It’s now more important than ever before that your board of directors is highly engaged in the mission and business of your organization. Over the past decade, the bar has been raised on board performance – it’s no longer sufficient (if it ever was) for board members to simply show up to meetings, nod their heads in agreement, and go home. Your stakeholders want tangible evidence that your organization is fulfilling its mission. Your board members – as the owners of your organization’s mission – are in the crosshairs of this scrutiny. Board engagement is critical.
New technology, like Board Management Software, isn’t always welcomed into an organization, even when it’s urgently needed. Champions at every level encounter obstacles. Exponent Partners explains why, noting that program teams focus on their priorities, not the organization as a whole, and leadership doesn’t have the capacity to research new projects. So how can you make a case to the board for the technology product you know they need?
Having successfully introduced a SaaS product to her nonprofit, one leader shares tips for cultivating buy-in for technology solutions in nonprofit organizations:
Enhancing Board Performance
A high-performing board of directors can be an organization’s most valuable asset. From the moment they cross the starting line, board members must protect the institution they serve. Governance efforts in support of this critical, core duty should be purposefully conceived to drive the board’s collective capability and build valuable fiduciary competency.
Board management software offers a range of opportunity elevate board performance as varied as the needs of each board and organization. The key is to effectively align and deploy technology to support the full range of responsibilities of board governance. Below is our new infographic that suggests useful tools, implementation tips and pitfalls to avoid.
Like sailboat captains trying to turn ocean liners, certain nonprofit board members aim to drive innovation while boards themselves tend to move more slowly. To that point, any board still debating the importance of social media in its nonprofit has missed the boat. In almost no time, social media swiftly infiltrated not only communications and marketing strategies, but also fundraising (last summer’s ALS Ice Bucket Challenge was SO successful, it’s about to resume), program development, and even governance activities.
Yes, the board has a critical role to play. Carolyn Appleton, a nonprofit executive, advises clients to add the role of “online ambassador” to the job description for nonprofit board members. Supported by a 2012 consumer behavior study by The Nielsen Company which found that “92% of consumers around the world say they trust earned media, such as word-of-mouth or recommendations from friends and family, above all other forms of advertising – an increase of 18% since 2007,” she suggests sharing positive experiences online could be a powerful tool for encouraging colleagues to support their favorite nonprofits.
Last week, at the AHCAP (Association of Health Care Administrative Professionals) conference, we had a great discussion about tactical strategies administrators can use to have an impact on their board engagement – and help to build a healthy board culture. For those who were unable to attend the conference, the slide deck is posted below.
In the presentation, we discussed the important role of the board liaison in ensuring the board’s culture is one of open dialog, mutual respect, and appropriate curiosity. The topic was inspired by Mary Graham Davis, former board chair of Mount Holyoke College, who wrote a powerful article for Trusteeship magazine on developing a healthy board culture. Specifically, we wanted to highlight the important role board liaisons – such as the assistant to the CEO – play in fostering board culture. A few examples of the tips we suggested include:
Much of the recent news around nonprofit boards relates to a situation with lessons for all of us, so how could we resist reference to the Sweet Briar College saga and how it relates to nonprofit governance?
Despite the board’s decision to close Sweet Briar College, the 100+ year-old, private, women’s liberal arts school in Virginia will remain open at least through the next academic year. As reported in The Wall Street Journal, the Virginia Attorney General announced on June 21 a settlement that followed “hundreds of hours of mediation” among elected officials and courts, an alumnae organization called “Saving Sweet Briar”, and the school itself. (A judge’s approval came the next day.)
Who wouldn’t jump at the opportunity to guarantee a great legacy? Most of us want to be remembered for the impact we’ve had on something that matters. Ironically, nonprofit boards often cringe at what can – and should – be among their defining legacies: executive succession.
According to a recent study by Leadership New England of 1,200 nonprofit leaders in six states, 64% expect to leave their positions within five years. Unfortunately, replacing a nonprofit executive can be so intimidating to volunteer boards that they avoid planning or aim to defer leaders’ resignations.
Board diversity, of all things, might be the catalyst for an unexpected parity between nonprofit and corporate boards. Research shows both venues need – and slowly seek – new perspective in the form of millennials.
NPR recently reported that millennials comprise the largest workforce ever in the US. In fact, according to an article in Nonprofit Quarterly, millennials will comprise almost half of our workforce by 2020. Yet they are far from proportionally represented in board seats.
Over the last two decades, governance — the work performed by boards of directors – has become a more challenging endeavor than ever before. Overwhelmingly, resources are scarcer, requiring organizations to do more with less. Scandals in the corporate, public and nonprofit sectors have resulted in increased pressure and scrutiny on boards of directors from regulators and stakeholders alike. In this environment, boards and staff are seeking ways to perform at a higher level by operating in an agile manner. And yet, most of the prescriptive literature on board governance tends