Leading Practices

Last week’s BoardSource Leadership Forum presented some updates on nonprofit governance that I found insightful:

  • Nomination Committees are no longer recommended as a separate committee of the board.  Governance Committees are the preferred model for handling board nominations, self-assessment, board engagement, and training among other responsibilities.

  • Board terms that run 1-year, 2-year, and 3-year for a total of six years of service are being recommended in place of the classic two 3-year terms.  An initial one-year commitment encourages the candidate to engage quicker and for the organization to empower the board member with meaningful work.  A short initial term provides sufficient assessment for both the board candidate and organization.  

  • Bylaws are recommended to be less restrictive and provide appropriate latitude.  Many committee structures and guidelines are being incorporated in Board Policies, thereby freeing the bylaws of potentially cumbersome organizational definitions.  An example is to provide an organization with greater range in the number of board members, remove arcane attendance requirements, embrace technology, and reduce the stringent meeting requirements (the third Tuesday of the month at 4 PM).

  • Executive Committees are recommended to meet as needed and not on a regular basis.  With an always-on and always-connected world there are few circumstances where immediate action is required without being able to assemble or poll the entire board.  Executive Committees continue to be a great resource to Executive Directors to provide a safe sounding-board and to float initiatives.


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