ASK THE EXPERTS: Board Engagement
Thursday, March 12, 2015
This resource includes an audio archive from the March 2015 AAO Webinar entitled "Ask the Experts: Board Engagement." Hosts for this webinar were Beth Miller, Executive Director of the Community Design Collaborative (Philadelphia, PA) and Lynn Osmond, President & CEO of the Chicago Architecture Foundation. The webinar consists of general questions on board engagement posed by AAO members at large and answered by the webinar hosts.
You can find the audio link at the bottom of this post. This webinar is discussion only; there is no Powerpoint. The webinar is 39 minutes long, beginning with introductions from our webinar hosts followed by audience questions starting at the 8 minute mark.
Topics discussed include:
- Challenges in getting board members to attend an organization's routine public programs (i.e., attending more than just board-mandated functions)
- Avoiding information overload viz. communications to boards of directors
- Navigating conflict of interest issues viz. funders and board representation
- Diversifying and building a board of directors, esp. for new or emerging organizations
- Keeping board members focused on governance role versus daily operations
Of course not every question above receives a direct answer or clear solution. Instead this webinar affords you the opportunity to hear how peer organizations approach similar board challenges and whether or not the challenges you face are or are not shared by other organizations. In several cases, specific resources are mentioned and those are detailed below.
1. On the issue of Board communications, Lynn Osmond has contributed sample documents showing how her organization provides monthly updates to its board as well as more comprehensive departmental updates once per quarter.
2. On the issue of detailing roles and expectations for new board directors, Lynn has also supplied a table of contents to her organization's board orientation handbook - a common reference for these directors to gain a high level look at board expectations, as well as organizational structure, strategic plan, and marketplace analysis.
3. On issues of board management and organizational strategy, Beth Miller mentioned two practical resources that have served her well. The first is a website called http://www.blueavocado.org/, which is an online magazine that regularly addresses topics germane to board engagement and effective board communications. The second resource is a reference manual (complete with suggested activities and worksheets for mapping organizational strategies) that Beth consults from time to time. The book is listed below:
Nonprofit Sustainability: Making Strategic Decisions for Financial Viability
Authors: Jeanne Bell, Jan Masaoka, Steve Zimmerman
(Find it here at Amazon)
4. Beth Miller also mentioned a few guiding documents for her organization's Board of Directors that could serve as helpful samples to some of the questions from this webinar, including the Community Design Collaborative's Conflict of Interest document; Individual Action Plans (functional roles/expectations) signed by each Director on an annual basis; and a charter outlining the purpose of the Collaborative's Advisory Board (a group of individuals separate from the governing board).
Should you have additional questions about this webinar or wish for more in-depth resources, do not hesitate to Contact AAO.