October 12, 2011
As I work with non-profit boards, these are some of the questions I usually raise. But you can use these on your own. I’d welcome feedback about which are most important, which need to be changed, and what should have been included but was not.
Mission / Vision: Does the organization have a clear mission statement, and a vision of what it seeks to achieve? At what point in time might the mission be accomplished? When has the board last revisited mission and vision? Are staff, board, and executive aligned on mission and vision? Are mission and vision statements referenced when program ideas, and internal policies are being considered? Does the board notice when stated mission and actual function are different, and can it take constructive action?
Stakeholders: Who are the stakeholders, or potential stakeholders? How does the board connect with or represent the stakeholders? If some stakeholders are not in some way represented on the board, how does the organization maintain ties with them? To what groups does the organization feel itself accountable?
Board membership: How are Board members chosen? Does the board include people with experience to evaluate and clarify the organization’s need for legal services, accounting, publicity, marketing, program development, fundraising human resources, etc.? Is the board primarily a policy-making body, or does it seek is it a “working board” (providing some of these services)? Are there term limits for board members? How does the board identify and cultivate new members with the right skills, experience connections, and commitment? Is there a training protocol for new board members, and a regular check in with continuing board members as they get re-appointed?
Board meetings: Are board meetings well attended lively events, that engage the board and that result in useful dialog and decisions? Do board members come away excited and involved? Is there a clear agenda, with board questions presented in enough detail and accompanied with enough background material? Are meetings run in a manner that encourage candid sharing, creative problem solving, and the generation of consensus whenever possible? Is the board able to listen carefully to minority views, to see how these might provide helpful insights and guidance? Are minutes taken carefully, and then reviewed by the board? Read the rest of this entry »