Friday, February 5, 2016

Governance toolbox: Engaging, relating, inspiring, leading nonprofit boards

I'm not sure there's a grand theme to the resources shared this week, but each of the four resources definitely called out to me.

How to build a better board and staff relationship -- I can't help sharing this Nonprofit Hub interview with author John Fulwider. His work on building an effective board chair/CEO partnership is too important not to share whenever I have a chance. While I still encourage every nonprofit to add his excellent book to its leadership library, this post is an excellent, brief overview that also offers sample conversation-starting questions from the text.

5 whys for problem solving -- While the embedded video explaining the "5 Whys" process clearly assumes a private-sector context, the process it describes - and the surrounding post - has strong potential value in any problem-solving scenario. Its focus on digging beyond the surface makes it worthy of consideration for a board's leadership toolbox.

5 reasons you aren't raising more major gifts -- I'm a longtime fan of Gail Perry's approach to fundraising - especially her perspective on engaging board members in authentic ways. This post reminds me why this is the case. The five "reasons" featured represent conversations nonprofit boards and senior staff should be having about their organizations' major gift fundraising programs.  Share it with your board and use it as a focal point to begin those discussions yourselves. P.S. If you don't already have it in your agency library, buy Gail's excellent book, Fired-Up Fundraising. Her humane approach to meeting board members where they are to bring them into the development process is what so many of us lack.

The mindful board --  I'll close with one that is more thought piece than tool. I appreciate the way Roberts and Summerville conceptualize the "Evolution of the Board Species" for many reasons. I'll share two here. One, I am gravitating toward the highest rung of that evolutionary ladder, the "mindful board." I see many parallels and intersections with thinking - my own and others - about what really is the highest state of nonprofit governance. Still working with that. But there's another reason. For so many boards, the "working board" badge is one worn with immense pride. "We aren't (insert some term looking eerily like the "consent board" in this model)," they exclaim. "We're a working board." Yes, that is a better and more noble state than a disengaged, rubber-stamping body. But it is not the highest ideal to which we can, or should be, aspiring as volunteer nonprofit leaders. The authors of this post provide an appropriately challenging and inspiring vision of what lies beyond that "hard-working volunteer" phase. Have this discussion with your board. Please.

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