Keeping it practical, while expanding the pool of resources to nonprofit boards, is the ultimate purpose of this blog. In that spirit, I'm re-launching a weekly feature under a new name: Governance Toolbox.
As the (new) name suggests: the focus will be on sharing resources, tools, ideas and anything else that may offer value to board member readers. Many weeks - like this one - I'll share a group of selected links I found interesting/useful. Some weeks, those link sets will be built around a theme. The toolbox might also highlight a specific resource, or a video, that deserves the spotlight.
Whatever I share will have practical implications for those community leaders who step up to serve. Let's dive in with the first set of tools.
How board members can learn to spot red flags -- Despite the likelihood that a board spends a significant portion of its time in oversight mode, the potential to miss the warning signs indicating trouble. (Speaking from painful experience on this one.) This recent Nonprofit Quarterly article offers important insight into some of the more common reasons for fiduciary blindness. Of course, regular readers will understand my appreciation for author Kate Barr's recommendation. It all comes down to great questions!
New Year's resolutions for board members -- Most of us have moved past resolution setting mode; but Gail Perry's list is so perfectly positive, balanced and achievable that it deserves additional spotlight time. I appreciate Gail's general perspective on nonprofit boards and her recognition of the very real challenges these volunteer community leaders face during their terms of service. This list reflects Gail's general respect for board members as people who care, who want to succeed in their service, and who also need reminders about the true scope of their work. She does that while also making her resolutions seem infinitely achievable.
What issues should a nonprofit board consider annually -- The focus areas on Gene Takagi's list should be no-brainers for boards, since they represent many of the core activities of nonprofit governance. I appreciate the compilation and Gene's narrative for each because (a) assuming all boards are tending appropriately to each item may be rash and (b) it offers a great addition to a "nonprofit board essentials" toolbox (in fact, I've just added it to my Pinterest board on that topic).
10 questions to ask before joining a board -- Questions! I'm a sucker for this type of list. This one's value lies in the fact that too many new board members ask too few questions ahead of time and end up being blindsided once on the job. They had me with the very first question: "Does the work of that board make your eyes light up?" Passion alone doesn't guarantee a quality board experience. But it's needed fuel, especially when a crisis hits, the routine work gets tedious, and the meetings are long. Does the work I'm being asked to undertake inspire me? Can I see myself making a difference here? Will this be a good use of my precious time? Is this a good fit? That first question is simple but foundational to a productive and fulfilling term of service.