At this year’s AFP Philanthropy Forecast, held January 26, Mary Moss led a roundtable where participants discussed the importance of strong board leadership. As part of the conversation, Mary asked participants what was on their minds. The issue most cited was that board members did not have a full understanding of their roles and responsibilities, and therefore had unclear expectations for the staff, and vice versa. Suggestions to address this issue include the following:
- Present a written and up-to-date job description to each potential board member before joining the board so expectations are clear from the beginning;
- Plan a board orientation in the first months of a new board member’s tenure that involves staff and key board members;
- Ask the board chair to have one-on-one meetings annually with all board members as a way to check in to see what is going well and where improvements need to be addressed; and
- Create a written report card that each board member fills out annually as a visual reminder of the activities and support he/she has provided.
moss+ross considers great board leadership critical to a healthy nonprofit, and much of the work we do with clients involves specific guidance to strengthen their boards. We were intrigued by the new report from BoardSource which suggests that many boards could be more effective than they are. The result of a national survey of nonprofit board practices, the report provides an overview of how CEOs and board members rate each other and themselves in key areas. You may be interested in to see how your experiences compare.