2023: The Year of Your Board
In Chinese culture 2023 is the year of the Rabbit. The sign of the Rabbit is a symbol of longevity, peace and prosperity. 2023 is predicted to be a year of hope. I am hopeful that 2023 will also be an exceptional year for your board.
Are you in the place where you feel the board is just not getting it? They aren’t aligned or focused or maybe even showing up?
If so, ask yourself what have you done for them lately? Because what we know for sure is if we need our board members to be more engaged, we need to engage them. It doesn’t just magically happen. (And if there are CEOs out there who don’t really want an engaged board — maybe you prefer to keep them at an arm’s length — then you’re in the wrong job. Get out. You’ll never be truly happy.)
So how do you make 2023 the year of your board? Focus on these top three characteristics of high-performing boards.
1. The Strategic Plan Drives All Work
This means you need to invest in creating a robust, bold plan for the next few years. Then all board activities — everything from board meeting calendars and agendas to committee structure, board composition, who you recruit and how you engage with the community — are aligned with the initiatives and goals in that plan.
When your plan is front and center, there will be very little left to chance, which leads to higher levels of effectiveness and efficiency.
2. Community Engagement Is a High Priority
Let’s face it. You are leading a community-based organization. You expect community members to partner with you, volunteer for you, invest in your mission, advocate for you, etc. So being intentional about how you interact with your community is essential, so be sure to equip the board with the tools to execute.
When board members understand one of their key roles is gatekeeper to the organization, they will be able to attract more money, more awareness and more people.
3. There Is Strong Fiduciary and Legal Oversight
Yes, the buck stops with the board, so doing things like reviewing and then complying with bylaws matter. Additionally, review policies every two to three years to ensure none are missing and update them as needed. To avoid trouble, create financial policies that include checks and balances, conduct an annual audit, and ensure all reporting requirements are met.
When appropriate oversight is occurring, board members can be confident in their governance roles and focus on other important matters.
Now that you know you can enjoy the year of your board by starting with these three steps, outline a simple timeline to take action and move things forward. Your board will thank you.
Cindi Phallen works with nonprofit boards and executives to build healthy boards that raise more money and execute on their vision. She is an author, educator, speaker, president of Create Possibility and a former ED. Known for asking the tough questions, she is on a mission to change the mindset of nonprofit leaders, so they move from intention to execution and maximize their impact.
Her popular book, “The Impact Triangle: The 3 Essentials to Accelerate Your Nonprofit Enterprise,” is recommended as mandatory reading for executives and volunteers. Cindi teaches fundraising at the University of San Diego, serves on various boards and is a Viewpoint partner for Social Venture Partners.
Cindi spends her free time jogging on the beach, snowboarding or watching her beloved Philadelphia Eagles!