5 Tips For Board Collaboration In 2024 And Beyond


President & CEO the National Association of Free and Charitable Clinics (NAFC).

A board of directors plays a crucial role in the success and sustainability of an organization, especially in the nonprofit sector. Boards provide governance and oversight, ensuring that the organization operates in accordance with its mission, values and legal obligations. Board members bring diverse skills, expertise and professional experiences to the table, so it is important to leverage the unique experiences of your board to your fullest advantage.

An especially important role that board members play is goal setting. Boards contribute to the development of the organization’s long-term strategy and vision. They help set goals, prioritize initiatives and ensure alignment with the organization’s mission. At the beginning of the new year, goal setting is especially important. This period provides an opportunity for organizations to look back on the year behind and create a plan for growth and improvement in the year ahead, so it is also the perfect time to establish a partnership that will foster the greatest success.

I’ve been working with a board of directors for 17 years. I’m proud to say that my working relationship with my board is one full of trust and collaboration, but it takes effort to get there.

Below are my top five tips for strong collaboration with your board:

1. Clear Communication

Keep your board well-informed about the organization’s activities, challenges and successes. Regularly share updates, financial reports and relevant information to ensure transparency. This will not only ensure that your board feels involved in the activities of your nonprofit but also save you time in responding to emails and calls about things you could have proactively shared. It’s a win-win.

2. Define Roles And Expectations

Clearly outline the roles and responsibilities of both the board members and the nonprofit staff. This helps in avoiding confusion and ensures everyone knows what is expected of them. When things are clearly outlined, nothing can fall through the cracks. This is another step in guaranteeing that your staff and your board are on the same page, functioning as one team.

3. Focus On Relationships

Invest time in building positive and productive relationships with board members. Understand their individual strengths, interests and perspectives. This helps create a collaborative and supportive working environment. Your board is elected for a reason. Flip your perspective from seeing your board as something to appease to viewing them as a resource for your organization’s success.

4. Seek Their Expertise

Tap into the diverse expertise of board members. Leverage their skills, connections and knowledge to address organizational challenges and opportunities. Allow them to fill gaps in knowledge and experience that you may have. This collaborative approach can lead to innovative solutions.

5. Set Up Feedback Mechanisms

Establish feedback mechanisms to gather input from board members on the organization’s performance and leadership. Use this feedback to continuously improve collaboration and effectiveness. Set up quarterly or annual reviews for yourself and the organization. Giving your board a clear opportunity to share feedback will ensure that it is beneficial and communicated at a time when it can be well received and implemented.

Final Thoughts

By building strong relationships, maintaining open communication and leveraging the unique strengths of your board members, you can create a collaborative and successful partnership for the benefit of your organization. It takes time, but your nonprofit organization will function with tremendous ease when you find the balance of advisory and partnership.

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