A successful board is one of the biggest keys to a nonprofit businesses’ success. Here, the business law attorneys at SLH discuss ways to choose the best board for your nonprofit.
Consider the Size and Diversity of Your Board
There are many factors that one should consider when choosing a successful nonprofit board. Due to the nature of nonprofits, there is more at stake than the bottom line: there is also an ethical imperative to choosing a nonprofit board that will work for the needs and purposes of the nonprofit organization. The charitable or public good mission of the nonprofit must be kept in mind while creating a board, and only individuals who are dedicated and deeply aware of the responsibilities that come with being a member should be selected. Members often dedicate a large amount of time and money to the nonprofit, and consequently should be chosen based on their desire to play an active role within the board.
While the average board size is 16 members, this is not a hard-and-fast number: a board’s size should be based on the needs of the nonprofit, and therefore some will require fewer or more members. The diversity of the board should also be a critical factor in your decision process, as differences in age, gender, race and experience, among other characteristics, will ensure that decisions are based on varying viewpoints and made based on diverse judgment. A successful board should have a mix of new and experienced board members, as well as several younger and older voices.
Focus on Knowledge Expansion and Different Points of View
Establishing a board with a range of people from various careers, experience levels and with varying amounts of pertinent knowledge will help to ensure that your board is best able to meet the different needs of the nonprofit. If you already have an established board, take a general assessment of their strengths and weaknesses using personality or problem-solving tests, and then choose board members who help fill in any “gaps” in leadership. Maintaining a matrix to monitor board composition assures diversity.
Utilize Those Who Are Involved in the Community
Existing board members will play a critical role in choosing new candidates, but it is often the case that this process becomes a time-consuming affair. The best way to shorten the amount of time it takes to choose a new board member is to “pre-approve” several candidates chosen from prominent roles in the community, such as mayors, activists or community leaders. By using a pre-approval process, a discussion of the candidate’s merits and abilities can occur far faster, leading to an interview, application and final discussion occurring in a matter of weeks, as opposed to months. While it is not the primary indicator on the potential and personality of a board candidate, evaluating a candidate’s online presence to determine if they are suitable can also be a useful method of gathering insight in this stage.
The board is the backbone of a non-profit business, and as such, it is critical to choose a board with great care and caution. While business knowledge, experience and acumen are important characteristics of a member, even more critical for a nonprofit’s board specifically is ensuring that your business is shaped by a group of individuals who are enthused to promote positive outcomes in their community.
Let SLH Guide You Through Your Nonprofit Journey
At SLH, our business attorneys and advisors strive to help community nonprofit leaders develop the best infrastructure and processes possible for their business. We continually provide multi-faceted business advisory services, solutions and legal counsel to new and existing local nonprofits and businesses, and are eager to help Harford County businesses succeed. For more information, or to schedule a consultation contact us today by clicking here: http://www.slhslaw.com/contact/