Board Engagement, Not Rocket Science

An effective and engaged nonprofit Board of Directors (BOD) can help take an organization to a visionary level. Ensuring it is well-managed and intentionally structured is key.

A well-managed and intentionally structured Board increases an organization’s capacity and enhances credibility among staff, donors, and other stakeholders.

The subject of Board leadership is large. It comes down to a strong, committed Board and, depending on the size of the organization, a dedicated and competent staff with whom they collaborate. And it’s not rocket science!

It’s about the fundamentals – having a clearly defined strategic direction; consistent and relevant communications; clarity of roles and responsibilities; focus on outcomes, and an understanding of people’s needs and what’s important to them. What is key is the dialogue between Board members and the organization’s leadership about how and where the Board should support the organization’s vision and mission.

Having served as a first Executive Director twice and in volunteer leadership positions on numerous nonprofit and association Boards, I’ve faced many of the challenges and joys of operating in the social sector. Over time it has become clear to me that a well-informed and engaged Board is one of the most crucial contributors to a nonprofit achieving sustainable impact.

Some of the greatest challenges I’ve seen or heard about relate to:

  1. BOD engagement/buy in – addressing how to keep them motivated to participate effectively.
  2. BOD understanding – the need for formal orientation, enough time to review papers, clear communication with actions (they are busy people) and identifying where they can make the best contribution then supporting them with the resources and tools necessary.
  3. BOD commitment to fundraising – either it isn’t made clear in the recruitment process, or it is sold to them that they have to Ask.

JBL Strategies provides customized nonprofit board coaching and training addressing these issues. To find out more, e-mail

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