The main focus of our Oct 16 session was on the process of board engagement and self-assessment. Via an interactive process we discussed the best practices of how organizations engage board members and assess their performance. Our objective was to allow attendees to gain a better understanding of how to perform at Best Practice Levels.
Thesis – High Performing Executive Directors collaborate with their board of directors in building an effective board
An example of what we discussed
How to engage the board
We explored the four questions below in small groups.
1. How do you define an engaged board member?
· Makes the organization a priority by:
o Showing up at meetings, serves on committees
o Takes an active role in meetings – comes prepared, asks questions
o Ambassador for the organization – in the community and fundraising
· Professional background of board members is utilized with mutual consent
· Can articulate the mission
· Makes the nonprofit a priority in their life and their giving
· Board chair drives engagement – by making clear what engagement looks like – i.e. what is expected of each board member.
2. How do committees fit into engagement?
· Start new board members on program committee (if possible) so they learn the mission, how it is executed, how clients benefit, etc.
· Make sure you understand board member interests so you may make thoughtful committee assignments
· Have board members present information from their committee at a board meeting
· Make sure board members are gaining fulfillment from their committee work
· Identify best practices to emulate in comparison to desired state and other boards
· Governance or Board Service committees play an encouraging role to help board members understand expectations and where to apply their skills.
3. What is done to build passion among the board?
· Communicate success stories of the organization at board meetings
· Conduct a mission moment at most board meetings
· Follow an annual agenda so board members get into a rhythm and understand when certain topics will be addressed in more depth
· Hold meetings inside the organization when possible
· Keep board members involved in a variety of activities
4. What can be learned from retiring or resigning board members?
· Retiring/resigning board members will share ideas for improvement
· Must ask them for feedback in a respectful and systematic way (often a responsibility of the board services committee)
· They will share what is right and what is not right with the current board – protocols, meeting etiquette, decision making style, board leadership strength, etc.
For more details contact Joel or Tom via: