January 29, 2014

I’m in my hotel room in Lakeville, Connecticut. Right on the New York border. Soon, I’m heading over to  Women’s Support Services in Sharon.

I’m WSS’s strategic planning consultant. Yesterday I was doing sessions with board committees. Today, some more. And I just have to share some of the very smart stuff I’m hearing. Very smart, indeed!

On every board meeting agenda, WSS includes a “board meeting principle.” They talk about a particular principle of good governance. What it means. Why it matters. Whatever.

How great is that? Every single board meeting, they remind themselves of good governance, exploring a fundamental principle of good governance. I think that is so cool.

“Let’s renew our vows annually. “ Dick said that. He reminded me that he is a pastor. His great point: Every year, each board member should reaffirm her or his commitment to the performance expectations. And what a wonderful way to say this. Renewing my vows to the organization, to its mission and vision and values. Renewing my commitment to fulfill the performance expectations. I vowed all this when I agreed to serve on the board.

— So what does a committee do? How is it different than the board? How does the committee make sure it doesn’t disempower the board – or just ask the board to rubber stamp committee decisions.

Maria observed that committees don’t make decisions (or certainly shouldn’t!) Committees process in more detail. They may recommend. But the governance committees of the board – they don’t make decisions.

Then Steve used this good language: Committees are part of oversight and control. (I talk about committees helping the board fulfill its due diligence functions.)

Steve went on to say that a major role of any committee is to educate the board and its individual members regarding their responsibilities —  and how to interpret information in a way that allows the board to own its accountabilities and board members to ask important questions.

Thank you, Women’s Support Services. Darn good work! And thank you for your commitment to creating a community free of domestic violence and abuse.


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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