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By Amy Schiffman, ACN Member
Let's focus on how you get to a professionalized, focused, strategic board – one that concerns itself with capacity building and is able to help the organization withstand troubling times. As a fundraiser, you might think I’d be most concerned with your resource development committee, but you would be wrong. As a consultant who has spent over 25 years working with nonprofits to build sustainable futures, I believe that your board development committee (aka committee on trustees/nominating/by-laws/governance) is the single greatest asset on your board – no contest. And it’s the key to a great fundraising program, because if the governance committee is not doing its job, it’s likely nothing else is working.
What do I mean by “not doing its job?” If the governance committee is either a) not meeting, b) not well managed or c) has no idea what it’s there to do, it’s not far-fetched to assume that your standing board committees aren’t in great shape, either. Why? Well, let’s review the governance committee role and function and then revisit that question.
It is the job of the governance committee to promote, maintain, and ensure the health and well-being of the board of directors. This work generally focuses on four to five major areas. They include:
1. Helping to ensure board members know what their job is – this includes standing board committees:
2. Ensuring a healthy board member pipeline and a diverse representation of voices:
3. Helping to educate, professionalize and build team spirit:
4. Setting goals and evaluating the board’s effectiveness
The board should self-assess on an annual basis, both as a team and as individuals. If you’re not setting goals and taking the time to determine whether or not you’ve reached them, how will you evaluate success? How will you identify challenges and opportunities for growth?
5. Ensuring healthy leadership succession
So now back to our question. Why is this committee so critical? If the governance committee is doing its job, then the rest of the board is engaged in meaningful committee work, board members are focused on capacity building, and the board is provided with the training and resources they need to do their jobs well. If the governance committee is either dysfunctional or inoperative – well – I’m guessing you know what happens. If that feels a little too familiar, let’s give your board development committee the role description I’ve outlined above. It’s a start. J
Amy Schiffman is president and CEO of Evolve Giving Group. She and her rock star team can be found at www.evolvegivinggroup.com so feel free to reach out with comments or questions.
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