6 characteristics of the best nonprofit boards

A proactive, involved board is a tremendous asset to a nonprofit organization. Especially with increasing competition for donation dollars, the role board members play has a significant impact on the organization’s bottom line and sustainability. Here are six best practices that contribute to the cohesiveness and stability of boards:

  1. Focus on the mission. A board that fully supports the mission with involvement in activities naturally promotes the organization in the community.
  2. Set expectations. Require attendance at meetings and events, a signed code of ethics and fundraising participation. Be sure that expectations and responsibilities are in a written document, available for all.
  3. Participate in the operations of the organization sometime during the year. This practice facilitates relationships between board members and staff and gives the board member a greater understanding of the day-to-day workings of the organization.
  4. Diversify board make up with varying ages, business skills and community networks. Provide opportunities for training about the organization and emphasize ways to leverage the contributions of all individuals.
  5. Meet regularly. Monthly meetings are typically best. Use the advantages of technology, such as Skype, to increase attendance opportunities as needed.
  6. Place a priority on governance with integrity. Eliminate potential conflicts of interest with independent board members (no employees or vendors).

A well-functioning board sets the tone for the organization. Commitment, involvement and focus combined with clarity of expectations make for a smoother running organization and pave the way for the mission’s success.