It seems to me almost all nonprofits whether faith-based or secular think if they can just hammer out a good Mission/Purpose Statement (What It Does), Vision Statement (What It Will Become), and Values Statement (What It Believes), then they have pretty much got things covered and can move on to planning, execution, operations. They feel with those documents (along with their articles of incorporation and by-laws) they have all their paperwork done and are ready for smooth sailing. Well, I’m here to tell you, not so much!

When I am asked to help a board become more effective, it usually has all these documents in place yet there still is confusion, perhaps animosity, and poor board performance. Roles blended together, unclear expectations, murky responsibility and accountability. All this results in a lot of wasted energy, poor execution, sore egos, and bad feelings. And, all of this is avoidable.

The one area so many organizations miss is a focus on governance issues. “Governance” is the way decisions are made and the way things are carried out in the organization.  It describes certain responsibilities, expectations, and duties. It is the board speaking to the organization on how it wants to see things done.

Successful organizations, from nonprofits to Fortune 500 members, all have a governance committee and governance documents-some times called Board Policies Manual. Many firms publish their governance documents on their website.Subjects covered include board structure and process, CEO-ED relationship, limitations on certain authorities and executive parameters, and more.

An effective governance model consists of a governance committee at the board level and is as important as any other board committee. I’ll talk more about this committee in future articles, but for now, understand that this committee’s chair probably is the most important director, aside from the board president himself.

There is a lot of material out on the subject of governance.  One terrific book that goes into great and clear detail is Good Governance for Nonprofits  by Fredric Laughlin and Robert Andringa.

My recommendation is to get, read, and use this book to see how you can get everyone back on the same page, everyone working together. And, if you’d like to discuss this more, call me and let’s talk.