Nonprofit boards rely on collaboration for their effectiveness. They collaborate with staff members and committee members to help the nonprofit’s mission. The dynamics of the board can encourage or hinder collaboration.
A nonprofit CEO shared with me about a collaborative board team that was plagued with infighting conflicts of interests, infighting, and distrust. The executive director of the board brought in a consultant who helped get the group back on course. She demanded the chair of the board to engage in candid discussions with the group. The chair reluctantly agreed.
The consultant found that the chair was playing favorites, and had close relationships with a certain portion of the team. She also noticed the chair’s inability to communicate effectively and her lack of understanding about how to create trust within the group.
Boards can facilitate the development of a strong collaborative culture by ensuring that both existing and new board members are ready for it. When you take on new board members, ensure that they are prepared to participate in a team-oriented culture by introducing them with other board members and providing them the opportunity to work in small groups with organizational staff prior to their first meeting. This will allow them to be familiar with the organization and its leadership and develop important contacts. Make available resources to encourage collaboration among members, such an online board portal. This allows board members to engage with one another in between meetings. Planning a board retreat or other gatherings, can also foster camaraderie.