Even with all the articles that define whose job is whose, it is difficult to sucinctly say if a Board Member is micromanaging or if the Executive Director is exepecting too much from volunteers. The complete answer lies in what kind of board the organization has or needs (governing, working, fundraising) and if everyone has a consensus around the direction of the organization, if every member of the team has been recruited well with a clear job description. But even when this is all in place - questions still arise. Especially when someone questions integrity, ethics or due diligence. This link guides you to a document that may help you decide how much oversight you do - or don't need - and how to tell what is appropriate. Pay close attention to the "tools of trust" - these tools allow a board to sit back just a bit and rely on their Executive Director to do their job, but sometimes this list gives the board permission to look a little closer....
Principles and Practices
A nonprofit board of directors is responsible for defining the organization's mission and for providing overall leadership and strategic direction to the organization. A nonprofit board actively sets policy and ensures that the organization has adequate resources to carry out its mission. The board provides oversight and direction for the executive director and is responsible for evaluating his/her performance. A nonprofit board also has a responsibility to evaluate its own effectiveness in upholding the public interest(s) served by the organization.
Boards are the key governing body of any nonprofit and if worked with correctly, they can be a major asset in helping achieve success. However, many nonprofits don't know how to manage Boards or Board meetings efficiently and effectively. Check out the advice from a long-time board member Jay Love on 7 Do's and Don'ts: Confessions-of-a-Nonprofit-Board-Member
One of the best ways to establish an effective Board is to structure sub-committees to take on various tasts in between the larger Board Meetings. Some Boards need more than others and some sub-committees can be standing committees while others are temprorary. Read the following article by Eileen Morgan Johnson to gain a better understanding of what types of committees you should be considering: Board-Committee-Structure
Use this document like a "job description" for your board members. Knowing and understanding your basic legal and ethical responsibilities as well as the basic functions of the board will help your organization be more effective. Basic-Board-Responsibilities.pdf
Evaluating your own performance is a great practice. Use this tool to help identify strengths and weaknesses on your board. The scoring tool will help you focus your efforts. We recommend that all board members take the assessment - and remember, consesus is more important than your score. Call us if you need help. Quick-Board-Self-Assessment.pdf
Hiring leadership is one of the most important duties of a nonprofit board. Click here for a suggestions on how and where to recruit your next Executive Director. Suggested-Process-for-Recruting-an-Executive-Director.pdf
A fully engaged, active board doesn't happen organically. It takes deliberate acts, concentrated efforts, planning and lots of behind the scenes work to create a board that understands their role and takes governance seriously. Click here for an article that discusses how to engage your board.
One of the legal duties of a board member is the Duty of Loyalty: The duty of loyalty is a standard of faithfulness; a board member must give undivided allegiance when making decisions affecting the organization. A Board of Trustees is supposed to be an independent group of thinkers representing the community served who pledges allegiance to the mission of the organization.
By definition, in the presence of a conflict of interest, loyalty and allegiance are challenged. Click here for a sample Conflict of Interest policy that helps address this complex conversation.