Help Your Board Members Meet Expectations : Successful Nonprofits

Help Your Board Members Meet Expectations

by Ro

Help Your Board Members Meet Expectations

by Ro

by Ro

We are often asked for best practices to help an organization support its Board members in meeting all their expectations (attendance, give/get, etc). Our go-to recommendation is the Board Score Card.

The Score Card tracks each Board member’s meeting attendance, committee participation, philanthropy, and fundraising. It can also track other data important to your organization, like event attendance and completing the annual Conflict of Interest Disclosure. Check BoardSource’s Recommended Governance Practices for more ideas about what you might want to include on your Score Card.

We recommend that your Governance committee assume responsibility for updating and distributing the Score Card and providing an individualized Score Card to each Board member – – – – Score Cards should NOT be shared with the wider Board. 

This must be done regularly – ideally at every meeting or but no less frequently than quarterly – so Board members have plenty of time to satisfy their expectations each year. The Governance Committee also has the responsibility for speaking with any Board members who are at risk of not meeting the minimum expectations of Board service.

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There are four great things about this Score Card:

It helps clarify expectations. Many Boards with underperforming members are also Boards whose members are really unclear about what is expected of them. Having all those expectations on one sheet of paper makes them very clear. And receiving the card regularly also reminds Board members of their commitments. 

It’s an opportunity to double check your record keeping. Nonprofits have a lot of data to track, and things can slip through the cracks. Score Cards give your Board members the opportunity to double check your records and make you aware of any corrections that are needed.

It helps the Governance Committee avoid difficult conversations. Most people like to meet their responsibilities. But they’re also human – which means they are busy and sometimes forget things. Receiving a regular reminder of where they stand is a gentle nudge to get cracking on that donation they meant to send in last month or make sure they don’t miss any more meetings this year.

But if you do still have to have a difficult conversation, the Score Card smooths the way. Rather than your conversation being a surprise, your disengaged Board member will already be aware that he or she is not meeting expectations. And you can center your conversation around the facts – all conveniently laid out on that Score Card for you – rather than memory or feelings.

Why I Am Writing About This

Supporting Board members to meet their expectations is a pain point for many nonprofits and Board Chairs. And while Score Cards certainly don’t fix every problem – they are a simple step in the right direction.

If you’re thinking about how you can build the board you need, make sure you check out our webinar page to find out when we’re hosting our next Board development webinar.

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

Blog: How to Fire a Difficult Board Member 

Blog: Build the Board You Need with a Board Matrix! 

Podcast: Your 3 Legal Duties as a Nonprofit Board Member with Bruce Hopkins 

Podcast: How to Address the Disengaged Board Member with Cindi Phallen

Feel free to share your thoughts!

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