14 Characteristics of Fantastic Nonprofit Boards

| by April Anthony

The number of nonprofits in North Carolina is growing by leaps and bounds.  Some have effective boards and some boards are just names on the letterhead.  Over the years, if there is one thing I’ve learned it’s that successful and impactful nonprofits have fantastic boards. 

What makes a fantastic board?  I’ve listed 14 qualities here:

  1. The board's focus is on the big picture, setting vision and strategic direction, ensuring adequate resources, and holding themselves and the chief executive accountability for results.
  2. Board member job descriptions are being utilized and include fundraising and making a meaningful personal gift annually.
  3. Board member term limits are set and honored.
  4. The board meets on an appropriate schedule that reflects the size and scope of its work.  Much of the board's work is done in subcommittees meetings outside of full board meetings. 
  5. All board meetings have a high percentage of attendance and participation. 
  6. Succession planning is in place.
  7. The board evaluates the CEO or Executive Director annually.
  8. Led by its board, the organization has developed a strategic plan and is implementing and tracking the plan.
  9. Board members act as advocates and ambassadors increasing awareness of the organization’s mission and impact in the community.
  10. The board creates and votes on a budget annually and ensures a financial audit is conducted annually (for organizations with budgets of $1M or more).
  11. The nonprofit provides orientation opportunities and training on important governance and fundraising needs to board members at least once a year.
  12. Board members refer names of future board members to a Board Development Committee to be vetted before being invited to serve.
  13. The board and staff are evaluated annually.
  14. Organizational outcomes are being measured, shared in board meetings, and used to solicit and steward donors.

You can email me april@armstrongmcguire.com or call me at (919) 390-1925 with any questions or comments.

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