HILBORN RECOMMENDS...Tom Little's BIG Ideas for Non-Profit Boards

publication date: Jul 5, 2012
Non-profit organizations are built on ideas. The better the ideas, the better the organization. Tom Little's BIG ideas are built on one BIG belief: nonprofits are critical to the well-being of our communities. He can't imagine our world without them.  He also understands that being a Board member in the non-profit world is a tough job. So, he wrote a book of ideas to make it easier.

Tom Little's Big Ideas for Non-Profit Boards is divided into two sections.  First is the "BIGGEST of the BIG ideas." These are thirteen ideas critical to the success of a non-profit board. They are followed by twenty-three "BIG Ideas" about other aspects of operating a non-profit board. Most sections contain additional resources - tools that enable you to immediately act on anything you feel will help your organization.

Ideas in this book include dealing with the legalities of a corporation, positioning an organization, determining how the Board will operate, defining its relationship with the Executive Director, and setting out how it will interact with the membership. Here's a sneak preview of BIGGEST of the BIG ideas #11.

Be exceptional decision-makers

The key role of a non-profit Board is to make educated decisions. So, Mr. Little developed a decision-making checklist to help create a system of better decision-making:

  • The decision under consideration is in writing, and is understood by all Board members
  • The decision falls within the Board's area of responsibility, not someone else's (e.g. The Executive Director)
  • The decision has not already been made as a result of the approval of the organization's strategic and/or operating plans
  • The specific information needed to make an informed decision has been provided in full, and in writing, well in advance
  • Adequate time has been allowed for the review of the information, and for discussion at the Board meeting
  • All board members have been given the opportunity to express their point of view

Since all significant decisions of the Board need to be recorded in the minutes, Little suggests you insist the person making the motion write it out before it is presented to the Directors by the Chair.  This avoids the "You know what I mean!" syndrome that often infects Board meetings, and that can result in the Secretary having to interpret what the person meant because others are confident the Secretary "understood" what was being moved."

Tom Little's BIG Ideas for Non-Profit Boards is available for purchase through Hilborn's Civil Sector Press. Click here to purchase your copy for just $39.99.

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