Developing a high-functioning Board is no easy feat for an association, but it can be the difference between a surviving association and a flourishing one. Joan Garry, an internationally recognized champion for the nonprofit sector, is at the forefront of transforming a dysfunctional not-for-profit Board into a high-functioning Board of Directors capable of tasks beyond their wildest dreams. During a recent webinar, Garry outlined the key reasons a high-performance Board will go a long way and how to get there. 

Why Does a High-Functioning Board Matter? 

Garry boils it down to three reasons why this type of Board matters and how it will make a difference to the association it’s running.  

  1. Will never have to go it alone within the association 
  2. Will make richer, smarter decisions for the association 
  3. The association will be stronger. 

With these driving forces and ideals behind an association’s Board, collaboration and proactiveness will be unstoppable. When an entire Board takes on a leadership role, these three ideals will fall into place, and a highly functioning Board will start to form. Ideas, innovations, and improvements will never stop flowing when everyone on the Board plays a crucial role. Learn how Association Leadership Creates A Top Performing Association in my colleague’s article. 

What Does a High-Functioning Board Look Like? 

According to Garry, developing a high-functioning Board to run a high-performance association looks like this:  

  1. People 
  2. Partnership 
  3. Proactive Champions 

First, you have to get the right people at the table. Diversity is key. And no, it’s not just a box to check for an association. Do not be afraid to ask amazing people to sit on the Board; the worst they can say is no.  

Garry referred to this ideal as “proactive ambassadors with diverse spheres of influence,” which only encourages partnerships to form. Finally, once the right people at the table and the partnerships needed are in place, the result is a group of proactive champions for the association, its goals, vision, and mission.  

How Does the Association Get There? 

The idea of a high-functioning Board is all fine and dandy. But how does the current Board take it to the next level? There are 10 things Garry suggests starting with to help push the association towards its goal: 

  1. Create a formal Board of Directors interview process 
  2. Hold a Board orientation for new directors; share key documents with them so they can ramp up 
  3. Build a strong partnership with the Board chair 
  4. Clarifying decisions that the Board makes vs. decisions that staff make 
  5. Running an organized and planned Board meeting 
  6. Keeping the Board engaged between meetings 
  7. Getting the Board to be great advocates, storytellers, and fundraisers 
  8. Creating effective committees 
  9. Working through a crisis together and having a succinct plan 
  10. Moving from a working Board to a governing one. 

Read more about high-preforming associations from my colleague in Is Your Association A High-Performance Association?