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Get Your Nonprofit Board Off To The Right Start In 2010

Nonprofits were financially challenged in 2009 like never before, with funding cuts from all sources–government, corporate, and philanthropic (foundations and individuals), as well as fees for services. For business people serving on nonprofit boards, here are five Dos and Don’ts to get your nonprofit board ship-shape for 2010: DON’T waste board meeting time on minor matters, or reports that can be emailed.

Nonprofits were financially challenged in 2009 like never before, with funding cuts from all sources–government, corporate, and philanthropic (foundations and individuals), as well as fees for services.

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For business people serving on nonprofit boards, here are five Dos and Don’ts to get your nonprofit board ship-shape for 2010:

DON’T waste board meeting time on minor matters, or reports that can be emailed.

  • DO focus the majority of your board meeting time on the major strategic and financial challenges and opportunities, and engage the board in discussion; be sure your board is getting relevant and concise information in advance so that you can be well prepared.

DON’T burden your board or your organization with board members who are not engaged.

  • DO move off board members who are not fully participating or bringing much-needed expertise, funding, or other significant value to the table.

DON’T settle for a board that lacks the people you need to achieve success.

  • DO determine the gaps in your board in terms of expertise, diversity of backgrounds and perspectives, networks, and giving and fundraising capacity; identify and recruit them.

DON’T let board leadership get stale.

  • DO identify and cultivate new leaders and plan for leadership succession for the position of board chair and other board officers. Having highly committed, talented, and fresh leaders is essential for the organization’s vitality and success.

DON’T forget why you are there.

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  • DO remember that you serve on the board to help an organization to achieve its vision (its greater potential) in fulfilling its mission (the organization’s compelling value) in service to the community. Be clear about how you can be useful as a board member, and be generous.

Communities of the world depend on nonprofit boards to succeed in guiding and shaping the organizations they govern. Boards that follow the five DOs above will be well on their way to success in 2010 and beyond.

Business people can play meaningful and productive roles in strengthening nonprofits in these challenging times, especially through effective board service.

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About the author

Korngold provides strategy consulting to global corporations on sustainability, facilitating corporate-nonprofit partnerships, and training and placing hundreds of business executives on NGO/nonprofit boards for 20+ years. She provides strategy and board governance consulting to NGO/nonprofit boards, foundations, and educational and healthcare institutions. Korngold's latest book is "A Better World, Inc.: How Companies Profit by Solving Global Problems…Where Governments Cannot," published by Palgrave Macmillan for release on 1/7/14

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