Smoother Sailing for Your Nonprofit Board

When you think about the best nonprofit board you’ve ever been a part of, can you pinpoint why it was so great?

In contrast, it’s memorable, heck – often painful, to recall orgs that totally missed the mark.  You joined because you valued the project, the action or the cause and you were ready to put energy into your role to move that needle, raise money and advocate together for action.  Somewhere between the hand raise and the first project, things are not quite as they seem. “Between the ideal and the reality… there falls the shadow“.

The ability to do what you came to do can break down simply because no one knows who has the right information or context that you need to know to make things go.  Or, if they do know, they aren’t thinking about what you need to know.  This confusion can emerge from something as simple as the most up to date meeting minutes, the right version of the draft updates for the bylaws, or passwords and accounts for the social media outlets.

What do boards need to pass along to new members to ensure they get what they need for positive impact on the mission?

Set new or transitioning member roles up for success begins with a tremendously obvious, not particularly thrilling but frequently overlooked practice.  Keep, distill and share well maintained governance assets that illustrate strategies, actions, discussions and context about how the board got from there to here. Ensure that everyone knows where these assets live, and who they can talk with about them.

Board governance assets form the basis for successful board engagement, but that’s just the beginning.

Intentional and strategic management of the information and knowledge assets of your board enables smoother sailing to socializing board engagement.

“Bringing on a terrific board member is only the first step. Taking time to ensure that each board member becomes personally invested and engaged in the mission of the organization is time well spent. When truly engaged, board members will become your nonprofit’s best ambassadors, advocates, strategists, and all around supporters.”  National Council of Nonprofits

Create meaningful and conversational exchange opportunities for collective impact.

Engaged boards “work” between board meetings, and attend meetings well prepared. They are willing to deliberate candidly, confidently treading on sensitive topics that may result in “messy” discussions because they trust one another and are comfortable with the culture of the nonprofit, confident that everyone values mutual respect.

Loss of expertise of a departing member can bring the new member’s ability to hit the ground running to a standstill.  Loss of momentum, opportunity or even loss of the new recruit can be unhappy results.

In contrast, compelling and appreciative discussions between current members and new recruits have far greater impact than a road map of reading reports alone.  Ensure that expertise and org memory doesn’t leave with the retiring executive director, and engage in knowledge transfer of know-how and know-who for exits and on boarding for board projects and roles.

For your organization’s board and it’s collective impact, establish both good governance record keeping practices and meaningful conversations for knowledge retention and transfer.  Knowsaic tames the chaos and is ready with the life ring, so let’s talk more.  Smoother sailing is ahead for your nonprofit board.