August 3, 2017

6 Signs of an Effective Board (article)

CBIZ helps nonprofits manage their boards.Whether your organization has an effective board can have a major impact on the fortunes of your not-for-profit. A good board with a wide variety of skills may lead your not-for-profit to new heights.

Although responsibilities of the board may vary among not-for-profits, a board is generally entrusted with determining and fulfilling its mission and complying with laws and regulations while mitigating potential risks. Board roles include securing, supporting and evaluating the executive directive and monitoring the organization’s financial performance. Given the responsibility, your board should be evaluating itself from time-to-time to see if improvements could be made.  Ask yourself the questions below to see how your board rates.

Does Your Board:

Focus on ‘The Big Picture’ Rather than Minutiae?

While a board member may get involved in programs or administrative activities, his or her duties as a board member are to advise and consult. The board’s role is to supervise and evaluate one person, the executive director. Boards that focus more on the big picture are more likely to recognize warning signs before a crisis erupts. Board members should consider whether the board’s mission is being fulfilled, the board is spending the most time on the more significant tasks and if there are ways for the board to operate better and more efficiently.

Recognize its Top Priorities During Board Meetings?

It may be simple, but an effective board works from an agenda so that wasted time is kept to a bare minimum. Board members should be using tools—like dashboards—to identify, anticipate and prepare for future issues and opportunities.

Offer Growth Opportunities to Staff Members?

One of the ways a board can help its not-for-profit organization is to focus on programs and initiatives that create stability within the organization. Generally, the best way to achieve stability is to ensure management provides employees with a means for developing, both professionally and personally.

Think Before it Acts?

When directors disagree with management, each tries to grasp the other’s position so the situation can be resolved fairly and expeditiously. The effective board maintains a culture, starting at the top, that allows both board and staff members to operate in a friendly environment where they feel free to voice their opinions without fear of reprisal.

Value Teamwork and Inclusion?

Boards should be comprised of members who are experienced in law, accounting and problem-solving and who reflect the organization’s stakeholders. Try to foster teamwork among these high-profile members. The goal is to achieve the organization's objectives by utilizing the talents of each board member.

Regularly Evaluate Itself and Keep Improving?

Boards should review the organization's mission annually and re-energize both the organization and the board through various activities. Conduct open discussions about what worked and what didn’t throughout the year. Seek outside expertise, if needed, and look for best practices to bring to the organization.

For More Information

If you have specific comments, questions or concerns about your board, please contact us.

Copyright © 2017, CBIZ, Inc. All rights reserved. Contents of this publication may not be reproduced without the express written consent of CBIZ. This publication is distributed with the understanding that CBIZ is not rendering legal, accounting or other professional advice. The reader is advised to contact a tax professional prior to taking any action based upon this information. CBIZ assumes no liability whatsoever in connection with the use of this information and assumes no obligation to inform the reader of any changes in tax laws or other factors that could affect the information contained herein.

CBIZ MHM is the brand name for CBIZ MHM, LLC, a national professional services company providing tax, financial advisory and consulting services to individuals, tax-exempt organizations and a wide range of publicly-traded and privately-held companies. CBIZ MHM, LLC is a fully owned subsidiary of CBIZ, Inc. (NYSE: CBZ).

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