One of my favorite nonprofit resources, Blue Avocado, is an online newsletter written by nonprofit professionals for community nonprofit leaders and staff. What truly makes Blue Avocado stand apart from many other nonprofit resources is that the articles are written in a simple, direct style without any nonprofit jargon, making it an accessible resource for people with all levels of knowledge about nonprofits. They’ve published some great articles over the past few years on multiple topics that face a nonprofit board of directors and I’ve highlighted articles on some of the tougher topics for a board of directors below.
On a volunteer board, it’s important to remember to remain respectful and supportive of the work that the whole group accomplishes, even if you disagree with some decisions made by the board. What to Do When You Really, Really Disagree with a Board Decision is a great Q & A on specific scenarios where board members wrote in with situations where they disagreed with a board’s decision based on concerns about safety, suspicions of embezzlement, or just plain disagreeing with a vote on an agenda item. The article provides some good tips on how to express dissent in healthy way and how to direct your concerns to the right people at the right time.
Have you found that it’s hard to recruit board members because a three-year term is a big commitment? Or does your board ever experience dropping attendance by board members, maybe with someone ceasing to attend meetings at all? Board Terms: 1 Year – 3 Years – 2 Years highlights a restructuring of board member terms at one nonprofit in Kansas. The nonprofit wanted a better method of turning over the board when they had destructive or neglectful board members and the nonprofit decided to change their board terms to 1 year – 3 years – 2 years to address their problem. This allowed the new board members to see if they enjoyed their term in the 1st year before committing to a longer second term of 3 years. It also allowed the board to evaluate the new board member’s fit within the current board and to keep focus on the nonprofit’s needs rather than a specific board member’s personality or pet projects.
At some point, a board of directors may find that a board member is a polarizing force on the board and other board members feel that the situation is hurting the ability of the board to fulfill its mission. It’s an awkward situation and it can cause anxiety for the board members who don’t know how to handle it. Four Ways to Remove a Board Member highlights four ways for a board to manage a problematic board member, from a personal intervention by the board chair/president to impeachment. We hope your board doesn’t face this situation but the article may help discussions at your board about how you function as a group.
Has your board found itself in a tough position like those covered by Blue Avocado? How have you handled disagreements on your board? We’d love to hear from you in the comments.