WINGS WINGS


Organizational Sustainability



SECTION 2 EFFECTIVE LEADERSHIP AND BOARD

Participants in the Peer Learning Events agreed that a key to sustainability is effective leadership as exemplified by an effective Board of Trustees. Systems are important; but these must be complemented by effective governance, which is an important function of the Board. Moreover, the governance structure must be clear (that is, it unequivocally shows roles, authorities and accountabilities) and strong.

Among the Board’s roles identified in the PLEs are: providing leadership, championing the cause and promoting the work of the organization, providing inputs to the staff, and capitalizing on their expertise and networks for effective resource mobilization.

Aside from having clearly defined tasks, effective boards were perceived by the participants to be insightful, agile, adaptive, fearless and innovative.

THIS IS MY STORY

EAST AFRICA ASSOCIATION OF GRANTMAKERS

  • Building trust and relationships
  • Charging for services
  • Constant reflection
  • Board position
  • Ownership

OPPORTUNITIES:

  • Annual General Meeting – elections, Constitutional review
  • Completion of Strategic Plan
  • Discussion on survey results
  • Proposed annual conference and retreat for members
  • Grantmakers Peer Learning Event

HYPOTHESES:

  1. If we identify the skills necessary to lead our new strategy, then this will inform our elections in the upcoming AGM.
  2. If we mainstream fundraising as a Board committee, then we can constantly reflect on our financial sustainability.
  3. If we charge for services, we can raise money to meet some of the operational costs.

FRAMING QUESTIONS:

  1. What skills and expertise do we need at the Board level to support delivery of EAAG‘s new strategy?
  2. What will we do in order to ensure EAAG‘s financial strategy?


Actions

Results

1. Identify the skills (from the strategy) and share with members as they prepare for elections. Analysis of Board composition against skills.
2. Bring up discussion on sustainability in the Board in order to stimulate reflection and action/ resource mobilization strategy. Board committee focusing on resource mobilization/ external relationships present and active
3. Introduce registration fees for events. % of resources raised from registration fees supporting operations and resource mobilization strategy in place.

In the book, The Source: Twelve Principles of Governance That Power Exceptional Boards1 Boardsource says that “Exceptional boards add significant value to their organizations, making discernible differences in their advance on mission.” Indeed, the Board is the ultimate direction-setting and policy-making body of the organization. It is the ultimate definer of the organization‘s vision and goal/s, direction, programs, strategies, and projects. It is also the ultimate arbiter of decisions, conflicts and accountabilities. A review of literature on effective boards (see Box below) point to the following characteristics:

  • Multisectoral, including a member from the communities/sectors served
  • There are criteria for selection
  • Are chosen through a transparent election process
  • Members have term limits
  • Members attend at least 85% of meetings and other functions
  • Members have job descriptions
  • There are functioning board committees
  • Board has written set of rules governing relationship with Executive Director or Chief Executive Officer
  • A Board Development program is in place

TO KNOW MORE….

The following sites provide valuable information on developing effective non-profit boards.

http://www.nonprofitexpert.com/board_development.htm

www.managementhelp.org/boards/boards.htm

http://nonprofit.about.com/od/nonprofitboards/tp/boardandbranding.htm

http://www.boardsource.org/Search.asp?query=&searchIn=all&search_category_id=%2C55%2C.