Building and maintaining healthy boards

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Board Responsibilities

  • Accountability and Oversight
  • Direction Setting and Vision
  • Fiduciary Responsibility and Financial Oversight
  • Governance
  • Ensure Transparency: within the organization and with the public at large. Good stewards of money in the public trust.


  • Continuity and Institutional Memory
  • Remove and Misalignment
  • Financial Dynamics and Disparity: there can be bad dynamics if the org serves low income people and the board is high income fundraisers. conversely, if the board is also low income people, the org can be always strapped for money.
  • Governance takes times

Board & Staff Relations

  • Grievance Committee: some way for employees to communicate with the board. Staff need a point of contact with the board.
  • there can be a very strong impulse from the ED to tell the board what they want to hear and to keep the board and staff very separate.
  • Anchoring work in the mission and values, not friendship.
  • Personnel or HR committee: reviewing employee handbook. ensuring rights are protected.
  • Staff presentations at every board meeting
  • Staff (and members) on board committees

Other Issues


  • Why are we here?
  • What are our core values?
  • Crisis Management



  • Nonprofit AF -- an irreverent blog about board dynamics, some very good posts.
  • Nonprofit Leadership Lab -- Joan Garry, help with boards. Paid.
  • BoardSource -- BoardSource is the recognized leader in nonprofit board leadership research, leadership, and support. We provide leaders with an extensive range of tools, resources, and research data to increase board effectiveness and strengthen organizational impact, and serve as the national voice for inspired and effective board leadership
  • Blue Avocado -- Blue Avocado provides practical, provocative food for thought for nonprofit organizations: Management, HR, Finance, Fundraising & more.
  • Sustainable Economies Law Center
  • Compass Point
  • The Center for Excellence in Nonprofits