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Building bridges: Effective strategies for strong board relations and development in nonprofits

Building bridges: Effective strategies for strong board relations and development in nonprofits

By on Mar 17, 2024 in Best Practices, Blog, Community Support, HR Consulting, Human Resources consulting, Non Profit |

A thriving nonprofit hinges on a robust partnership between its dedicated staff and the guiding hand of its board of directors.  While the board sets the strategic direction and provides governance oversight, the staff carries out the day-to-year operations that bring the mission to life. Here’s how to cultivate a strong and collaborative board, fostering efficient operations and continuous development:

Onboarding and orientation:  A well-designed onboarding program for new board members sets the stage for a positive and productive tenure.

  • Introduce new board members to key staff and committees: This fosters personal connections and a better understanding of roles and responsibilities.
  • Provide an in-depth overview of the organization’s mission, programs, challenges, and landscape: Equipping board members with this knowledge allows them to make informed decisions and ask insightful questions.
  • Connect them with experienced board members: Mentorship programs offer invaluable guidance and support, accelerating new members’ understanding of the organization and board dynamics.

Effective communication channels: Clear and regular communication is essential for a smooth working relationship between board and staff.

  • Establish communication protocols: Determine preferred methods [email, board portals, regular meetings] and frequency of communication based on the board’s needs and the organization’s pace.
  • Develop board communication materials: Prepare concise and informative reports highlighting key metrics, program updates, upcoming needs, and potential risks.
  • Create a space for open dialogue: Organize board meetings with opportunities for staff presentations, Q&A sessions, and discussions on strategic priorities.

Professional development for board members: Boards benefit greatly from ongoing learning and development opportunities.

  • Offer workshops or training sessions: These can cover topics such as nonprofit governance, fundraising best practices, legal updates relevant to the organization’s sector, and emerging trends in the non-profit landscape.
  • Curate resources: Provide board members with access to relevant articles, webinars, and conferences, keeping them informed on current issues and best practices.
  • Encourage board participation: Support their attendance in training programs that enhance their skills and knowledge, ultimately strengthening the board’s effectiveness.

Performance evaluation and feedback:   Just as staff performance is reviewed, the board’s effectiveness needs regular assessment.

  • Develop a board self-assessment tool : This allows board members to evaluate their own performance and identify areas for improvement, fostering a culture of continuous improvement.
  • Organize confidential feedback sessions: Gather staff input on board communication, effectiveness, and support needs. This can be facilitated by an independent third party to ensure anonymity and honest feedback.
  • Work with the board chair: Collaborate with the chair to develop actionable plans based on the feedback received, addressing weaknesses and capitalizing on strengths.

Recognition and appreciation:  Demonstrating appreciation goes a long way in building strong relationships.

  • Publicly acknowledge board members’ contributions: Highlight their dedication and expertise in newsletters, annual reports, or social media posts, fostering a sense of pride and accomplishment.
  • Organize board appreciation events: Host a luncheon, celebrate individual or collective achievements, and express gratitude for their time and expertise.
  • Create a culture of mutual respect: Foster an environment where both board and staff feel valued, and their contributions are recognized.

By implementing these strategies, non-profits can cultivate strong and collaborative boards. This fosters efficient operations, informed decision-making, and a shared commitment to achieving the organization’s mission and maximizing its social impact.

At Organizational Architecture, we have found that the services we provide to our private-sector clients are highly applicable to the nonprofit sector. Our expertise extends across various areas, including Human Resources consulting and talent acquisition. We have helped nonprofits develop and implement compensation programs, performance management systems, develop job descriptions, and launch leadership training.

Additionally, we have successfully recruited Executive Directors and professionals in Finance, Human Resources, Marketing, Operations, and other key roles for nonprofit organizations, just as we have done for our private-sector clients.

You can find out about our nonprofit projects here and other client work here. Want to know more?  Contact us!