Posted , by Kaitlin Robb, Consultant. Topic: Board Development.

At this year’s Association of Fundraising Professionals International Conference in San Antonio, I participated in two sessions on board leadership and how to create a dynamic, purposeful group of volunteers.

Kay Sprinkel Grace, spoke passionately about the need to create an environment where there is permission to innovate. Board members and staff should be encouraged to dream big, to make suggestions and to feel invested in the success of the organizations. Similarly, Simone Joyaux addressed the importance of asking meaningful questions of your board to stimulate dialogue and define their purpose.

In our work with nonprofits we often see too many board meetings consisting solely of committee updates and finance reports, leaving hardly any time for discussion. At the Curtis Group we always encourage board chairs to open the door for dialogue and ideas at meetings so it becomes routine practice to encourage conversation, not just run through a check list of updates.

As you think about your board and its integral role in leading your nonprofit, consider these questions.

• In general, would you say your board is effective? If not, how would you define the ideal effective board? What steps can you take to insure effectiveness?
• How can you structure your board meetings to create a culture that nurtures understanding, ownership and accountability?
• What is the role of staff in the process of enabling and developing the board? Are they doing all they can to foster innovation, inclusion and engagement?
• How can you avoid getting bogged down in committee work at board meetings, while at the same time making sure that members are informed and engaged in strategic dialogue?

We encourage you to review your board agenda, especially if the format hasn’t been changed for more than a year. Sit down with your board chair and discuss how to improve the meetings so that members can contribute in a meaningful way. To read more questions that the AFP presenter Simone Joyaux compiled, click here.

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