The board must ensure that the organization is both aware of changes that impact its work and knows that the board is formulating a response to meet new conditions.
Board members fulfill their responsibility by learning about new requirements and trends that affect the business of the organization. Boards often rely on the executive director to keep them informed of such changes. However, the board should have procedures to independently update itself and independently ensure that it fulfills its oversight responsibility.
Most externally imposed requirements affect the organization's programs and administration, while others directly affect board operations. Recent examples include emerging standards for boards in relation to conflict of interest, financial controls, requirements to hold a minimum number of meetings annually, and demands for program evaluation and measurement.
When the nature of the change is directly related to how the board operates, it is the board's responsibility to understand what is required and to formulate a response that meets the standards while respecting organizational values and culture.
Nonprofit organizations have numerous resources available to keep them current on emerging standards and requirements for boards and members. The Executive Committee or the Governance Committee should be responsible for periodically monitoring these resources and for bringing critical information, issues and potential responses to the full board..
Board Benefits Leading an organization through the process of adapting to involuntary change helps boards:
- Become familiar with the environment in which their organization operates.
- Create committees and monitor/adapt oversight practices to keep up to date.
- Learn to use outside expertise effectively.
- Update reporting expectations with the executive director.
- Stay in touch with issues affecting the sector.
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