Sunday, July 8, 2012

New Board and the Founder

I continue using the work of Carter McNamara to help guide me as a leader.  In the following discussion he looks at the work of the board in getting started.  A new organization needs a board but the board must mature and develop over time.

An Email Said:

My organization has no paid staff, is essentially unfunded at this time, and Board Members receive no compensation of any kind including expense reimbursement.  I’m the chairman of the Board and founder of the organization.  When I sign things, I use the title “Executive Director,” even though (in actuality) I’m the chair.

I Responded:

What you describe sounds like an organization in its infancy — one that hasn’t been around for too long or that hasn’t yet begun the process of “maturation.”
First stage in the life of a NPO (Nonprofit Organization) is where a group of people in a community recognize the existence of a specific need and get together to do something to address that need.  The organization typically has one or two “founders” — who are the heart and soul of the org, and are the ones who tend to make things happen.
The situation, where you are Board Chair and Executive Director, can only continue to work to a point….  It is really only acceptable up to where your NPO can assemble a “representative board,” one that brings skills, perceptions, experiences, commitment, passions to the role, and is (to some degree) representative of the “community” being served.  (The Board of a NPO is the community’s watchdog over that organization.)
The role of the initial board is to get the NPO to the point where it can make that transition from “infancy” to “maturity,” with the transition stage being the “adolescence” — a period of painful change and growth.  Painful, because the original board members and founders may have to give up some or all of the roles they’ve been playing.  They may even have to turn governance responsibility over to others — who have the traits needed to ensure….

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