Board Cohesion – Your Nonprofit’s Power Source

Board Cohesion – Your Nonprofit’s Power Source

Merriam Webster defines cohesion as the act or state of sticking together tightly. How often do nonprofit boards describe themselves as cohesive?

In her presentation to Next Steps for Small Nonprofits grantees, “Building Your Cohesive Board: Working Together to Achieve Your Mission,” Grace Hammond reminded us that a nonprofit board speaks as one voice, since it is a corporate body.

Group cohesion, then, is a board’s “power source.”

Working Together to Achieve Your Mission

It can be a challenge for a diverse, passionate (and busy) group of volunteers to plug into this Power Source and work effectively together. Based on research on Nonprofit Boards by Chait, Ryan and Taylor at Harvard University, Hammond highlighted what makes Boards effective:

1. Focus on meaningful work toward collectively established goals.

Meaningful work advances a nonprofit’s mission.

2. Focus on careful cultivation and selection of board members and leaders.

A strong board thrives on diversity, different styles and perspectives thinking critically and strategically together. While the board chair’s role is to bring people together, it is everyone’s responsibility to have a good, participatory meeting.

3. Maintain equal access to information.

Of course, this points to the value of a well-curated board manual and policies, but it also refers to bringing critical conversations to the full board rather than discussing in the parking lot after the meeting.

4. Socialize.

Taking time together to notice which of these four areas might need some attention and development can pay dividends in keeping a board energized and effective.

Grace Hammond of EG Hammond Consulting is one of the nonprofit consultants in our area who works with boards of directors. Explore our Consultant Directory to view consultant profiles.

Additional board resources

Additional board resources suggested by the Center for Nonprofit Excellence:

BoardSource’s Articles and Research on Board Diversity Equity and Inclusion

Center for Nonprofit Excellence Board Transformation ToolkitsGuide-to-Board-Roles-and-Responsibilities including:
• Guide to Board Roles & Responsibilities
• Effective Board Meetings
• Steps to Evaluating the Work of the Board and more