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Create The Board of Your Dreams

In a dream, you are at a board meeting. Your board members are 100 percent supportive, challenge you in friendly ways, encourage you to lead, make decisions, and send cheers of thanks to staff for their work. Finally, just before your alarm rings, they pass around an envelope and fill it with personal checks to establish a board challenge fund.

It’s lovely to dream of a supportive board. It is even better to have a strategy and route to create one. Having a strategy that you know will effectively grow a supportive board is the difference between being on the road to your destination and just dreaming. Strategy is different than planning. Strategy is about clarifying your vision and selecting the best alternatives to it. It involves research and analysis. Do your planning after you select the best strategy.

Why You Need A Board Excellence Strategy
Five Professional Reasons

  1. Board members invest hours of their free time in your work. Board Source reports that this averages 15.9 hours per month per member. Board members want to make productive time investments.
  2. You need the help. No nonprofit that seeks to create more mission can do it alone. Board members, especially supportive and productive ones, are generals in your war to create impact.
  3. You invited your board member to be on the board to share their skills, so you want to maximize them to benefit your nonprofit. Members who get to use their best gifts are more engaged. Offering people a chance to use their gifts makes board recruitment easier.
  4. To obtain what money cannot buy. Perhaps it’s Josie calling you to say, “I have someone I want you to meet.” Perhaps it is to help you to gracefully say no to an appealing opportunity only tangentially related to your mission. Whatever “it’ is, board excellence provides invaluable resources, often ones that money cannot buy.
  5. To enhance your credibility as you compete for income. While you don’t need a board excellence strategy to compete, the resulting board will increase your competitiveness with the seven income streams.

Two Personal Reasons

  1. You, like most executive directors, spend up to 20 hours per month on board work, according to the 2011 Daring to Lead. If you translate this into dollars, year in, year out, this is a tremendous investment for your nonprofit. What’s more, it’s a huge investment of your time. Board work can be pleasant and productive; using your Board Excellence Strategy is an intentional process to get there.
  2. You want to be “very satisfied.” According to Daring to Lead, only 20 percent of the 3,000 executives surveyed were “very satisfied” with their board performance. One in five nonprofit executives is very satisfied. A supportive board is more than a dream, so act. It’s an obtainable goal.

Here are two handfuls of reasons why a board excellence strategy is critical to your nonprofit. Good strategies, whether to grow board excellence or any other arena of your operations, move organizations toward quality. Nonprofits with supportive, engaged boards don’t just wake up with them one day, fait accompli. A board excellence strategy helps you, staff, board members, and other supporters to recognize that achieving excellence is possible with intentional efforts. Be intentional about getting the board you want. Yes, dream the dream. Then, wake and create a strategy to grow one.

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