To be a difference maker, volunteer for the board development committee.

The finance committee is frequently the seat of power within a board. You know, they that control the gold, rule. And board members clamor for a place on the program committee. That’s where the mission is. However, to folks who fancy themselves as difference makers, I recommend the board development (aka nominating) committee.

I see those yawns, but stick with me.

construction_crew_leader_14371If we begin with the premise that an organization will/can be only as strong as its board, at least in the long-term, there’s no more important work than helping to build a strong board. I’ve said as much for years. Now authors and ministry leaders Peter Greer and Chris Horst add their shout-out to the board development committee, identifying it as the guardian of an organization’s true north.

I encourage you to grab a copy ASAP of their book Mission Drift: The Unspoken Crisis Facing Leaders, Charities, and Churches. It’s jam-packed with timely insights straight from the play-book of Hope International where Greer is CEO and Horst fills the role of director of development.  Mission Drift is a fairly easy read — I completed it on a cross-country flight. But if your time is short, you won’t go wrong in turning immediately to the section on boards (chapter 7).

To get you moving, here are few of the wise words I highlighted as I read.

IF AN ORGANIZATION IS DRIFTING, LOOK AT THE BOARD

Greer and Horst quote from the Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability’s observation that ‘when a ministry encounters failure – or even worse, scandal – its difficulties can almost always be traced to a breakdown in governance. . . The importance of an active, informed governing body cannot be over-emphasized. Left unchecked, even minor board neglect can eventually intrude upon the accountability and effectiveness of the ministry.’

To prevent Mission Drift, organizations require as much process, rigor, and intentionality in recruiting board members as they do in recruiting key executives. . .  Slack board recruitment is one of the primary causes of Mission Drift.

Greer and Horst quote Wess Stafford, former CEO of Compassion International, as saying: ‘The quickest path to losing your spiritual way is through whom you put on your board. . . It’s easy to get enamored with celebrity, with powerful names or deep pockets. One of the biggest mistakes nonprofits make, even Christian ones, is to confuse their board with their major donor program.’ (emphasis mine).

Okay, so my endorsement of Mission Drift likely won’t result in a mass migration to board development committees by finance and program devotees. I know my limits as a difference maker.  But if I’ve generated interest on the part of even a few Generous Matters reader in the challenge of board building, I’ll consider this a good day’s writing.

For more on building a strong board, see:

Why telling boards that governance matters, matters

Wile E. Coyote and board recruitment strategies

10 proposals for upping your board’s value-added quotient

 

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