Building and maintaining an engaged Board of Directors
Building and maintaining an effective and engaged Board of Directors can be challenging. It is helpful to have a structure for juggling the many relationships, meetings and other responsibilities.
Last July, Global Impact’s Board was honored to receive the Center for Nonprofit Advancement 2018 Board Leadership Award. The award recognizes exceptional effort of nonprofit Boards of Directors in the Washington metropolitan area. Here’s some insight into Global Impact’s Board and how its members work together with executive leadership, as well as some takeaways for anyone looking to build or strengthen their own Board.
A look at Global Impact’s Board
All members of Global Impact’s Board, including President & CEO Scott Jackson, have corporate, nonprofit or consulting experience. Each has a three year term and is a member of at least one of four standing committees (executive, nominating and engagement, audit, and finance). Members also join relevant ad-hoc committees as needed in order to utilize their specialized expertise.
Here are several questions to consider as you evaluate your Board:
Does our Board have the right experience? Boards are often comprised of dedicated members or supporters of an organization. Passion for a mission is important, but you should also consider the experience each candidate brings and how that experience will benefit the organization.
Over the last few years, a concerted effort was made to more closely align Global Impact’s Board with our changing business model. A focus was also placed on diversity – having members with more diverse backgrounds can help bring unique insights that may otherwise not be examined.
Is our Board comfortable sharing information with each other? It’s impossible to have an effective Board if they’re unwilling to share their insights and concerns. Having your CEO or Board chair connect one-on-one with Board members is a great way to gather input and increase trust.
Additionally, Global Impact has an executive session in the middle of each Board meeting so that members can raise concerns without staff in the room. The Board Chair or other committee chairs then follow up on any actions as needed.
Is our Board engaged? To keep your Board members engaged, you must ensure that they are focused in helpful areas and have a structured way to engage. A great way to do this is to develop a Board engagement framework.
Global Impact’s Board engagement framework has three categories: fiduciary, generative and strategic. While Board members tend to be more inclined to focus on one of those categories, showing them how to engage in all three areas can bring greater benefit to the organization and greater fulfillment to the Board member.
No right answer, but one right action
Determining the right composition and engagement of your Board requires self-reflection. No organization is built the same or has the same needs, but the same questions can be asked to determine areas of strength and weakness. Making the needed changes to create an effective and engaged Board will ensure your organization is leveraging these key stakeholders well.
This article is part of the January 2019 issue of Global Impact's charity enewsletter.