Nonprofit boards carry a variety of important responsibilities, making it a challenge for an untrained or inexperienced board to keep up with critical undertakings. This article highlights two of these responsibilities and how they align with best practices for effective nonprofit board members.
Selecting the Chief Executive of Your Nonprofit Organization
One of the most consequential decisions handled by a nonprofit board is hiring a Chief Executive Officer (CEO). This person will have the primary impact on setting the tone for the overall culture and management style of the team and key activities and functions of the institution. A strong leader creates the foundation for building an effective organization.
Governing boards must screen a variety of potential candidates, including any qualified internal individuals, and use its best judgment when selecting the right person for the job. Being in a rush to fill a CEO vacancy is a huge mistake, which is why it usually makes sense to engage an interim CEO while the position is being filled. And, in most cases, the board should retain an outside recruiting firm to source, vet and present a highly qualified pool of candidates. Firms are better equipped to identify the best individuals, many of whom hold current positions
Supporting and Evaluating the Chief Executive
Choosing the right CEO is just the first step. Once that person is hired, the board must be proactive in keeping a strong leader in place. A high-performing board will have a solid record of retaining a CEO over time. Replacing CEOs too frequently is often a sign of a dysfunctional board. Jointly creating specific objectives and providing formal annual CEO evaluations are critical to providing support and confidence in the CEO.
The CEO and board chair share the responsibility of working together and ensuring the board functions effectively. Together, they move through the ebbs and flows of running a nonprofit organization, keeping the focus and goals in mind every step of the way and providing strong leadership to the board and the organization.
Ideally, the CEO will lead the organization for an extended period. When a change in leadership is needed, for any reason, the board should first resolve any issues related to the CEO’s departure – so the new CEO is not hampered by any problems that may have been left by the previous CEO.
Resources and Assistance in Choosing a CEO
Your nonprofit board doesn’t need to go it alone when it is time to hire a CEO. If you are looking for ways to strengthen your nonprofit organization, Mirenda & Associates can help. We offer the experience you need for creating strong leadership for your nonprofit team. Contact us so we can assist you with the development of successful practices and systems to support your needs.