Board Meetings, Officers, and Committees

| by Shannon Williams

Last week I had the privilege to be a part of a discussion on Board meetings, officers, and committees with more than 50 nonprofit leaders through Mission Triangle. Here are some of the highlights that came up in each area.

Board Meetings 

  • As the name implies, they are Board meetings not executive director meetings. The agenda for the Board meeting should be created by the Board Chair in partnership with the Executive Committee and the Executive Director. Please don’t ask your Executive Director to do it for you.
  • By the same token, the meeting should be led by the Board—the chair and/or other Board members—not the Executive Director.
  • Every meeting agenda should have at least one key strategic question for the Board to speak into. It may or may not lead to an immediate decision in that meeting but giving the Board the opportunity to speak into strategy is a key to an engaged Board.
  • Board meetings are a chance for Board members to reconnect with the mission. They don’t have the same opportunity to do that as regularly as staff members do.

Board Officers 

  • Groom current Board members into officers by asking them to lead selected parts of a regular Board meeting, chair a committee, or serve as an at-large member of the Executive Committee.
  • Review the authority of the Executive Committee in your bylaws. Make sure the full Board understands what the EC is empowered to do and not do outside of regular Board meetings. If your bylaws are vague, you may want to tighten them up for clarity.

Committees 

  • Do you even need them? Yes!
  • Committees are the place where potential Board members are born, where challenges are researched and analyzed, and solutions are created.
  • Align your committees to your strategic priorities. If you have a committee that does not align to a priority, you might not need the committee.
  • Create a specific charge for each committee annually. The charge should align with the goals related to the strategic priority of the committee for that year.
  • Looking to shake things up? Consider dropping all the formal committees outside of the Executive Committee and simply form an internal committee and an external committee. Want to learn more about this? Just ask us.

Many thanks to Mission Triangle for inviting me into the conversation!

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