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Strengthening the Partnership Between You and Your Board of Directors

When you and your board of directors have a good working relationship, you can accomplish more for your nonprofit’s mission. By creating open paths for communication, finding a good mix of members, and even increasing your own transparency, you can get more done through your board-staff partnership than ever before.

Strengthen Your Board-Staff Partnership

Your board may be a single entity, but it is made up of individuals. Taking the time to get to know the team and engage with them can help you make the most of the limited time you have together. Following are some tips for how to make your board-staff partnership much stronger…

Invest in your Relationships

You work hard to cultivate top donors, so why not bring that same attention to the members of your nonprofit board to improve your relationship with them. When you recognize important dates, follow your board members in the press, and make a point to connect with them, you elevate your relationship. If you’re only seeing one another or communicating at the annual meeting, then you’re missing out on valuable opportunities. Encourage yours staff to do the same.

Limit Member Tenures

How long are your board members committed for? Choosing a one or two-year tenure provides members with enough time to make a difference, but lets you off the hook if you have a board member who just isn’t working out. It happens. And facing another few months with a discordant member is a lot easier than looking at a five-year sentence with them. Limiting tenures works for both members who don’t have good chemistry with the rest of the board AND for those who like the title and position but don’t fully engage with your executive director or staff.

Choose the Right Members

You likely inherited some board members, but if you have the opportunity to select members, do so with care. Selecting a board member is very similar to replacing a C-Suite executive; choosing members based on their own expertise and background along with their ability to mesh with the group can save you time and trouble later. Selecting candidates who excel in their own areas, but who have diverse experience levels and expertise will provide you with a broad base of knowledge and assistance upon which to draw.

A board made entirely of CEOs may sound like a promising idea, but you’ll be missing out on valuable expertise in other areas. Leaders in Finance, HR, Marketing, and other verticals can bring more to the table and offer a wider range of assistance than a team that is made up of similar individuals.

RELATED: Nonprofit Board Best Practices

Enhance Transparency

It is tempting to present only the positive news or issues to the board of directors while trying to deal with problems internally, but it can backfire. Your board is charged with overseeing and advising your organization, and they can’t fulfill this obligation without the full picture of where you are and what you and your staff need most.

Ask for Feedback

If you know what your board expects and needs to best assist you, you’ll both benefit. Regularly touching base and providing a venue for communication and feedback allows you to access valuable insights and lets the board get the details they need to best serve your organization.

In the end, making an effort to strengthen your board-staff partnership will help your organization achieve its goals and ensure that your meetings and efforts truly benefit your mission.


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