Have you ever looked at another nonprofit organization with a hint of envy? You know the organization that makes it look easy. Their messaging is on point. They are a leader in your community and are regularly in the news for doing something great. Fundraising campaigns are always a success. The list goes on.

I would be willing to make a bet that behind that awesome organization is a high-functioning board of directors working in partnership with a high-functioning Executive Director. A board of directors is basically an extension of your team. When your board members are aligned with your mission and long-term goals, magic happens!

So, how do you make that magic happen for your organization?

Board Governance is at the heart of it.

What is board governance?

Put simply, nonprofit board governance is how chosen board members lead your organization. Board members are responsible for making strategic decisions and providing effective leadership to further an organization’s mission. This leadership is informed by policies and procedures created by the board to govern and guide the nonprofit’s operations.

Board governance is best thought of as guiding the overall direction of a nonprofit whereas the organization’s staff members are managing and directing the day-to-day operations of the organization. Taking a proactive approach to governance involves forward thinking and present action.

One of the challenges I often see with board governance is that board members are brought on to serve with little or no understanding of what that actually entails. Creating a clear understanding of the roles, expectations, and responsibilities of all board members is essential to your success.

Here are 7 Board Governance Activities That Need To Be On Your Radar  

  1. Financial Oversight. The board is responsible for ensuring your organization’s financial policies, reporting, and decisions are transparent, accurate, and focused on sustainability.
  2. Strategic Planning. Conducting an annual strategic planning session is essential to setting and monitoring short- and long-term goals.
  3. Board Recruitment. Your board needs a written plan and procedure for recruiting and onboarding new board members with a focus on diversity and inclusion. It is also important you have well-defined roles and responsibilities for all board members. Asking all board members to conduct an annual self-assessment of their service is also beneficial.
  4. Ensure bylaws are reviewed annually. It is necessary to follow state guidelines and ensure that bylaws are not overly specific or vague. Likewise, reviewing them annually ensures they are relevant and accurate.
  5. Review the 990 form and ensure the organization is meeting all state and federal nonprofit requirements.
  6. Create an executive compensation plan and schedule an annual performance evaluation for the Executive Director.
  7. Conduct an annual review of programs and services. The board is responsible for ensuring all the organization’s activities are focused on its mission.

This list isn’t all-encompassing but provides a good start to ensuring your board of directors is on the right track to effective board governance. Board governance takes time and is ongoing. However, by investing the time to ensure board members know what is expected of them, you will be one step closer to a high-functioning board.

Okay, before I go here’s a PRO TIP for you: Create a board governance calendar for your organization that outlines key governance activities and schedules them for the year. This will help ensure you don’t overlook critical tasks and give you the nudge to create documents that you may not have but need!

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About Incite! Consulting

Are you looking for help in creating a board structure that works for your organization? Incite! Consulting specializes in helping nonprofits reach their full potential by providing services like board governance training and organizational assessments. Kari is passionate about leadership, board engagement, supporting non-profit executive directors, organizational storytelling, sustainable fundraising, and efficient transparent business operation. If you are interested in learning more, call (844) 946-2483 or e-mail us or visit our website.