Serving on a well-focused nonprofit board can be immensely
rewarding; serving on a disorganized one can feel like cruel and unusual
punishment. Nonprofit Governance: The
Why, What, and How of Nonprofit Boardship (Corby Books) gives nonprofit
executives and board members a practical guide. The authors are Thomas J.
Harvey, director of Mendoza’s Master of Nonprofit Administration program, and
John Tropman of the University of Michigan.
Here are insights from Tom Harvey:
What makes a successful board meeting?
Start with the right people—ones who care about the mission
and who can bring something to the table, whether talent or treasure. Have
everyone commit to a planning retreat once a year where the mission is
re-addressed. When you have new members or leaders, this builds community and
helps people work through authority problems.
It is important to streamline the board meeting. For boards
that meet regularly, no one wants to meet longer than one and a half hours.
Start with the perfunctory items, then the serious business to pass
resolutions. The last part of the meeting is the time to do strategic
thinking—an open-ended discussion of what is going on in the community and how
your group may be involved.
How can you avoid meetings were people arrive late or don't show up?
With a good, authoritative chair and by following rules of
order, absenteeism and tardiness will drop—
Our book’s appendix has a streamlined Robert’s Rules of Order. If you let mavericks get control, you lose
good board members because they get burned out. And keep your focus: At the end
of every meeting of the best board I was ever on, we reviewed our seven stated
values and discussed how we addressed them today.