A Strong Leadership Team — Elements Of Organizational Success – Part 2

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Creating A Culture of Asking Series

Last month I outlined the first five of the ten essential elements that will help you realize nonprofit capital campaign success.  All of them have to do with,  “leadership…people who do what they say they are going to do.”

Now, while this applies to staff—professional and support—and even more so to volunteers.

As I mentioned there are ten core concepts of volunteer leadership responsibility.  The first five are to:

  1. Determine the mission.
  2. Select the CEO.
  3. Support and evaluate the CEO.
  4. Ensure effective planning.
  5. Monitor and strengthen the agency’s programs and services.

This month, I want to focus on the next five.

6. The sixth core responsibility of the board is to ensure adequate financial resources.  This concept requires the recognition that development is everyone’s responsibility.  The minimum requirement for the board is to achieve 100% participation in development efforts with a personal, exemplary gift.  Then, by working through the Development Committee to:

  • Approve the case for support;
  • Identify and diversify individual sources of funding;
  • Open doors;
  • Solicit the gifts of others; and
  • Steward relationships and acknowledge the support of others.

In sum, board members should become ever-increasingly skilled in the tasks of development and fundraising.

7. Protecting the organization’s assets and providing financial oversight form the seventh central responsibility of board members.  As fiduciaries, they collectively safeguard the organization’s financial health through the work of a finance committee which:

  • Reviews, understands, approves and monitors the annual budget;
  • Establishes policies to balance short- and long-term needs;
  • Verifies systems and practices the fulfill Generally Accepted Accounting Principles;
  • Ensures that there are adequate financial reserves;
  • Provides for appropriate risk-management; and
  • Approves investment policy and oversee performance.

In their role of providing financial oversight the board is supporting the CEO and staff in the work of the mission of the organization.

8. The eighth essential element of success of any board is their role in leadership development that builds a competent board.  Through a standing committee on Governance and Leadership Development, the board begins by creating and maintaining a board profile of existing members.  The committee is constantly identifying prospective new leaders to fill gaps in representation by age, gender, demography, profession, involvement, etc.  The committee engages the board in articulating a set of mutual expectations—both individual and collective.  Additionally, the committee leads the board in:

  • Annually orienting board members—new and old;
  • Connecting the board with meaningful work; and
  • Assessing and evaluating individual and collective performance.

9. By ensuring legal and ethical integrity, the board fulfills its ninth core responsibility.  The board regularly reviews its legal structure and by-laws to conform to current realities and best practices.  They ensure adherence to and compliance with all legal standards and ethical norms.  They maintain total transparency, accountability a culture of openness and adhere to a rigorous conflict-of-interest policy.

10. As ambassadors to the community, the board members meet their tenth central role.  Individually and collectively they advocate on behalf of the organization.  The board represents all of the organization’s stakeholders and they communicate the agency’s story effectively.  They tell the story of their own involvement as well as the organization’s impact.  Board members take primary responsibility for expressing appreciation for donors and funders support and they participate joyfully in the life of the organization’s events and activities.