We can only define the responsibilities of a board member when we know the type of board on which the director serves. For legal purposes, nonprofit organizations are corporations, just like their for-profit company counterparts. For governance purposes, nonprofit boards…
What’s the difference between an unproductive nonprofit board meeting and an effective nonprofit board meeting? The board meeting agenda and the board chair who uses it.
The agenda is the board chair’s most important tool. When a non-profit board meeting agenda is written well, it helps the board chair to make fast decisions about managing agenda items. An experienced board chair knows that items on the agenda signal some type of action from the board. When an agenda item is not ready for the board to take action, it signals the board chair to remove or table the item from the agenda, or move it to a committee for further discussion and exploration.
A well-planned agenda helps the board chair keep the meeting focused on the strategic planning of the mission and prevents members from derailing the meeting with tangents and disruptions.
If you’ve attended a board meeting for the first time, you may be surprised at just how much happens there in the space of a short time. You might also have come away from it with a new appreciation for the full weight that board members carry as they make decisions.
Are you looking to fill some vacancies on your non-profit board of directors? Are you worried that half of the board seats will be vacant when the terms of current board members end? Guidestar, a non-profit organization reporting service, polled their members in 2006 to find the best ways to find board members for non-profit organizations. The most offered piece of advice was, “look for someone who is passionate about your cause.” That’s a pretty good answer, but let’s break it down into 10 actionable steps.
Even if you’ve never written a board report before, it’s easy enough to learn how to do it. If you need some assistance in writing a report, ask for a copy of a report that was submitted in the past and use it as a template. You don’t have to write the report alone. Ask the committee members for help or ask for a mentor that has written a report in the past to help you with it. Here’s what you need to know to write a professional report to the board.
Have you ever wanted to add an important topic to the agenda that you just knew was going to generate a robust discussion? Maybe your hopes were dashed when you saw that there were already more items on the agenda that there would be time to discuss during the meeting. That may not be such a bad thing after all. When there isn’t time to discuss an issue at a board meeting, put it on the agenda anyway. You can always file a motion to move the issue to a committee for comprehensive consideration and recommendations.
Imagine that a board member is doing research about improving his or her participation on a board of directors. As part of that research, the member discovers some valuable articles about board self-assessment and becomes intrigued about using self-assessment tools to improve the performance of the board as a whole. With great excitement, the member makes the request to add board member self-assessments to the upcoming agenda for discussion and prepares to make a presentation of the benefits of doing self-assessments.
Face-to-face meetings are gradually giving way to video conference and teleconference meetings in nearly every business realm, including board meetings. There’s no question that saving time and money has contributed to the popularity of holding board meetings in virtual space. A Gigaom Research report stated that 87% of remote users see videoconferencing as a benefit that helps them feel more connected to the meeting process and their team.
Whether it’s a commercial entity or a non-profit organization, nearly every director that serves on a board has an outside level of interest in the organization’s business. That’s a good thing from the perspective that board members share their areas of expertise with the rest of the board. It’s a bad thing when a board member uses a position on the board to make a financial gain as a direct result of the board seat. Unresolved conflicts of interest pose the individual board member and the organization at risk of sanctions from the IRS. It’s always best to avoid conflicts of interest. The best way to do that is by having a conflict of interest policy. Boards should also make sure that board members understand the types of situations where they may be at risk of a conflict and how to respond if one exists.
When a board member is having a negative impact on the board or the entire organization, it can develop a toxicity that can only be relieved by removing a member from the board. Following a gut instinct to proceed may be best, especially if a strong percentage of the board agrees. Removing a director from the board is almost certain to be uncomfortable, and when it’s necessary, it helps to follow established protocols. Here are some suggestions to help you move forward responsibly.