Board Engagement

Articles and resources to increase board participation and engage your board for greater success.

board traits

Client Advisory – Building a Strong Foundation Board

From emerging development shops to established fundraising powerhouses, all nonprofits should continually assess their boards and look for ways to enhance board member engagement and effectiveness. Whether working with current board leadership or starting from the ground up to build a new board, you have opportunities to evaluate and strengthen your board.


You should look to recruit individuals that have demonstrated many, if not all, of the following characteristics:

Your board should reflect the diversity of your constituency and provide the knowledge and relationships to propel your institution towards its goals.

You should be transparent and clear with candidates about expectations of board members, including:

  • Meeting attendance requirements.
  • Work on committees, including in between regular board meetings.
  • Involvement in cultivating and soliciting major gifts.
  • Personal annual gift expectation and, if so, a minimum dollar amount.

Once these expectations are made clear, both the candidate and you can assess whether he or she is a good fit for your board. Additionally, to enable your board members to be successful, you should offer thoughtful, targeted, and continuing board orientation and development opportunities that provide members the information and tools they need to serve effectively.

Transforming Individuals into a Decision-Making Body

While each individual board member’s characteristics and expertise are important, your institution must consider how best to harness these dynamic and distinct members into an effective decision-making body.

First and foremost, articulate the role of the board in a clear charter that includes its mission, scope of responsibilities, and overarching goals.

Second, create—for the full board, its committees, and members—specific measurable objectives that directly link to the institution’s mission, vision, and strategies.

Third, create board meeting agendas—including committee agendas—that are action-oriented in order to keep members engaged and proactive and to minimize “in-the-weeds” and “stagnant” thinking.

Use the following checklist as a starting place for evaluating your board’s effectiveness:

check list

Your board members can play important roles in generating major gifts by reviewing your philanthropic agenda and organizational priorities, reacting to your fundraising and other external relations strategies, making personal gifts that help you achieve your fundraising goals, and opening doors for cultivating and soliciting prospective major gift donors.

Our expert consultants will partner with you to achieve a strong mix of board members who can work with senior administrators and development staff to generate the private support required to turn your institution’s dreams into reality.

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