When I have the opportunity to work with nonprofit boards I invite them to answer five powerful questions. These 5 questions every board should ask allow for important discussions to unfold while focusing on the value the board brings to the organization.
In my experience, I find staff sometimes grumble about what the board is focused on. On the flip side, the board sometimes grumbles about what they are supposed to do or the many reports they are having to read each month.
These five questions are incredibly helpful in helping both the board and staff stay focused and clear about their actions. They support an environment where board members are effective in meeting goals while feeling great about their board experience.
When your board takes the time to ponder and answer these questions at board meetings or at your annual board retreat, the answers WIILL more clearly focus your:
- Board meeting agenda
- Committee structure
- Annual board agreement (See sample in my free Mission Possible: Your Workbook for a Successful Board eBook)
- Recruitment process
- Board orientation process
- Where you hold your board meetings
- What your board dashboard looks like
Here’s a quick example:
You and the board have decided you want to increase individual donor contributions. Your team has decided to do that by making regular thank you calls to donors at the $250+ level AND your team is making an effort to invite every donor at that level and above to attend one event in person this year.
That means board meetings will be spent looking at metrics for how many calls and/or invitations the board has made to $250+ donors in the past month.
You’ll likely have a subcommittee (Fund Development committee) that is leading the charge on engaging the full board in tackling your goals in this area and taking action.
You’ll recruit board members who don’t mind phoning others and/or meeting people they don’t yet know.
You’ll have a snazzy, easy-to-read dashboard that shows the activity to date vs. the year-end goal.
And you’ll have even talked about this goal in the recruitment and orientation process for new board members.
These questions are simple and very powerful. Are you brave enough to introduce them at your next board meeting? Or better yet, have the board chair introduce them and move the conversation forward about adopting a culture of knowing the answers to these questions, always.
Good luck and let me know what changes you are making once you start to incorporate these questions into your board structure! I promise your board WILL be more engaged and effective in being your partner.