorming questions and came up with a very long list. So, I decided instead to share just a few really key questions. I organized them in five areas: finance, program, funding, staff, and board. But you will see that… Read more

Board Chairs Should Keep Full Board Informed

Challenges arise in every organization and with every board. If you are the board chair, you have to decide what to bring to the full board. As chair, you don’t want to cause panic when a situation can be easily handled. But you also have to remember that the board chair does not have more power than the rest of the board and that the full board has fiduciary responsibility for the organization. Other board members cannot exercise this responsibility if they don’t know what is going on. Plus, we all work to bring great people onto a board. The… Read more