Written By: Danny
By Danny Maier
“They are just always in the weeds,” lamented my friend about her board. “I can’t get them focused on the real strategic questions of our organization.”
It is a common refrain. The issue is really two-fold: board meeting agendas and understanding roles. Are you building your board meeting agenda properly and do they truly know their role?
Six months later, my friend’s board had a much more strategic mindset, simply because she implemented two simple steps.
Step One: Consent Agenda
With the agreement of her board chair, she placed the “operational” elements of meeting agendas into a consent agenda that was quickly and swiftly approved so that the bulk of the meeting time was spent on critical strategic questions of the organization. “It was an easier transition than I thought, and they are no longer deep into the operation issues that are my responsibility,” she added.
Step Two: Invested Board Members
Think about your nonprofit board as similar to a for-profit corporate board. Most everyone on a for-profit board is a major investor in that corporation. They have a financial stake in the company meeting its goals. As a board, they want to maximize return to the investors. Period. They all have ‘skin’ in the game.
Does your nonprofit board? Are they all investors (donors) in your mission? Are they significant investors or have access to the significant investors in your organization? Are they seeking to maximize mission return to the investors? Do they have skin in the game or are they simply opinion providers?
This may sound like a question of semantics, but it is not. Once everyone on your board sees themselves as a major investor (and by that I mean donor) to your organization, their focus sharpens, and they are an investor. A stakeholder. A caretaker. A strategic thinker.
Welcome to a strategic board.