April 30, 2015 \ Emma Freter
Nonprofit Board Responsibilities

Last week, I had the pleasure of attending a Women in Development of Greater Boston meeting while Rachel and Geoff were filming in DC. The topic of discussion focused on building a healthy relationship with your board in order to strengthen the effectiveness of the work of your organization.

The panelists included Sherif Nada, who represented “The Board,” Rita Fuerst Adams from the viewpoint of “The Consultant,” and Katie Connolly, who provided the perspective of the “Chief Development Officer.” Below are a few of my takeaways.

As an extra little bonus, I’ve also included above a short interview we did with Abbie von Schlegell, also on the subject of nonprofit board responsibilities. But back to the takeaways from last week…

What are your needs?

This should be the first question. When in the process of picking a board member, really think about what are the needs of your organization:  Do you need someone with strong fundraising skills? Do you need a creative powerhouse? How about a board member who has expertise in event planning? What kind of skills are you looking for someone to bring to the table?

Writing down a prioritized list of what your organization needs, skill-wise, will help you pick the right person for the job.

Everyone has a part to play

This is another key thing to keep in mind. In your board, what skills does each member posess? Tap into those skills and utilize them. Highlighting the best skills of each individual member will allow them to feel good about the work of your organization. They will have a sense of ownership, which in turn will help motivate board members to perform to the best of their abilities.

Finding or creating ways for board members to use their strongest personal and professional skills will help build a stronger connection to your non-profit, and they will feel as though they have a personal commitment to the organization and the mission.

Be a leader!

When working with your board members, be upfront about your expectations. Make sure that the members have a clear understanding of the mission and values of your non-profit so that they will know their role. Be vocal! Board members can bring a lot to the table and have the best intentions, but if you don’t tell them very clearly where you want to take your organization, they cannot contribute fully to the cause.