Communication with Governing Boards

On Sunday, we as a nation learned that we would be asked to continue social distancing through April 30. For the health of community and nation this is a good thing for us to embrace. But as an employee and leader of an organization trying to move your mission forward, this may seem like devasting news. You have heard much about reaching out to donors these past two weeks. Organizations are doing this and having promising results so please continue as this works!

As this physical distancing from your organization continues and initial impact is being felt, we are recommending that organizations also need to be thinking about the long-term ramifications. Some things to consider:

In these next four (plus) weeks, communication with your governing board is vital. Prioritize these conversations first:

  • Discussion between Executive Director and Board Chair – if you have not engaged in a 30-60-90 day strategy plan, now is the time! Executive Directors need to be working with the business staff to look at forecasts – cash flow statements, revenue activity, and pledge payment activity to cite a few. If your organization has Key Performance Indicators, use those to give a current snapshot of the organization’s activity. Staff should think of ways to engage the Board with its plans moving forward.
  • Board Chairs – should assess the severity of issues; ask the staff leadership to give a “rating” for each of the projections. The Board Chair (and Executive Committee) should understand where the “hot spots” may be for the organization.
  • Expand the conversation to the Executive Committee – Use video conferencing to gather the Executive Committee for a discussion on plans. Seek their advice and counsel; this group and its wisdom is needed now more than ever!
  • Update the Board via video conference – Use Zoom or some other platform to convene the board. Having the group assembled via video will help the group communicate effectively so that they can share ideas, strategies or even concerns. While you may not be able to convene in person, being on video is the next best thing.

As reaction to and eventually recovery from the COVID-19 crisis continues to develop – and we know this is an evolving situation – we highly encourage open dialogue between the Executive Director and Board. This is not a time for either party to withhold information. The Board is there is to assist the organization and the Board should understand that the staff is working diligently to keep operations running from afar.

When I founded the consulting firm 18 years ago, I would have never guessed of an event like we are experiencing now could be so devasting for so many individuals and organizations. Please know that we are here for any type of advice be it fundraising, governance issues or grant writing (and there are many funding opportunities). In addition, we are now helping nonprofits assess and complete the Small Business Administration Loan forms. If you are interested in learning more, please click HERE.

And certainly if you need anything, don’t hesitate to reach out directly.