Building Board Capacity
The skill and knowledge required of nonprofit boards to fulfill their legal and ethical responsibilities is vast. First, board members must learn the business model for their particular mission. Then they must learn how to govern their nonprofit, and while there are many commonalities, there are also many variations. There are many kinds of boards, and they are not legally bound by the same requirements. There are numerous options for board structure. There are many ways that nonprofits generate revenue to sustain their mission. Applicable local, state and federal regulations vary depending on the organization. All of this, for most board members who are volunteers from other fields of expertise, adds up to an immense learning curve to be effective.
Krysalis consultants will work with your board to design learning experiences and lead planning processes that build capacity in your members to carry out their governance responsibilities:
Board effectiveness -- develop board practices that fit the size, type, maturity, and identity of your nonprofit, and enable members to function to achieve goals.
Strategic planning -- discern the value of an effective strategic plan, define the board's role, learn how to be generative thinkers, develop outcome measurements, use the strategic plan to hold key leaders accountable.
Sustainability -- create true financial viability through programs that carry out your mission, using the Matrix Map.
Collaboration -- establish criteria and strategies for developing collaborative relationships that will add value to all parties involved.
Succession Planning -- develop plans that assure continuity of the programs and financial viability over the long term, whether faced with an unexpected circumstance or the planned departure of a key leader.
You can start right now! Krysalis consultants invite you to evaluate the readiness of your board to address its multi-faceted responsibilities with an assessment based on an the ten basic responsibilities from BoardSource, a respected knowledge and training center for governance and leadership. Download the assessment and use the information to determine your next development steps. Click the BoardSource link for more governance and leadership information.
Coach: Assists an individual leader or the board as a whole to identify the key areas in which they wish to develop greater skill or effective behaviors. The coach suggests strategies, exercises, and tools to guide the process of learning. She provides observations, feedback and support to learners and holds them accountable to their goals.
Facilitator: In a board setting, a facilitator manages the meeting agenda and dialogue in coordination with the chair. The facilitator can relieve the chair of keeping the boundaries with regard to topic, timeframes, and format so that the meeting flows smoothly. A facilitator is especially helpful if board relations have become tense and dialogue is not productive. With the permission of the board, a facilitator may also coach the group to help them develop healthy interactions.
Trainer: Designs and provides leadership for one or several sessions focused on a specific topic for board members to learn roles, responsibilities, specific skills, etc.
How do you rate your board's performance? As an executive working for a nonprofit, or a board member serving a nonprofit, your responses may vary. The Krysalis consultants have certainly experienced boards that carry out their responsibilities with excellence, and those that struggle. Professionals who do research on governance practices and provide board training agree on these two conclusions:
Formal training and development initiatives DO raise the level of performance and, therefore, satisfaction related to the board experience.
Board development is never "done" because board members and leaders rotate, and because the organization and the surrounding environment are always changing.
Board development may involve the Krysalis professionals as a consultant, a coach, a facilitator or a trainer. While these roles often overlap or merge together, these are the typical characteristics of each:
Consultant: Generally contracted to help the board or key leader understand an issue and to recommend specific actions. A common example is to assess the organizational life cycle and board practices to recommend changes in structure and policies. A consulting agreement involves investigation, analysis, recommendations, and decision-making.