We are living in unprecedented and uncertain times. For many of us, the normal cycle of work and life has been turned completely upside down. Nonprofits of all sizes are wrestling with more challenging and difficult decisions than they ever have before.
To weather the current situation, we must engage in our organizational best thinking, from staff and board leadership. Every resource at our disposal should be deployed to meet the challenges. Nonprofit staff members cannot and should not be expected to do this alone. As the Standards for Excellence: An Ethics and Accountability Code for the Nonprofit Sector states, “Nonprofits depend upon effective leadership to successfully enact their missions and programs. Effective leadership consists of a partnership between the board and management, each of which plays an essential role.”
At this crucial time, nonprofit boards should be engaged and leading in a way that will help the nonprofits they serve survive the current challenges and the tough times that lay ahead. Here’s how:
Meet as Often as Needed
Many nonprofits are having to quickly adjust their strategies in response to the current climate. This means that the board of directors might need to meet more frequently than usual. The Standards for Excellence code encourages nonprofit boards to “meet as frequently as needed to fully and adequately conduct the business of the organization. At a minimum, the board should meet four (4) times a year.” We know that many boards are increasing the frequency of their board meetings—and, as a matter of necessity, holding remote board meetings using various technologies where all members can hear and be heard, or understand and be understood.
Know What is Expected of You as a Board Member and do That
This is the time for board members to lean into their responsibilities of governance and fiduciary leadership for the organization, honoring the public’s trust in the organization and its leadership, so that the organization can continue to serve future generations in their communities.
Each board of directors should have clearly stated expectations for their responsibilities which as the Standards for Excellence code states, should address, at a minimum, “attendance at meetings, participation in fundraising activities, committee service, and involvement in program activities.” There is no time like the present to remind board members of their crucial responsibilities. And if you do not have formal board member job descriptions, now is a great time to establish them.
If you’re unsure of how to do this, our Standards for Excellence educational resource packet Board Member Responsibilities is a great place to start. This packet includes discussions and resources on board members’ governance, fiduciary, and legal responsibilities, bylaws, policies, board member expectations and evaluations of members’ performance, meetings and attendance
Help Your Nonprofit Fundraise and Connect with Resources
Nonprofits need their board members to step up and help raise funds and develop the resources, especially in situations where budgeted income is no longer expected or anticipated due to the economic climate. Despite the environment, this may be the single most important moment for board member involvement in raising resources for their organizations.
Know the Best Practices for Nonprofit Boards
The full series of Standards for Excellence educational packets include sample policies, tools, and model procedures to help nonprofits achieve best practices in their governance and management. They can be accessed by contacting a Licensed Standards for Excellence replication partner, one of the over 150 Standards for Excellence Licensed Consultants, or by becoming a member of the Standards for Excellence Institute.
We thank each board member for your continued support of the nonprofit sector share our sincere wishes for your continued good health and patience as we all navigate these challenging and uncertain times.