NOW is the best time to rebuild your board: Here’s why and how
According to surveys by the Nonprofit Finance Fund, nonprofits face growing financial pressures while also experiencing greater demands for services. At the same time, there are new funding opportunities for nonprofits, including corporations seeking to advance social and environmental purposes as well as investors and new philanthropists. The smartest NGOs/nonprofits will weather the financial threats while capturing substantial new revenues in the next several years.
The organizations that build the most effective boards of directors, who work in concert with their CEOs, will win; they will win by maximizing strategic and financial success. So if your board is stale by a matter of years or decades, you most certainly need to build a new board. But even if you just recently completed a board-building process, it’s good to begin thinking about the next board members you want to recruit.
In fact, each board should work on building the next board that will take the organization even farther to the next level.
Here’s WHY it’s important to continuously build the board:
The role of the board is not simply to provide oversight, but also to add value and advance the community in accomplishing its mission. This happens best when the board is ambitious in achieving a greater vision.
The social and economic environment is so dynamic it’s essential for your NGO/nonprofit to engage board members with the most current, relevant expertise.
It can take time to cultivate the most desirable candidates to your board. And often, busy people need to build the time into their schedules in order to fulfill the responsibilities of service. So, they’ll say, “Yes,” if you give them a year or two to plan ahead.
It often takes more time to research and identify board candidates with diverse backgrounds and perspectives than it does to recruit the most obvious candidates. The investment is essential if your organization seeks to be relevant, enriching and fully meaningful.
There should be some planned turnover on your board in order to promote dynamic thinking and avoid stagnation.
Here’s HOW to continuously build the board:
Imagine the organization’s greater vision in the next several years – in terms of communities you might serve; programs you might offer; strategic alliances; and key revenue sources including philanthropy, corporations, fees for services and government.
Consider people with the experience, networks of influence and diversity of perspectives who will be most valuable to the organization in achieving the greater vision.
Create a plan to recruit the best candidates. Establishing a clear role for the board and a board structure and practices that are highly effective and efficient are necessary steps to attract and retain the most desirable board candidates.
Create opportunities for leadership succession: create room for new board members without bulking up the board by rotating people off the board.
By the way, many of the most desirable candidates find it preferable to serve on a particular board – even possibly ascend to a leadership position – for a certain period of time and then have the opportunity to move on to serve another organization. They regard board service as a learning opportunity as well as a chance to contribute.
Pacing rotations thoughtfully and carefully for board leaders and members is important and depends on a variety of factors, including the complexity of the organization. Too quick of a rotation, leaders and board members will not have the opportunity to fully engage and contribute. Too long, board leaders and board members can potentially become stale, too dominant or cliquey.
In all cases, dynamic board-building is vital.
Image credit: vcg.org