Individually and collectively, the board’s essential responsibilities are to ensure an organization’s:
- Purpose by taking a strategic role in setting vision, mission, and direction (planning), and ensuring community relevance and representation,
- Accountability by establishing and upholding ethical and legal and policies and procedures, providing executive and financial oversight, and monitoring performance, and
- Sustainability by cultivating relationships that will advance the nonprofit’s interests (board composition, community relations, and advocacy) and resources (fund development).
For Boards, balanced leadership means neither rubber stamping nor micromanaging staff leadership. Keeping roles, responsibilities, and handoffs clear are important to maintaining productive and effective functioning. At the same time, it is important to acknowledge that Boards must evolve alongside their agencies. (BoardSource has a wonderful synopsis of the stages of board evolution.)
Supporting the Function
Periodic assessments and education can help support effective Board development. Fio’s offerings in these areas include:
An online Board survey that assesses
- Functioning in key areas of responsibility
- Quality of Board discussion
- Interpersonal trust and conflict management
- Social cohesion, commitment, and engagement
- Issues of diversity, equity and inclusion
- Learning Opportunities
Training on topics such as
- The Board’s role at each stage of organizational growth
- How to build an institutional Board
- Board engagement strategies
- Board members as ambassadors
- Risk management
- The Board’s role in continuous quality improvement.
Fio also works with Boards to codify policies and procedures. We have helped Boards review and revise bylaws, develop committee charters, draft governance policies, facilitate leadership succession planning, and manage Executive Director performance appraisals.
Supporting the People
Board development never ends, rather continuously cycles through planning and recruitment, orientation and onboarding, and evaluation and retention. And at the heart of all of these activities are people. Fio helps Boards ensure they have a thoughtful mix of people at the table and have healthy norms established to support effective functioning. We do this through:
- External nominating committees: When Boards face major turnover or must change the type of people on the Board, they often find that there is a mismatch between Board members willing to serve on the Nominating Committee and their ability to reach into targeted networks. Fio has developed a process to facilitate an ad-hoc external nominating committee, whose only job is to help identify and connect the organization with prospects. Fio then assists in engaging and cultivating the new prospects.
- Establishing or resetting norms: Like any other group, Boards can develop poor communication habits that impede good functioning. Sometimes it is necessary to clearly establish or reset behavioral norms and ask Board members to commit to changed behavior. Our norms process can help.
Contact us to discuss how Fio can help your organization foster a healthy, well-functioning Board.