June 20, 2014

Attending board meetings – and participating! – is vitally important.

So what is “attend” and “participate” ?

  • Attend most of the meetings. Inconvenience yourself if necessary! What’s most? More than 50%! More like 75%. (And I don’t care how busy or important you are. Attend or get off!)
  • Read the material. Bring the info to the board meeting. And talk!  Participate in the conversation. Offer your educated insights. Ask strategic and cage-rattling questions.

Corporate governance is a group activity. You attend and engage to be part of a group. Sending in your insights – without benefit of group conversation – are pretty much useless. It’s group conversation and group decision-making that matters.

How about those big donors? Or how about those really important community leaders? Hmmm…. Mostly I don’t care. Don’t talk to me about “political realities”. Instead, identify and recruit committed individuals who will – yes indeed – inconvenience themselves on your behalf. People who will follow good governance. People whose egos are not outsized.

Always remember: Being a big donor doesn’t make someone a good board member. Being a community leader doesn’t make someone a good board member.

Your Governance Committee – and the full board – need to talk about this stuff. Your organization needs policies that define the role of the board and the performance expectations of board members. And enforce these – the role and the expectations.

Staff and board leadership enable these proper behaviors. And when things get out of whack…When board members aren’t performing well… Then the Governance Committee steps in.

Graciously, professionally, objectively — enhance attrition. That’s when you help the board member understand that s/he isn’t fulfilling the performance expectations. The board member acknowledges the problem and offers his / her resignation. And you accept it with alacrity.

And if the board member isn’t smart enough to honestly see his/her performance, then the organization explains clearly and explains why resignation is necessary. That’s thank and release. But usually enhancing attrition works.

For more information, read my board blogs.(See the categories archived on my website.) Visit the Free Download Library on my website – and select from all the handouts explaining all this.

Read my book Firing Lousy Board Members – And Helping Others Succeed. Get your own copy from Amazon or CharityChannel Press. Everything included in one slim, easy-to-read volume.

And do it. All of it! Then your board is stronger. And that makes your organization stronger. And that produces greater impact.

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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