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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What You Call 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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Be Clear About The Purpose of Your Advisory Council

At their best, an advisory council can provide a tremendous benefit to your organization and the pursuit of your organizational mission. At their worst, they can drain resources, tie staff in knots, generate governance challenges for the board, and cause advisory council members to become adversaries rather than allies. Building a successful advisory council takes …
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What if someone else chooses your advisory council members?

Sometimes advisory council or advisory committee members are selected by someone outside of your organization–a political appointment, for example. We worked with one organization that would simply throw-up its arms and say, “We have to take what we get.” While it may be true that the ultimate decision rests elsewhere, we think it is a …
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What Would YOU Want From an Advisory Council?

What if you were asked to join an advisory council or committee? 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 …
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Advisory Council Members Don’t Want To Monitor

One of the biggest mistakes organizations make with their advisory councils (and with their boards) is to limit them to a “monitoring” role. They bring well-intentioned volunteers together, fill the meetings with reports on this or that, and then wonder why the volunteers don’t seem engaged, have spotty attendance, or descend into micromanaging. Remember, volunteers …
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Are You Ready for Advice From an Advisory Council?

The name “advisory council” suggests that there will be advice offered. While the intention may be that the advisory council is offering advice to the board of directors, be sure that the board really wants the advice and is ready to respond. Advisory councils to which no one is really listening can leave the participants …
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