Six Essential Ingredients for Effective Board Governance

Now more than ever, good governance should be celebrated! It represents a significant achievement, one to recognize and reward. The gratification of contributing to a productive board that enables an organization to advance its mission is reward in itself, but those responsible for making it happen deserve a medal. There are six essential “ingredients” for effective board governance, and the formula is neither complex nor profound. But, few organizations apply it consistently or thoroughly. Those that do, find that while effective governance takes time, flexibility, intention and attention, it makes all the difference in the world to the nonprofit organization and to the community it serves. Learn more about each ingredient below!

Ingredient 1: The Mission

A clear, concise and compelling mission unifies and motivates the board and staff to achieve meaningful results! Check out Experience Old Town Warrenton’s (EOTW mission statement as an example below:

Our mission is to foster and inspire an environment in Old Town Warrenton that enhances economic vitality while preserving the historic character of the community; and to promote a rich and appealing cultural atmosphere to live, play and do business.

Ingredient 2: Leadership of the Board and Organization

Look at any high-performing organization, and you will find it led by a board chair and chief executive committed to a constructive partnership built on a shared understanding of the mission and vision, reciprocal communication, mutual respect, trust and support for each other and the partnership.

Ingredient 3: Composition of the Board and Staff

With the right people in the right positions, working on the right mission, success is within reach!

Ingredient 4: Streamlined Structure

When aligned with the strategic priorities of the organization, an efficient structure allows board members and staff to apply their skills in concert to fulfill the mission!

Ingredient 5: Strategic Planning

The strategic planning process charts a future course and then drives the actions that move the organization forward. It informs the board’s structures, aligning committees and task forces with strategic objectives and shaping their work, timetables and checkpoints. And, it guides the leadership prospecting process.

Ingredient 6: Board Meetings

As the boardroom is the formal place where the board acts on its authority, a focused, well planned and effectively executed meeting is the crux of decision making.

Apart from these six ingredients, organization’s should also acknowledge the fact that if board members know why they’re at the table, when they’re diverse, engaged and challenged, and are more willing to give time, expertise and resources, then the picture will become more clear as to what everyone’s working towards. And, that’s a better tomorrow for their community!

Want to go deeper? Check out the resources with the Center for Nonprofit Excellence, or, reach out to DHCD staff to talk about board training!

Image: Farmville Downtown Partnership