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Building the Best Board for a Nonprofit

Building the Best Board for a Nonprofit

A board can offer crucial advice to a startup, including guidance on revenue models and profit formulas. Board members can also introduce startups to big name clients and add credibility to recruitment efforts. They can also offer advice on best practices for hiring, firing, and motivating employees. They can even help build a culture within a fast-growing organization.


Transparency is an important factor when building a board. Boards that are more open and accessible to stakeholders inspire trust. But at the same time, being more open to the public can put the confidentiality of information at risk. It is particularly important for mission-driven organizations to be transparent. Today’s public is skeptical of nonprofits’ intentions, and actions speak louder than words.

It can be beneficial for nonprofits to make transparency part of board meetings. Transparency reports should be posted on the homepage of the nonprofit’s website, and they should post them on social media. A nonprofit’s board members have a vital role to play in ensuring that its mission statement is fulfilled.


A good board should be transparent, trusting, and collaborative. Openness is vital, as is a healthy balance between authority and latitude. The best boards are able to maintain alignment between board members and the CEO, while maintaining enough latitude to be constructive. A board that operates in this manner fosters forward-looking thinking and encourages collaboration between the CEO and board members.

Being open to new experiences is an essential component of a good board. It makes it easier for members to understand and contribute. It makes people feel heard, and it creates a culture of trust. Openness also allows members to share ideas and feedback. If people feel heard, they can develop new ideas and improve the organization.

People with a high level of openness are more willing to learn new things and experience novel ideas. They are also more likely to make connections between new concepts and experiences. Conversely, people with low levels of openness are more likely to follow routines and stick to the same old ideas.


Effective communication is essential for a successful board. Board members must be provided with concise, quality information that enables them to make decisions quickly. They must also be provided with timely updates on the board’s activities and decisions. This helps foster a sense of ownership, and builds trust among board members. Moreover, a good communication board will provide opportunities for the board to share ideas and foster cooperation.

Communication on a board should be positive and free from personal biases. Instead of focusing on personal differences, board members should focus on the common goal and objectives of the organization. By establishing teamwork and a culture of positive communication, board members will feel more productive and ready to work for the benefit of the organization.

Board size

Many authors suggest that the optimal board size should range between eight and nine members. However, others disagree. A board should be large enough to accomplish work, but small enough that it can work as one cohesive team. The best board size for your business is one that allows you to focus on the business while maintaining a personal relationship with your board members.

There are several factors to consider when choosing the right board size. First, determine the function of your board. A board needs to have a diverse range of skills, experience, and expertise. The number of members will vary depending on the organization’s industry and size.


A diverse board will also allow for greater idea sharing, as members bring different perspectives to the table. The board will, no doubt, encounter challenges during its tenure, but diversity will allow members to address these issues more creatively. A study from HBR found that teams with a wide range of backgrounds and experiences are more likely to find solutions to a problem. Diversity will also broaden the pool of candidates.

When searching for new board members, organizations should look outside the C-suite for talent. Hiring and accepting diverse individuals will motivate employees and managers. If a board is underrepresented, adding one or two more seats can help improve diversity. In addition, executives with board experience can decline to join boards that don’t practice diversity-related principles. Otherwise, their affiliation with these boards may become a reputation risk.