We are in a discussion of how to improve your nonprofit board’s impact and execution through four transformational practices. So far, we’ve discussed:
- Consistency: how a Board Policy Manual, a strategic plan, and thoughtful board make-up can build in process, focus and stability;
- Communication: how high-touch, consistent, and clear communication throughout the organization keeps everyone focused on the “main things” and feeling like an integral part fo the overall effort;
- Execution: how requiring board members to follow-through on responsibilities, using board Best Practices, and holding everyone accountable leads to greater impact and results.
Now, let’s take a look at perhaps the toughest one of all-Accountability. This one seems to give nonprofits the most trouble to embrace due to the general culture surrounding nonprofit organizations and ministries.
Accountability is nothing more than doing: what one volunteers to do, has been asked and agreed to do, or has a responsibility to do.
- Keys for Accountability
- Embrace Good Governance – Boards lead well when they take ownership of their governance role and their role as ultimate protector of the ministry’s reputation, culture, and mission.
- Foster Transparency – One of the most powerful ways ministry boards lead with authenticity is by their commitment to transparency in their dealings, not just financial but programs, operations, etc. This trend has been building steam for some time now and will not go away. Transparency is a powerful way to demonstrate leadership both internally and externally. Everyone wins.
- Fuel your Feedback Loop – Ministry boards demonstrate authentic leadership when they periodically seek feedback from various ministry stakeholders at all levels-donors, volunteers, ministry partners, employees, prior and current directors, etc.
- Evaluate for Effectiveness – Another area of leading well is periodically evaluating programs for their effectiveness. A board should be confident its programs deliver on the ministry’s promises.
- Obsess over Metrics –what you measure matters so the best way to improve anything is to measure it. Some activities are difficult to measure and others can be difficult to find comparable data, but even by simply measuring against one’s own previous results metrics can make a ministry “best in class”-which goes a long way when discussing major gifts with significant donors. Using metrics wisely is a hallmark of successful ministries and effective boards.
- Action Exercises:
- Investigate ECFA Membership and Accounting Adherence – The Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability (ECFA) is an outstanding resource on a variety of authentic board leadership issues
- Conduct annual board and director self-assessments –There are several tools on the market to measure how well directors individually, and as a board, are leading and adding value to the ministry. These tools also offer pathways to improved board and director performance by pinpointing areas of opportunities for specific concentration.
Because we operate in an ever-changing environment, effective board leadership is a journey, not a destination. The relatively recent emergence of IRS Form 990 and the Dodd Frank legislation (and how they will be interpreted), and today’s economic and regulatory uncertainties require boards to remain vigilant and proactive in their leadership style and in accountability for their own and the non-profit’s protection.
And by the way, it’s not just prudent or good business to lead well. Authentic leadership was God’s idea first. In Romans 12:8 He tells us, “If your gift is…to lead, do it diligently”.
Well, that’s it-four keys to transforming your board. Which ones does your board need to address? How do you plan to bring it up and implement the changes? Let me know and let’s discuss…