Build the Board You Need with a Board Matrix! : Successful Nonprofits

Build the Board You Need with a Board Matrix!

by Ro

Build the Board You Need with a Board Matrix!

by Ro

by Ro

What is a board matrix and why do I need one?

A Board matrix is a simple tool that helps you review and assess the expertise, connections, lived experiences, and leadership capacity of your Board members. This is an important part of making sure that your board membership reflects your values and that ultimately you have (and maintain) the board you need.

How do I make a board matrix?

Every board matrix will be unique because every nonprofit and every nonprofit board is unique. With that said, every matrix should track term limits and leadership capacity for each board member – as these items are part of making sure you have a strong leadership pipeline.

After that, your matrix depends on the current and anticipated needs of your organization and your board. Here are a couple questions to ask yourself to help fill in the rest of your matrix:

        • What professional areas of expertise are important to my nonprofit and my board?
      • Hint: Almost every nonprofit can benefit from having an experienced accountant, attorney, and marketing/communications professional on its board. Now, what else does your board need (eg: real estate expertise)?
        • What connections are important to my nonprofit and my board?
      • Hint: Almost every nonprofit can benefit from having board members with connections to local businesses, politicians, faith communities, community leaders, and media. What other connections are important to your nonprofit (eg: schools)?
        • What lived experiences (aka DEI metrics) are important to my nonprofit and my board?
      • Hint: Almost every nonprofit can benefit from including race, gender, gender identity, sexual orientation and age. What other lived experiences are important to your nonprofit (eg: former clients, geographic representation, etc)?

We’ve provided a board matrix template below, but don’t be that person who just downloads the document and starts using it! We’ve offered it in a fully editable excel document because we want you to review and modify the tool to meet your needs! 

A lot of our consulting colleagues make you sign up for their newsletter in order to get their templates. We aren’t going to do that, but we would still like you to consider signing up for our newsletter. So if you would like to know about all the great stuff we’re doing, then sign up below and stay informed!

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Great! Now that I have a board matrix, how do I use it?

Now that you’ve developed your matrix, it’s time to complete it! We recommend having each board member fill out their own matrix annually. A quick way to do this is to create an online form via Office or google and ask everyone to fill it out at the first board meeting of the year (and while you’re at it, make sure everyone signs their Conflict of Interest form, too). Microsoft Forms even exports the data into an Excel spreadsheet for you! 

Now your Nominating Committee (or whichever committee runs your recruitment process) can track which traits and leadership roles your next recruitment campaign really needs to focus on finding. And don’t forget to have your prospective board members fill out the matrix, too!

Why I Am Writing About This!

Recently, a lot of our strategic planning clients have focused on their board composition – they want to see more inclusive representation and make sure they have a strong leadership pipeline. But that’s a lot to keep track of, especially when you’ve got other organizational and personal things going on. Many have found using a matrix really useful – and I think everyone should know about it!

Have more questions about Boards? Check out our Board development services and upcoming webinars on Board Retreats!

Additionally, check out the following Successful Nonprofits® resources if this post was helpful:

Blog: 3 Templates for Your Board Recruitment Campaign

Blog: Orienting Your New Board Chair

Podcast: Finding Your Next Great Board Member with Rob Acton

Podcast: The Supportive Board Chair with Monica Khant

Feel free to share your thoughts!

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