Creating and maintaining a well-balanced, effective board for your organization doesn’t have to be difficult.

Here are 10 ‘ingredients’ of well functioning boards:

The Board Takes Responsibility. This includes having a Governance Committee to focus on pieces like board recruitment.

You Know the Gaps. Using a data gathering tool is one way to measure the composition of your board such as demographics, networks, and skillsets – so you can identify the gaps within your organization that should be addressed.

There is consensus on Board Expectations. A big (and common) mistake that most boards make is expecting that new board members know the expectations for the board. This includes practicing the same standards that should be expected of new board members.

You’re Honest and Clear About Your Needs. Clearly communicate board expectations – it improves the likelihood of new board members staying and advises board leadership, committee work, fundraising, and general volunteer roles.

Prospecting, recruiting, and cultivation happens regularly. You should always keep a robust prospect list. Capturing names and conversations ensures that you ask the right person at the right time.

Leadership rotates. Setting term limits for board leadership positions is the best way to ensure that you’re bringing in the right leaders with the right skillsets and varying perspectives. Organizations change over time; your board should, too!

Recruit and Train Leaders within your organization. Create the understanding that each member may be asked to move to a leadership role at some point. Plan training opportunities for all leadership roles.

Board Effectiveness is evaluated. Every board should self-evaluate to ensure alignment with legally required policies and procedures, while also gauging board engagement and culture.

“Highest and Best Use”. Volunteers are often an organization’s biggest assets but are often underutilized. Many of these volunteers will rise to a task if asked personally.

Celebrate! Instead of always looking at the next goal or phase of your organization, make sure you review your accomplishments with your members and celebrate them together. You’ve all earned a bit of recognition, after all. ◊

This content was originally presented in an October 2022 Client Roundtable Program by Mary Sumners, Vice President and Kirstin VanderMolen, Senior Strategist at Kennari Consulting.