BOARDS AND COMMITTEES
They are volunteers, too!
~ December 2006 ~ Topic
Asking the Right Questions
We know that board members should not try to micromanage staff, but, if not, how does the board carry out its governance responsibilities in the areas of program and priorities?
One obvious way is the strategic planning process where the board (with the assistance of senior staff) sets the priority strategic goals for the next year(s).
But it doesn't stop here. The board must continue to ask questions about program progress at board meetings; request measurable outcomes; hear reports from staff and program volunteers and testimony, when possible, from those whom the program serves. Board members should also visit programs, when feasible.
When new programs or changes in current ones are suggested by staff, the board should ask if a needs assessment were conducted to determine that the program or change is needed. They should ask if and how this new program or change will implement the mission of the organization, and if it is unnecessarily duplicative of work done by other organizations. They should ask, "Is this one of the most important things we should be doing?"
Governance is not just reviewing financial statements. It is setting policies and fostering a climate that says, "We want to deliver services and fulfill our mission in the most effective ways possible."
Jeanne Bradner can be reached at Jeannebrad@aol.com.
See our online bookstore for Jeanne Bradner's book on boards: The Board Members Guide: A Beneficial Bestiary and Leading Volunteers for Results: Building Communities Today, and Passionate Volunteerism.
Jeanne H. Bradner
Jeanne H. Bradner is an author, consultant, trainer and speaker on volunteerism, board development and leadership. She is the author of three publications, The Board Member's Guide, A Beneficial Bestiary and Leading Volunteers for Results: Building Communities Today and Passionate Volunteerism. She served as director of the Illinois Governor's Office of Voluntary Action, Midwest Regional Director of ACTION, and Executive Director of the Illinois Commission on Community Service. She is the volunteer program specialist for Illinois' Harper College Volunteer Management curriculum.
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