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Last week in this series, we continued to cover “The Roles of the Board of Directors in Nonprofit Organizations.” This week we’ll discuss “Building a Competent Board.” 

Building a Competent Board

All boards have a responsibility to articulate prerequisites for candidates, orient new members, and periodically and comprehensively evaluate their own performance. Good board members are often hard to find.

  • Every year thousands of board positions need to be filled.
  • Every year more and more people decide the myriad of demands on their time makes it impossible to accept the invitation for board service.
  • Every year organizations in every community compete for good board members.
  • Every year many will settle for finding enough volunteers willing to serve whether they are the right one for the job.

Please be advised that in some cases, good board members are usually identified and recruited to serve simultaneously on multiple boards and are spread way too thin, rendering them ineffective or just being used up.

But the job of building a competent board is more than just filling slots. It is about being strategic in the way a board looks at its make-up and at its operations. Ongoing changes in nonprofit organizations have required agencies to take a closer look at not only how the business of the organization is conducted, but also how decisions are made and by whom.

An effective, competent and diverse board is becoming a strategic necessity, not only a legal requirement. The most effective boards, those whose members are deeply committed to the organization’s mission, who bring expertise in key areas, and who represent diverse points of view, evolve over time through careful planning.

David Sorkin, former CEO of the Bernikow Jewish Community Center, said “In today’s not-for- profit environment, the board’s role in governance, fiduciary oversight, strategic planning and fundraising is paramount to the success of the organization. The selection of quality, diverse and qualified board members is the most important duty that board leadership has. Board members must have strong ethical pinning, insight into the needs of constituents and the ability to carefully balance constituents’ needs with available resources.”

Next week, and in the last part of this series, we’ll discuss “The Role of an Effective CEO in Nonprofit.”

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Gary Bernstein

Gary Bernstein currently serves as CEO of the Jewish Community Alliance of Northeastern Pennsylvania. Gary Bernstein has proudly authored the textbook, "The Fundamentals of Sports Marketing" with Sagamore Publishing and "Nonprofit Sport and Recreation Programs: Principles and Practices of Leadership and Management" by Sentia Publishers. For more information, call 757.667.0293 or email gary.bernstein@nepajca.org.

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