Questions from a CIL Executive Director:
I’m having some difficulties with my board that I could use some advice on.
1. The board is not doing anything to assist me in finding new members, and we are now under 51%. It doesn’t seem to be a big priority for them.
2. I reminded them in August that I need evaluated, which is in the policies. This still hasn’t been completed.
3. I am operating without an approved budget, because some of the board felt that #2 needed completed before they would approve a budget to determine any changes in my compensation. They assured me in September they would complete it all before October.
4. My new board chair doesn’t seem to understand there are responsibilities. When I sent her a draft agenda for the board meeting this month, that’s when she told me she had a conflict with another board meeting and I had to get the date changed.
Yikes! You are facing a complacency issue with your board, not uncommon when they trust you, but unacceptable in the big picture. Your board needs some First Aid to get through this time of complacency. Here are some suggestions:
1. Recruit another three or four potential board members yourself, and present their applications to the board for approval. A complacent board will usually go for them, and you can get them back into compliance on consumer control at least. As you recruit you can make board expectations clear to the new folks, and they will be more likely to support you moving forward. You are out and about in the community — surely there are some sharp people with disabilities out there who would complement your board? While ideally a board will replicate itself, you may not really want that with this board — it may serve the organization best if you actively recruit people who understand what you need in the board and present them for election. I can provide a sample board application if you don’t have one.
We have a webinar on attracting and keeping board members that might be useful and is available free and on demand.
We also have a couple of Rapid Courses (free, on-line, self-study with a certificate). One of the two board courses is board responsibilities.
Annually we run an on-line course called “Getting on Board” — if you can get even one board member to attend, that member will receive a manual that goes with the course. The right board member attending could bring the content back to the board for review at your meetings. The next one starts February 17.
2. If you do a self-evaluation and present it for the board’s consideration, you will meet the requirement of an annual evaluation in spite of their delays. They may not accept it, but maybe they will then get something rolling. If they do accept it, hopefully they will also provide comments. Keep putting it on the agenda as continuing business until it is completed. Again, I have a few samples if that will help.
3. The lack of an approved budget is a very big concern, and keeping it on the agenda as continuing business is probably not enough. Do you mean that the board did not approve the grant budgets you submitted, or just that they failed to approve a consolidated budget? You should always have board approval for your grant budgets, and I would tell them bluntly that they must approve those or you cannot submit them and your center is at great risk of closing. The consolidated budget is also very important, but does not place you as great a risk. I understand that they are saying they need to evaluate you before they can give you a raise, and that the raise is part of your budget — but you need to get their approval. You may have to keep your salary changes until your evaluation, but you don’t have to hold up the entire budget for that. Do whatever you need to get board approval of your budget, including taking your salary increase out if that is what it takes.
4. There are some great generic sources for the responsibilities of the chairs and boards of non-profits. You might try Blue Avocado
They have a specific article on boards that don’t do anything that may apply to your situation. You can also find sample descriptions of responsibility for the board chair and other board members.
When you are through the immediate crises, take a look at our post on Board Responsibilities and feel free to print and distribute to your board.
First Aid for your Board