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TOOL 1: The Pathway to the Board

By John Pearson

Don’t Propose Marriage on Your First Date!

Peter Drucker, the father of modern management, once compared businesses to nonprofits with this memorable poke-in-the-ribs to both:

“Although I don’t know a single for-profit business that is well managed as a few of the nonprofits, the great majority of the nonprofits can be graded a ‘C’ at best. Not for lack of effort; most of them work very hard. But for lack of focus, and for lack of tool competence.”

So with that inspiration, Dan Busby, president of ECFA, and I have co-authored a hot-off-the press resource, ECFA Tools and Templates for Effective Board Governance: Time-Saving Solutions for Your Board. Jam-packed with 22 tools, the 272-page book includes access to downloadable Word documents that can be customized for any board.

The tools are organized around six themes:
• Selecting and Training Excellent Board Members
• Board Assessments
• Reporting to the Board
• Taking Time for Strategic Planning
• Policies and Board Responsibilities
• Ideas for Better Board Governance

Peter Drucker also wrote, “At least once every five years, every form should be put on trial for its life.” So…if it’s been five years (or 10 or 20 years) since you’ve updated your boardroom tools, this book will be a lifesaver for you. I’m featuring these tools in forthcoming blogs, starting with—of course—the first one:

TOOL #1: THE PATHWAY TO THE BOARD - Six Steps on the Pathway to Board Service

Here’s a very practical tool for tracking possible board nominees in your “Prospect Pipeline.” The big idea: “Date” board prospects before proposing “marriage” (board service).

The book reminds us, “Thoughtful adults don’t propose marriage on the first date. Effective boards don’t propose board service to prospects they don’t know well. Think of this as a 36-month dating experience. But don’t mention marriage (board service) up front.”

Think of board recruitment in four phases: cultivation, recruitment, orientation, and engagement. “The Pathway to the Board” tool lists six critical steps:
• Step 1: Suggest
• Step 2: Review
• Step 3: Inquire
• Step 4: Apply
• Step 5: Orientation
• Step 6: Engage

I’ll discuss “Tool #2: The Board Nominee Suggestion Form” in the next blog—but the pathway to the board starts with identifying board-approved criteria (The 6 D’s)—listed in both Tool #1 and Tool #2.

Is your board member prospect criteria in writing? Tool #1 will help.

When your board purchases ECFA Tools and Templates for Effective Board Governance, you’ll have full access to the 22 tools and templates—formatted as Word documents so you can customize the tools for your board’s unique uses.

When you use the right tool at the right time—you’ll move faster and deeper toward your board’s sacred calling of God-honoring governance. And you’ll eliminate those “Oops!” blunders so you don’t propose marriage on the first date.

Visit ECFA Press (or Amazon) and order ECFA Tools and Templates for Effective Board Governance: Time-Saving Solutions for Your Board, by Dan Busby and John Pearson.

BOARD DISCUSSION: R. Buckminster Fuller said, “If you want to teach people a new way of thinking, don’t bother to teach them. Instead, give them a tool, the use of which will lead to new ways of thinking.” What tool inspired you to think a new way?

MORE RESOURCES: Read Bruce Johnson’s guest blog on “If You Need a Board Member, Recruit a Board Member,” one of 40 color commentaries from the book, Lessons From the Nonprofit Boardroom. Click here.

 

This article was originally posted on the “Governance of Christ-Centered Organizations” blog, hosted by ECFA.
John Pearson, a board governance consultant and author, was ECFA’s governance blogger from 2011 to 2020.
© 2021, ECFA and John Pearson. All rights reserved.


This text is provided with the understanding that ECFA is not rendering legal, accounting, or other professional advice or service. Professional advice on specific issues should be sought from an accountant, lawyer, or other professional.

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