Here are some key best practices your board should adopt and follow to ensure it is governing appropriately.
Recruit Board Members Effectively and Honestly.
- Ensure consistent information about your board by developing a recruitment packet that includes vital information about your organization.
- Use board job descriptions that clearly outline your expectations of the time, talent, and treasure each board member should bring.
- Establish a nominating committee that recruits the skills required to operate an effective board, not just the status quo.
- Ensure against conflicts of interest when recruiting new board members.
Train and Orient Board Members. It’s not fair to expect that board members will understand their roles and responsibilities without a thorough orientation that includes, at least:
- History of the organization and its key accomplishments.
- Legal and fiduciary roles and responsibilities of board members.
- Review of financial statements and how to read them.
- The annual strategic plan of work.
- Board and organizational policies and procedures.
Make Effective Use of Board Member’s Time, Talent, and Treasure.
- Hold effective meetings with an agenda that is focused on what needs to be accomplished on the annual plan of work. A truly focused board meeting doesn’t need to last more than 1-2 hours at the most!
- Create committees that are required to accomplish the annual plan of work. Hold the committees accountable with written reports. Do not discuss committee work at a board meeting unless there are critical committee issues that require board action or discussion, such as a change in budget or change in the committee’s action plan that requires board approval.
- Use Robert’s Rules judiciously to keep the business of the board moving.
- Take good minutes that reflect the decisions made…and stick to them.
Allow Board Members to Resign When Ready.
- Use annual commitment letters that allow every board member to re-assess and confirm their ability to serve and commitment to make an annual financial contribution.
- Include an “escape clause” that allows the board chair to accept the resignation of anyone who does not sign the annual commitment letter.
Hold Annual Board Performance Evaluations.
- As part of the annual planning session, the board should evaluate its performance within best practices and make a plan to enhance and improve its governance.
- Use a prepared assessment template or create your own.
- Review the IRS Form 990 for what is expected of board governance.
- Include assessment of:
- Governance and oversight
- Fiscal and financial policies and procedures
- Budgeting and finance
- Fiscal controls
- Strategic planning
- Personnel policies and procedures
- Management and administration
Clarify the Roles and Responsibilities of Board and the Executive.
- Ensure open and honest communication about board and staff expectations.
- Clarify HR policies and procedures.
- Clarify governance versus operation and management roles.
- Guard against micro-management of staff.
Recognize and Reward Excellence and Thank Board Members – OFTEN!
Complacent or compliant? How well does your organization board of directors meet its fiduciary and governance requirements? If there is room for improvement, don’t despair – there are tools available to help! For samples of the following documents, please visit www.jblockinc.com for free downloads:
- Board Job Description
- Board Commitment Letter
- Board Conflict of Interest Statement
- Application for Board Membership
- A comprehensive organizational assessment tool, Exploration™-Management by Assessment
Maris Brenner says
Alway good for Board Members of organizations especially non-profit to read up on the basics of board responsibilities and best practices. Boards while they resemble ones business life, do live at a different pace and cyle.