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Quick Guide for Developing Your Nonprofit Board of Directors

Are you building your Nonprofit Board of Directors? Are you working with an unmotivated board? Is it time to consider letting a board member go? If any of these are true, you’re in the right place.

Regardless of the age, size, or mission of a nonprofit, you need leaders who are strategic and motivated to guide the organization. As with any team, the board needs to understand their role, have goals and expectations, and meet their fiduciary responsibilities. It begins with finding the right members, clearly communicating the role of the board, and offering strategic planning and training. And sometimes, you may have to fire someone.

Here’s my quick guide for developing your nonprofit board of directors.

How do you find Board members for your nonprofit?

Ask! Ask! Ask! We’re asking our network for referrals for everything from which movies they like or where to eat. Now it’s time to ask for people who may be interested in joining the board of your nonprofit.

Finding Board members begins by looking at the current volunteers. Who is most active? Who has a complementary skill to the existing board? Who would be a leader on the Board?

Then consider asking donors if they may be interested or know someone they could recommend.

Reach out to the current Board and ask who they might know.

Finally, ask leaders like me who they know that has been through Nonprofit Leadership training and is seeking a Board position. If you have a clear vision for who you want, you can ask and find the right people for your organization.

What is the role of the Nonprofit Board of Directors?

Think of the Board as the macro governing body for the organization. They focus on oversight and strategy, not day-to-day operations. Employees, volunteers, and managers take care of operations.

The Nonprofit Board of Directors is made up of three or more members who work together with the nonprofit’s leadership to make decisions that are in the best interest of the organization and those who are served. The Board has a fiduciary responsibility to be objective stewards acting in the best interest of the organization. They don’t play favorites or make decisions that favor themselves or their interests.

They are the guides of the organization with responsibilities separate from operations. These include fundraising, inviting their network of colleagues to events, and overseeing financials.

Can a Board Member be fired?

Yes, Board members can be fired. If they are not fiscally responsible, are not meeting expectations set by the organization for the Board of Directors, or are simply apathetic, it may be time to let them go. This assumes the role and responsibility has been clearly defined and communicated. If it hasn’t, try working with them to share what is needed from them. Allow a specific period for improvement. If they are still not working for the organization, then it is time to let them go.

How do you motivate an unmotivated Nonprofit Board of Directors?

As a nonprofit leader, I offer training to nonprofit boards to help them work together better. Sometimes it takes training or hearing from someone outside the organization to motivate an unmotivated board.

Maybe they are motivated but aren’t sure how they can help or maybe they feel their ideas have been brushed aside. If that’s happening, then I recommend providing the Board a list of specific tasks and asking them to each pick one they can lead.

Your Nonprofit Board of Directors is your high-level leadership team. You may have to fire someone or hire someone or spend for training from a professional nonprofit leader to get the team to work in a way that benefits the organization and those you serve the most.

The Rayvan Group offers Strategic Planning for Nonprofit Boards of Directors. This includes collecting data, designing, planning, and implementation so that everyone works together for the betterment of the organization. Contact us today to learn how we can support the development of your board.


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