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  • Writer's pictureAlison Finstad

Is Your Board Bored? The Importance of High Impact Board Engagement.

Updated: May 28

At its very foundation, the success of a nonprofit rises and falls on the quality of its board.


A nonprofit who has valuable programming and plenty of funds will eventually run dry if the board isn’t steadily growing and evolving.


Certainly, the Executive Director plays a major role in the momentum of the organization, but ultimately, the board has responsibilities that must be fulfilled for the organization to thrive.


What I see as a consultant are organizations that need to raise funds immediately but are forever playing “catch up” with their budgets because they have not invested the necessary time in developing their boards, and they are too busy putting out fires to make board development a priority.


But an engaged board could help avoid those fires in the first place, so it’s a chicken-and-egg question.


My advice? Develop that board today.


Not only are boards a sustainable source of funding, but they introduce the nonprofit to other potential investors; they offer strategic guidance, skills, and knowledge to staff leadership; they help steer the culture; they evaluate the Executive Director and themselves; they safeguard the organization from legal issues; they ensure the organization stays financially and missionally on track; and if needed, they roll up their sleeves and help the staff in their work.


It takes a reasonable investment of time and resources to keep a fresh and engaged board, but it is unquestionably worthwhile. Best-in-class practices include:


  1. Going through a board development process to create the ultimate board, identifying and inviting the right people with the right attributes, skill sets, networks, and affection for the cause,

  2. Establishing a nominating committee who perpetually keeps their eyes on the horizon for new board members (all board members can help with this, really!),

  3. Welcoming new board members with an onboarding process and mentorship by a seasoned board member,

  4. Setting clear expectations for board involvement and financial investment,

  5. Keeping the mission of the organization front-and-center at board meetings, and sharing stories of client transformation,

  6. Allowing board members to choose one or more committees that make meaningful use of their skill sets,

  7. Recognizing board members for their contributions as well as important milestones,

  8. Offering opportunities (retreats, luncheons) for board members to get to know each other better,

  9. Honoring term limits, and ultimately,

  10. Being selective about who is invited to the board.


Few things can propel a nonprofit to the next level as well as a flourishing board. An energized board plus a clear strategic plan will open up funding opportunities. Being able to sit with a prospective investor (introduced by an engaged board member) and share your vision (succinctly laid out in a strategic plan) is a recipe for financial success and sustainability.


If your nonprofit could use some help navigating board development, please contact us.





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