How to Build an Effective Board of Directors for Non-Profit Organizations

by Carola Finch
An effective non-profit board requires skilled and dedicated members, communication and organization

An effective non-profit board requires skilled and dedicated members, communication and organization

A board of directors can be built for a non-profit organization that has effective self-management. The board should develop a structure for the organization, and establish procedures to manage routine tasks and create policies. Non-profit organizations first decide what qualifications and expertise they need in a board member, and how many members are required. Nonprofits help their new board members by having clear expectations of what the board member's role will be in the organization.

A chairman of the board must be selected. Choose someone who is a strong leader, disciplines when needed and is willing to accept responsibility for failures. The chairman ensures that activities like the board selection process are effective.

Decide how large the board should be by determining the type of expertise that is required to fulfill the goals of the organization. Look for business people, professionals, government officials and possibly members of the community who are qualified, enthusiastic about the organization's mission. Explain the board member's role in the organization in a job description.

Look for qualities in a board member that will enhance the organization. Effective board members objectively get all the facts and consider several opinions before making a decision. The decisions of objective board members are not influenced by personal relationships.

Determine a set time of service that works best for the organization, such as two or three years. You can stipulate that members and officers can only be elected for two consecutive terms, if desired.

Set up task forces and committees that will recommend actions to the entire board. Ask a board member to serve on a task force or committee. A new member can take on one appointment, while more experienced members can handle two appointments.

Schedule a series of board meetings up to a year in advance. Make sure that the agenda and information related to the meeting is circulated to the board members several weeks in advance. The meeting's information materials should cover the subject matter clearly and thoroughly.

Ensure that goals are clear and achievable. Set a plan in motion by asking board members to commit to a schedule that allows changes and corrections to be made by certain dates. Monitor the plan to make sure that it meets its deadlines.

About the Author

Carola Finch began freelancing for newspapers and magazines in 1976. She specializes in writing about people with disabilities, business, Christianity and social issues. Finch studied journalism and communications at Red River Community College.

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