GOVERNANCE | Time to Update Your Board?

publication date: Sep 5, 2023
author/source: Ann Rosenfield, MBA, CFRE

In these last few years, charity boards have worked harder than ever. COVID combined with on-going financial uncertainty has forced boards to be hyper-engaged. This Fall may be the right time to take a good look at your Board. In addition to the pandemic, events of the last year are casting much needed light on having communities served by charity boards that are diverse, inclusive and equity-based.

Not sure whether to keep the Board you have, or to start encouraging people to rotate off?

Here are a few quick pros and cons of term limits, thanks to the very smart folks at BoardSource.

The pros of term limits

  • Provide opportunity for the board and organization to work with talented community members who can devote only a few years to board service
  • Make it easier to diversify your board, which brings new ideas and new perspectives to the board and its decision-making process
  • Enable you to avoid stagnation, tiredness, boredom, and loss of commitment that can sometimes set in when board members serve long terms
  • Enable you to avoid the perpetual concentration of power within a small group of people and the intimidation of new members by this dominant group
  • When staggered, provides a built-in balance of continuity and turnover
  • Allow for rotation of committee assignments
  • Raise awareness of, and provides opportunities to change and improve, group dynamics
  • Provide a respectful and efficient mechanism for the exit of passive, ineffective, tired, or troublesome board members
  • Enlarge your circle of committed supporters as members rotate off the board
  • Enable the board to easily adjust its membership to reflect the organization’s changing needs

The cons of term limits

  • Potential loss of expertise or insight that has benefitted the board and organization over time
  • Potential loss of organizational memory
  • Need for the governance committee to dedicate more time to the identification, recruitment, and orientation of new board members
  • Need to dedicate additional time to building the cohesiveness of the board as members rotate on and off the board

A full copy of this list, and many more valuable insights can be found from Board SourceThe mission of Board Source is to inspire and support excellence in nonprofit governance and board and staff leadership.

Ann Rosenfield is the former Editor of Hilborn Charity eNews and has served on the Board for Rainbow Railroad.

Cover photo by Compare Fibre on Unsplash

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