Great Boards: Finding Them, Engaging Them, Keeping Them

The following post are my notes from a great session led by Claire Louder, Louder NonProfit Strategies, LLC, on the title of this blog.

At this year’s ACCE Summit, Claire started out her session by identifying key attributes of a good board member.  The ones that jumped out for me, include but are not limited to, strategic thinker, visionary, integrity, expertise and financial resources.

She went on to talk about where you can find good board members.  Current volunteers, donors/sponsors, other organizations, and referrals from board members. I’m a fan of identifying skill-sets the board may need; legal, finance, marketing, policy, etc.

Once you have them, support them by holding an orientation – where you can review your program of work, give them support materials and possibly find them a mentor.  Help them build relationships with current board members.

Claire went on to talk about the importance of working effectively with your board chair.  You could have an orientation just for them which is very different than what a full board orientation might look like.  They need to understand their role.  Possibly your past chair could lead this discussion with you as a participant or you could attend a program around the subject. ASAE has conducted their CEO Symposium for over 20 years now.  For more information on that series go HERE.

It is critical that the chair understands his or her role.  They need to understand the difference between the board chair and the CEO of the organization.  Do you have a Memorandum of Understanding on the role of the chair and CEO?  Go HERE for a blog post on that subject and sample document.

And by the way, that document is a great way to set an expectation on how you will communicate, set board agenda’s, etc., in the year they are chair.  Find out what works best for them and stick to the timetable they’ve set.  Respect their time!

She went on to talk about ways to engage them.  Make sure your board meetings are meaningful and timely, stick to the agenda, and use a consent agenda for general reporting items.  Use the other time to discuss any issues the chamber may be facing in the future.

For an example of a board agenda go HERE.  She suggested your strategic plan and business plan should be in your board materials at every meeting.

And her final comments were about recognizing your volunteers.  Thank them and give them credit.  It’s about them, not you!

For resources from Claire’s website go HERE.