10 New Year’s resolutions for nonprofit boards – Five things to START doing

Bell ringersAlmost Happy 2015!!  I hope you are ringing in the New Year tonight with loving family or good friends.

January 1st, brings the annual time for resolutions.

Here in New England USA, we’re bracing for the coming of deep winter’s cold and snowy weather.

But lengthening days are a reminder that Spring is just round the corner. My resolutions touch on the darkness and the rebirth of your board’s great potential.

Between my post today and tomorrow, I’ll share 10 resolutions that will help make your board more effective and board work more satisfying.

Today, Five Things To Start Doing.

1. Be intentional about your board practices.

Great boards don’t just happen: they come about through ongoing attention to the effectiveness of board structures, recruitment and action. Try developing a shared vision of how your board can add real value to your organization – then work hard to carry that out.

2. Learn together.

In our dynamic, fast paced world, it’s hard to individually keep up with changes in our societies, our communities, our missions, our clients, and trends in the nonprofit and for-profit sectors. Build time into board work to explore the future and its implications for your mission and your organization. You can start by unlocking the variety of knowledge of the folks sitting around your board table.

3. Be laser-focused on your theory of change and social impact.

No public charity can afford any more to coast on good feelings because they are doing lots of stuff. The stuff you do needs to matter. How do you know whether the stuff your organization is doing is having the impact you desire? See resolution 2 above. And remember, an imperfect measure of the right thing is better than a perfect measure of the wrong thing…or no measures at all.

4. Create transforming experiences for every board member.

We all want passionate, engaged and dedicated board members, right? I’m a believer that the experience of being on the board should deepen the commitment of every member. Here are a few ways: give them board work that is meaningful; help them participate in emotionally touching insider experiences; give them access to people, information and situations they can’t find anywhere else, and help them create satisfying connections with all those other fascinating folks around the board table.

5. Ask each board member what they would like to achieve through their board service.

Try asking each director in a private conversation: “When your term is up, what would you like to look back on and take pride in having helped accomplish for our organization?” Some members may want to shepherd development of your next strategic plan. Some may want to help transform recruitment or board meeting discussion. One or two might take on leadership of your upcoming campaign. Then collaboratively create pathways and support for those individuals to work on achieving their aspirations.

So those are my first five resolutions. Tomorrow I’ll share my remaining resolutions for your board  –  Five Things To Stop Doing.

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