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!

  1.  What is the purpose of this group? (Consider which benefits you want to maximize.)
  2. 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?)
  3. What is the relationship of this group to the governing board? (Remember, avoid calling it an Advisory Board.)
  4. How will this group be formally established and integrated into your nonprofit’s structure?
  5. What are the expectations and responsibilities of the members? How will these be communicated?
  6. What staff and/or board members will be responsible for or involved with this group?
  7. Does your nonprofit have the capacity to provide the necessary support and nurturing of this group?
  8. How will the group’s members be recruited, selected, oriented and supported?
  9. How and when will this group’s contribution/value to your nonprofit be evaluated?
  10. 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?