Saturday, November 10, 2012

Board Chairs: Our Single Greatest Need


In the ECFA 2012 Governance Survey (with nearly 1,600 responses), CEOs, board members and board chairs shared the “single greatest need” of their ministries. Almost 200 board chairs answered the question (60 skipped it) and the responses were diverse. While other multiple-choice questions identified "fundraising" as the top need, “strategic” was a common theme in this question for board chairs. Here is a sampling of what they said:

The "Single Greatest Need" of Board Chairs:
• “Alignment of mission, vision and values.”
• “Getting results from committees in between board meetings."
• “Better utilizing all board members; playing to their strengths.”
• “Managing the appropriate level of communications to the board between meetings.”
• “Comprehending the implications of financial statements.”
• “Knowing the highest priorities for comprehensive governance and knowing we have completed our responsibilities with appropriate time, energy and resources.”
• “Keeping God's role primary and our thoughts and plans within God's plans.”
• “Rallying and encouraging our board members to attract donors.”
• “To recruit new international and female members.”
• “Motivating board members to move toward policy governance and strategic planning.  We are actively working on this.”

• “Staying focused on strategic goals and accountability.”
• “Independence from CEO.”
• “Succession planning.”
• “Maximizing the effectiveness of each board member.”
• “Patience.”
• “Keep heart right and dedication of time for the ministry.”
• “[Understanding] how other ministries effectively balance the board members' strengths with the need to be strategic and not tactical.”
• “For the staff, excluding the CEO, to view the board as a vital part of the ministry.”

• “Getting the CEO to be strategic.”
• “Getting the board to make difficult decision.”
• “Clarity of strategy.”

• “Wisdom to know how to keep the Board involved.”

• “Being strategic. Being discerning of God's will.”
• “Thinking outside of the box, but within the Spirit's intentions.”
• “Generous board members.”
• “A successor.”
• “Understanding best practices in governance.”
• “To hear and obey the voice of God.”
• “More experience and better understanding of governance.”
• “Help for nonperforming board members.”
• “Discernment in evaluating opportunities that come to us for expanding our mission.”

• “Online board training.”

• “How do I know I'm effective in my role as chair?”
• “Getting the CEO to pace himself.”
• “Time to hear from God.”
• “Knowing how I can best support and encourage the CEO.”
• “Developing the board and organization to continue vital ministry in the generation beyond the founder, who is in process of disengaging from the organization.”
• “Balancing ‘walking in faith’ with conservative fiduciary responsibility.”
• “Adapting ends policies and strategy to a changing environment.”
• “$”
• “To know what I should be most focused on other than simply running the meetings.”

QUESTION: At your next board meeting, ask each person (including the CEO) to write out and then share their answer to the question, “What is our board’s single greatest need?” Extra credit: What would your board chair say?

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