The Chair of the board plays a crucial role in enabling the Board to effectively support and strengthen the nonprofit. The role of the Chair should be clearly spelled out in the nonprofit’s bylaws. Still, the bylaws are often vague regarding the role of the Chair. To excel in the role of Chair, strive to do the following:
- Foster a trusting and open relationship with the nonprofit’s CEO and seek regular communication regarding the government and management of the nonprofit. Act as a sounding board for the CEO, but keep in mind that it is ultimately the CEO’s job to run the nonprofit’s day to day business.
- Skillfully preside over and manage Board meetings. Ensure that Board Agendas are thorough yet succinct. Encourage the meeting to move along, calling for a vote or tabling an issue when necessary to end the meeting on time. Many, if not most, Board members are unpaid volunteers, and demonstrating respect for their time and appreciation for their service is crucial to their continued interest in participating in the leadership of the nonprofit.
- At times, issues will give rise to spirited debate among Board Members who each possess valuable yet different skill sets and different points of view. The Chair should make efforts to mediate differing opinions and encourage consensus on actions or policies that represent the best aspects of all points of view.
- Work to recruit high functioning board members with different areas of expertise and backgrounds that will enrich and strengthen the Board.
- Devote a significant amount of time to fostering relationships with other nonprofits, particularly those whose missions are in tandem with the mission of your nonprofit.
- Personally attend and support the nonprofit’s events and encourage other Board members to follow suit.
- Make an effort to educate the community about the nonprofit’s mission and seek its support of your mission and goals.
- Make sure the nonprofit is taking advantage of social media platforms. Encourage all Board members to personally engage with the nonprofit’s social media platforms.
- Along with other board members, make a significant effort to form relationships with donors and potential donors and encourage new, continuing or increased financial support by providing them with direct and specific information about the nonprofit’s ongoing efforts.
- Always have an eye towards the future of the nonprofit. Intentionally develop a practice of identifying, grooming and preparing candidates to eventually assume the mantle of Chair. A smooth transition of Board leadership greatly benefits the nonprofit.
- Seek out training, mentors and other resources that will improve your leadership skills. Familiarize yourself with nonprofit board best practices and seek implementation of them within your organization.
Striving to achieve these goals will not only increase your value and success as an excellent leader for your organization, but your leadership will make the entire Board a tremendous asset to the nonprofit.