Board Structure and Meetings
Section 4 (Items 31-40) of the Annual Checkup: A Board Governance Self-Assessment
31. Most bylaws have language spelling out the roles of the officers, but it is possible to be much more thorough and clear in other types of documents. Starting with a good template of officer position descriptions, your group can have a full conversation about what you need and expect. A law firm in California has written up some great descriptions for the president/chair, secretary and treasurer positions in their Nonprofit Law blog. NEW! The BoardSource article includes information about officer qualifications.
32. This excellent blog from BoardEffect discusses a number of strategies for ensuring that the board's committees are functional and support the work of the board.
33. When it comes to making sure everyone has the same understanding of what each committee is supposed to do, there is no substitute for drafting up a description and reviewing it annually. This set of Committee Descriptions I created for a client is ready for you to modify for your group.
34. This set of board member and committee descriptions done by a California nonprofit called MEND is awesome because it spells out board and staff roles and also refers to the strategic plan. BoardSource makes a powerful contribution with this document describing how to get the right people on the right committees.
35. Executive Committees are notoriously a double-edged sword. Here are the pros and cons, and what to beware of, from BoardSource.
36. Good meetings don't just happen... they are prepared for. Here's a wonderful article from Nonprofit Hub called "7 Tips for Running Effective Meetings." Fellow consultant Joan Garry has some great ideas she called a Planning Guide for Board Agendas. Here in Melbourne, the Volk Law office has a good blog. Here's one on Keys to Effective Meetings.
37. When it comes to meetings The Board Chair plays a very important role in creating a culture for governance on the board and for resolving differences of opinion. Here's a BoardSource blog that includes a board chair to-do list. NEW! One technique for preserving board meeting time for the most important work is to put all of the reports, minutes, financials on a consent agenda to take care of quickly.
38. Keeping agreed-to minutes as a corporate record is not just traditional, it's legally required and highly functional. The Charities Review Council has some great advice for keeping minutes. BoardEffect recommends using a template.
39. BoardSource has a great primer on Strategic Board Meetings and another (NEW!) on Using Generative Governance Principles for Better Boardroom Conversations. My friend and fellow consultant Jonathan Poisner has 17 Tips for Productive Board Meetings.
40. This sample Board Chair Position Description from Great Boards includes "meeting management" as an important skill. Facilitation skills are important for board chairs. Here's an article about that from BoardEffect. New! Conducting a board meeting evaluation is a great way to get feedback from the board.
- BoardSource comes through with some excellent resources, including an annual calendar for board meetings, ideas for dealing with quorum troubles, and how to handle conflict in the board room.
- When issues are controversial, it is worth having a Meeting Before the Meeting. Harvard Business Review provides some pointers here.
- NEW! Strong boards get together regularly for extended offsite meetings. Such "retreats" can be hugely valuable, but also expensive in terms of board member time and committee. Here's a great How To Guide from BoardSource.