The nonprofit landscape in Kansas continues to grow and change. Increasing legislative pressure, need for stronger fund development strategies, greater utilization of services, and changing regulation all mean that Kansas nonprofits are looking to their boards for direction. With so many nonprofits looking for good leaders, here are some tips to help you become an effective board member.
- Honor your commitment to service by participating in meetings and events. Be active and involved to convey your interest and enthusiasm.
- Do your homework in order to be prepared for discussion and decision-making. This likely involves reading the materials provided in anticipation of a meeting where action will be taken.
- Respect your executive by supporting his or her efforts and not micro-managing their authority with the staff. Remember the board only has one employee; all other staff are the responsibility of the executive.
- Speak and act with unity. The board’s authority is not with individual board members, rather with the collective governing body. Individual board members have no authority to act alone, make decisions or give direction to staff.
- Govern, do not manage. In all likelihood, the board employs an executive to manage the day-to-day operations. The board should remain focused on issues that are high-level, long-range and big picture. The board deals in strategic direction while the staff manages operational matters.
- Give feedback. Your executive needs guidance and direction from the board if he or she is veering off-course. Likewise, your affirmation may be the most rewarding communication she or he experiences. Silence is not golden.
- Financially support the organization. The dollar amount is less important than the active involvement.
- Be an ambassador for the cause. If you have the ability to facilitate introductions or help expand the network of relationships to benefit the executive or the organization, get busy making those connections.
- Positively represent the organization. Be proud of your affiliation and the organization’s accomplishments. If you have a concern, discuss it with board leadership or the executive.
- Share information. If you are aware of events, activities or resources that could benefit the organization, pass the details along to your executive.
Jessie Kaye is president and CEO of Prairie View.