I hope you had a wonderful Valentine’s Day! Isn’t love great? Because it’s me I have to ask you: Do you love your board?

When asked how much time she spent interacting with her board members (in any context – board or committee meetings, on the phone, etc.) the executive director I was connecting with said: “Maybe a couple of hours a week on average.” She has 12 board members.

It is my experience that executive directors underestimate the amount of time they need to spend on and with board members in order to promote board effectiveness and build a strong board/ED partnership.

Before I suggest an amount, let’s consider why having an effective board matters anyway. We know from research there are several ways effective boards influence the performance of nonprofits. Here are, what I consider to be, the top two:

1. Better organizational decisions. As a leader, you make decisions every day. Of course many of those don’t involve the board. But—the most important decisions made that influence the impact of your nonprofit do involve the board: financial decisions, decisions about strategic direction and focus, decisions about how to “spend” the limited capacity of your volunteer board members and more. Not to mention decisions board members make the directly impact you!

2. Attracting more resources. What executive director doesn’t want more resources? And, I don’t just mean by fundraising. An executive director of a women’s shelter received brand new mattresses which were sorely needed because of a connection made a board member. What in-kind resources does your board attract for your nonprofit?

Having an effective board matters! It is my experience that executive directors need to invest at about 8-10 hours per week on average interacting in some way with board members if they are going to get the benefits we know boards can bring. When you have an effective board working at its full potential I will hear from you what I hear from other executives: “I have a great board! I love my board!”

How does that sound to you? What is your experience?

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