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How to start a board of directors

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This is a follow-up to the blog about boards from a few days ago.   I’ve seen a lot of bad  boards in my day. I was fortunate to be seared by the experience of seeing several rogue boards make a mess of their oversight responsibilities.  I say “fortunate” because I vowed tha…
By Seth Barnes
This is a follow-up to the blog about boards from a few days ago.
 
I’ve seen a lot of bad  boards in my day. I was fortunate to be seared by the experience of seeing several rogue boards make a mess of their oversight responsibilities.  I say “fortunate” because I vowed that I’d never make those mistakes.  Probably the greatest failure was in starting the boards too quickly and without adequately training them concerning their responsibilities. Here are my brief thoughts on how to start and empower boards followed by a few sources of board failure.
 
Initiating New Boards
  • Only invite people you trust to the board. Candidates need to have proven themselves trustworthy over time. You need to have had some experience with them.
  • The networking process necessary for a new board takes two years of concerted effort.
  • A rushed board recruitment process results in diluting vision and poor
    stewardship of resources.  The devil says “hurry,” God operates by
    giving a sense of peace.
  • Boards should be assembled by the chief stakeholders (see my blog Thursday on that) who have experience in the art of assembling a board. If you don’t have experience, get counsel from others.
  • Staff or board members interested in having input in assembling a
    board should first seek training.  In case of a time crunch:  set up
    boards where members have a one year tenure.  Positions should be
    offered using stakeholder analysis.  Established trust relationships
    are essential to preserve integrity of vision and stewardship of staff
    and assets.
Board Responsibilities
  1. Stewardship of vision:  Annual evaluation and re-focusing
  2. Stewardship of financial resources: Establish and evaluate budgets & fiscal policy
  3. Administrator accountability:  Quarterly report, annual evaluation
  4. Giving:  Either time or money (both would be nice)
  5. Exercising influence:  Mobilize resources by using influence in own networks
  6. PR:  Acting as a communication link to own community

Sources of Board Failure

  • When decisions are not bathed in prayer.
  • When a board recruitment process has been rushed.
  • When stakeholder analysis has not been thorough.  Or is not embraced.
  • When board members are unclear as to their fiduciary responsibility.
  • When trust doesn’t exist between individual board members or administrative staff.
  • When the board becomes involved in administration rather than vision.

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