Can you pass the board roles and responsibilities test?

Every once in a while, I get hired by an organization to help clarify board-staff roles and responsibilities. I just love jobs like this because it allows me to re-visit fun board development content. It also allows me to brush up on elementary concepts that somehow seem to get lost in the inner caverns of my brain.

One of the tools I used last week was an exercise that I dug out of my former internal consultant toolbox from when I worked at Boys & Girls Clubs of America (BGCA). It was titled “Who Does What?” It asks participants to evaluate 10 different statements and determine if it is a primary responsibility of the board, staff or both.

I would love the share the exercise with you here, but the footnotes indicate that the exercise is copyrighted material by both BGCA and BoardSource. So, in an effort to be compliant with our society’s rules, I’ve reworded some of the statements and turned it from a “fill-in the blank” exercise to a true-false exercise.

Please take a stab and answering some of the following questions about non-profit board-staff roles and responsibilities (don’t worry, no one can see how you individually answer):

I will share the answers with you in tomorrow’s blog post. Additionally, I’ll introduce a similar board-staff roles &responsibilities quiz specifically focused on resource development tomorrow. So, please stay tuned.

I really love using tools like these with organizations, and I especially like doing it with tenured board members who think they know this material cold, because it is a good reminder that:

  1. roles and responsibilities can have blurry edges, and
  2. it is easy for a board to find itself “out of alignment” (like an automobile) over the course of time as a result of turnover and adding new volunteers to the board

If you are a Boys & Girls Club affiliate, you can find the entire “Who Does What” tool in the “board development” section of your intranet under the “Tools & Resources” link of the Board Resource Center. If you aren’t a Boys & Girls Club, you can go to the BoardSource website and find a document in the Knowledge Center titled “What are the basic responsibilities of nonprofit boards?” and turn it into a pop quiz tool that you can use with your current and incoming board members.

How do you keep your non-profit board from becoming “unaligned” when it comes to clarity around board-staff roles & responsibilities? Do you use certain tools (e.g. an annual board re-commitment pledge, etc)? Can you share those ideas and tools with your fellow readers? Are there particular strategies that you use (e.g. using the annual meeting or board retreat to revisit these ideas, etc)?

Please scroll down to the comment section and share your thoughts, tools, and approaches with your fellow non-profit professionals. We can all learn from each other.

Here’s to your health!

Erik Anderson
Founder & President, The Healthy Non-Profit LLC!/eanderson847


About DonorDreams

Erik got his start working in the non-profit field immediately upon graduation with his masters degree in 1994. His non-profit management and fundraising experience numbers nearly 20 years. His teachable point of view around resource development is influenced by the work of Penelope Burk and those professionals subscribing to a "donor centered" paradigm. Donors have dreams and it is our responsibility to be dream-makers because donors are not ATMs.

Posted on October 31, 2012, in Board development, leadership, nonprofit, organizational development and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

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