Choosing the board of directors for your nonprofit is no easy task. Obviously, you want to select members that care deeply about the mission and values of your organization, but that may not be the most important quality to look for in your board members.
The article “Creating an Effective Board of Directors” shares that in addition to having a passion for your organization’s program development and obtaining community support, an extremely successful nonprofit is one “whose directors approach the organization as a business.” In other words, since your board of directors aids in the operations of your nonprofit, you need people who can provide knowledgeable advice in business operations and how to avoid costly oversights and mistakes.
In addition to a felt passion for the nonprofit’s mission and knowledge of proper business operations, the paper “Board of Directors and Innovation in Nonprofit Organizations” cites the Blue Ribbon Panel on Health Care Governance as identifying these additional key characteristics of an effective board of directors:
- Reviewing and improving the core governance processes
- Determining the needs of expertise for the board and recruiting new board members as needed
- Addressing long-term strategic issues
- Enthusiasm when attending board meetings
It’s also important to make sure that your board of directors remains engaged throughout the year, and especially during key fundraising times. This is because during fundraising times, board members serve two key roles, identified by the Nonprofit Research Collaborative’s special report “Engaging Board Members in Fundraising” as access and signaling. Access helps the organization connect with prospective donors, while signaling shows the organization’s value to the community.
So how can you keep board members engaged, enthusiastic, and inspired? The NonProfit Times suggests holding workshops for your board of directors. Setting aside evening or weekend workshops allow for the opportunity to “envision the future, establish new goals and develop inspired standards of performance.”
And before you plan a workshop of any kind for your board of directors, make sure you’ve taken out a directors & officers liability insurance policy. This type of insurance covers claims such as mismanagement of assets, failure to provide services, and employee issues like harassment.