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Governance & Boards

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The board of directors is central to the success of a nonprofit organization. The board provides oversight, expertise, support, connections to stakeholders and community leaders, and a long-term perspective.

The executive and the board need to partner since their success depends on each other. A lack of clarity about the role and focus of the board is a bigger threat to an organization than lack of funding.

Review the questions below to see if your board exhibits these indicators of good governance:

    • Do you have a well-defined mission statement that guides the organization's decision making?
    • Is your board engaged and attentive to its responsibilities and to the organization's needs?
    • Does your board have the necessary characteristics, community connections, and experience?
    • Do board members have a common understanding of their role and responsibilities?
    • Does the board focus on long-term strategy and oversight of the organization rather than management decisions?
    • Are board members providing support to both the executive and the organization through personal giving, fundraising, and representing the organization?
    • Has the board clearly and effectively allocated authority to the executive director so that day-to-day decisions can be made without interference from the board?
    • Is the executive director evaluated annually using clearly defined performance measures that are agreed to in advance?

    Check out the 501 Commons' Board Best Practices guide for assistance in defining board roles, establishing board policies, and putting a board self-assessment in place. 501 Commons and many excellent service providers in our Resource Directory can help you plan a board retreat, develop a plan for board recruitment, or make other improvements in governance that will strengthen your organization.

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    • Design and facilitation of board retreats
    • Board recruitment
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