The Board Excellence Plan: Create the Board of Your Dreams

Man dreaming about boardIn 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 the staff for their work. Finally, as the alarm rings, they pass around an envelope and fill it with personal checks to establish a board challenge fund designed to engage new donors.

You wake up sad that your board isn’t anything like the board in your dream. Instead, they struggle with attendance, leading, and follow-through. You wonder if they are bored. They teeter at times on the edge of dysfunctional behavior moving between micro0managing and micro-engagement. Overall, their behavior significantly reduces your job satisfaction.

You wonder if there is something you can do to make your dream come true. Because it’s lovely to dream and because you know, it’s even better to be on the road to creating one. Planning and acting to grow a supportive board is the difference between invested and hopeful and daydreaming. You need an effective plan that involves research, analysis, thinking, and long-term, consistent actions. A solid board excellent plan will clarify your outcomes, select the best alternatives to achieving your goal and move your board toward governance.

Here are Five Professional Reasons Why You Need a Board Excellence Plan

  1. Board members invest hours of their free time for your cause. BoardSource reports that this averages 15.9 hours per month per member. Your board members want to make productive use of this time investment. Board members join boards to help.
  2. You need the help. No nonprofit seeking to create more mission and move toward its vision can do it alone. Board members, especially supportive and productive ones, are generals in your war to change the world. They provide wisdom, ask thoughtful questions and connect you to resources.
  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 get more engaged. And, offering people a chance to use their talents makes board recruitment easier.
  4. You need a board plan to obtain what money cannot buy. Perhaps a board member calls you to say, “I have someone I want you to meet.” Maybe you need help gracefully saying no to an appealing opportunity that is only tangentially related to your mission. Whatever “it’ is, board excellence provides invaluable resources and priceless wisdom.
  5. To enhance your credibility as you compete for income. While you don’t need a board excellence plan to compete, having one will increase your competitiveness with all of the seven nonprofit income streams.

Two Personal Reasons

  1. Like most executive directors, you spend hours per month doing board work, according to Daring to Lead. This is a tremendous investment for your nonprofit if you translate this into dollars, year in, year out. What’s more, it’s a massive investment of your energy. Board work can be productive and rewarding instead of a draining
  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.

A supportive board is more than a dream, it’s an obtainable goal. In Board Rx, nonprofit leaders, like you, discover what’s blocking their boards from fulfilling their responsibilities and create a roadmap to board excellence.

Nonprofits with supportive, engaged boards don’t just wake up with them one day, fait accompli. A board excellence plan 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 up and create a plan to grow one. Start today. Write down the goal you have for your board—next, options on actions to list to get there.

For more about what’s possible, see these related resources:

Karen Eber Davis

Before founding her firm, Karen Eber Davis developed the Sarasota County Community Development Block Grant Program. Under her leadership, this infant program received the National Association of Counties National Affordable Housing Award for the Down Payment Assistance Program. To date, the program helped over 1,800 families realize their dreams of homeownership. She also worked with the City of Ft. Lauderdale and the Florida Department of State, Division of Cultural Affairs, where she developed the division’s first audit program. In an earlier position at Good Shepherd Lutheran Church in Tampa, she organized senior, youth, and children groups plus family activities. Her youth staffing work with the Florida Synod of the Lutheran Church in America supported youth ministries in 120 congregations in Florida.