201 | Members only resource.Many nonprofits are legally required to have a standalone audit committee. But even if you are not, you should consider establishing one if your organization’s finances are independently audited. Here’s some information about what the committee should do and who should serve on it.
101| Community resource. Have a question about board processes and dynamics? Check here. For easy reference, we’ve compiled the answers to questions we’re frequently asked into one resource.
201| Members only resource. Not every nonprofit has a need for advisory groups but when one is created, it is important to plan carefully, define roles, and cultivate the membership to make its contribution valuable to the organization.
101 | Community resource. A BoardSource consultant provides information about best practices for how committees should work and communicate with the full board.
201| Members only resource. Whether you know it or not, your board has an internal culture, and how your board runs its meetings is a reflection of it. Whether you carry on a structured business meeting, diligently following strict rules, or do business in a relaxed manner and atmosphere may be creating either an incentive or a hindrance to fully engaging your present and future board members.
201| Members only resource. Developing, educating, or building your board all have the same objective: to create an effective board that is conscious of its own role and responsibilities, motivated by the mission of the organization, willing and able to actively participate in board leadership, and qualified to guide the organization toward progress. A good board development plan will promote board members’ continuous growth and learning.
101| Community resource. The cost of attending board meetings should not create undue financial burden for any board member. Regional and national boards sometimes have a special challenge in this regard. At the same time, transferring the financial burden to your organization is not necessarily the best or easiest solution. Here are possible options to consider when your board decides to adopt a meeting attendance reimbursement policy.
101| Community resource. The minutes from a board meeting are the permanent record of that meeting. They provide information about when the meeting occurred and what action was taken during it. Regardless of how you write and present the minutes, consider carefully what elements to include.
101| Community resource. Does your organization have difficulties reaching a quorum during board meetings? Are the board members reluctant to make an effort to attend meetings regularly? How do quorum statutes affect the running of business during a meeting? Here are some guidelines.
101| Community resource. BoardSource has been answering governance-related questions posed by nonprofit leaders for more than 25 years. Here are answers to some of the most frequently asked questions about board meetings.
101| Community resource. Leaders have a lot to do with the quality of a team. Every board needs to plan for board officer succession: how to identify leadership qualities, elect the best candidates for the positions, train the officers for their roles, and ensure timely rotation.
101 | Community resource. Wondering if your board has hit its sweet spot when it comes to size? This resource is designed to help you answer this question.
201| Members only resource. A productive collaboration relies on trust among team members and building this trust is critical to the board’s ultimate success. Board members — as team members — must be able to rely on each other openly and without reservation.
101| Community resource. What should happen when a board member clearly has a conflict of interest but does not recognize it or won’t acknowledge it? Is it acceptable to join a board if you come with an apparent conflict of interest? These are both questions with which many boards struggle.
201| Members only resource. Founded in 1989, OPAL (Of People And Land) was one of the first community land trusts in the American West and remains at the forefront of perpetually affordable housing. What accounts for the OPAL board’s success and what can other boards take away from it to apply to their own governance practices? Lisa Byers, executive director, shares her insights here.
201| Members only resource. Creating an efficient meeting agenda is an issue with which many chairs and chief executives struggle. Standard, repetitive items often eat up the agenda and not enough time is left to focus on serious deliberation. Consent agendas are one way of liberating the allotted meeting to important issues requiring careful discussion.
201| Members only resource. Dashboard reports emulate the function of a car dashboard: Before pressing the gas pedal, you have in front of you the necessary lights and signals indicating whether the car is ready and safe for travel.
101| Community resource. Over the past 30 years, board committee structures have been streamlined. According to Leading with Intent: A National Index of Nonprofit Board Practices 2015, the average number of committees is 4.8 with most boards having four or fewer committees. In 1994, boards had an average of 6.6 committees. Many boards are looking for more flexible ways of managing their workload while adjusting to the board’s evolving needs. Here are some alternatives for delegating — or not delegating — various tasks to specific committees.
201| Members only resource. When creating any committee, it is wise to first analyze the entire structure of the board and determine whether that particular committee would add value. This outline helps boards determine whether an executive committee is a necessary tool for their organization.
201| Members only resource. Executive sessions provide an opportunity for the board to meet in private. As they normally are closed meetings, often restricted only to board members, it is advisable to set straightforward rules and communicate openly their function and purpose.
301| Members only resource. Nonprofit board meetings are convened for the board to transact business and address important organizational issues with the chief executive and, often, senior staff. While many nonprofit boards choose to conduct their meetings in private, some organizations are required to operate in the public arena due to their states’ open meeting laws.
101 | Community resource. This resource explains the fundamental responsibilities of a finance committee. A board that is able to separate its various financial tasks among a finance committee, an audit committee, and an investment committee are often in a better position to focus its energies on these key duties.
201| Members only resource. Governance as leadership provides boards with a significant opportunity to steer their meetings away from straight reporting and toward an adaptive leadership model.
201| Members only resource. Board members are decision makers. Making good decisions means coming prepared to board meetings, sharing ideas and perspectives, listening to fellow members with respect, and finally reaching a collective conclusion that furthers the common purpose and objective of the organization.
101 | Community resource. To manage their responsibilities, most boards create different groups within their membership to handle that load. These groups can take on one of three forms depending on their purpose: Standing committees help manage ongoing board activities, task forces manage time-limited assignments, and advisory groups provide guidance and insight on particular issues.
201| Members only resource. Committees help facilitate board’s work; prepare board members for informed decision making; provide a mechanism to use all available skill and expertise; and offer hands-on opportunities to serve the organization.
301| Members only resource. Transparency is important to a nonprofit’s ability to earn and keep the trust of the public. For the past several years, nonprofits have seen a significant push to provide more information to donors, constituents, and the public.
101| Community resource. Without concerted efforts, it is easy to waste time and resources, dampen members’ enthusiasm and interest, and end up meeting without demonstrable results. By planning ahead and focusing on activities before, during, and after the meeting, you move closer to efficient meeting procedures and outcomes that meet the expectations.
201 | Members-only resource. Proxy voting is common during large membership meetings but it is not appropriate for board meetings. As fiduciaries for their organizations, board members should not delegate their powers.
201| Members only resource. Are you forming a new public policy committee? It will need a charter. Here’s a sample public policy committee charter to help.
201| Members only resource. In strong boards, members comprehend their role as the fundamental unit guiding the organization. In some weak boards, individual board members seem oblivious to their specific expectations and obligations and are content to be led by others. When the entire board is complacent — a bit too comfortable with status quo or too submissive to authoritarian rule — a potentially detrimental situation threatens the organization as well as individual board members.
201| Members only resource. Nonprofit board meetings are often considered as private meetings that only the board and a few select staff attend. While this picture is true for most nonprofits, sunshine laws require some organizations to open their board meetings to anyone who wants to attend.
101 | Community resource. Bringing in new board members on a regular basis keeps away stagnation and gives the board an opportunity to renew itself. Each board should establish its own system for defining term limits.
101 | Community resource. While lots of little things can distract from a productive meeting, there are key elements that can make each board meeting great. Les Wallace discusses the best board meeting he ever attended in this resource.
301| Members only resource. A consent agenda can turn a board meeting into a meeting of the minds around the things that matter most. A consent agenda is a bundle of items that is voted on, without discussion, as a package. It differentiates between routine matters not needing explanation and more complex issues needing examination.
201| Members only resource. We are all motivated to serve on a board for different reasons. For a board to accomplish its mission, it must attract members who are committed to the cause, want to be engaged, and find their board service satisfying.
201| Members only resource. The benefits and challenges of virtual board meetings are being tested by a growing number of nonprofit boards. The need for sharing information faster forces boards to find and adapt to new ways of communication. How should boards prepare themselves for new technology while still remaining effective in their decision making?
301| Members only resource. Telecommuting staff are accustomed to meeting this way. Why can’t board members do the same? “Virtual attendance” can accommodate individual board member’s needs, save time and money, and, under some circumstances, be an effective alternative to physical attendance.