Hello, SCANPO friends!
Thanks to those of you who joined Madeleine and me during SCANPO’s Wednesday Webinar as we discussed the role and responsibilities of a Governance Committee and how you can create a great experience for all of your Board members. As Governance Chair of the Coastal Community Foundation (CCF) for the last three years and a former SCANPO Board member, I’ve spent a lot of time learning just what makes a successful committee. Below are a few key points from our podcast (which you can listen to here), as well as some helpful CCF and SCANPO resources for your reference.
First of all, what are the primary responsibilities of a Governance Committee? It’s not just about recruitment...
- Determine how the Board operates – define and frequently review your by-laws.
- Facilitate Board nominations and orientation – have a written and tested process.
- Define Board policies – make sure your by-laws are keeping up with the growth of your organization.
- Outline Committee roles and responsibilities – each Committee needs to know how it helps your organization’s mission, as well as the scope of its power.
Still, recruitment is a very important part of the Governance Committee. How can you make it a successful process?
- Allocate sufficient time – this can be a year long process.
- Have prerequisites / requirements for service – and be sure to write them down.
- Pay attention to recruitment for committees – it’s not just about the overall Board.
- Have agreed-upon written criteria each year to guide the diversity of your Board.
- Bring in new members as a “class” once a year – have a well thought-out orientation.
My last big point is crucial for an effective Committee. How can you make the overall Board experience worthwhile?
- Provide Board mentors – help new members feel welcomed, and utilize the experience of returning ones.
- Continually check in with new members to see how they’re enjoying the experience.
- Let Board members sit in on different Committees before deciding which to join.
- Keep up Board education at every meeting – education should never stop!
- Have conversations with members before they serve a second term – make it a peer-to-peer experience.
- Interview members leaving the Board – what did they think of the experience, and how can you improve it for the future?
For some real word examples, check out the Coastal Community Foundation’s Board Member and Governance Committee Responsibilities documents:
You can also view SCANPO’s Board Member Agreement document here. Don’t forget that SCANPO offers its members a free hour of consultation with your Board Chair and CEO/ED.
And finally, your Governance Committee is the backbone to your Board and plays a huge role in successfully reaching your mission. I encourage any one of you interested in being a part of a Governance Committee to take on the challenge! I can tell you it’s a rewarding experience.
Vice President, Corporate Citizenship & Philanthropy