Not-for-Profit Board vs. Management: The How-Tos of a Thriving Relationship

One of the most critical elements to a high-functioning not-for-profit organization is the positive, mutually understood relationship between the board of directors and management, yet in many organizations, this relationship continues to foster habitual tension.

A strong relationship between a not-for-profit board and its management team is particularly important in the effort of working toward your organization’s mission. An effective board understands the difference between governing and managing, while an overzealous board may inadvertently create tension and potentially drive away good management. To effectively build a trusting and mutually beneficial relationship between the board and management, try implementing these three tips:

  1. Define and communicate clear roles for both board members and management. Be certain the roles and expectations are obtainable and understood by both parties, i.e. the board creates policies and management carries them out. Create a document that positions each role and can be modified as appropriate.
  2. Commit to best practices by displaying mutual respect and listening closely. Promote an environment that rewards open communication, frankness and honesty. Share the organization’s strategic vision and goals, as well as wins and losses. The goal is to regard one another as trusted colleagues.
  3. Find a consistent balance between governing and social engagement. Board members should be accessible to management and include management in portions of the board meetings to gather input on developing strategies. Try creating a well-designed retreat allowing board members and management to interact in a neutral, informal setting.

Not-for-profit board members have an obligation of financial resources stewardship and maintaining consistency with the organization’s mission. If your not-for-profit has the qualified staff, trust in their knowledge and expertise to help reach the common goal―achieving your organization’s mission.

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