Building and maintaining an effective board of directors requires recruiting, orienting, and training people committed to the mission of the organization. Documents such as personnel policies and by-laws should effectively represent an organization’s values and dictate its operational procedures. A strategic plan guides the organization and enables it to move from where it currently is to where it intends to be in the future. The Coalition can help you put into place the continuum of skills, procedures, and documents that will help your organization run effectively.
- Training on Roles and Responsibilities of Board of Directors and Officers
- Establishing Committees and Board Operational Systems
- Recruiting and Orienting New Board Members
- Holding Effective Meetings
- Modifying and Using Your By-Laws
- Hiring a New Executive Director
- Establishing a Fundraising Plan
- Establishing Financial Management Systems and Increasing Financial Literacy
- Setting Personnel Policies and Grievance Procedures
- Long Range and Strategic Planning
- Program Development
- Nonprofit Management
- Neighborhood Preservation Program Application and Compliance.
Organizational Self Assessment
Organizations, like people, go through life cycles with ups and downs, strong periods and weak ones. Because organizations are dynamic entities, subject to personalities, social conditions, and the impacts of its challenges and successes, it is important to periodically review how well your organization is operating and to get back on track before it is too late. The following questions may help guide your organizational analysis and can be used to identify trouble spots before they are too daunting to tackle. The questions should be answered by staff and Board Members, and the responses used for discussions, retreats, and strategic planning initiatives.
Do you often hear veteran group members say:
- “That’s not the way to do it,” in response to new ideas.
- “Oh, yes, we tried that two years ago, but that doesn’t work.”
- “We want new blood. We want new members. We need to broaden our base.” But none manifest.
- Do new members have a hard time understanding the jargon and alphabet soup of your organization?
- Are new members given meaningful tasks to do?
- Do veteran group members make an effort to learn what new members can contribute to the organization?
Long Range Planning
- Does each event or program lead towards a clearly described vision?
- Do you take the time to evaluate and learn from each success and failure?
- Is there a clear sense of connection between the organization’s various programs or
- Do you do too many different things to do any of them really well?
- Do you strategize and plan ahead one, three and five years?
Burn-out-Remember, organizations are comprised of people!
- Are you tired and consistently working more hours than you are paid for or have volunteered for?
- Do you take time for yourself to rest and enjoy your favorite activities?
- Do you give the same kinds of answers because it is easier than thinking creatively about your work?
- When you just sit through meetings are you there in body but not in spirit?
- Do you feel resentful when people ask things of you?
- Do you allow other people to volunteer for responsibilities?
- Do you take good care of yourselves and of each other?
- Do you take time to celebrate and appreciate your collective efforts?
Clear Lines of Accountability
- Does everyone know to whom s/he is accountable?
- Are people held people accountable for fulfilling their responsibilities?
- Are people’s responsibilities clearly defined?
- Does your office have user-friendly record keeping systems?
- Do you keep records that will help evaluate the effectiveness of programs or events?
- Are you constantly recreating the wheel?
- Are new staff members able to locate necessary information?
- Is important information stored in the minds of one or two key staff people?
- Do you have pre-planned agendas for meetings?
- Does each topic of conversation have a beginning time and an ending time?
- Do people tend to leave meetings feeling exhausted?
- Do people tend to leave meetings feeling a sense of accomplishment?
- Are meetings packed with more agenda items than can be thoroughly addressed in the time allotted?
- Are issues requiring research and a significant amount of time passed on to committees?
- Do meetings end on time?
For more information about how to strengthen your organization and Board of Directors, please call Susan Weinrich, the Coalition’s Program and Training Coordinator.
These questions were excerpted with permission from a Peace Development Fund Website (www.peacefund.org) article: “Organizational Development: The Seven Deadly Sins.”
Board Self Assessment
Does your Organization’s Board of Directors Need Training?
All Boards sometimes need to refocus when there are new members, changes in policy or organizational focus, or a new Executive Director. Because Boards are so crucial to the effective operations of nonprofit organizations, even a short training session can positively impact the work being carried out by the organization. To determine whether your organization could benefit from a training energy infusion, ask yourselves the following questions.
- When was the Mission Statement, By-laws, etc. last revisited?
- Are the organization’s mission statement, by-laws, policies, and procedures for operations and decision making provided to each new board member?
- Are new Board members provided training and orientation?
- Is the organization’s Mission Statement referred to when developing new programs?
- Is the Board Re-Active rather than Pro-Active?
- Does the Board provide leadership by planning ahead?
- Does the Board evaluate the effectiveness of the organization’s programs?
- Does the Board only rally when a crisis is occurring?
- Are the roles and responsibilities of Board members clear to every member and the Executive Director?
- Are Board members aware of the time requirements expected of them?
- Do Board members know their legal, moral, and ethical responsibilities?
- Does the Board meet regularly and determine its own meeting agenda?
- Do members know what the maxim, “Give, Get, or Get off” refers to?
- Does the organization have a high Board turnover rate?
- Are there inactive Board members who don’t show up for meetings or do any REAL work?
- Is the board’s morale low?
- Do only one or two Board members do all the work?
- Is it difficult for the Board to make any decisions?
- Do members go around and around on issues without moving towards resolution?
- Are decisions made simply to put an end to discussion or are they put off from meeting to meeting?
- Does the Board help the Executive Director monitor and comply with contracts?
- Does the board involve itself in day to day issues that should be addressed by staff?
If you have trouble answering any of these questions or would like to learn how to strengthen your organization’s Board, call Susan Weinrich, the Coalition’s Program and Training Coordinator.
A strong and successful community-based organization has a strong and successful board of directors. Building and maintaining an effective board of directors requires recruiting, orienting, and training people committed to the mission of the organization. Additionally, for board members to function smoothly as a group, they must have common expectations, a common set of procedures they use, and a common understanding about their roles and responsibilities.
The Neighborhood Preservation Coalition can help you build and maintain an effective board of directors through training workshops designed specifically for the board members of your organization.
Strategic Planning for Your Organization
Strategic Planning can help your organization develop a cohesive and collective vision for its role in the community. Through the planning process staff, board, and community members work together to ensure that the organization addresses key needs and interests, rather than being led by available funding, impending crises, and outside interests. The planning process will help the Board and Staff understand each others’ roles, the current capacity of the organization, and how each can evolve through time.
A Strategic planning process identifies:
- what an organization intends to be in the future and how it will get there.
- who will do the work, when it needs to be done, and how much money and other resources are needed.
- the organization’s strengths and weaknesses as well as any opportunities and threats that may exist from outside the organization.
A strategic plan helps the organization carry out its mission and make decisions based on knowledge and understanding.
If you want to influence rather than be influenced, ensure that staff, board, and community are all on the same page, or plan for the long term sustainability of your community, Strategic Planning may be just what you need.
What is involved?
TIME & ENERGY
Focused and Committed Time and Energy is needed to first design and then implement the plan. The planning process can be as elaborate or simple as you decide, ranging from about 8 hrs of meetings to over 40 hours of meeting time. The expected timeline depends on the size of your organization, the number of programs you run, and the amount of time you can realistically expect from participants.
Normally, 5-8 key staff, board members, and community members are involved in the planning committee. Good leadership and active participation is essential.
- Your group may choose to have a consultant facilitate the process.
When NOT to do a Strategic Plan-
- If your organization has a serious crisis that must be resolved.
- If the staff and board lack the commitment to develop an effective plan and implement it.
If you would like to learn more about how to conduct a strategic plan for your organization, please call the Coalition’s Program and Training Coordinator.