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James C. Galvin, Ed.D.
All nonprofit organizations have a board that
represents the owners
We have numerous opportunities to serve
on or for boards
Most boards are ineffective and meetings
are frustrating for members
Board members can learn to work together
and govern well
Transition to policy governance for greater
board effectiveness
Transition to policy governance for
greater board effectiveness
Board
Type
Written
Policies
Best
Practices
Identify what type of board you are and
what type you want to be
Board
Type
Written
Policies
Best
Practices
Most members have not received any
formal training in governance
Most members have never observed a
board governing well
We all have a mental model for how a board
is supposed to function
All boards fall somewhere between over-
controlling and out of control
Managing
Board
Governing Board
Ratifying
Board
Working
Board
Disengaged
Board
Boards tend to fluctuate between micro-
managing and rubber-stamping
Policy governance presents clear,
tangible benefits for organizations
Policy governance keeps boards
pointed in the right direction
Policy governance is useful for helping
a bad situation become better
Policy governance provides a way to
reduce political in-fighting
Acts 15: 24-29Acts 23: 1-10
Formulate policies as a board and
capture them in writing
Board
Type
Written
Policies
Best
Practices
Board policies are recorded in a
document that belongs to the board
Board policies fit between By-Laws and
standard operating procedures
Articles of
Incorporation
By-Laws
Board
Policies
Standard
Operating
Procedures
Policies guide decisions even when
they are unwritten
Policies should be written down and
organized in one place
Organizational ends policies describe
what the organization is for
Executive limitations policies define
what is out of bounds
Board-staff delegation policies clarify
lines of authority and accountability
Board process policies describe how
the board is to function
Board policies cover four important
categories of decision-making
Board policies that are well-written
meet five standards
Adopt best practices of governance
from other effective boards
Board
Type
Written
Policies
Best
Practices
Rob, pillage, and steal best practices
from other boards
Email eliminates the cost of postage
and unnecessary handouts
The consent agenda saves precious
time and eliminates dull reports
A dashboard of key indicators
communicates numerical data quickly
Standing committees should be used
sparingly
Hand signals help keep discussion on
track during the meeting
Conduct a process check at the end of
every board meeting
A private board website assures easy
access to all pertinent information
Use a web survey service to gather
opinions from staff, board, donors
Refreshments keep board members
alert and awake
Folding seminar tables work better than
a large, traditional board table
Bible study and prayer help board
members grow in faith
Hang time allows you to build
a caring community
Board retreats allow for relationship
building and training
Schedule a personal appointment to
determine level of financial involvement
Annual review for the pastor should
focus on ends and limitations policies
An annual By-Law review prevents
boards from getting off track
Board self-assessment keeps boards
fresh and disciplined
A perpetual calendar will help keep a
board on task and policies fresh
A board orientation program helps new
members contribute sooner
Coaching can strengthen the board
chair and improve group process
You are feeling frustrated with your
board and want better governance
Transition to policy governance for
greater board effectiveness
Board
Type
Written
Policies
Best
Practices
G&A
www.galvinandassociates.com

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Board governance for Nonprofits

Editor's Notes

  1. Required by law to incorporate, most states insist on President and secretary too. For profit corporations, owners are the shareholders. In not-for-profits, moral owners can be funders, community, recipients, or group of stakeholders.
  2. What boards have you served on in the past? What other agencies in your community have a board?
  3. Time spent on the trivial Short-term perspective Reactive stance Reviewing, rehashing staff work Leaky accountability Diffused authority.
  4. We know how to get a sports team to work as a team We do team-building at work to get everyone on the same page It’s like we get amnesia when we walk into church What are some things you would normally do for team-building? Why don’t we do this for governing boards?
  5. There is no other model, no competition Traditional approach is a collection of practices
  6. When have you observed a board governing well?
  7. Where do new board members get their idea of what a board is supposed to do? I think it’s from television and movies
  8. Left is more hands on and the right is more hands off Working board: ex launching a new CPC Managing board ex: YFC or YL chapter with young director Governing board ex: National ministry with 3 meetings a year Ratifying board ex: all members are major donors/patronage board Failing board ex: members aren’t prepared, disengaged, argumentative, toxic atmosphere in meetings
  9. Most boards tend to vacillate back and forth depending on conditions or inclination of various board members. How does this resonate with your experience?
  10. Politically-based: Acts 23:1-10 Voting Many voices Constituencies Power Scorekeeping Reactive Policy-based: Acts 15:24-29 Consensus One voice Organization Progress Monitoring Proactive
  11. This document helps the board to do its work
  12. Keep by-laws lean and mean Keep policies as general as the board feels comfortable Move detailed policies to the SOP manual, which belongs to the staff and does not need board approval
  13. “That’s the way we have always done things here” “You are going against one of our values as a church” “You didn’t know, well it’s sort of an unwritten rule around here”
  14. Put one person in charge of final copy Distribute revised versions electronically Consider posting latest and most up to date on website Consider one bound copy in church office for voters access
  15. Results, beneficiaries, cost How might we craft a global ends policy for a church?
  16. Always stated in the negative. Organize them by worry buckets. What are some examples?
  17. The rest of the staff should be invisible to the board.
  18. The Chair rules the board meetings, not the organization. I prefer Chair to congregational president for that reason.
  19. Start from outside and work in The global policy is always your first policy in each section
  20. Marks of good policies: Up-to-date Mean what they say Easily available Brief Comprehensive.
  21. When you see something or hear of something that another board does, “borrow” the idea. Don’t learn the hard way. Rob, pillage, and steal best practices to build a stronger board of directors.
  22. Going electronic only is controversial. Some people prefer paper in the meetings. Some do not have the computer skills to find files quickly. If you send reports by email, people can print their own copies or bring their laptop. Many CEOs include backup information just in case someone asks a question. One board I worked with received a 3-ring binder every meeting. Every board member can read the ministry and financial reports before the meeting instead of looking at them during the meeting.
  23. Everyone must do their homework for this to work. Place all of the reports in a pile and ask if anybody has a question about any of them. Receive the rest in one vote. Then go back and handle the questions or issues on the other reports.
  24. Create a dashboard for the organization by including all critical numbers and charts on one side of one sheet of paper. Use color and visual display of information. Code some measures are green, yellow, and red. Red items invite more intensive board discussion and scrutiny. Developing a balanced scorecard is one way to do this.
  25. Many think a board should have an executive committee and several sub-committees to divide up the work. Better to have no standing committees at all. They invite the work to be done twice. Story about PPC meeting and choosing a new sign. Ad hoc committees that meet once or for a short period are useful What are some situations when an ad hoc committee would be useful? Budget narrative, revenue target for budget, pastor or executive director salary, writing a policy draft.
  26. It’s tough to keep the board focused on doing board work. Time out, throw a “T” Stop sign on a card Simply raise your hand Are we engaged in board work right now or is this a matter for the staff to handle?
  27. Every board can check the quality of their process at the end of every board meeting. Ask questions like: Did we show a high-level of respect to each other? Did we work together as a team to do our work? Did we stick to board work and stay out of staff work? Problem board members will behave better if they know they will get called on bad behavior at the end of the meeting.
  28. How many of you have a website for your organization? Create a special password protected area for the board. Put all the documents they need in one place. The most recent version of the board policy manual Minutes and other historical documents Photo and short bio Photo of entire board on retreat
  29. Zoomerang or Survey Monkey charge low monthly fees. They both allow free surveys for small sample sizes. First, type in your questions, send out an email message, then check out the charts and graphs. A church board can survey the congregation, parents with children in the youth group, or key people in the community. Nonprofits can survey, clients, donors, or partner organizations.
  30. Coffee, tea, or water can make a difference. Story about getting a bottle of water halfway through a church board meeting. For snacks, stick with healthy foods, low sugar.
  31. Pews and lectern are the worst setup. Board table is next worst. Moveable tables in a U, square, or polygon is even better. Chairs in a circle is the most intimate setup.
  32. Most boards spend zero time in building relationships of trust. So all too often the trustees don’t trust each other. Boards should see themselves as a small group with a task. Start every meeting with Bible study and prayer. No board that does this has ever told me it was a waste of time. Read a book for spiritual growth together and discuss it. Tough issues are resolved faster if more time is spent building strong team relationships.
  33. There is something about food that breaks down barriers. Find ways to share a meal together. Just like a small group, board members can care for each other instead of having tense relationships and unproductive alliances.
  34. A retreat once a year, with or without a facilitator can be well worth the time. You can work on relationship building, team building, and skill building. You can have a one-day retreat without an overnight, but it usually works best if it is off-site. Strategic planning is best done in one long meeting rather than a series of once a month meetings.
  35. People in large organizations are reviewed annually by their boss and review their direct reports with some kind of system. If the CEO is responsible for the overall health and success of the organization, then the CEO’s success factors ought to be identical to the organization’s success factors. If the staff of an organization is in disarray and donations are falling, can a CEO still be commended for doing a good job and getting a good review for what he or she does?
  36. Review the By-Laws once a year. Review one set of policies each quarter at an appropriate time of year. Ends policies may require more than one session and represent the work of the board that is never finished.
  37. Once a year, conduct a self-assessment of the board to see if you are slipping into bad habits. Borrow an assessment tool or hire a resource person to conduct an evaluation of board process.
  38. A perpetual calendar tells you what major items should be on the board agenda throughout the year. It helps the board stay on top of what should be covered when. When to decide strategic goals? When to provide revenue target and budget narrative? When to approve annual budget? When to review policy sections?
  39. Train new board members before their first board meeting. If you have written board policies, study them together and answer any questions they may have. Have them read a book or several articles on governance. Make sure new member is clear on his or her role on the board.
  40. Most board chairs would love a chance to talk with a wise person about how to lead the board meetings and get advice on sticky situations