Insights from Starboard: Advisory Councils

We are happy to share what we learn, and we do this as workshop instructors, by developing curriculum for the Maine Association of Nonprofits and individual clients, and by offering advice on our Starboard blog. Take a look. You just might find the guidance you need!

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Be Clear About the “Purpose” Before Launching an Advisory Council

At its best, an advisory council can provide a tremendous benefit to your organization and the pursuit of your mission. At its worst, an advisory council can drain resources, tie staff in knots, generate governance challenges for the board, and transform allies into adversaries. We’ve seen it happen! Building a successful advisory council takes time, …
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What You Name Your Advisory Group Matters

It is important to be clear about the difference between a board of directors (or board of trustees) and an “advisory council,” and it is especially important that the members of your advisory council know the difference. It is not uncommon for advisory council members to want to become engaged in the work of the …
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What YOU should expect from an advisory council

What if you were asked to join an advisory council? What would you want from that experience? What would make it a meaningful experience for you? What would be required in order for you to feel like it was a good use of your time? Take a moment to ask and answer those questions yourself. …
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Making Advisory Council Meetings Meaningful

One of the biggest mistakes organizations make with their advisory councils (and with their boards) is limiting them to a “monitoring” role. They bring well-intentioned volunteers together, fill the meetings with reports on this or that (monitoring), and then wonder why the volunteers don’t seem engaged, have spotty attendance, or descend into micromanaging. Remember, volunteers …
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When Your Advisory Council Meets Really Matters

Not too long ago we were at a meeting where a hospital administrator was talking about their Patient Advisory Council and the goal of engaging a diverse cross-section of patients. As she talked with some excitement about planning for a full-day retreat with the members of her advisory council, we couldn’t help but think about …
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A Guiding Document for Your Advisory Council

In much the same way that a board of directors is guided by bylaws, advisory councils should have a guiding document too–a statement of organization and purpose that describes the role of the group and the responsibilities of its members. Don’t confuse this guiding document with bylaws, however. In fact, the word “bylaws” should be …
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