How can we Empower more Women to Lead our Major Nonprofits?

In the nonprofit sector, it is generally men who are the execs, CEOs or Board Leaders of larger organizations. Women tend to be execs of smaller organizations and fill the non-officer roles on boards. This dynamic begs the frequently discussed question: How can we shift this balance to ensure greater gender equity in nonprofit leadership roles?

Nonprofit Leadership in Numbers

The latest statistics reveal a stark reality: although women comprise as much as 48% of nonprofit executive board members, they are significantly underrepresented in leadership positions, with only 42% serving as executive board chairs. Moreover, a staggering three-quarters of employees in the nonprofit sector are women, yet when it comes to larger organizations, men predominantly assume the role of CEO.

Despite these disparities, there is undeniable evidence of women’s profound impact in the nonprofit sector. Notably, women often spearhead the inception of nonprofit organizations, with approximately 90% of nonprofits in the United States with budgets under a million dollars being led by women. These grassroots initiatives demonstrate women’s innate compassion and commitment to addressing local issues and fostering positive change within their communities.

Representation at Leadership Level 

Many nonprofits exist to improve the lives of women, children and other disadvantaged groups. For me, this is exactly why it’s so important to have women at the table where decisions are being made. 

Similarly, having a board that includes at least some representation of the people the organization serves can be really powerful. So how do we empower more women to ascend the career ladder to executive roles in larger nonprofits, while encouraging men to address the issues affecting their direct communities?

At Athena, I work with nonprofits of varying sizes – rather than entering into a binary gender debate, I believe we need to focus on fostering collaboration and inclusivity to drive meaningful change.

Allyship and Inclusivity 

One key strategy is to promote greater visibility and recognition of women’s contributions within nonprofit organizations. Highlighting the invaluable skills and expertise that women bring to the table can help shift perceptions and break down barriers to advancement. Additionally, implementing targeted mentorship and leadership development programs can provide women with the support and resources they need to thrive in leadership roles.

Furthermore, it’s crucial to encourage men to actively engage with local issues and advocate for gender equality within their organizations. By fostering a culture of inclusivity and allyship, men can play a pivotal role in dismantling systemic barriers and promoting gender equity in nonprofit leadership.

The Athena mission is to make the world a better place by strengthening cause-driven organizations through the development of dynamic Boards of Directors. Through collaborative efforts and a commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion, nonprofits can harness the full potential of their leadership teams to help drive positive social change.

Embrace Diversity to Empower a Positive Change

While the gender gap in nonprofit leadership may seem a daunting one, it also presents an opportunity for growth and transformation. Advancing women leaders in nonprofit can have a ripple effect on advancing leaders in all business sectors. By embracing diversity and empowering women to take on more leadership roles, nonprofits can cultivate more inclusive and effective organizations that are better equipped to address the complex challenges of our time.

As we scratch the surface of this topic, I would love to have you share your thoughts and reflections to this conversation.

Passion and Presence

I often get asked about the requirements of being a board member. And that’s a great question! Afterall, these folks are responsible for the leadership, vision, and long-term sustainability of amazing organizations that are committed to making our world a better place. 

So, many people are surprised when they learn that there really are no restrictions to who can serve on a nonprofit Board of Directors. There are a few states that have age requirements, but those can be easily circumvented through an agency’s ByLaws. So pretty much anyone can serve on a board. 

Who Can Serve?

That being said, there are some people who it would probably be a bad idea to put on a board. For example, anyone who has a conflict of interest could be a bad choice. This might be an employee, spouse of an employee, or anyone who could consistently gain financially from decisions made by the board. These folks would have to regularly recuse themselves from conversations, to the point where it might be difficult to be actively involved. Not only that, as the board members develop working relationships (which is a good thing!), it may be hard for other volunteers to make unbiased decisions due to their connections. 

Depending on the kind of board, the industry they are working in, and the longevity of the organization, individual boards may have specific needs. Boards often like to have someone with some business sense, content experts, or representation from the constituents they serve. But these are not legal requirements, and not everyone on the board will fall into one of the desired categories. 

Since there are no requirements in terms of skills, knowledge, experience, or other credentials – it begs the question, what does the organization and the board need from regular old people? I personally think that the two best things a person can bring to a board are attributes accessible to anyone. Those are passion and presence

Passion

When a board is looking for a new volunteer, I always tell them to look for passion first. Even if the organization really needs someone to help with their books, that should be secondary. If a volunteer is not passionate about the work, it’s going to be very easy for them to put the agency’s needs on the back burner. We want volunteers who care about the cause being addressed, not someone who has been talked into helping. 

This isn’t to say that people cannot develop a passion by learning more about the problem the agency is working to solve. Not being super passionate about a cause is not an automatic disqualifier. It just puts more pressure on the organization to educate and engage the new volunteer in understanding the work. 

Presence

The second component – presence – is something anyone can give to any organization. The simple (but not easy) act of being a mindful, thoughtful, present volunteer is one of the best things a volunteer can give to an agency. Because what a nonprofit really needs from their board is volunteers who take their role seriously and contribute in meaningful ways. 

Headspace (a free meditation app) defines being present as being focused on one thing — a conversation, a project, a task in hand — without distraction, without wanting to be somewhere else, without being in your head and lost in thought.

The nonprofit industry needs fully-present volunteers, committed to understanding their role and bringing thoughtful energy to the work of leading our nonprofit organizations. They do not necessarily need them to be an expert in the work they do, but they need volunteers to bring their opinions, their insights regarding the community and trends, and their critical thinking. These are all things that a volunteer can start contributing at meeting #1. There may be a lot of questions at first, and I always encourage volunteers to ask lots of them. If one person has the question, others can probably also gain insight from the conversation. 

Some people work at being present, for some it comes natural, and for others they may not give it much attention. So, how do we cultivate more presence of mind among governance volunteers? Here are a few ideas to try in board and committee meetings:

  • Kick off meetings with an opening thought
  • Create a segue from whatever volunteers had going on before the meeting, to the work of the meeting
  • Open with a mission moment
  • Consider implementing breathing exercises (here’s a great video on the power of breathwork) 
  • When it’s becoming clear that focus us waning, take a mindfulness break
  • Implement techniques like small group discussions or “all play” input to ensure everyone stays engaged
  • If you have other ideas for fostering presence in your board (or life), please share them with me!

When businesses are hiring, they often talk about the importance of hiring for attitude. This is because they believe they can train for everything else. Bringing on a governance volunteer is not much different. An organization can train and educate on the cause, the work, and the expectations. An organization usually needs the full engagement of their volunteers right away. “Hiring” for passion and presence means more engagement faster.

I love helping organizations to curate the board they need to advance the work of their organization. Email me at Kim@Athena-CoCo.com or schedule a Discovery Call if you would like to discuss ways to improve the health of a Board of Directors you know and love.

Kim is a mom, lover of being active and the outdoors, and helper of nonprofit leaders.
kim@athena-coco.com 

Red Flags to Watch For

When I write about nonprofit board governance I usually spend my time addressing current nonprofit leaders – either staff or volunteers. This article is for current leadership, and also for those who are thinking about joining the board of a nonprofit organization. 

I love connecting people to organizations that they care about. But serving on a board has to be about more than a passion for the cause. It’s a commitment that should be taken as seriously as a job. In order to make a good decision for yourself, you need to ask a lot of questions. What follows are questions and topics to dig into, so that you can make a great decision about how you donate your valuable time. 

When people get caught up in an organization that is a mess, they tend to become disenchanted with the whole nonprofit sector. And that’s just not fair. There are so many great agencies, working hard everyday, to make our communities and our world a better place. To make sure you don’t end up disillusioned by this sector, here are some red flags to look for when choosing where to serve:

  • “Nonprofit” is not the business plan
  • Agency lacks focus on the mission
  • People are undervalued
  • Fundraising comes first
  • Lack of board ownership
  • Organizations that don’t know who they are or what they need

Let’s dig into each of these issues and what to look for/ask about.

Nonprofit Business = Business

Despite the confusion caused by the title “nonprofit”, all nonprofit organizations are actual legit businesses. They have to make at least as much money as they spend each year. The term “nonprofit” is a tax designation from the IRS. It’s not a philosophy for how to run a business. 

In fact, many of these organizations generate a surplus. The difference comes in what they do with that money. A nonprofit organization is required to reinvest the surplus back into the organization. This could be in the form of equipment, supplies, salaries, training, facilities, investments, etc. With a for profit business, any surplus goes into someone’s pocket. 

Board members are responsible for the fiscal health of the organization. Before joining any board, ask a lot of questions about the agency’s finances. Even if their financial situation isn’t stellar, does the board have a plan to fix it? Is that the kind of problem-solving work you like to do? Avoid any board that has financial problems that they are refusing to address. 

Benefit the Community

Nonprofit organizations exist to make our world a better place. For profit organizations exist to make money for someone – the owner(s), shareholders, investors, etc. 

Governance volunteers are charged with making decisions that are in the best interest of the constituents served and the agency. This is why board members are volunteers. When money comes into the picture, there’s personal interest that may influence their decision making. Does the agency have a conflict of interest policy? 

Another thing to look for in this area includes ego driven leaders. Agencies with either staff or volunteer leaders who make themselves the center of the work can be extremely toxic. These leaders struggle to keep the focus on the cause. They make decisions based on how they will look/benefit, rather than what is best for the organization and its mission. 

Organization Values Its People

Reputable agencies believe in the importance of fair compensation for their employees. Just because someone works for a cause-driven business, it does not mean that they don’t need a livable wage. Caring about constituents at the expense of employees is a contradiction that should be examined. 

Young organizations sometimes hire or contract part-time staff to manage operations as they grow. This is fine, as long as they are not expecting full-time work on a part-time salary. Additionally, this should be a short-term solution, while the board figures out how to get to the level of staff leadership they need to be successful. 

Strategy Drives Fundraising

So far, I have never encountered a nonprofit that didn’t need money. It’s the nature of the game. Making our world a better place takes money. However, boards that focus on fundraising first are missing the point. Fundraising efforts need to be tied to strategies that have been developed to fulfill the mission. Without connecting those dots, it’s going to be extremely difficult to raise funds. 

Integrity

It is the job of the board to uphold the integrity of the organization. If something doesn’t seem right the board MUST speak up. By asking questions about accountability, generative discussions, and where the power of the organization lies, you’ll get a good idea about the board’s leadership. 

Red flags to listen for include any board that lets the staff totally run the show, unaddressed financial issues, lack of vision held by the board, and board meetings where the volunteers just come for a “sit & get”. 

Websites like Charity Navigator and GuideStar can help you with your research. These sites rate nonprofits based on their IRS compliance and verify good standing. They provide access to Form 990 data, giving you the ability to evaluate an agency’s financial health. These resources can help you decide if an organization is a good fit for you or not. 

Culture, Values, Structure, and Needs

Making a good decision about the kind of agency you want to volunteer with involves knowing yourself. What kind of culture do you want to be part of? What are your values and how do they align with those of the organization? Do you want to be part of building a young organization or will you be more comfortable with all the policies and procedures in place? Do the skills-based-needs of the agency align with your talents? 

Other things to consider include your tolerance for risk, what you want to get out of the experience, your time availability compared to the needs, and how you think you can make a difference. Just like every person is different, every organization is also different. Take the time to make sure you find one that aligns with your wants, needs, values and interests. 

None of this is meant to scare you away from governance work. It’s meant to give you the knowledge to ask good questions, get involved with reputable organizations, and have the impact that you want to have on your community! 

If you are on a board where you see some of these red flags, it doesn’t mean that you should quit and run away. However, you might want to start asking questions and using your influence to help move the agency in a positive direction. 

Every nonprofit is different and has unique needs and challenges. Email me at Kim@Athena-CoCo.com, or schedule a Discovery Call if you would like to discuss ways to advance your Board of Directors and the work of your agency. 

Kim is a mom, lover of being active and the outdoors, and helper of nonprofit leaders.
kim@athena-coco.com 

 

Where Do I Find Good Board Members?

This is BY FAR the most frequently asked question that I get. As if I have some secret lair where all the good governance volunteers hide. That question is followed closely by “How do I get my board members engaged?” and “What do I do with these people?” All of these questions are related. 

The fact is that someone who could be an amazing board member for one agency could be dismal for another organization. The needs of every single agency and every single Board of Directors is different. There is no “one size fits all” when it comes to finding board members. 

Some of the factors to consider when you think about the kind of volunteers you need for your board include:

  • Organizational duration
  • Organizational size
  • Future vision and plans
  • Specialized expertise required
  • Mission, cause and values

There are probably more, but let’s start by looking at these factors. 

Organizational Duration

 A young organization is going to have different needs than one that is established and has longevity. Newer organizations are often still figuring things out. They are in “build-mode,” where they might be working on crafting their mission, vision and values. If they have that stuff figured out, they might have moved on to developing policies and procedures or establishing fundraising strategies. 

A newer agency will need volunteers who are comfortable with ambiguity and working on figuring things out. Someone who likes to have all their ducks in a row would not necessarily be a good fit for a young nonprofit. On the other hand, that person may thrive with a more established organization looking for stability and unfaltering leadership. 

Organizational size

Smaller nonprofits tend to be local – addressing issues in their community. These agencies are probably looking to attract volunteers in that community, who have the expertise of understanding the environment, and passion for fixing critical social issues. 

92% of nonprofits have budgets under $1 million a year and 88% are under $500,000. The level of financial expertise and strategizing required to lead one of these organizations is not going to be as significant as what is required to lead a $20M agency. Thus making smaller nonprofits great places for “beginner board members” to learn the ropes of serving as a governance volunteer. 

Larger agencies are likely going to need volunteers who know the ropes when it comes to serving on a board. They may require specialized expertise, significant relationships, regional representation, and more. If an organization serves the entire country, they may be looking for volunteers from all over to represent different parts of their constituency. 

Future Vision & Plans 

Agencies focused on remaining small and local will have different needs than those looking to go nationwide or worldwide. Similarly, those that want to stay narrowly focused on one strategy will differ from those looking to attack an issue on several fronts. 

Any organization looking to make big changes will need to consider the kind of expertise and leadership that they will need. If building a facility is in the plan, realtors, architects, contractors and developers may be good prospects. Significant expansion could cause an agency to look for volunteers who have grown other businesses. And when a nonprofit is committed to going deep in one area, they might want to find someone who is a subject matter expert in that specific solution. 

Specialized Expertise 

As stated before, the vast majority of nonprofits are small businesses addressing local social issues. In many of these cases, all that is needed is a passion for making the community a better place. However, some agencies have the need for specialized knowledge, expertise, or skills. For example, an agency addressing a local environmental issue will likely need some level of expertise helping to guide their work. 

Based on the work and goals of the nonprofit, they may decide that they need a financial expert to help make strategic decisions about their finances. Or a legal expert might be beneficial to their work. 

Having specialized needs does not automatically mean that the organization must recruit a volunteer with those skills to their board. Needs can be addressed by utilizing non-governance volunteers, contractors, or staff. The agency needs to decide what is the best way to acquire the specialized expertise required for responsible decision making. 

Mission, Cause & Values

I often tell nonprofit leaders that the most important quality in a board member is that they care about being part of the solution you provide. Everyone is busy, and if a volunteer doesn’t care, it’s easy for other things to get in the way of board meetings, events and service. 

Not only do they need to care about the issue you are addressing, but they need to align with your values and methodology. For example, if an agency is committed to getting rid of puppy mills, they likely attract a lot of dog lovers. However, if they do it through euthanizing, that is going to narrow the pool of potential volunteers who align with their strategies. 

Again, there are probably additional factors to consider that are unique to your organization. If you don’t know what you need, it’s going to be hard to find it. In marketing they call this finding your niche. It seems counter intuitive, but the more you narrow your focus on what you are looking for, the more likely you are to find it. 

When you put out a call for governance volunteers, and you say “we’re looking for anyone wanting to serve our organization” – you likely hear crickets. The more specific you can get, the better your chances of someone seeing themselves in the description of what you need. Or, they may think of another prospective volunteer based on your description. 

Every nonprofit is different and has unique needs and challenges. Email me at Kim@Athena-CoCo.com, or schedule a Discovery Call if you would like to discuss your organization’s wants and needs for your Board of Directors. 

Kim is a mom, lover of being active and the outdoors, and helper of nonprofit leaders.
kim@athena-coco.com

Launching an Executive Director Evaluation Process

When I thought about this topic for an article, I was thinking it would be geared towards younger, newer organizations. That was until I recently spoke with the Board Chair of a nonprofit that has been around for 16-years. They still do not have a system in place for providing feedback to their Executive Director, or helping to ensure that the Exec’s work aligns with the goals and strategies of the agency. 

With that, this article is for any organization that does not have an executive evaluation system in place, or whose system isn’t really working for them. You may be wondering why a business would not have a system in place for evaluating their highest staff leader. The biggest reason I see occurs when the founder of the organization is the Executive Director. The board often does not know their role with providing feedback for them. It can also be hard and sometimes awkward to get started. 

Technically, the Board of Directors of a nonprofit organization supervises the Executive Director. However, the unique structure of nonprofits means that the Board and the ED have to work closely in partnership to effectively lead the organization. The challenge can come from the need to maintain a collaborative relationship, while also providing the leadership, guidance and growth opportunities of a supervisor. My recommendation is always to start this process in the same way that you lead the organization, as a shared project. 

Depending on the size of the organization and the number of employees, there may already be a system in place that the Exec has established for evaluating staff. If so, this is a great place to start. I don’t mean that the board should just take the tools that the staff is using, and apply them to the ED. What I mean is, if there is already an evaluation cycle or timeline, look at how to roll into it. Look at the tools that are being used to see if any of them make sense for your task. Get an idea of how the current process looks and feels. 

If no process exists, or the board doesn’t really like the one that is there, it actually gives you a lot more freedom. Here are some questions to think about as you start planning: 

  • What is the culture of the organization and how should it inform the evaluation process?

Is the organization formal and serious? Playful and fun? Relaxed yet determined? All processes and procedures should link back to the values and the brand of your organization. That’s not to say that if you have a playful culture you do not take the process seriously. Supporting your ED is important work. But your system may be relaxed and conversational. 

  • How should the timing look?

Many organizations tie the executive evaluation to their fiscal year or the calendar year. Since you may be starting from scratch, it’s worth evaluating the best time of year to conduct the evaluation process. The end of the fiscal year can be a very busy time for nonprofit professionals. They may be wrapping up fundraising efforts, creating plans and budgets for the coming year, and measuring the impact of the work for the past year. If the fiscal year lands at the end of the calendar year, there are all the additional commitments that come with the holidays. Consider holding annual evaluations during a slower time of year, so it’s not one more thing for staff to commit to. 

  • Who should be involved?

This depends on the size of your board. If you have a board of three people, it may make sense for one person on the board to conduct the whole thing. If you have a larger board, the Human Resources committee should drive this process or an ad-hoc task force. Ideally, more than one person provides input about what will be shared with the Exec. Additionally, the meeting should be conducted with at least two representatives from the board. This communicates that the feedback is coming from a united front. At the same time, it’s not a huge group making the ED feel ganged up on. 

  • What are the preferred outcomes? 

Conducting an executive evaluation is not just about checking something off a list. It’s about deepening relationships, providing opportunities for growth and improvement, advancing the work of the organization, and respecting the staff leader of the nonprofit. Going into the process with this mindset ensures a positive outcome. 

Once you think through these questions for your organization, you come to the matter of starting the process. Often boards struggle here because they have not put any measurements or expectations in place. It begs the question – how do you evaluate someone when you haven’t really outlined their expectations? That’s a fair question. My recommendation is two-fold: 

  1. Start out as a two-way conversation, and
  2. Base the conversation on generally accepted executive competencies. 

Rather than going into the meeting with measurements and clearly defined deliverables, approach it as a conversation. Granted, it should be a conversation that both parties are well prepared for; however, it should be a transparent discussion. Acknowledge the fact that the agency has not had a system in place for evaluating the ED. Note that getting started is difficult, and you’re more focused on getting it implemented than ensuring a perfect process from the start. Share plans for improving it in the future. 

Base the conversation on general expectations of nonprofit staff leaders. This includes things like: 

  • Operational effectiveness
  • Team leadership
  • Community presence
  • Fundraising
  • Administration & Human Resources
  • Financial sustainability
  • Mission impact
  • Board of Directors leadership 

The unique needs of your organization may lead you to add something different or remove some of these categories. This isn’t an exact list, just a good place to start. Come to an agreement with the Executive Director on what items are relevant to their role. Both parties should take some time to think through the Exec’s performance in each category, documenting their thoughts. Then, for that first evaluation, it should really be a discussion where both parties compare notes and talk about any discrepancies. Document how the conversation goes, any action steps to be taken, and start planning for next year. 

As you prepare for the future, think about how this process went. What were the positives and what should be improved. Consider any concrete measurements that should be put in place for the coming year. Be sure to tie measurements to the big picture and strategies. Then communicate them to the ED right away, so they know what they will be evaluated on the following year. 

The last point that I would like to make on implementing an executive evaluation is to keep the conversation high level. If the ED made a mistake 6-months ago, it should have been addressed at that time. Did they learned and grew from the experience? Then there is no need to include it in the year end evaluation. If anything, they have shown that they are coachable and growth minded. The evaluation is an opportunity to look big picture at the effectiveness of the Executive Director and their role in advancing the mission of the organization. 

A journey of a thousand miles starts with the first step. Initiating an executive evaluation process is an important first step in ensuring effective leadership and organizational success. Approaching the task with the mindset of having a conversation, rather than needing to have a formal process can help to get the ball rolling. By establishing a framework for comprehensive discussions, feedback and support, boards can foster a culture of continuous improvement and promote the long-term sustainability of their organization. 

Every nonprofit is different and has unique needs and challenges. Email me at Kim@Athena-CoCo.com, or schedule a Discovery Call if you would like to discuss how to get the executive evaluation process started for your organization. 

Kim is a mom, lover of being active and the outdoors, and helper of nonprofit leaders.
kim@athena-coco.com 

 

Glossary of Terms

I work with a lot of people who are new to the nonprofit field. Some have decided to transition from working in the for-profit world to have more purpose in their work. Others have identified a problem, created a unique solution and started an organization to help make our world a better place. Still others are at a place in their lives where they are ready to start giving back to their community and are stepping into their first board governance role. 

Through working with these “newbies” I often get asked about different terminology. Words or phases that don’t quite make sense to them. Or they believe them to mean something different. It was out of one of those conversations that came the idea to write an article that is really a glossary of terms. 

Working or volunteering in the nonprofit sector can be a rewarding experience, but it can also be challenging to navigate the unique language and culture of these organizations. Understanding the terms and titles used in the nonprofit sector is essential to effective communication. Below are some of the most common terms and titles used in the nonprofit sector.

  • Nonprofit Business – An organization that operates for the benefit of the public, rather than to generate profit for its owners. 
  • 501(c)(3) – A tax-exempt status granted by the IRS to nonprofit organizations that meet certain criteria, such as being organized and operated for charitable, educational, religious, scientific, or literary purposes.
  • Agency, Organization, Nonprofit or Charity – There are terms that refer to a nonprofit business. 
  • Mission Statement – A statement that defines the purpose and goals of a nonprofit organization.
  • Executive Director (ED) or CEO – In an organization with paid staff, this is usually the top staff person and chief spokesperson of a nonprofit organization. These terms are not generally used in smaller, all-volunteer nonprofits. 
  • Program Director (or Manager, or Coordinator) – Whether an organization has paid staff or not, this refers to the individual(s) responsible for overseeing programs or services offered. It’s usually a paid position, but there are many examples of volunteer program positions. 
  • Development Director – Usually a paid position, this role is responsible for managing fundraising and financial development activities of a nonprofit organization.
  • Fundraising – The process of soliciting and collecting donations from individuals, corporations, and other sources to support a nonprofit organization’s mission, programs and services.
  • Philanthropy – The origin of the word philanthropy is Greek and means love for mankind. Today, philanthropy includes the concept of voluntary giving by an individual or group to promote the common good. The giving can include time, talent, and treasure. 
  • Donors – Individuals, foundations, or corporations providing funding to a nonprofit. 
  • Grant – A financial award provided to a nonprofit organization by a foundation, corporation, or government agency to support a specific project or program.
  • Letter of Intent – A donor’s letter or brief statement indicating intention to make a specific gift.
  • Charitable Giving – The act of donating money or assets to a nonprofit organization for philanthropic purposes.
  • In-kind Donation – A non-monetary donation of goods or services to a nonprofit organization, such as donated office space or pro-bono consulting services.
  • Endowment – A pool of funds that are invested to generate income for a nonprofit organization over the long term.
  • Annual Campaign – Fundraising efforts that go to the annual operations of an organization. Sometimes called a Sustaining Campaign
  • Capital Campaign – A fundraising campaign intended to fund a large project, often a building or other physical structures. 
  • Bricks and Mortar – An informal term indicating grants for buildings or construction projects.
  • Donor Stewardship – The practice of cultivating relationships with donors to build trust, engage them in the organization’s mission, and ensure their ongoing support.
  • Volunteer – An individual who donates their time, skills and knowledge to assist a nonprofit organization.
  • Board of Directors – The governing body of a nonprofit organization, responsible for overseeing the organization’s management and making strategic decisions. Every nonprofit organization is required by law to have a Board of Directors. 
  • Board Members – These are volunteer governance leaders of a nonprofit. As a group they are responsible for making strategic decisions and providing oversight. 
  • ByLaws – This is a document that spells out how the Board of Directors and the organization will function. 
  • Board Development – The practice of developing and implementing strategies to recruit, train, and retain volunteers for a nonprofit organization.
  • Articles of Incorporation – A legal document filed with the secretary of state to create a nonprofit corporation. This process is called incorporating. In some states, they are called a Certificate of Incorporation or Corporate Charter.
  • 990 – An IRS form filed annually by nonprofit organizations. 
  • Constituents or Clients – These words refer to those who are served by or who benefit from the work of the nonprofit. They usually refer to people, but it could include animals, groups or other entities. 
  • Stakeholders – Individuals or groups who have a vested interest in the organization. These could include partners, donors, volunteers, clients, staff and community members. An agency’s stakeholders are usually defined by the nonprofit.
  • Audience – This refers to the people that an organization is trying to reach with their messaging. It could be potential donors or volunteers, the entire community, or a specific demographic. 
  • Advocacy – The act of developing and implementing strategies to advance a nonprofit organization’s mission and goals. Advocacy can also represent a cause served by many different nonprofit organizations. 
  • Social enterprise – A social enterprise is a business with social objectives. Maximizing profits is not the primary goal of a social enterprise as is with a traditional for-profit business. And unlike a nonprofit, social enterprises pursue endeavors that generate revenues, which fund their social causes.
  • Impact – Measurement of the value and effectiveness of a nonprofit organization’s programs and services to the community. 
  • Annual report – A document that provides information about a nonprofit organization’s activities, financial performance, and accomplishments during a given year.
  • Capacity building – The process of strengthening a nonprofit organization’s infrastructure, systems, and processes to improve its effectiveness and sustainability.

Wow! This list is so long!!! I could have gone on and on, but I think this is enough for now. If you’re new to nonprofits or just thinking about getting involved, I hope this guide provides a helpful introduction to some of the most common terms and titles used in the sector. Please share with anyone who you think will appreciate the insight. 

Email me at Kim@Athena-CoCo.com, or schedule a Discovery Call if you would like to learn more about the nonprofit sector, how to engage, and how you can help make our world a better place! 

Kim is a mom, lover of being active and the outdoors,
and helper of nonprofit leaders.
kim@athena-coco.com

Effective Board Meetings

I believe that this is my last article comparing leading a staff team to leading a team of governance volunteers. If you haven’t been following along, but are curious to learn more, check out my previous articles on this topic:

What I have observed in working with and speaking with hundreds of nonprofit leaders, is an interesting disconnect. Whether it’s Board Chairs, who supervise and lead staff for their paid job, or Executive Directors, who lead a team of employees to deliver the work of the organization. These folks are often highly skilled when it comes to supervising and managing paid staff. Then, when it comes to leading a group of governance volunteers, they struggle. That was the motivation behind my last several articles comparing these two types of teams. 

I often say that all business is people-business. And when it comes to the nonprofit sector, that statement can be multiplied by 100. Everything about leading a nonprofit comes down to the ability to work with people. Relationships drive programming, funding, governance, partnerships, vision, impact and more. It doesn’t matter if you are speaking with your paid staff, volunteers, friends or your spouse, healthy communication is the foundation of strong relationships. 

Board Meetings as Special Events

One of the main communication systems most nonprofits have in place for connecting with their volunteers the regular board meetings. Hopefully this is not the only communication system, but it’s a pretty important one. So much so, that I have always thought of a board meeting as a special event. 

Think for a moment of the  Board of Directors as an adult leadership program. This program supports the volunteers governing the organization, and also helps develop even stronger and more passionate volunteer leaders. Running this program involves engaging different volunteers in a variety of aspects of leading the organization. This could include leading a committee, doing research, advocating for the organization, friend-raising, and more. Then the board meeting is when it all comes together. 

Like with a special event, a lot of planning, communication and preparation go into ensuring that it’s a success. The March article on communication goes into a detailed process on how-to and what-to communicate with your volunteers leading up to and following a board meeting. Ensuring everyone knows when the meeting will be and its content is important, but it’s just a small part of planning this special event. 

Components of Effective Team Meetings

Whether your team is made up of paid staff, or governance volunteers; meetings are a critical tool for effective communication, collaboration, and problem-solving within any organization. An effective meeting requires careful planning and execution to ensure that everyone is engaged, productive, and focused on the team’s objectives. 

  • Clear Objectives: Every meeting should have a clear purpose and objectives. If you don’t know why you are bringing people together, it’s worth evaluating the value of the meeting. Generally with board meetings we are looking to do some or all of these things:
    • Connect volunteers to the mission
    • Ensure everyone is well-informed and on the same page
    • Educate volunteers on their role and/or skills development
    • Problem-solve
    • Team-building
    • Strengthen communication
    • Address official business
  • Agenda: A well-planned agenda is a critical component of an effective team meeting. The agenda should be distributed to all participants a minimum of one week before the meeting, along with any pre-read materials or preparation required. The agenda will help keep the meeting focused and ensure that all relevant topics are covered. My recommended board meeting agenda is as follows, and is similar to my staff meeting agenda:
    • Welcome/Opening – In addition to introductions, this is a great time for a mission moment spotlighting the work of the organization. (Connecting volunteers to the mission.)
    • Segue – Have everyone share some good news, both personal and professional. This provides a transition from what they were doing before, to this group. It also ensures that everyone speaks at least once in the meeting. (Team-building.)
    • Approval of Minutes (Address official business.)
    • Customer/Employee/Board Headlines – Note anything worth celebrating or acknowledging. (Connect to the mission. Team-building. Strengthen communication.)
    • Operational Announcements (Strengthens communication.) 
    • To-Do Items – Review any action items from the previous meeting. Are they completed, progressing, or off-track? Any off-track items drop down to the Discussion section. (Strengthen communication. Identify issues needing problem-solving)
    • Committee Reports – High level presentation of the work of the committees. Vote on initiatives when appropriate. Drop any issues down to the Discussion section. (Ensure everyone is well informed. Problem-solving. Strengthen communication.)
    • Discussion Items – All of the previous items should be addressed fairly quickly, leaving half or even two-thirds of the meeting time to focus on your Discussion Items. If there is a long list, as a group choose the 3 most important topics that need to be addressed. Give each topic 15-minutes. If you get through all items, pick the next most important one to discuss. (Skills development. Problem-solving. Strengthen Communication. Address official business.)
    • Conclusion – At the end of the meeting review any action items or assignments made. Discuss any outward communications that need to come out of this meeting, and who will handle it. (Ensure everyone is well-informed. Strengthen communication.)

You can grab a copy of my recommended board meeting agenda here.

  • Active Participation: Effective meetings require active participation from all team members. Otherwise, why are they there? The meeting leader, usually the Board Chair, can encourage this by asking specific people for their insights, going around the room and having everyone contribute, or breaking up into smaller groups for in-depth discussions. 
  • Time Management: We are all busy and time is a precious commodity. Effective meetings require good time management. Consider assigning a time-keeper to keep things moving along and minimize tangents. Effective meeting time management can bolster engagement when volunteers know their time is respected and used effectively.
  • Action Items: The point of a meeting is to make decisions and move the organization forward. As stated above, capture action items and next steps during the meeting and assign ownership and deadlines. Review at the end of the meeting and put these items on the agenda for next time, so they don’t get lost. This will help to ensure that decisions are acted upon and progress is made.

If you have not been thinking of your board meetings as a special event, give it a try. It establishes a greater sense of importance and production. Running quality board meetings can be one of the most effective strategies you implement in attracting and retaining quality board members. People want to know why they are coming together, they want to use their time effectively, and they want to see progress. Thoughtful and intentional board meetings can be the backbone needed to advance your work. 

Make Sure Everyone is Prepared

In addition to sending out agendas and assignments in advance of the meeting, everyone should know their role in the meeting. If you have a committee chair giving a report, review it with them in advance. Without guidance, they may end up just reading the minutes from their last meeting. Coach any who will be speaking or presenting on what and how they should approach the assignment. There is a bit of orchestrating that goes into delivering a quality board meeting special event. 

Timing is Everything

Finally, I highly recommend that your meetings have a set day and time. This way volunteers can have an entire year’s worth of meetings on their calendars. They can plan around them and communicate when there are conflicts. If yours is a brand new board, and you are still figuring out when that best time to meet is, use the input of the group, and then set the time that works best for everyone. As early as possible, establish that standing day and time. 

When it comes to frequency, I think monthly or every other month is best. Any less frequent, and you totally lose any momentum that you gain at the meeting. There are exceptions. For example, if you bring people in from all over the country/world. Or if your agency’s focus is on an event that happens once a year. For those who bring the board together less than every other month, it will be important to develop a robust committee structure or other work to keep your volunteers connected to your cause and to the important work of governing your agency. 

I love helping organizations evolve their board meetings from “sit & gets” to engaging and robust systems for advancing their work. Email me at Kim@Athena-CoCo.com, or schedule a Discovery Call to discuss creating board meeting special events that will drive your organization’s success! 

Kim is a mom, lover of being active and the outdoors,
and helper of nonprofit leaders.
kim@athena-coco.com

Showing Your Volunteers Love

Over the last couple of weeks I’ve been dedicating my newsletter real estate to comparing the skills used in supervising staff with those used for leading a board. I believe there are a lot of similarities and things we can learn from staff leadership and apply to supporting your Board of Directors. To get up to speed and read the first two articles go here and here

Continuing in this vein, and acknowledging that it’s Valentine’s Day, I’d like to share some ideas for showing your volunteers how much you love them. Many companies and organizations focus a lot of energy on staff appreciation – which is great! Let’s look at some of those ideas and consider how we can apply them to our Governance Volunteers. 

Some of these ideas can be celebrated during the “month of love”, others you might want to put into an ongoing Appreciation Plan. Knowing that your Board members likely do not want you spending money on them, these ideas are all free or very low cost. A little bit of time and thoughtfulness goes a long way when it comes to showing appreciation. 

Recognition

There are many ways to recognize staff and volunteers. You get the biggest bang for your “buck” when the recognition is specific and genuine. Nothing beats telling someone directly, exactly what they did that is appreciated, and how it helps. 

In nonprofits we often acknowledge that our donors help us to serve our clients. And we are also pretty good about recognizing our staff and program volunteers for their direct service delivery. However, we seldom call out our governance volunteers for their impact on our cause. Consider recognizing the contributions of your board volunteers. This could be in the form of a social media post, bulletin board in your facility, a newsletter article, etc. 

Celebration

I think there’s this crazy idea out there that Boards of Directors are all business. Like they don’t want to celebrate the accomplishments of the organization. Take time out of board work to celebrate milestones, wins, and achievements. Don’t just pause and say “yay us”. Make it a big deal. Bring in balloons, noisemakers, and party favors. And most importantly, connect the dots between the work they do governing the agency, and the outcome you are celebrating. 

Food

I know for a fact that staff who work for nonprofits love food! People come together around food. It gives them something to connect around. If you do not regularly feed your board members at a meeting, consider adding this component once in a while, or on a regular basis. Depending on your timing, this will look different from board to board. Be sure to let everyone know if you are doing something out of the ordinary. If you are providing a meal, or even a dessert for an evening meeting, volunteers might want to plan ahead for that.

Sincere Thank You

Nothing beats a sincere thank you. This could be in the form of an email, written letter or a phone call. It’s tried and true, and it’s always appreciated. If you want to shake things up, consider doing a video message, or creating a JibJab type card to make your volunteers laugh. 

Shake Things Up 

Pick a month and shake things up for your regular board meeting. Maybe take it off site. Bring in a guest speaker. Spend extra time on team building. Switch up the order. 

Don’t do this every month, because then it’s not special. Think of things that will increase engagement, allow for your volunteers to grow personally or professionally, or provide opportunities for greater connections. If you’re thinking about trying something new with your regular meetings, this might be a good way to try it out. 

Social Opportunities 

Your volunteers likely serve your organization to help solve a critical social issue in your community. But there’s nothing that says they can’t build new relationships along the way. Bringing volunteers together to connect in a non-board setting can strengthen their ability to work together. 

People are busy and you’ll never get everyone together. That doesn’t mean that it’s not worth the effort to build deeper relationships with those who are able to make the time. 

Acknowledge Personal Accomplishments/Milestones

Just like your staff, board members have lives outside of your organization. They get married and promoted and have babies and climb mountains and retire. Creating a culture where these things are celebrated is a great way to deepen relationships and spread love. Loop back to the Recognition and Celebration bullets for thoughts on how to acknowledge these things. 

SWAG/Name Tags

Most volunteers do not want an organization spending money on them. So if you do want to give a physical token of your appreciation, it’s a good idea to give it a dual purpose. Give them a shirt to wear that creates awareness for your cause. Provide a name tag so they can be recognized as serving your organization. Acknowledge them in a way that deepens their connection, but also benefits the cause. 

Nominate them for Awards

This requires you to know your volunteers and your community pretty well. Are there folks who should be nominated for citizen of the year? 40 Under 40? For their philanthropic efforts? Or should their company know about the great work they do for your organization? If they own their own business, are there ways to help support their business in a “Best of” campaign? 

Be Silly

Again, serving on a board doesn’t always have to be all business. Adding in a little silliness or light-heartedness can make the difficult work of leading an organization more enjoyable. It also helps to bring out the personalities of your volunteers. 

Consider starting meetings with a kookie question for everyone to answer. When signing important documents, bring pens shaped like french fries. Use clips from movies to set the tone for a discussion. Think “You can’t handle the truth!” from A Few Good Men or “Show Me the Money” from Jerry Maguire. (The use of examples from two different Tom Cruise movies was completely unintentional.) 

While silliness can create a relationship-building culture, be sure to maintain a safe space. Playfulness shouldn’t shift into pranks or sarcasm. The goal is lighthearted fun that breaks down barriers. 

You may be loving these ideas, but the reality is that you don’t feel like you have the time, energy or creativity to pull any of this off. I bet there is someone in your organization who would love this project. Delegate to a staff or volunteer whose love language is Acts of Service. This would be right in their wheelhouse and will likely energize them. You could even have an Appreciation Committee made up of volunteers, staff, or both. Give them clear direction and parameters and set them off to spread love and joy! 

Anytime you want to visit about how to build up your Board of Superheros, email me at Kim@Athena-CoCo.com, or schedule a Discovery Call today. Let’s connect!

Kim Stewart

Kim is a mom, lover of being active and the outdoors,
and helper of nonprofits and small businesses.
kim@athena-coco.com

“Supervising” Your Governance Volunteers

These days I visit with a lot of nonprofit leaders. I often hear from Execs who find that leading their Board is extremely frustrating. And they are the same leaders who excel at leading and developing their staff teams. So, starting with last week’s article I have decided to share some of the thoughts I’ve had lately on the similarities between leading a staff team and leading a Board of Directors. 

One of the things that I believe makes it difficult for organizational leaders, is the unique relationship between the Executive Director and the Board of Directors in a nonprofit organization. Technically, a Board of Directors supervises and leads a nonprofit organization. With organizations that are completely volunteer led, this is pretty clear. The governance volunteers are responsible for all the things.

However, when an organization is the size and/or complexity that requires paid staff to operate, things get more complicated. For the sake of this article, I’ll be talking about organizations with at least a few staff, including an Executive Director. In these organizations, the Board of Directors no longer knows everything that is going on within the agency. Therefore, the relationship between the Executive Director and the Board President (or an Executive Committee) becomes the keystone that holds the organization together. 

In a nonprofit, the Board’s role is to look UP and OUT into the community to guide the organization forward. The Executive Director’s job is to look DOWN and IN to the operations of the agency to ensure that quality programs and services are delivered, constituents are taken care of, and the agency is carrying out the vision set forth by the Board. 

You see, the Board of Directors cannot do their job effectively if they do not get information from the Executive Director. Likewise, the Executive Director is not able to appropriately lead the operations without a strong understanding of the vision and strategies of the Board. They rely on each other to drive the work – and have the impact – that the nonprofit exists to provide. 

Organizations that have figured out the nuances of this unique relationship
are the ones that find the most success. 

Individuals join Boards for a variety of reasons. It may be because they have a deep passion for a cause. Or maybe they came out of a difficult situation, and want to help others with similar struggles. Some people see it as their responsibility to help make our world a better place. Whatever the reason, it’s safe to say that no one is born knowing how to be a great Board member, or what an organization needs. 

This is why, even though the Board essentially supervises the Exec, the Exec needs to take some responsibility for leading the board. Execs can benefit from drawing on their staff supervisory skills when it comes to leading their Board. Let me tell you what I mean. 

  • Clear Job Descriptions

    • You wouldn’t hire a staff person without telling them what you need them to do, right? First, it would be difficult to find anyone who would take a job under those conditions. Second, once you had them onboard, how would they know what to do?
    • The same idea applies to your governance volunteers. What does your nonprofit need from the Board? Fundraising? Strategy? Relationships? Workhorses? Getting clear about what is needed from the volunteers will make it easier to go looking for them, and probably easier to recruit the right ones.
    • Sometimes leaders are afraid that if they are blunt and open about their need for something, like fundraising volunteers, that it will scare people away. I say that it doesn’t do the organization much good to bring someone on who is not going to do the work the agency needs. And we certainly don’t want to trick people into joining a board.
    • Don’t soft sell what you really need. Put it right out there. It will eliminate the people who do not want to do that work and attract the ones who do.
  • Clear Expectations

    • When onboarding new staff, you likely tell them both the functions of their job; as well as what is expected of them now that they work for your company. This probably includes things like meeting requirements, policies, procedures, “the way we do things around here” and so on.
    • The Board needs to know what is expected of them too. Especially with smaller nonprofits, the volunteers you recruit will not likely come with any prior Board experience. And even if they do have a history of serving on Boards, every organization is different, and what they need and expect from their Board will be different.
    • In working with organizations and their Boards, I recommend they clarify the expectations they have of their individual Board members in the following categories:
      1. Attendance/Service Commitment 
      2. Executive Director Support
      3. Community Connection
      4. Fiduciary Governance
      5. Intellectual Contributions 
      6. Mission and Outcome Focus
      7. Fundraising and Storytelling
    • Paint a picture of how you want your Board members to act/contribute/engage in each of these areas. Then talk about them. Make sure all Board members know what is expected of them. Use it when you are recruiting and onboarding new folks. 
  • Teach Them

    • Especially if you hire a lot of young staff, you likely know the importance of teaching them how to be good employees; as well as how to do their job. Smart supervisors understand that in order to shape a good employee, you need to be patient, start where they are and support their growth.
    • We’ve already stated that no one naturally knows how to be a great board member. And while the Exec is supervised by that Board, there is a whole lot of “leading up” needed to grow them into effective governance volunteers. This is a little different than the kind of teaching that you do with your staff team, but it’s just as important. Maybe they need to understand how to run quality meetings, how to speak about your organization in public, or how to negotiate the politics of your community or industry.
    • I get very excited about this aspect of leading volunteers! These are valuable skills for enhancing the work of your Board – no question. But they provide so much more! These skills help your volunteers to grow personally and professionally, extending the impact of your organization in unique ways. It also gives them the tools needed to do other great work in your community.
    • Generally speaking, the volunteers who serve on Boards of really big organizations in your community probably put some time in serving smaller organizations. They had to learn how to act, present themselves and share their ideas and insights. It’s not a bad thing to become known as a great place to cut your governance-volunteer-teeth. By doing so, you attract the kind of people who strive to serve on larger boards. Those folks bring energy, connections, and drive.
  • Hold Them Accountable

    • Just like with your staff, sometimes your volunteers will need to be held accountable. This can feel awkward, because – again – they are your supervisors. There is a lot to consider when it comes to this concept, and I’m going to dive deeper in an upcoming article. For now I’ll just say that the easiest way to hold people accountable is by having clear job descriptions and expectations as noted in the first two bullets. Those tools, communicated clearly and regularly, are the foundation of any good accountability system. 
  • Communication

    • I’m also planning to do a separate article on this topic. So I’ll just say that leading people is about relationships. And you can’t have a relationship with people without healthy communication. If you’re only communicating with your volunteers at Board Meetings, you’re missing a key component to leading your Board. Can you imagine only speaking with staff at official meetings? Watch for more on this one. 

The Execs role in leading a Board varies from agency to agency. Some may drive the leadership of the Board, while others may have a supporting role. Either way, staff need to provide some leadership and guidance in order to get valuable contributions from the volunteers. 

The good news is that this does not all fall on the shoulders of the Executive Director. Shaping the Board should be a joint effort between the Exec and the Board Chair. Younger organizations with the founder engaged, may need to do a lot of work to transfer leadership to the Board. More developed organizations may even have a Board Governance Committee, whose entire job is to focus on the health, structure, and culture of the Board.

Leaders who would like to learn more about their role in supervising the Board can email me at Kim@Athena-CoCo.com, or schedule a Discovery Call today. Let’s connect!

Kim Stewart

Kim is a mom, lover of being active and the outdoors,
and helper of nonprofits and small businesses.
kim@athena-coco.com

Culture – It’s Not Just About Your Staff Team

In my years with the YMCA I thought a lot about how to lead my staff team, how to build a healthy culture, communication strategies, accountability, problem solving, and more. I also thought a lot about how to lead and engage my Board of Directors. But I didn’t think much about the crossover between these two functions of leading a nonprofit organization.

In fact, I thought these two areas of my job were very, very different. Now that I have some distance and my thoughts have evolved, I see that there are more similarities than there are differences. I’m going to spend the next few articles looking at the similarities and what we can learn from them. 

I’ve written more than a little about building healthy cultures, leading a team, communication, and more, more, more. Go check those out, if you’re so inclined. 

One of the most important roles of a leader is to create a healthy culture for their team. In the nonprofit sector, we usually think that this means our staff team. Right? A healthy staff culture is crucial to delivering quality services, caring for our constituents, and ensuring our staff are nurtured. Logic would tell us that the same is true for our volunteer teams, and even our governance volunteers. 

Think for a moment about your Board of Directors. How would you describe the culture of your Board team? Are they uber professional? Super laid back? Well connected to one another? Eager to help? Something else? Take a moment to jot down all the words that come to mind when you are thinking about the characteristics of your board. 

Once you can describe the current culture of your board, I’d like for you to think about how that compares to the culture of your staff team and/or the agency as a whole. Are they similar or different? Are the similarities intentional or by happenstance? There is nothing that says they have to be the same or different. 

After you do a little work to define the culture of your board and how it compares to the rest of your organization, a good next step is to decide if what you have is what you want. This project is an excellent way to engage volunteers in defining and creating the board culture that is best for your nonprofit! Your Board Governance or Board Development Committees can dig into everything from the board meeting agenda or room set-up to onboarding and engagement of the volunteers. 

The skills and strategies that create a healthy culture for your staff are pretty much the same for creating a healthy board culture. 

  • Aligning values:

    • If your organization has not gone through the process of clarifying and understanding your values, that’s a great first step! If you have gone through this process, the next step is to consider how they relate to your board. The values for the organization do not have to be exactly the same as the values for your board. They can be the same, similar, or even different. It’s based on the needs of the organization. 
    • For example, an organization that serves children may have a very lighthearted culture among its staff. Perhaps the kids need a positive atmosphere. At the same time the organization may be helping children escape really horrible situations. In that case the board likely has some very serious topics to discuss. The culture of the organization may be light and fun, while the culture of the board could be serious and more stoic.
  • Decide the culture is important

    • The main ingredient in any healthy culture is to be thoughtful about the experience of those involved. By simply being intentional about the type of culture you want – you’re taking a huge step towards creating a great experience for your Board team. 
    • A healthy culture requires that the organization and its leaders decide that the culture is a priority. You cannot create a positive culture without first deciding that it matters. When it comes to culture, the biggest problem I see is that leaders ignore the importance of being intentional about this piece of their organization.

  • It starts at the top

    • When it comes to the staff culture, the Executive Director or CEO sets the tone. They define the values and decide that the culture is important. However, with the Board of Directors, it’s not just about the Exec, it’s a combination of the Exec and the Board President. Between the two of them they drive the culture. The Exec connects it to the operations of the organization, and the Board President is the one who sets the tone for the governance volunteers. 
  • Listening and Caring

    • Creating a culture involves listening to what is going on with the members of the board. And not just listening, but also genuinely caring about how the volunteers are feeling and what their experience is like. This is how you keep your finger on the pulse of what is going on. 
  • Communications 

    • Circling back to #1, once you have established your values, you should talk about them. All. The. Time. Talk about what they mean to the board as a team. Use them when making decisions. Include them in opening thoughts, plan them into board meeting agendas, and use the language as you work to create the culture you want and need. 

As mentioned earlier, a Board Development or Board Governance Committee is an excellent group to tackle this project. Their role is to ensure healthy board dynamics. If you do not currently have a committee focused on the growth, direction and health of your Board of Directors, consider starting one and making this their first initiative. You could even start it out as a task force, with growth into a full committee coming next. 

Would you like help evaluating the culture of your Board of Directors? Or, do you want to start a Board Development Committee of your own? Let’s visit! Email me at Kim@Athena-CoCo.com, or schedule a Discovery Call today. Let’s connect!

Kim is a mom, lover of being active and the outdoors,
and helper of nonprofits and small businesses.
kim@athena-coco.com