For a nonprofit, the board of directors has the ultimate responsibility to carry out the organization’s mission. To help board members fulfill their role, nonprofit professionals should ensure the board has all the pieces of the puzzle they need. But, what exactly does the board need to know to succeed in their role?
As a nonprofit director, here are five things I strive to ensure the board is equipped with, so they can best satisfy their role as leaders of the organization:
Mission: Review the organization’s mission statement with the board of directors. Go beyond putting it in their hands once a year, and try to connect board members with the mission statement. Consider providing opportunities for board members to be involved in program delivery, introducing them to clients, or showcasing the organization’s program outcomes. It is also important to remind the board over, and over, and over again about the organization’s mission statement- print it on meeting agendas, display it in the meeting room and include it in email signatures. Keep the mission front and center.
Operations: Equip the board with the operational details they need to carry out their role by ensuring board members know how the organization operates. This includes financial information, an organizational chart, and board meeting dates.
Program Services: Educate the board on how your organization carries out the mission. It is often helpful to provide the board with a summary of all the organization’s various programs and let them know the program qualifications for clients.
Policies: Provide each board member with access to the organization’s policies including bylaws, conflict of interest, financial, document retention, whistle-blower, confidentiality, safety, program and personnel. Remember, in order for your board to follow the rules, they have to know the rules.
Contacts: Share contact information with board members so they can follow up if they have questions. For instance, who should they contact if they have questions about financial statements or meeting dates? What about if their friend wants to make a donation or volunteer, or they know someone interested in receiving services from the organization? Make sure the board members know who to connect with, and don’t forget to share the entire board’s contact information with each board member.
By equipping your board with information about each of the pieces of the puzzle for your nonprofit, you are empowering them to fulfill their role as leaders of the organization. I encourage you to take some time to make sure your board has the resources and information they need to lead your organization to fulfill its mission.