When I was a nonprofit CEO, I had a highly valued board member who decided he needed to resign from the board because of work-related demands. In our conversation about this change, he offered: “You know, if you were to establish an Advisory Board, I would be happy to serve on that.” After a quick consultation, the board members and I jumped at the chance to create a group that would keep him involved, albeit at a much reduced level.
While we reaped some benefits from our Advisory “Board”, as I reflect back now, our haste clearly caused us to miss out on many of the potential benefits (see my last blog). With more wisdom now, I offer 10 questions you and your board members should think through before you act!
- What is the purpose of this group? (Consider which benefits you want to maximize.)
- What “form” will best serve that purpose? What structure will it have? (e.g. will the group meet or just be “on call” for advice?)
- What is the relationship of this group to the governing board? (Remember, avoid calling it an Advisory Board.)
- How will this group be formally established and integrated into your nonprofit’s structure?
- What are the expectations and responsibilities of the members? How will these be communicated?
- What staff and/or board members will be responsible for or involved with this group?
- Does your nonprofit have the capacity to provide the necessary support and nurturing of this group?
- How will the group’s members be recruited, selected, oriented and supported?
- How and when will this group’s contribution/value to your nonprofit be evaluated?
- How long will this group be needed and how will its continuation/renewal be determined?
I hope this gives you food for thought! Share your experience! What ideas do you have about advisory groups? What have I missed?