Great Nonprofit Board Members Perform Two Services Only – ADVICE and ACCOUNTABILITY is Jimmy LaRose’s radical take on how to properly re-structure your nonprofit board of directors. Jimmy shares, “There is one thing all boards have in common…they do not function.”Nonprofits are poorly managed because of unrealistic expectations that placed on volunteer board members. Give, give, give, give, give, give, give, give, give, give, give and receive nothing in return.
Let’s wear you out and move on to the next person.
What is boardsmanship? Let’s first start with what boardsmanship IS NOT.
Boardsmanship is not Governance. Don’t kid yourselves. UNPAID BOARD MEMBERS DON’T GOVERN. Actual governance occurs when a person (with a full-time salary) supported by various paid staff (the formation of a government) is empowered to perform the daily tasks of decision-making and oversight. Strong CEOs GOVERN!
Boardsmanship is not Visioning. VISION is the way MISSION is achieved and is never the responsibility of the board because the board isn’t being paid to accomplish it. STRONG CEOs ARE TRUSTED TO CREATE VISION. (I agree that board members hold their compensated leader accountable to achieve MISSION.) Here’s what you do. Hire a strong CEO who has a history of designing VISION that accomplishes MISSION in ways you never dreamed possible. Believe me, strong CEOs are already doing it their way even if they feel the need to label their activities as “BOARD VISION.”
Boardsmanship is not Policy-Making. Hire a CEO whose depth of experience and formal education has already equipped them as a management expert. The right CEO has been properly trained to oversee the creation of policies that work. Board Members never write policy anyway. Someone else does the heavy-lifting and they rubber stamp it.
Boardsmanship is not Volunteerism: Eliminate the special events committee. Eliminate the fundraising committee. Eliminate the public relations committee. Eliminate the strategic planning committee. (Here’s a good rule of thumb – remove everything from your by-laws that’s not related to IRS compliance.) Re-assemble these groups as volunteers (non-board members) who serve you directly. For example, a group of social workers is assembled to serve the program director, or a campaign cabinet comprised of community volunteers is built to advance fundraising. You now have individuals in their sweet spots, who are no longer saddled with arcane tasks.
Boardsmanship is not Management: Board members have no authority over the day-to-day operations of a nonprofit UNLESS there’s a written directive recorded in board meeting minutes with a motion, second and full vote. Members cannot unilaterally exercise power. Nor can committees. Conversely, board members actually need to receive permission from the CEO if they intend to act on behalf of the nonprofit in a manner that could affect daily operations.
The only way this article makes sense as it relates to boards is if you understand that there is nothing natural about putting a committee together of individuals that you don’t pay, that don’t have the time and are not experts in what you’re doing.
Great Nonprofit Board Members Perform Two Services Only – ADVICE and ACCOUNTABILITY
OK, OK…WHAT IS GREAT BOARDSMANSHIP?
(everything you need on one page – please copy and send to everyone)
Great boards do two things. They provide:
…ADVICE & ACCOUNTABILITY
The STRONG CEO is named chair of the nominations committee and fills these SIX POSITIONS (yes, you only need six [plus]):
- Business Expert (Chair) Entrepreneur
- Program Expert (Secretary) Specific
- Finance Expert (Treasurer) Accountant
- Legal Expert (Member) Lawyer
- Communications Expert (Member) PR/Marketer
- Nonprofit Expert (Member) Consultant
THAT’S IT! (add other experts as needed eg. personnel, etc.) However, don’t forget, working group theory states that any “working group” with more than seven people is no longer a group that works!
Here are their ten ADVICE & ACCOUNTABILITY functions:
- Comply with IRS Regulations
- Hire strong Chief Executive Officer
- Approve Meeting Agenda
- Approve and Amend By-Laws
- Choose and Review Independent Financial Audit (annual)
- Choose and Review Independent Program Audit (annual)
- Evaluate strong Chief Executive Officer
- Attend Three Meetings per Year with Recorded Minutes
- Support the CEOs Vision (not the boards vision)
- Provide CEO their expert advice
Do you have one person on your board that is an enterprise expert? They’ve successfully built businesses into mutli-mullion dollar corporations. Do you have one person on your board is a program expert and who has experience in delivering your service or products. Do you have a person on your board that is an expert in finance? Do you have a person on your board that understands nonprofit law. Do you have a person on your board that understands communications? Finally, do you have a person on your board that understand the nuances of nonprofits? So what we have here is we have a business expert, a program expert, a finance expert, a legal expert, a communications expert a nonprofit expert.
But Jimmy they’re all your cronies, your friends. You give me any board in America and I can bamboozle them for years. My board would drop me in a New York minute because they know me and would recognize quickly if I was doing something wrong. There is true accountability here.
How do they do it? How do they manage a STRONG CEO properly?
They adhere to all IRS regulations. They annually hire and fire the CEO. They retain two third-party auditors. One for program evaluation. One for financial oversight. They evaluate me using third-party data. Not simply my quarterly reports.
Let me challenge you to watch the short video above. WARNING: See real live board members being paid for their service. Can you imagine sharing a video that says, “Watch board members being paid?” We’re going to be viral in a New York minute.
Great Nonprofit Board Members Perform Two Services Only – ADVICE and ACCOUNTABILITY was first posted at JimmyLaRose.com
Jimmy LaRose is the author of RE-IMAGINING PHILANTHROPY and is co-founder of National Associations of Nonprofit Organizations & Executives