The role of a Board of Directors has remained the same over the years…for the most part.
A board sets the direction, raises funds, provides financial and program oversight, and ensures all laws and regulations are followed.
However, what has changed is the level of scrutiny many boards now conduct. Directors want to get behind the numbers and the program results so they can be an asset to you, not just a bunch of people who gather periodically. Here are some reasons for this:
- The rules and laws governing nonprofits are constantly changing. Boards have had to step up to ensure rules are being complied.
- While funding is still available, directors must ensure their agencies have a clear and compelling story to tell others backed by a succinct mission statement that differentiates themselves from everyone else. Sounding like every other agency will get you nowhere.
- As ambassadors, each director must be ready to offer an “elevator speech” that engages others. To do this, they need to be very conversant in all that is happening around the agency.
- High-value board members join boards to make a difference. They dig into details, they ask tough questions, and they can tell when something doesn’t seem right.
Another change in the role of a board of directors is their amount of planning for the future.
Boards are now realizing that they need to think about sustainability, so they are willing to approve important financial investments that will pay off in the long run. They are pondering those “what if” questions, imagining what their operation environment will look like in five years, and how to effectively prepare.
In other words, they are thinking ahead, not just about the last or next quarter.
What will clients need in 5 years in order to succeed? How can the agency operate better over the next five years? What are the biggest threats and opportunities to address? Things change too quickly and dramatically to simply put the agent on auto-pilot.
Finally, board members today will get to know the staff and your team. This can be a bit unnerving, especially if a director forgets they are a director, not a senior leader of the agency. Nonetheless, your board members can be much more valuable to the agency and you if they fully understand your clients, their needs, and how you are going about fulfilling them.
So, while the specific duties of a board of directors have not significantly changed, the way they carry out those duties is much different than they were 10 years ago. Your board must change with the times, embody the future, and trust the process.
Ready to Lead Your Nonprofit Better?
From the Inside Out can you help you create a bigger impact with your agency. Discover how to lead yourself, your team, and your board. Put it all together and learn how to successfully lead positive change. Download Chapter 1 free!