As certain as the ball drops in New York’s Time Square and the peach drops at Woodruff Park, most nonprofit executives and board members make New Year’s resolutions.
Many of us start the year with resolutions to hopefully make us healthier, wealthier and wiser. If you are like me, you woke up January 1st with the sensation that 365 days lay ahead of us and felt genuine in our goals to make the most of each day. On the morning of January 1, while finishing our New Year cards, I turned to my husband and said, “Let’s grab the New Year and squeeze the absolute most out of 2018!”
Regardless of whether January is the start of a new fiscal year for your organization, this is an ideal time to ask your board to set some resolutions for itself. And, unlike exercise routines and diets that so many of us set aside, we should ask the board to schedule specific actions for each month that make the board stronger and better able to guide the organization.
As your board considers its own resolutions, the suggestions below may help start the board-level conversation.
Board members resolve to attend at least 83% of all board meetings. This is ten meetings for boards convening monthly and five for boards gathering six times a year (note: If you don’t believe board attendance is important, read this related article “6 Reasons Board Attendance Matters”).
The board and staff resolve to develop an annual calendar with all board meetings and major events. Once the calendar has been published, meeting dates won’t be changed to accommodate an officer, a staff member, or the landlord.
Board members resolve to declare in writing the amount they plan to give this fiscal year, including the approximate timing and method of the gifts.
Board members resolve to declare their fundraising goals for the year, including the fundraising opportunities they will use to achieve this goal.
Staff resolve to provide board members with all meeting materials with sufficient time for board members to review before the meeting, and board members resolve to review meeting packets before the meeting.
The board resolves to evaluate the executive director in a timely manner and also resolves to conduct a meaningful evaluation of itself and its members.
Board members and staff resolve to respond to each other in a timely manner. This includes returning required organizational documents without multiple reminders (such as an annual conflict of interest disclosure).
Staff resolve to accurately track achievement of board goals and provide regular updates to individual members, as well as the entire board.
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The board resolves to celebrate its successes – both as individuals and as a governing body.
Whether this is a champagne toast at the end of a meeting to celebrate a successful event or praise circle for a board member who has gone above and beyond – find ways to celebrate that are appropriate to your organization.
Remember that board service is supposed to be something we enjoy and relish – not a hard slog through a bloody battlefield. So as individual board members, let’s all find ways to find true joy in our service while being the board members our organizations deserve.
These are just a few suggested topics that will revolutionize your board if they are not already standard practice. In order to fulfill these board resolutions, be certain to include them in your annual board plan or your organization’s annual schedule. Some resolutions, such as attendance or giving, can be reviewed at each meeting. Other resolutions, such as evaluating the executive director, can be scheduled now.
This year will pass as quickly as the one before it, and we can make choices now that influence whether our boards will be stronger by the end of the year. And remember: a strong board will help your organization achieve its mission!
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