Answers to the Savvy Fundraiser’s Quiz Show

March 19, 2018

My March newsyletter introduced the Savvy Fundraiser’s Quiz Show. As promised in the newsyletter, here are the answers!!

Question #1: What’s the most important thing a board member does?

  • Attend board meetings.  X
  • Give an annual financial contribution.
  • Help raise money.

Answer: To be a board member, you must participate in the process of governance. Corporate governance only happens at board meetings because governance is a group activity. Yes, the other two choices are obligations of board members, too. But the single most important thing is attending and participating in board meetings because that’s where/when governance happens. Visit the Free Download Library on my website and read all the materials about governance/boards/board members.

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Question #2: What’s the one thing a board chair should NOT do?

  • Serve as spokesperson for the organization   X
  • Get to know the various staff people.   X
  • Provide regular advice and counsel to the CEO/ED.   X

Answer: This is a trick question. The board chair should NOT do any of these!

  • The CEO/ED serves as the spokesperson for the organization. The CEO/ED can assign someone else to serve as chief spokesperson for a particular issue or moment in time. That could be the board chair or the fundraiser or or and and and and. It’s the CEO/ED’s decision.
  • Of course, the board chair may meet any number of the staff – same holds true for other board members. However, the board chair does not “get to know” staff. Like about families and friends and life and the job and… That can jeopardize the separation of management and governance.
  • So what does “regularly” mean? Of course, the CEO/ED and Board Chair prepare board meeting agendas together. Talk with each other about issues that come before the board. And the CEO/ED can certainly ask the board chair for advice and counsel, or vice versa. But be very very careful. Regularly? Ok. Once/month if the board meets monthly. Periodically an email about something . But if the board chair and CEO/ED talk/meet weekly? On no! Biweekly updates or something? Be careful!!! Sounds like the board chair is acting as CEO/ED. And the actual CEO/ED is just the chief operating officer. Be very very very very careful!!!!!!

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Question #3: Who needs to be the governance expert in your organization?

  • Board Chair
  • Executive Committee
  • Chief executive (CEO/ED or whatever title your organization uses)   X

Answer: The one person we can count on is the CEO/ED. Hired. Paid. Professional! S/he is obligated to learn this stuff and lots of other stuff, too. Read! Workshops! Experience. Etc. And just because a board member has served on many boards does NOT NOT NOT mean s/he knows the governance body of knowledge, etc. etc. In my experience, most boards are mediocre at best. And far too many are dysfunctional. I hold the CEO/ED accountable for both mediocrity and dysfunction. By virtue of position, the CEO/ED is required to be highly knowledge about governance – and also be a darn good enabler to help the board chair facilitate good governance. (And if your board doesn’t listen and allow you to enable — then work diligently to change the board members. Or find another job. You deserve better.)

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The Savvy Fundraiser’s Quiz Show has many more questions and answers. If you want me to publish more in my newsyletter, just let me know.

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.

Simone Joyaux, ACFRE, Adv Dip, is an internationally recognized expert in fund development, board and organizational development, strategic planning, and management.

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