Summary: In today’s podcast episode, Stephen Halasnik and his guest Karen Eber discuss how to handle your boss, the nonprofit board. The sustainability of a nonprofit organization lies in its board members having the fiduciary responsibility to guide and act honestly for the good of the organization. The board can be challenging to the executive director’s role, so you have to figure out a strategy or fundraising plan to get the board on the same page.
Breaking Down Boards
Boards are either one of two things: micro-managed or not engaged, so a middle zone must be achieved to receive the best results. For smaller nonprofits, it is more common to see micro-managing. The board chair needs to be the one to filter the information to the executive director. This is an important aspect because you will want board members who have the same vision in mind. When the board is a mess, the executive director needs to step in to set roles, bylaws, and responsibilities. When boards are running well then they are bringing ideas to the table, which presents a community meaning.
How To Handle Your Board
To handle your board meeting one of the first steps is to instill meeting etiquette. With that being said you want to start the meeting on time since most have a busy schedule. Likewise, most meetings have a goal to stay under 90 minutes, so the board does not get tired and then can get back to their day. When going into a meeting there needs to be an information agenda composed so the full board can follow along or prepare ahead of time. On this agenda, there should only be a few topics to discuss because the goal is to not overwhelm the board with information.
When looking at the agenda there needs to be a clear focus depending on if you are asking for policies and strategic plans or if you are asking them to micro-manage. For most boards, meetings are only once a month and sometimes every other month. With that being said, there is a leadership role that can be taken by either the chair of the board or the executive director to separately meet with the nonprofit employees to make sure everything they planned is still in check.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, a lot of meetings have been on Zoom or webinars, and the positives to this are that the meetings have been a lot shorter. The negatives are that they do not have a lively cross conversion, and you miss the casual conversation that happens before and after the meetings.
Find Time For Relationship Building
The board needs time to get to know each other. This time for relationship building is very important because it can grow strong board connections, and an overall good leadership team and you can find that many of you share similar situations. You will be able to find out what people’s strengths are, and where they need help. This is especially important when there are new board members because you want them to feel welcomed and a part of the group. When these connections are made you should know what each other will think about and the topics discussed so decisions can be made quickly.
When in a group with a time limit you want to give everyone a chance to give their own opinion, however, this can be difficult at times. One way to solve this problem is by planning in advance who will talk, or setting a specific time limit so members do not go over. The board president or the executive director should conduct this to keep the meeting moving so the important topics for the month can be the main focus.
Assistance with Organization
BoardSource is known as the healing potential of the nonprofit sector. It is designed for nonprofit organizations that are looking for year-round support, and for those who are committed to continued advancement, helping to strengthen their boards and missions. It provides board resources that can be used to help existing boards, new boards, and a new ED to assist in furthering their goals. This can help with board policies, guidelines, job descriptions, as well as different template options to follow. This can help with board development for the entire board.
There is a difference between large and smaller nonprofits. Large nonprofit organizations have a staff member act as an assistant to the executive director that is in charge of all things regarding the board. Someone that sends out reminders, makes packets and makes sure that if someone needs, for example, zoom training, that they are getting it.
Conclusion: There are two major issues that nonprofit boards have with executive directors, and these are finding their roles and figuring out how to contribute. To best manage the board, being extremely organized and putting a focus on relationship building will set you up for prosperity. If a board is struggling to get organized and make these bonds then there are ways to get assistance, such as BoardSource or an assistant so they can make the nonprofit organization as successful as possible.
About the Guest Speaker: Karen Eber Davis, Karen Eber Davis Consulting
Before founding her firm, Karen Eber Davis developed the Sarasota County Community Development Block Grant Program. Under her leadership, this infant program received the National Association of Counties National Affordable Housing Award for the Down Payment Assistance Program. To date, the program helped over 1,800 families realize their dreams of homeownership. She also worked with the City of Ft. Lauderdale and the Florida Department of State, Division of Cultural Affairs where she developed the division’s first audit program. In an earlier position at Good Shepherd Lutheran Church in Tampa, she organized senior, youth, and children groups plus family activities. Her youth staffing work with the Florida Synod of the Lutheran Church in America supported youth ministries in 120 congregations in Florida.
As a Graduate Fellow, she earned her Master’s Degree in Business Administration (MBA) from the University of South Florida with a focus on finance and marketing. She graduated magna cum laude from the University of Connecticut with a bachelor’s degree in psychology. During her undergraduate studies, she participated in two award-winning research projects, one on self-esteem and a second on children’s concepts of sexual identity.
The nonprofit-focused consulting firm, Karen Eber Davis Consulting works with leaders who want to lead from vision, not fear. The firm helps organizations build infrastructure to propel them to revenue growth and top performance. As the leading authority on nonprofit revenue, the firm helps clients to create dynamic partnerships with donors, sponsors, government entities, and businesses to make an extraordinary impact. People engage the firm to help them grow their revenue by up to 300 percent as they work together. What they gain long-term care strategies that improve their organizations forever.
About The Host Stephen Halasnik, Financing Solutions
Stephen Halasnik is the host of the popular, The Nonprofit MBA Podcast. The Nonprofit MBA podcast’s purpose is to help nonprofit leaders. Mr. Halasnik is the Co-founder and Managing Partner of Financing Solutions. Financing Solutions is a leading provider of Lines of Credit to nonprofits and small businesses.
Mr. Halasnik is a graduate of Rutgers University and has an Executive Masters from the MIT Birthing of Giants Entrepreneurship program. Mr. Halasnik is a best-selling Amazon author and is considered a leading authority on building great, purpose-driven businesses. Mr. Halasnik lives in New Jersey with his best friend, his wife Gina. Mr. Halasnik’s number one purpose is raising his two boys, Michael and Maxwell, to be good men.
About Financing Solutions Nonprofit Line of Credit
Financing Solutions, an A+ and 5 stars rated BBB company since 2002, is a direct lender that provides lines of credit to nonprofits and small businesses.
Financing Solutions nonprofit financing product is a great alternative to a traditional bank line of credit because it costs nothing to set up, nothing until used, and when used, is inexpensive. The credit line requires no collateral and no personal guarantees.
Nonprofit Organizations use their line of credit to help with emergencies or opportunities when cash flow is temporarily down (i.e. Payroll funding)
Please feel free to fill out the no-obligation, 2-minute nonprofit line of credit application here. The time to set up a credit line is when you don’t need it so that it is ready to be used, just in case.
Note: Financing Solutions donates 10% of its profits to various nonprofit charities