I’m Susan Ross. I’ve been on various nonprofit boards for 35 years and now I run a consulting business where we have worked with nonprofits for the last decade, and we have worked with 171 different nonprofits.
They’ve all got a board. They’re all hoping their board is doing the best job it possibly can.
Is my board as good as it needs to be? And there are lots of ways to measure a good board.
A good board manages a staff well. A good board understands the relationships in the community that can be impactful. A good board chair is a really important advocate and sounding board for a good executive director. But the rest of the board needs to have the talent pool you can’t possibly hire. If you got an expansion in mind, you need to have someone who understands real estate on your board.
You and the staff need to be a team that knows where you’re going — that sets up strategic plans. If you don’t have a strategic plan, the first thing you can offer to help with is… let’s think about what is our mission? It looks like we’re doing a lot of things. Do they hang together? Or was this thing a little shiny object over here we had a chance to go after? And a little money over here that somebody said, “You can do this project and we’ll give you some money for it?”
They need to hold together better than that. The board needs to look at it holistically and make sure that the staff, the board, the whole organization is focused on its mission and what it wants to accomplish.
See more from the People Matter series here.