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How to Easily Strengthen Your Association’s Board of Directors

Audra Hopkins

Your board of directors are the foundation builders for your association.

They navigate the organization towards meeting its missions and help drive success in all areas of interest. There’s really no secret that your board is essential to your organization’s success. And the more effective your board meetings are, the more likely it is that your association will stay on track and maintain achievement.

So, it would make sense that an association is only as strong as the people behind it, right? After all, your association’s board helps make the best decisions for the wellbeing of the organization and its members, so you want your board to be the best of the best.

So, if you want to make sure your association’s board of directors is a strong representation of your brand and reflects well on members and the community, it’s time to come up with a better strategy for choosing board members.

Let’s take a look at a few best practices for selecting a board of directors to help lead your association to growth and success in the future.

 

Recruiting Board Members: What to know

No matter the size of your association or the resources you have, choosing a great board of directors can be a bit of a challenge. You want to do right by your members and select people that will keep the association’s mission at the forefront of everything they do. So, where should you start when recruiting new board members?.

Since the role of a board member is so critical for your association, developing a board recruitment strategy could be a great move in order to attract potential board members.

Recruiting potential board members for your association is a relationship-building process, so you want to make sure you’re engaging possible candidates to create potential for a stronger board. And here are some ways to help you do just that.

Hosting webinars and in-person events gives potential board members an opportunity to learn about what is involved when serving as a board member, and what can be gained during that experience. Similarly, hosting informal meet and greets with the current board members outside of meetings can create a less intimidating environment for those future board members which can allow them to also ask questions.

Be sure you are building a board with the right goals in mind. From fundraising to educating members and everything in between, your board members need to take care of specific tasks that help your association move forward. It’s important to do an assessment and understand the skills that your particular association needs to fulfill your mission.

Ideally, you want to choose people who understand your association’s mission, the brand, and who understand the value you bring members. Ensuring that your board members are eager to engage with the organization will surely bring success in your association board.

Choosing a number of individuals who will be active and contribute is critical. Creating an advisory group to engage people will be useful as well.

 

Evaluate Your Candidates

Your association now has several candidates to take into consideration and is ready to move forward. Great! Now it’s time to start the evaluation process.

Evaluating these candidates is a critical step in building a successful board. You may have a lot of people to choose from, and you want to get it right in order for your association to prosper and grow. So, it’s important to consider the following:

  1. Can the candidate commit to the necessary time to be an effective board member?
  2. Are they aware of the association’s values and mission?
  3. What key skills do they possess that would help the board and contribute to the association’s goal?
  4. How have they demonstrated leadership skills in their career?

If you want, you can take the time to sit down and brainstorm any other questions you have for your candidates. Every association has different needs and goals, so your evaluation will of course be much different than others.

Developing a well thought out evaluation will give you and current board members an idea of the skills with these prospective members and how well they will fit in with the needs of the association.

Planning a direction to take your candidates and a solid evaluation process will lead to long-term success for running an effective and well-organized board.

 

Start with Clear Expectations

So, you’ve put together a team of directors that you feel best represent your association. Now, it’s time to decide what your first steps as a brand new board are going to be.

You need to set the bar with your board in order to see achievement and that’s why it is important to establish expectations for both the board as a whole, as well as each individual member of the board. Assigning your directors their own individual roles and missions can help keep your board organized and on task at all times.

Knowing what your overall goal for your association is will establish the specific roles of each board member and it’ll be more likely you’ll reach those expectations.

As new selected directors join the board, include expectations around board meeting preparation and participation. By establishing ground rules for individuals, your board team will feel that their time is being well spent and well managed. Without setting expectations and goals, you can’t measure board member or team success.

 

Develop Focused Agendas

As mentioned before, keeping your board organized is key. So, let’s take a look at another tool that can help you perform at your best: Agendas.

Many boards send agendas to their members before meetings and also assign additional readings and review. With this work done ahead of time, board members can come to meetings prepared to participate in discussions that will move the organization forward.

Board members who create an effective agenda can help ensure time management wisely within their meetings. An idea for agenda development could be setting priorities for each major topic, identifying the action required, and making it their goal to accomplish those urgencies. Any way to give your board an idea of the tasks they should be performing daily, weekly, and monthly to get the ball rolling with your association.

Similarly, teamwork is a necessity in a board.  

Building a connection between your board members will make every single task easier. Therefore, it’s important to focus on team building and create opportunities for members to get to know one another.

Some boards offer evaluation forms after each board session to get feedback on whether the meeting successfully achieved its goals; whether the minutes and other documentation was effective in preparing members for discussion and decision making. This can help the board become successful in achieving the goals they have because of organized agendas.

Make sure people are coming to your association’s  board for the right reasons. Belief in the cause and a genuine interest in helping build a strong organization will accomplish a lot within the association.

If you’re in the market for a brand new board of directors, don’t let the stress of making the right choice bring you down. Using these tips will help you make the right decision, bring your team closer together, and create goals to work towards for a more organized association- and a happier membership as a cause.