Academic journal article Journal of Accountancy

NFP Board Service Tips

Academic journal article Journal of Accountancy

NFP Board Service Tips

Article excerpt

After serving two years as board president of the Delta Mu Delta honor society for business administration majors, I surveyed 25 others who served on not-for-profit boards. Here are lessons learned.

Allocate the appropriate amount of time to the job. Board service should be taken seriously like any other job. Done right, this will take more time than you might think. Make sure you have enough time while also making time for your family. To serve effectively, you must be able to attend every meeting without leaving early for something that you might consider more important. You need to focus on those being served and not on yourself.

Approach the task with an open mind. Board members should speak up when necessary and debate matters in a supportive, even-spirited way. Compromise can be a good thing and may be necessary to bring about progress. Several survey respondents emphasized the importance of teamwork and being gracious to those with differing opinions, and learning how to disagree without being rude or condescending.

Stay true to a board's broad role in governance. Board members should maintain broad oversight, which means avoiding involvement in day-to-day operations, leaving managing to management, and focusing on the broader entity without getting "into the weeds" on issues.

Handle core governance activities. These include preparing succession plans, working with management to develop strategy, establishing charters, and enforcing mandatory rotation policies and term limits. The importance of succession planning particularly hit home for me after the unexpected death of Delta Mu Delta's executive director.

Watch for indicators of fraud and questionable activities. …

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