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Does Your Nonprofit Have Formal “Board Policies?”

All too often, nonprofit leaders are frustrated that board members are not as involved as they should be, and expect board members to be “mind-readers” – they are just supposed to “know” what to do.

Board members are volunteers who have accepted the opportunity to serve on your board, and they are there to help. More often than not, frustration arises due to lack of clear communication and setting of expectations.

Every nonprofit board of directors should have a “Board Policies and Expectations” document that is understood and agreed upon by everyone. It doesn’t have to be very complex, but it should be comprehensive, and include-

  1. Board meeting attendance requirements
  2. Committee participation requirements
  3. Attendance to events
  4. A “give or get” policy
  5. A “gift acceptance” policy
  6. A Conflict of Interest statement

They also need a clear understanding of their duties – the duties of care, loyalty, and obedience – in overseeing the organization’s work.

A great time to write and adopt board policies is at an annual retreat or special meeting, where sometimes an outside facilitator is helpful. A committee of staff and board members can create the document in advance, and have an open discussion during the meeting, then later, put it to a vote.

This process doesn’t have to be painful at all, and can greatly improve the functioning of the board and take the organization to the next level.  Do you have thoughts on this subject? I’d love to hear from you!

Wishing you greater nonprofit abundance and success.