3 Reasons Your Board Should Brush Up on Governance


 Sharon Castle
Capacity Builder

 “The fitting Board of Directors is less about physical strength, more about mental toughness, with fitting minds and fresh eyes.” ― Pearl ZhuDigitizing Boardroom: The Multifaceted Aspects of Digital Ready Boards

With more than 30 years of nonprofit experience, board governance and development are part of my “muscle memory”, a term I encountered while learning the wonderful game of tennis (that’s another story for another blog post) but essentially, it’s when you’ve done something repetitively, you do it without actually thinking about it.

Teaching it, however, is another matter. My first assignment with Nonprofit Network was presenting a full day "Accelerating Board Performance:  Better Conversations, Discussions, and Decisions” workshop at a state-wide organization’s annual conference.  Now to give you some background, the workshop had been scheduled prior to my joining NN and the outline/proposal submitted by a colleague. I was a bit nervous to present to nearly 100 nonprofit board members and executives on board development. A topic some would say is not overly exciting.

About thirty minutes into the session, with attendees asking questions, sharing challenges, solutions, and thoughts, I was quickly reminded of the extreme importance of good governance and what it means to maintain a healthy and vibrant nonprofit, regardless of where it is in its life cycle, who is serving on the board or the talents of its executive leadership.  

In fact, to my delight, I became engaged and did get excited about the topic! 

So, here are my takeaways and thoughts about why every board member and nonprofit executive should regularly brush up on good governance:

  1. No matter how many boards you have served or currently serve, each organization is at a different stage in its life cycle, and you may not have experience in all stages. 
  2. Dedicating intentional time to attend a workshop or bringing in a consultant to facilitate a board governance session keeps best practices at the forefront of leadership.
  3. Governance training provides an opportunity to have productive conversations at the board level and to identify organizational strengths and challenges, including board recruitment and orientation, working with the Executive Director, member’s individual, and collective board responsibilities. 

If you want to keep your board members’ minds fit and eyes fresh, check out this upcoming workshop on Dec. 12, 2023: Foundations of Board Governance.
And our additional webpage resource, 
I Want To... Build a Stronger Board.

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*updated from 2018

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