Stanford Research Offers 9 Tips to Improve Nonprofit Governance
5. Hold the executive director accountable for meeting the performance metrics, and evaluate his or her performance with an objective process.
Some nonprofit boards are reluctant to establish an annual evaluation process for the executive director, particularly when he/she is also the founder. A rigorous process is necessary in and of itself but also as a basis for thoughtful succession planning.
6. Compose your board with individuals with skills, resources, diversity, and dedication to address the needs of the nonprofit.
Many nonprofits lack the core of a few members who are willing to devote the time, energy, and skills to ensure the board takes on its full responsibilities. Excellent board composition is not a conceptual challenge – it is about the hard work of finding and adding one more strong board member (and then another).
7. Define explicitly the roles and responsibility of board members.
Board members need to know what expectations are in terms of the basics like attendance and engagement. Most critically, they need to understand what their financial commitments will be, personally as well as in reaching out to others.
8. Establish well-defined board, committee, and ad hoc processes that reflect the nonprofit’s needs and ensure optimal handling of key decisions.
Many nonprofit boards overly worry about structure and process issues. All boards need governance, development, finance, and audit committees. Some may need other committees like programs/operations, marketing, etc. Temporary task forces for strategic planning or capital campaigns can also be very useful. For boards larger than about 20, an executive committee is likely required.
9. Regularly review and assess each board member and the board’s overall performance.
Strong boards use their governance committee to ensure regular evaluations of individual board members to ensure sustained commitment from each member. The governance committee must be vigilant to ensure that nonperforming members are not renewed, and that expectations are communicated to each renewing member. Don’t let term limits substitute for rigorous board member evaluation.