Have you ever wondered how many nonprofit organizations there are in the United States? Over 1.5 million! Having a strong Board is crucial for the survival of these organizations. When it comes to nonprofits, there is so much at stake and the Board members have a deep responsibility to safeguard the mission and sustain their respective organizations.
One of the hardest parts of building a strong Board is selecting the right Board members. Start with your needs. Create a method to evaluate the Board composition in relation to your organizational needs and structure. When considering potential members, ask yourself, “Do their skills fill the gap?” Also be sure that they are passionate about the organization’s mission and will help fulfill it. The Board should encompass a variety of skill sets, for example: finance, marketing, personnel management, consumer of your services, or expertise in your mission field.
The Non Profit Times believes the following are 7 important qualities of Board Members:
- § Integrity
- § Independence
- § Mature Confidence
- § Corporate Manners
- § Sense of Context
- § Courage
- § Commitment
Take a look at your current Board members. Do they demonstrate these characteristics?
Once you have selected your Board members, it is important to establish clear guidelines and expectations. When new members join the Board, they should know exactly what they signed on for. This includes their responsibilities, time commitment, term limits and what kind of fundraising they will be expected to do. Clear guidelines for giving should be established – you don’t want to ask the public for donations if your Board members aren’t even contributing. Because these members will essentially be ambassadors for the organization, make sure they understand the mission, vision, and values of the organization. Provide new members with a handbook that could include prior year Board minutes, budgets, strategic plans and development calendar.
Once clear guidelines and expectations have been established, it is important to keep the Board members involved. No one should be asking themselves, “What am I doing here?” As a collective group the Board should be handling big decisions, legal matters, financial matters, fundraising and planning. As individuals, members should advise, volunteer, serve as ambassadors, etc. A good way to keep them involved is to have them mentor members of the organizational staff. Match their skills to the skills of the staff and develop a mentoring program. This will add value to the organization and establish good will with the team.
Developing and keeping a strong nonprofit Board is crucial for the survival of nonprofit organizations all across our country.