I've been thinking a lot lately about trusteeship, which led me back to an old friend, Katherine Tyler Scott's Creating Caring and Capable Boards: Reclaiming the Passion for Active Trusteeship. In a sea of "roles and responsibilities" articles and publications, any focus on governance as trusteeship is noteworthy and, to me, quite welcome. It's also an excellent foundation for this summer series.
Why should we invest in our nonprofit boards? Why should we do more than tolerate a group of people that can be labor-intensive and occasionally problematic? Regular readers know there are myriad ways to respond. One of the more straightforward reasons is the credibility that a committed, effective nonprofit board brings.
As Scott states here, there's more at stake than the bottom line requirement that we have a board. Who we bring to the table, how we engage them to advance our work and mission, sends a message to the community that can trigger additional support or send red flags a 'waving.
It's more than recruiting the "right" people, though. How we support them once they accept the invitation increases their potential for success, not only for fulfilling the essential responsibilities expected of nonprofit governing bodies but for reaching their leadership potential.
These Scott quotes prompt two questions for me that boards might find useful for reflection:
- What does our board communicate to the community, by its presence and its actions?
- What do board members need from us to be the best community ambassadors possible?