Would you like a dramatically more effective board? That's like asking, Care to win the lottery?
A high-performing, diligent board that takes its responsibilities seriously is the Holy Grail of nearly every nonprofit in the U.S. Such a board means more money raised, swifter policy decisions, steady governance, and less ibuprofen for the CEO.
But can you realistically get there from here? Can you put your average or good board on the road to greatness? Indeed you can, says Gayle Gifford in How to Make Your Board Dramatically More Effective, Starting Today. And you're closer than you think.
Gifford's approach is ingenious. She doesn't lecture, doesn't scold, doesn't harangue. Instead she challenges your board to transform itself by answering a series of trenchant questions. Here's a sampling:
- How well do we know our community's needs?
- Do we know if our programs are having an impact?
- Have we given our CEO the necessary support?
- Have we decided the board's role in fundraising?
- Do our committees improve the functioning of our board?
- Does our board govern and resist the temptation to manage?
- Is our relationship with staff what it should be?
As your board answers (and sometimes debates) each question, it simultaneously takes stock of the overall job it's doing - or not doing. All without the help of an expensive board consultant!
Some answers will be easy. For example, "Has each board member made a gift?" But other questions will prompt a lively discussion - "Does our vision matter?"
The net result of getting everything in the open - of airing a host of concerns and clarifying any confusion - is this: You end up with an energized and united board ready to push your organization forward.
And they did it all by themselves.