It is often said that baking is a science because there is little room for improvisation. Just a little more flour and too much mixing could turn a fluffy cake into a loaf of bread. However, in cooking, there is more room for error. Creating a board of directors is both art and science. A great board will require a specific mix of “ingredients” that must be carefully calculated to ensure the desired result. However, no one recipe will fit all organizations.
Three of the essential ingredients for a well-composed board are personally committed people, people who possess the specific skills needed to accomplish the mission, and people who reflect the diversity of the community served. Having a board full of personally committed people, who cannot fundraise, follow-through, understand financials, or strategize, will not make for an effective board. Skillful people with access to resources who do not attend board meetings cannot fulfill their legal responsibilities as board members. And a board that lacks the ethnic, geographical, or gender diversity of the community served by the organization, can hinder the board’s ability to make decisions in the best interest of that community. These three ingredients are essential to all nonprofit boards! Paying attention to this careful balance in the board room will produce great results.
Did you know? Our educational resource packet, “Board Composition” includes a board composition analysis tool to help you visually map the skills and diversity of your board. Use it to identify gaps that you need to fill. The packet is free and available to Standards for Excellence Institute® members. It is available through the members only section of the website. Hard copies are also available upon request.