Can humans serve as successful board members?
Time to revive this oldy. It seems the preaching about the failures of human board members is reaching a crescendo.
I’ve been thinking a lot about our expectations of volunteer board members. When you look at the law of most states, the description of what boards do ususally runs to something like this: Manage the affairs of the corporation.
That’s not a lot of guidance. So our sector experts have stepped in to fill the gap.
But, have we taken it too far? When I read the lists of what boards and their members should be doing, I wonder if any mere mortal is up to the task of serving on a nonprofit board.
- Give us time, lots of it. (Most nonprofits want attendance at a monthly board meeting, a monthly committee meeting, and whatever out-of-meeting time it takes to achieve the tasks a board member has been assigned.)
- Give us money. As much as they can.
- Get money. As much as they can.
- Develop an in depth understanding of the technical issues facing this particular organization
- Understand the nonprofit’s financial structure AND to read complex (and sometimes incomprehensible) financial statements
- Understand the laws and regulations governing public charities
- Be strategic thinkers and prescient forecasters
- Connect us with community resources
- Advocate for our organization
- Attend our special events
- Represent our nonprofit at the events of others
- Know and support staff
- Evaluate the Executive Director
- Schmooze donors
- Master group process
- Show leadership and speak up
- Lead others
- Understand complex parliamentary procedures such as Robert’s Rules of Order
- Expose themselves to some legal risk
- Be responsible for the futures of real people, whether clients or staff
- Hold each other accountable
What do you think? Can humans be board members?
What would it look like to right size board expectations for busy volunteers?
More to come.