June 26, 2011

What does your board need to know? Your board (the group) needs information to have conversations to make decisions. The conversation and decision-making happens at board meetings (and the background information arrives in advance, for reading and thinking).

Your board needs reports within its scope of work (which is governance, not management!) And reports need to include an analysis of trends and implications. Send reports. Don’t present reports at board meetings; that’s a waste of good conversation time. If the report warrants it, use board time to engage in a strategic conversation about the trends and implications.

Your board – in its governance role – needs a general sense of the health and effectiveness of the organization. The board learns this through the quality and transparency and appropriateness of the information provided to them. That’s staff work.

The board also feels more confident when it receives regular updates about general stuff. Yes, general stuff that’s happening. And, board members – some more than others – are curious about general stuff.

Do what Kellyann Day, Executive Director of New Haven Home Recovery does.

She sends out a regular e-news to her board members. An update about the agency. Brief. Only one page or so. Includes key dates they have to remember. Sometimes includes a story about a client. Or an update ona grant received. Maybe some service stats or a donor compliment. Reminds them to sell tickets to the fundraising event. Or introduces a new staff person. Or or or.

And she doesn’t give these updates at board meetings. Instead, she uses this great e-news. She’s got a format, perhaps Constant Contact. She and her marvelous executive associate Kristen drop in the information. I’ll bet this doesn’t take much more than 20 minutes. And it’s sooooooo good! I recommend this to all of you. How often? You decide. But certainly once between board meetings.


About Simone Joyaux

A consultant specializing in fund development, strategic planning, and board development, Simone P. Joyaux works with all types and sizes of nonprofits, speaks at conferences worldwide, and teaches in the graduate program for philanthropy at Saint Mary’s University, MN. Her books, Keep Your Donors and Strategic Fund Development, are standards in the field.

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