Everyone wants a high-functioning Board. Yet few know how to make it happen.

At the AFP conference in San Antonio, I had the privilege of hearing Simone Joyeaux present a session on Boards. I thoroughly enjoyed it (she’s an entertaining speaker!) and I took some great notes. Here’s the summary of what I caught so you can learn with me – it’s 10 tips for building a better Board.

1. Board member: You can’t be chicken and be an effective Board member.  Don’t be dysfunctionally polite. Your silence is unacceptable. Everyone needs to have the courage to voice their opinion, even when it goes against the rest of the group’s opinion.

2. There’s a difference between what a Board can do and what a Board member can do. Boards do governance. Board members do work. The Board as a whole can’t do fundraising. Individual Board members can do fundraising.

3. No single Board member has authority over another. No individual Board member can act on behalf of the Board unless specifically given that authority.

4. A Board can only do governance as a group. The Board is a collective and does governance in a meeting. Committees don’t do governance. The Board as a whole does governance.

5. Here’s a question a Board should ask itself: How do we govern and pay attention without micromanaging and driving staff away?

6. Both staff and Board are responsible for knowing what good governance is. Staff – learn more about governance so you can partner with the Board and support them. But don’t demand that they know how to be good at their job if they’ve never learned.

7. People don’t buy into what they don’t create. Get Board members involved in creating the vision and the plans.

8. There is no give or get. Every Board member should make a monetary gift and help raise money.

9. Committees make recommendations and engage the full Board. Ask at the end of a committee meeting: Do we have anything to report?

10. Our lives are built around prevention and intervention. How does your Board do these?
Want more help with your Board?

Board retreat: Let us deliver our “Board Magic” workshop for your next retreat. We help your Board understand and embrace their roles/responsibilities, help them find their comfort zone with fundraising, and set the stage for your coming year. More info at http://getfullyfunded.com/board-magic-workshop.

Do-It-Yourself: Conduct your own Board retreat using Sandy’s materials with a Board Training in a Box. Everything you need, including DVDs, workbooks, and toys. More info at http://getfullyfunded.com/board-training-in-a-box/.



  1. Yes! Excellent notes Sandy. Thanks for sharing them. No. 8 is a particular favorite of mine. Additionally, staff and board should work to help all board members find the role that they are best suited for, even the members that everyone else find annoying (http://bit.ly/PRAHiS). They will often be some of the most valuable members.

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