Nonprofit governance is the practice of providing leadership to an organization. It involves setting the direction of the organization, making policies and strategic decisions, supervising organizational performance, and safeguarding organizational accountability.
Here are my tips for strong and effective Board Governance:
• Strong leadership should run the organization. This means people with strong individual morals and ethics, not just strong charisma or a little experience in business management. Leaders will also need training on how to be leaders in your organization, whether or not they have experience elsewhere.
• An active process exists to properly handle governance issues. That means knowing what to do, when good leaders go bad. How do you depose a sitting Director? Or even a whole Board, when they are no longer serving the needs of the organization, failing to follow the bylaws, self dealing, or raiding the treasury?
• A board nominations process and board term limits are in place. Cronyism is an issue in many nomination boards but so is the popularity contests that direct democracy allows for. Do you want a qualified, vetted candidate or someone with a pretty smile who always brings mead to every festival? Set up your governance model for a smart nomination system and you avoid issues with poorly selected candidates chosen more for their ties to the committee chair's boudoir.
• Regular and ongoing evaluation of programs and fundraising plans takes place. Oops, your org doesn't even HAVE a fundraising plan? Most Pagan orgs think they are too small for that right now, they will need it when they are bigger, etc, etc. Trust me, you will never get bigger without one. Do it, even a small one, then let it grow.
• Board meetings are scheduled for the year. Plan them, have them, don't put them off, be regular, be on-time, send out agendas and previous month's minutes in advance (not the day before), and post minutes afterward for review online. Consistency, consistency, consistency.
• Written policies set expectations, increase efficiency, and promote transparency and accountability in operations. Board members are the keepers of Order, the mitigators of Chaos, the keepers of LAW. Policies, procedures, and bylaws are SACROSANCT! Keep to the letter of the rules your org has written, do no deviate or you will loose the trust of your org and it will crumble.
• The organization should have flexibility to adjust to environmental shifts. Things change, if the org can't change with the times, it will break.
There are so many things to consider when building or rebuilding a Pagan organization. Don't rush the process. Make certain you set the foundation blocks firmly so the rest of the structure does not fail.