The main governing body of a nonprofit organization is the board of directors. They create and design the bylaws which are the operating rules.
The composition, size and governing skills of the initial board (the organizers) can craft great successes in fulfilling the association’s goals. Selection of board participants is therefore critical.
What is vital in the selection process is finding motivated volunteers to serve on the first board of directors. The next step for the new board is to apply the art and science of nonprofit management.
Implementation of best practices is key. Achievement is measured by outcomes consistent with goals of the organization.
Composition of the nonprofit board membership should be paired to their individual governing skills. A mixture of personality types enhances success. Selecting the right people to serve on the board is crucial.
Most nonprofits do not have huge budgets and unlimited time to do the organizations’ business. Therefore, avoiding potentially counterproductive volunteers becomes a challenge.
Here are some examples of volunteers who slow down or damage progress.
n People with a personal agenda not consistent with organizational goals.
n Individuals who are dissidents, negative and confrontational.
n The “boss” personality type — th dictator!
n Someone who ignores valuable input from others.
n The political personality who campaigns behind the scene one-on-one, not in the best interest of group consensus.
n Lastly, someone who doesn’t understand the priority of “principles before personalities.”
Look for this type:
n A person who has experience with volunteer leadership — “experience matters.”
n Good community standing. People know them for who they are, what they represent and what they have accomplished.
n Someone who can easily articulate and convey strong belief in the goals of the organization.
n People that demonstrate a balanced approach in decision making.
n A person who practices team work, inclusiveness and the contributions of others.
n Someone who values human differences for the great things that can do.
Large board or small board?
After a good mix of eligible people have been identified the next decision to make is board size.
This is one of the most important decisions the nonprofit organizers should make early on in the formation of the new association. Remember the tale of “The Three Bears”? A simple allegory but the story suggests a good fit and balance. Not too small, not too big, but just right. This is easy to say, but difficult to achieve.
What is the right size? That depends on what the organization wants to accomplish.
At one time, a 12-person board was traditionally considered ideal. Today one size no longer fits all needs. Board size begins with strategic planning and goal setting.
Small can mean efficiency in operation and flexibility. Large can offer different viewpoints, experience and continuity of leadership.
So what’s your size?
Dr. Frederick J. Herzog is the founder/executive director of the NonProfitResourceCenter in Citrus County. He can be reached by calling 847-899-9000 or email email@example.com. Visit the website at thenonprofitresourcecenter.com.