Board Governance

Essential tools and advice for a more effective nonprofit board

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Build a board that provides real leadership

Experience has taught us that healthy, successful, and sustainable organizations have engaged and active board members who appreciate their roles and carry out their responsibilities appropriately.

Core to our mission, and central to our vision at Starboard, is our commitment to help organizations and businesses build strong boards of directors. We are known throughout Maine, and across the country, for our expertise in board governance.

In addition to the individual counsel we provide each year to dozens of boards and their leaders, we lead workshops, conduct webinars, and present on governance topics for organizations large and small. Starboard consultants have developed the “Board Boot Camp” curriculum and a board recruitment webinar series for the Maine Association of Nonprofits, authored various governance handbooks, and developed a board self-assessment tool that is used nationally.

Start with a careful assessment of your board’s strengths and weaknesses

For boards that are serious about strengthening their governance practices, undertaking a board self-assessment is an ideal way to start. Using an on-line tool developed by Starboard, and now marketed by the Maine Association of Nonprofits, we can help you and your board assess the board’s strengths and develop strategies to address its weaknesses.

Guided by the results of the assessment, we will work with you and your board to develop a “board governance agenda” to shape the ongoing development of your board and put in place practices and policies that can greatly improve your board’s effectiveness.

We encourage anyone considering a board self-assessment process to first read Is Your Board Ready for Self-Assessment?, which is one among many of the board governance articles on our website.

Transform your board through strategic recruitment and engagement

Identifying , recruiting, and actively engaging the right board members—board members who can help you advance your strategic priorities—can be a real challenge for most nonprofits. We can help you develop processes and implement strategies to recruit board members who will bring real value and take on leadership roles.

Successful board recruitment doesn’t end with a board vote, however. Most individuals who join boards do so because they want to make a difference. They want to do something meaningful, and that means being engaged at the right level. But what is the right level? We will work with you and your board to help define their roles and responsibilities and ensure they are doing the right work, at the right level, to support achievement of your organization’s mission.

We also provide counsel as to how you can build an effective “board team” that works together to achieve shared goals. Board leaders often call upon Starboard to help develop strategies to manage board dynamics, enhance board and committee meetings, and institute best practices.

The work of building an effective board never ends

Effective boards don’t suddenly emerge from a single workshop, a board retreat, or from circulating a handbook or “how to” articles. The best boards, and the strongest organizations, realize that the work of building an effective board never ends.

It is a best practice today to have a board governance committee that takes responsibility for working throughout the year to advance the board’s governance agenda—a “to do” list for making the board more and more effective.

At Starboard, it is not unusual for us to help a board put in place a governance committee and then provide ongoing consultation and support as they move through the initial stages of their work together. While we often begin our work by facilitating your governance committee meetings and providing you with proven tools to use, our goal is to build the capacity of your board to continue this work independently in the years ahead.

Begin here

We have developed a variety of resources and written extensively about board governance, and you will find a long list of articles and blog posts on board governance in the Starboard Blog section of our web site. New board chairs—or almost any board leader—is sure to find benefit in reviewing the multiple topics included in our Board Chair Companion, which covers a wide variety of issues that face board leaders, including meeting strategies, board recruitment, working with staff leadership, and evaluations.

Let’s talk (free consultations)

Our Maine clients can count on us to begin every project with a conversation—a conversation that helps us to understand your unique needs and consider how best to assist you. Call now—(207) 992-4400—to begin the conversation with Starboard’s president, Jeff Wahlstrom.

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