“It’s not broken, so why fix it?”
“Our policy has always been to …”
When you sit at a meeting of your board do you hear people say these things (or something similar)? Or do you sit at a board meeting and listen to the same members say the same things about the same issues?
In our work with non-profits, we find that these are clues that it may be time to get some new voices and new blood for your board membership. And why would you want to change up your membership?
- New board members bring new talents. As non-profit organizations grow and change, what they need from the board will almost always grow and change. New people can bring those new skills
- You will almost certainly get new perspectives on what you do, how you do it, and why you do it. The new person, with no historical standpoint, may ask a simple question that lets the entire board recognize there are better ways to move forward.
- Regardless of how dedicated a board member is, at some point fatigue or apathy can set in after too many years in place. These are part-time, volunteer positions and staying focused and dedicated can be a real challenge.
- Term-limiting someone off of the board may give you a more comfortable way to remove a board member who just isn’t as productive as she/he once was. Your bylaws ought to specify term limits.
- New board members give you new avenues to new development strategies and new donors.
- And, just maybe, you’ll be able to re-vitalize your board with not just new members, but younger members, who bring a whole new view of the stakeholders your organization serves.
While we know that getting new board members is a challenge, we firmly believe that it is a vital part of building a strong board. And strong boards critical in driving non-profit excellence. There are lots of approaches to term limits for board members, each approach guided by the needs and culture of the organization. We are happy to work with you to look at your bylaws and your board to develop a path that will work best for the organization.