In many nonprofits, there is not a clear divide between board and staff responsibilities. Then you add in long-term volunteers, founders, and advisory boards and things get even muddier. Who should have the final say on a decision? And, should you have that in writing?
Do you know how to go about strengthening your board and staff?
It’s easy to offer simple recommendations like whether the board should be fundraising (they should be fundraising, starting with themselves), but you also have to have strategies for:
- Encouraging your board to respect your staff and their opinions
- Reminding the staff that coaching strategies may change board and volunteer behavior faster than constant reminders
- Board learning opportunities throughout the year (e.g. understanding a P & L– spend 15 minutes explaining how to read the statement –and how it represents the organizational priorities – for those who don’t work with them every day)
- Creating change with buy in from staff and the board
- Knowing a board president’s strengths and weaknesses. And understanding that is not always the same as the last person to hold that role.
- No one person can be in charge of everything (whether that is staff, a Board President or a Volunteer). Nonprofits are a group effort, intentionally, so spend time determining how to utilize your resources.
- Running the board like an organization, and not a family business
- The size of your board – too large or too small will affect whether you are engaging your board members or leaving them to drift off (among other things)
- Helping board members or staff see their role in creating the solution to the problems you are facing and that they may be causing
- Overworking your leadership (volunteer and staff) may help you achieve more in the short term. But, in the long term, staff will leave and volunteers will burn out.
- Moving forward with a decision when consensus was hard to find
- Innovating change. Nonprofits can no longer rely on the status quo for support, membership or involvement
- Engaging everyone in fundraising and development when not everyone is willing to ask others for money
This is not an all-encompassing list, and it is not intended to overwhelm you. Instead, it is designed to create a new dialogue around the staff table or at a board meeting about what you want to see change. In other words, help you in strengthening your board and staff. You may want to initiate a strategic plan or a board retreat to help you focus in on your priorities. But don’t let another year go by without growing as individuals and as an organization.
If you think your nonprofit would benefit from our facilitating this process, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org today.
If you would like to work on improving your board without counsel, you can purchase one of our books by clicking here
Originally published in 2017