Wednesday, August 26, 2020

LESSON 34 – Five Troublesome Misconceptions of Board Members

Welcome to More Lessons From the Nonprofit Boardroom Blog, a 40-week journey through the new book, More Lessons From the Nonprofit Boardroom, by Dan Busby and John Pearson. Each Wednesday, we're featuring a guest writer’s favorite snippet from the week's topic. Bart Hadder is our guest blogger this week for the third of four lessons in "Part 9: Holy Ground and Other Locations.” And during this COVID-19 era, the role of the board becomes even more critical. We pray that your board will have God-honoring wisdom as you spiritually discern next steps.
LESSON 34 OF 40: Five Troublesome Misconceptions of Board Members
Understanding board member myths can lead to improved governing effectiveness.

In Lesson 34, the authors note that:
• Understanding and addressing misconceptions about board members and their board service can improve the impact and effectiveness of the board.
• Identifying and overcoming misconceptions through board education is an important and ongoing process.

MY FAVORITE INSIGHTS from Lesson 34, pages 180-184:
• Concerning new board members, the authors quote Michael Anthony: “It was as if the day they were elected to the board, the [CEO] assumed that a mantle of wisdom and discernment came magically on them from on high.”
• “Little or no board experience heightens the importance of board training. Unfortunately, training rarely occurs for ministry board members.”
“Even board members who have served on a ministry board for years may find it challenging to comprehend financial data. Nonprofit financial data is rarely presented to the board in comprehensible form.”

It is not uncommon to find people serving as executive directors and CEOs who have had little training for the position or who lack adequate knowledge of nonprofit board best practices and how they should work with their boards. Perhaps even more common are board members who, for the most part, are passionate about the mission of the organization but lack a clear understanding of their roles and responsibilities as board members. Consequently, while these organizations may be surviving, they lack the efficiency and effectiveness that they otherwise could experience.

Investing in thoughtful board member recruitment and orientation, including providing a board orientation manual with a clear description of board member roles and responsibilities—and an annual affirmation statement—would clear up many misconceptions right from the start of service.  Also, including ongoing board professional development, either as a regular part of board meetings or some other periodic activity, would help even seasoned boards move their organizations from surviving to flourishing.

BART HADDER is in the third-third season of life after retiring as a program director for the M.J. Murdock Charitable Trust where he served as a program director for many years.  During his time at the Trust, he met with executive directors and their board members to review grant requests from numerous nonprofit organizations, including many Christian ministries.

Currently, Bart is pursuing the opportunities God is providing to capitalize on the knowledge gained from his past experiences to help advance Christian ministries through: counseling organizations on how to approach a foundation; serving as a board coach for the Christian Camp and Conference Association’s Thriving Boards Program and the Murdock COVID Organizational Coaching; and serving as a consultant for the Murdock Trust.  He and his wife, Jackie, recently moved to Boise, Idaho, to be near their two adult children (and mostly to be near their two young grandchildren). 

• Survey board members to determine what misconceptions might exist regarding their board service.
• Take appropriate steps to address each misconception; i.e. 1) review and improve board member orientation materials and 2) plan for ongoing board training.
• Visit the ECFA Knowledge Center and read and share the short chapter, Lesson 34, “Five Troublesome Misconceptions of Board Members.”

On Sept. 2, 2020, watch for the commentary by Hans Finzel on Lesson 35, “Leverage the 80/20 Rule in the Boardroom. Invest 80 percent of your board work on future ministry opportunities—not rehashing the past.”

BULK ORDERS: Click here. For more resources and to download the book's Table of Contents, visit the book's webpage.

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