Creating an effective Board of Directors requires more than chance; it involves a strategic approach to identifying, recruiting, and training board members. However, once an organization establishes an efficient process for these components, maintaining continuity within the board emerges as arguably the most crucial element.
Continuity in a nonprofit organization board refers to the consistent and uninterrupted presence of experienced and knowledgeable board members. It ensures the board maintains a stable core of individuals with institutional memory, historical context, and a deep understanding of the organization’s mission, operations, challenges, and strategic direction. This continuity helps make informed decisions, provides consistent guidance, and ensures the organization’s long-term sustainability and effectiveness.
In my research on governance within nonprofit organizations and voluntary action associations, a study participant shared insights about how their organization upheld continuity,emphasizing its significance.
The Board of Directors is elected to a 3-year term, after which you can be elected for one additional 3-year term. On the completion of a 6-year term, a board member is required to retire from the board. However, a board member can be re-elected one year later to an additional 6-year term. While six years may sound like a lifetime, we genuinely value the continuity and depth of understanding that comes from being with the organization for an extended period. Additionally, with a 15-member board, we strategically rotate members, ensuring that about five members transition off at any time. This approach preserves institutional memory and active knowledge within our volunteers and staff.
This passage emphasizes the strategic approach required to establish an effective nonprofit board, employing a structured rotation system to maintain the institutional memory of the organization, staff, and volunteers. To look more closely at the significance of the continuity of board members, let us look at a fictional case study on The Community Enrichment Center (CEC). The CEC is a nonprofit organization that provideseducational and recreational programs for underprivileged youth in an urban area. Over the years, CEC has built a strong reputation for its impactful programs, community engagement, and positive outcomes for the children it serves.
CEC has a deliberate continuity strategy to ensure experienced board members provide guidance and support while integrating new perspectives. Board members are elected to two consecutive 3-year terms, followed by a mandatory retirement for one year. Afterward, they are eligible for re-election to another two terms. Six significant outcomes from CEC’s continuity strategy were identified as:
In this fictional case study, the Community Enrichment Center’s emphasis on continuity has contributed to its lasting success and positive impact on the community. Real-world examples might vary in detail, but the core principles of continuity lead to informed decision-making, organizational guidance, mission fulfillment, and a sustained impact that remains consistent because community matters.
Patricia A. Clary is a consultant who champions the advancement of strategic community impact agendas to addressintricate societal challenges through collaborative efforts, convening leadership, and effective governance.
You can contact her through the following channels:
– LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/pat-clary/
– Facebook: PatriciaAClaryPhD
© 2023 All rights reserved.