Issue No. 50 of Your Weekly Staff Meeting focuses on The Board Bucket. Jim Brown, author of The Imperfect Board Member, says that “a greeter at Wal-Mart gets more orientation than most board members ever do.” Let’s change that. By the way, many savvy leaders delegate their reading. If you have seven people on your management team—and this week’s book is a keeper—assign one person to buy it, read it, report on it and add it to your team’s resource shelf. That’s a per person reading load of just five to seven books a year.
A Quick Fix for Policy Problems
Your church has a volunteer team in a third world country and the van breaks down. You could wait 10 days for a replacement vehicle—or buy a new van at inflated prices, plus an under-the-table “gift.” Who has the authority to make this decision? Is there a policy on spending non-budgeted funds? What’s the limit? What about “fees” to third-parties?
While many organizations have written policies that might cover this, they’re often hidden away in the archives of 20 years of board minutes and rarely revised—and no one can find them when they’re needed. There’s a better way: a Board Policy Manual (BPM). An effective BPM (usually under 20 pages) will address non-budgeted spending and dozens of other sticky policy issues. A BPM gives you a simple process for adding policies at any board meeting.
Bob Andringa, managing partner of The Andringa Group, and Fred Laughlin, a partner in the consulting group, have just co-authored a practical “add-water-and-stir” book with everything you need for developing a BPM. Published by the American Management Association, their book includes a template for creating your own Board Policy Manual from their time-tested work with hundreds of boards, including World Vision (one of four case histories).
Buy the book and you’ll also have access to 16 board documents in Word and PowerPoint on a special AMA website. Click on the title to buy direct from Amazon today. Order Good Governance for Nonprofits: Developing Principles and Policies for an Effective Board.
Your Weekly Staff Meeting Questions:
#1. Describe a situation in the last 12 months when you were not clear about the organization’s policy. Would a Board Policy Manual have clarified this situation?
#2. Some team members prefer to ask for forgiveness instead of permission. What is the downside of that operating philosophy?
The Board Bucket: The Annual Affirmation Statement - Insights from the Management Buckets Workshop Experience
Are board members expected to be donors or generous donors to your nonprofit organization? Do they cover their own travel expenses to meetings? What if they miss more than 50 percent of the meetings each year? What’s the policy and how much grace do you extend? Who asks for a board member’s resignation—the board chair, the full board, or the CEO?
Many nonprofits (and churches) ask board members to sign an Annual Board Member Affirmation Statement. It lists key responsibilities, the conflict of interest statement, the board calendar for two years, and other expectations including giving levels. Even though board members are elected to three or four-year terms, they are asked to affirm their on-going commitment annually. It’s often a helpful nudge for the non-performing board member to resign.
If you need help with board training, a Board Policy Manual, or other board documents, please call or email me at John@JohnPearsonAssociates.com.
The Board Bucket is just one of 20 buckets we’ll dip into at the next two-day Management Buckets Workshop Experience, Oct. 31 and Nov. 1, 2007, in Orange County, Calif. Plus, there are two Nonprofit Board Governance Workshops planned this fall: Sept. 20 (Chicago area, co-sponsored by Awana) and Nov. 2 (Orange County, Calif.). Registration forms are posted at www.JohnPearsonAssociates.com.