From changing the way agendas are handled to seeking advice on strategy, members from Forbes Nonprofit Council offer their best advice for nonprofit leaders to work with their board. Here's what they have to say:

 

1. Cultivate A Real Relationship

Cultivate a relationship with your board member. Express interest in them and what they care about, not just about what you want to get done. You want to build a relationship, not a board that just transacts. If you invest in a caring, sincere relationship, you’ll actually get more done. - Pamela HawleyUniversalGiving 

 

2. Use A Consent Agenda

A simple change in format has improved our board meetings — a consent agenda. Board members arrive fully briefed, ready to share their expertise and feedback. Tapping into the collective skill set, attendees now discuss ideas freely instead of delivering reports. They appreciate our respect for their time and commitment in this more productive format, and new initiatives are blooming as a result. - Elizabeth CromwellFrederick County Chamber of Commerce 

3. Hold Smaller Discussions Online 

Smaller discussions online or through video conferencing can help with getting advice on a specific issue or opportunity that has come up that requires an answer sooner than later. Knowing that you can — and are willing to — reach out at a moment's notice can improve the working partnership with your board. - Gloria HorsleyOpen to Hope 

 

4. Engage Board Members Through Individual Action Plans 

We develop Individual Action Plans for each board member each year. These are personal work plans and agreements between the board and the senior leadership team. IAPs are tailored to each board member's strengths, and include tasks that they find motivating and that also help the organization. Regular communication and follow-up on the IAPs helps keep board members engaged and committed. - Eleanor AllenWater For People 

5. Seek The Board's Help With Strategy 

Keep your board truly engaged in setting the strategic direction of the organization. After spending a great deal of effort developing a strategy, a CEO can be forgiven for hoping for the painless rubber stamp. But if you don’t engage the board on the broad, strategic issues, they are going to start meddling on operational issues to feel they are living up to their oversight responsibilities. - Daniel SpeckhardLutheran World Relief 

6. Focus On Transparency And Efficiency 

Two of my overarching goals when working with leadership are transparency and efficiency: Their time is precious, and we make the best use of the skills and expertise they share with us. My board officers and I are in frequent contact, and thoroughly vet all information — financial, strategic and operational — before we take it to the entire board for review and discussion. - Peggy SmithWorldwide ERC