Briefing Notes for Nonprofits: Effective Volunteers | Business

The main governing body of a non-profit organization is the board of directors. They create and design the statutes which are the operating rules.

The composition, size and governance skills of the initial board (the organizers) can create great successes in achieving the association’s goals. The selection of board members is therefore critical.

What is essential in the selection process is to find motivated volunteers to sit on the first board of directors. The next step for the new board is to apply the art and science of nonprofit management.

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The implementation of best practices is essential. Achievement is measured by results consistent with organizational goals.

The composition of the members of the not-for-profit board should be linked to their individual governance skills. A mix of personality types improves success. Selecting the right people to sit on the board is crucial.

Most nonprofits do not have huge budgets and unlimited time to do business for organizations. Therefore, avoiding potentially counterproductive volunteers becomes a challenge.

Here are some examples of volunteers who slow down or hinder progress.

n People whose personal agenda does not match organizational goals.

n Dissenting, negative and conflictual individuals.

n The “boss” personality type – the dictator!

n Someone who ignores the valuable comments of others.

n The politician campaigning behind the scenes one on one, not in the best interests of the group consensus.

n Finally, someone who does not understand the priority of “principles over personalities”.

Look for this type:

n Someone with experience in volunteer leadership – “experience matters”.

n Good community reputation. People know them for who they are, what they stand for and what they have accomplished.

n Someone who can easily articulate and convey a strong belief in the goals of the organization.

n People who demonstrate a balanced approach to decision-making.

n A person who practices teamwork, inclusiveness and the contribution of others.

n Someone who values ​​human differences for the great things they can do.

Big board or small board?

Once a good mix of eligible people has been identified, the next decision to be made is the size of the board.

This is one of the most important decisions nonprofit organizers should make early in the formation of the new association. Do you remember the story of the “Three Bears”? A simple allegory but the story suggests a good fit and a good balance. Neither too small nor too big, but just the right amount. It’s easy to say, but difficult to achieve.

What is the correct size? It depends on what the organization wants to accomplish.

At one time, a board of 12 was traditionally considered ideal. Today, the one size fits all needs no longer. Board size begins with strategic planning and goal setting.

Small can mean operational efficiency and flexibility. Large can offer different perspectives, experiences and continuity of leadership.

So what is your size?

Dr. Frederick J. Herzog is the Founder / Executive Director of the NonProfitResourceCenter in Citrus County. He can be reached by calling 847-899-9000 or emailing [email protected] Visit the website at

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