Attn: Nonprofit Directors – Overview Points of Engagement
By: Eugene Fram
Any nonprofit organization has a series of critical points of engagement. The nonprofit board has to make sure it is carefully over-viewing the most important ones. >
• Board Chair and Chief Executive Officer – Are they working in harmony? Is there mutual respect between the two? To what extent are they building trust throughout the organization?
• Board and Staff – Are roles clearly defined? To what extent, if any, are staff members attempting to make end- runs to the board in order to obtain reviews of grievances? Does the organization have a “hot line” for employees? Does the staff trust the board?
• Board and Donors – How often do board members interact with major donors to assess the quality of the relationship between the chief executive and donors?
• Board and Clients: Does the organization have a client advisory board to which board members have access?
What types of client surveys are conducted, and are the results sufficient to understand client realities?
• Board and Media – Who is responsible for media contacts or inquiries? Are media opportunities, as well as routine inquiries, being well handled?
• Board and Government – Is there an adequate policy to respond to governmental inquiries or requests? To what extent does the board consider governmental relationships an important point of engagement?
• Board and External Auditors: Does the board need to change external auditors every five years? Beyond the audit committee, what I are the relationships of the external auditors with other members of the board?
Other points of engagement may need to be added for specific nonprofits, e.g., board and major vendors. However, the above are generic to cover the vast majority of nonprofits. For some topics, the overview needs to take place annually, for others, every two or three years.