Become a Highly Effective Nonprofit Board Chair in Seven Steps
February 1, 2009, Boston Herald — You have served with enthusiasm on the board of directors of a nonprofit organization whose mission is dear to your heart, and now you have been elected to serve as chairman of the board.
Whether you were elected in recognition of your past service, because you have talents desired by the board, because you helped found the organization and are identified with its mission, or because you are a significant donor who is expected to reinvigorate the organization’s fundraising, the board of directors has expressed its confidence in you by electing you as chairman.
What are your next steps?
Although different nonprofit organizations have different expectations of their leaders, rooted in the operational needs, sectors of practice, missions and organizational cultures of every nonprofit organization is the need for an effective leader at its helm.
Here are seven key steps that you can take to become a highly effective chairman of the board.
Step 1: Meetings
As chairman of the board, you will establish a regular board meeting schedule, set each meeting’s agenda and preside over meetings. You can prepare for board meetings by consulting with the organization’s chief executive officer and with board committee chairs.
Comprehensive preparation will enable you to understand the issues percolating among board members and within the organization to determine when and how these issues are discussed at board meetings, and to ensure that appropriate information is provided for board review, ideally in advance of meetings.
Preparation alone, however, is insufficient to ensure effective board meetings. You must actively manage your meetings. When you set clear priorities, encourage active participation, facilitate problem-solving and consensus, and summarize the board’s conclusions at the end of each meeting, your board meetings are more likely to be productive and the board’s decisions are more likely to be implemented.