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

Getting Board Members to Do Things

Board members are volunteers. Organizations select them because they have specific skills or connections or because they represent groups whose input is valued by the organization. Some board members are donors, some are connectors, and some are doers. Many fit into more than one category. But what happens when board members say they want to be more involved but then don’t step forward when asked? In this story, one board chair shares her frustration with board members who never raise their hands. She suggests making assignments and taking care about who you ask to join a board. My advice to… Read more

The Journey to a Diverse Board

Every board I have served on has wanted to be more diverse – more diverse in many ways: by race and culture, by age and gender, by geography. Yet most boards don’t do a good job at achieving the diversity they strive for. In this post, one ED shares his journey to a truly diverse board. His primary lessons – take your time, build trust, listen, be humble. Diversity is important – having many voices at the table changes not only the conversation but also decisions made and actions taken. Creating a diverse board sends a powerful signal to staff,… Read more

Define Roles and Engage Board Members

I was told about a board where the ED worked very hard for months on a strategic planning document. The ED worked with staff and got input from community partners. Board members were not part of the process. When the ED brought the final plan to the board, they tore it apart. I share this story often. People join boards because they are passionate about the mission and want to add value to the organization. Organizations spend a lot of effort identifying board members with great skills such as finance, communications, marketing, and fund raising. And then there is this… Read more