Some Nonprofit Directors Never Attend Meetings! What to do?

These absent directors can offer valuable support, and the other directors want more involvement, not their resignation. One approach is to consider moving from a board format requiring director operational involvement to one that focuses more on policy and strategy.

Then review with the current directors and candidate directors the board’s responsibilities in a policy-making function. Explain the president/CEO only requests board members’ time for development and assessment of policy/strategy issues. The key points to stress are that time commitments will not be extensive and wise use will be made of the time they give to the organization. In the 21st century, wise use of volunteer time is one of the most appealing inducements for joining a nonprofit or trustee board. The types of people nonprofits want on their boards live time-compressed life styles.

ATTENTION CANADIAN READERS: I have international readers ever day, but I am pleased to report that Canadians consistently account for 10% or more of all readers. I would appreciate your comments on the issues that draw Canadians to my blog. Thanks.


[1] See “Policy Vs. Paper Clips,” Third Edition, 2011.   Available on


    1. Under operational, a board director can handle specific duties, such as being responsible for adverting or accounting. I have even seen one case which staff people each reported directly to a board director for counsel or direction before taking an issue to the CEO.

      Under my model (See:Policy vs. Paper Clips, third edition 2011 on,the board, with advice from the CEO, decides what are operation type issues and what are policy issues. Then the CEO then has responsibility for all operational issues (staff hiring, vendor selection), and the board for all other issues (major contracts, financial policies, new programs). A true partnership is developed between board and staff.

      Once a nonprofit moves beyond a start-up stage, it is best to move to a corporate model, similar to the one cited in the above book. Otherwise, the board ends up micromanaging the organization, i.e. focuses on paper clips, instead of policy, strategy & generative thinking.


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